Thursday, September 10, 2009

Road Trip to Dearborn, MI: Sept. 2008

The goal of my trip was the Dymaxion house at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, MI. I read about this house when I was in nursing school and have been intrigued by it ever since. During that time, the only one that was ever built was in Kansas, but then the Henry Ford museum bought it and restored it. I thought I'd wait until it was done, then throw in another decade for good measure, and finally go visit it.
I love a good road trip and so I added some destinations to make it even more fun: A zoo a day during my drive out there, the MI Renaissance Faire where my favorite singer in the world (after Ian Anderson) sings, and I even found out about a Reptile Expo that was less than 15 minutes from my Dearborn motel. It was an almost perfect trip, and great fun, and totally worth it. Here are some highlights.

9/8: The Ross Park Zoo in Binghamton, NY. River otters, and some cute little duckies. A crow exhibit (because Goddess knows you don't see those in nature).
I took over a thousand pictures on my trip, so I will make two more blog entries about it.
There are also some animal videos from my trip on my YouTube account (under "otterwoman", if you're interested.)


9/9: The Pittsburgh Zoo. River otters, sea otters, and a really cool otter statue too.

I threw in some coins and wished for a perfect trip. It came true!

It was kind of overcast and rainy, which is great zoo weather, and animals (especially otters) are more active.
Here is my best shot of the WHOLE trip:

"Yo, wass crack-a-lackin', cuz?"

Wandering around armed for rain, I wondered and pondered, and I pass this along to you for feedback:
How old does an old maid have to be before she can start hitting "young whippersnappers" with her umbrella?

Live Long and Prosper!

9/10: The Akron Zoo, beautifully designed and redone. They also had a wonderful garden area.
When I win the Mega Millions lottery, I'm hiring their architect to design my yard.

About an hour from the Akron Zoo is the Cleveland Zoo. They have my favorite, Asian Small-Clawed Otters (aka "Mini Otters"). Two zoos in one day.

Afterwards, I was so pooped, I ended up picking the worst motel of my road trip career, and didn't have the energy to do anything about it.
I often slept in my car, to offset the increased price of gas. I have a Subaru station wagon, so I set up a sweet little bed in the back. But I needed a motel tonight, because I was going to be interacting with a real person tomorrow!

9/11: In the morning I made one of two detours during the trip to drive down an "Otter Creek Road"
(every state has at least one). This one is from Oregon, OH.

Then I arrived at the Toledo Zoo.

One of the highlights of my trip was a behind-the-scenes tour of the amphibian exhibit at the Toledo Zoo. (It pays to know people.) That's all I'll say now because that experience is getting its own blog entry.
There was a quote I liked in the bird house: "For 200 years, we've been conquering nature. Now we're beating it to death."
-Tom McMillan (I'm not sure who he was. I googled the name, and there are many people who have it).
After the zoo, I found a nice motel and had a delicious dinner. It was a perfect day from start to finish.

9/12: The goal of my trip: the Henry Ford Museum. I also saw my first ever IMAX film. It was 3D! (I don't know if they all are).
The experience of seeing and touring the Dymaxion House was all I'd hoped it could be. I was in nerd heaven. I took a ton of pictures when the guide toured us through the house, and when I told him (and everyone else) I came from NY to see it, he looked at me oddly and said, "Look, there's an hour before the next tour. Go to town!" and he let me walk around in the house on my own and take even more pictures. I took the house tour twice, and saw each movie two times as well.

9/13: I started the day with the Reptile Expo in Taylor, which as it turned out, was very close to my motel. For a smaller expo, it had a great variety of animals. Someone was even selling hedgehogs, and while I was staring at them, the vendor plopped one in my hand. Great, there I was, starting to cry in front of a total stranger. "I had a hedgehog who lived for almost four years.
He just died last week."

After the Expo, I went to the zoo.

The Detroit Zoo was the only zoo besides the Toledo Zoo that had a separate amphibian exhibit (i.e. didn't combine the reptiles and amphibians).

I didn't get to add to my zoo penny collection here, though I got a zoo penny at every other zoo I visited (I collect them). I had to be satisfied with only a fridge magnet (which I also collect).
I got a fridge magnet at every stop on my trip.

But as a consolation for the lack of Penny Flattening machines, I did get a cool shirt like this! At the Pittsburgh Zoo, they had a T-shirt of a sea otter that was imbued with the smell of chocolate! Two of my favorite things. But they only came in kids sizes.
I have a poll question: what is cuter, a vicuna or a guanaco?

In MI, I returned all the empty soda cans that had been collecting in my car for TEN cents each, when I bought them all with only a FIVE cent deposit! Whoo-hoo! I used my windfall to buy a piece of chicken at the Kroger Supermarket.

9/14: The Michigan Renaissance Faire was a mosh pit! But I spent over an hour listening to the music of Owain Phyfe. He is awesome. "I think of him as the poor man's Ian Anderson," as I told his wife.
I spent 1 1/2 hours in a motel that night rinsing mud out of that dress. In the end, I saved it.

9/15: Today's plan was Cincinnati and the Cincinnati Zoo, but the stop was cancelled as remnants from a hurricane blew the city off the map. The power was out in most of the city (as well as Dayton OH). Eighty-mile-an-hour winds had made a shambles of the zoo. Gas stations were closed and I barely made it to electrified civilization with a quarter tank before I could gas up again. So I headed for the Columbus Zoo instead. What a great zoo to end the trip with. River otters, Small-clawed otters, and flying foxes that amazed me. I never saw anything like those foxes (more on them next time). I saw Fishing Cat kittens that interacted with me through the glass!

Reticulated Python:
I never thought there could be anything larger than my thigh.

I also learned two important things about penguins on my trip: #1- a penguin sure can hop! and #2- There is nothing cuter than a penguin in a hurry (not even a ferret named Dipsy).
There was a quote I liked in one of the exhibits:
"In the end we will conserve only what we love, we will love only what we know, and we will know only what we are taught." -Baba Dioum (Sengalese poet and conservationist).
9/16: I arrived home, a bit ahead of schedule due to the storm and some other factors. There was much more to my trip that I didn't go into, I could have written a short book about it (the diary I kept of my trip is, in fact, a small book): the totally gross motel room in Perrysburg OH with its own wetland outside the bathroom door, the quest for my sister's favorite beer sold only in the midwest, the detours to drive through places with "otter" in the name, looking for Long John Silver's restaurants to eat at, which I love and they don't have in my area, and the Books On CD I listened to: David Sedaris' When you are engulfed in flames (excellent) and Christopher Paolini's Eragon (which I also enjoyed very much). I took them out of the library right before I left. After two months, I'm STILL on the waiting list for Stephenie Meyer's Eclipse!

But I was ready to come home. Every fox or lion made me say, "I miss my cat Twinkie." The armadillo made me miss my hedgehog Piglet, though there was no going home to him anyway. Every lonely motel bed made me miss my faithful sleeping companions, Berry and Lily (more cats). The heavy rains made me worry about the salamander tanks in my basement, in case it flooded. But all was well.
There's no place like home.
In case you're wondering why I didn't miss my ferrets, it's because I didn't get the first one until about two weeks after I returned home from my trip.
And now I can never leave home, or those ferrets, ever again.

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