Checking In: Journaling, a Visit to the San Francisco Zoo, and a Black Mirror Moment With a Hippo

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A day at the zoo

I haven’t visited the San Francisco Zoo in years, but El Hub and I played hooky and took Connor this week.

It’s been so long since we ventured out of town, especially south to San Francisco (I think last time was last October?), even though it’s only about 25 miles to the Golden Gate Bridge.

We packed a picnic lunch, ALL THE DISINFECTING WIPES, our Caraa masks, and headed out for the day to learn more about our animal friends.

Things are a little different.

All visits are by reservation only now to enforce a lower maximum occupancy (a maximum of 50% capacity, although there were far fewer people than that on a weekday). You can’t just show up on a whim. You have to buy tickets online beforehand for a specific time, which is great. It really seems like the zoo has taken the pandemic seriously. Plus, the animals seem very well cared for. Enclosures are large, not overcrowded, and very well maintained, and I saw a lot of animals doing casual animal things, not pacing or looking stressed.

Feisty penguinsBTW, peacocks are all over the place! It’s so cool!

Visitors are required to wear masks and social distance at all times, and all of the indoor exhibits are closed. A couple of the dining cafes are open, but you can also bring your own food and drinks, which is what we did. We sat on a big lawn with several socially distanced families to have our lunch.

Run like the wind, ostriches!

It was nice seeing Connor’s eyes light up as she saw so many animals she hasn’t seen before. We meandered for hours and watched penguins plunging into a pool, chimpanzees chomping on romaine lettuce, peacocks preening, and ostriches sprinting — yes, sprinting! — across hills.

Speaking of the ostriches…they are crazy graceful! And so fast. I’d never seen ostriches run long distances before, and when they do, they glide along with their heads hardly even bobbing, while hauling major @ss. They’re like Olympic sprinters!

The grounds and plants are so beautiful.Connor testing out a 40-year-old zoo “key” we got from neighbor. You place the key inside one of the informational exhibit audio boxes on the grounds, and then turn it to play an informative recording. Unfortch, the key didn’t work anymore. I think it was designed for a system that was phased out years ago!

Layers love you, especially in SF.

I used to live in the city back in the day. It’s been a while since I visited, and I got a stark reminder of the one thing Bay Area peeps always tell visitors when they come to SF — wear layers, because the temperature can swing dramatically, and it’s no joke.

Unsurprisingly, all the big cats wanted to do was nap!

When we drove in at 10, the city was foggy and chilly, but by the time we left four hours later, the sun was out, and it was toasty enough to walk around in a tee shirt and shorts. Yup, if you’ll be visiting SF, wear things you can peel off and put back on if you need to.

Note to self: write in your journal tonight.

Also, while we were there, I had a major “aha!” moment about journaling, of all things. Basically, I gotta start doing it again consistently, even if it’s just a few lines every day; otherwise, my memory is going to erase all of these fleeting, sweet moments with CoyCoy right now as a small child… I desperately don’t want to lose them.

This hit me hard because of a couple things… First off, I was watching her prance through the grounds and talking to the peacocks (and really anyone who would listen to her), saying “I’m having a such great day,” over and over again. It was the sweetest thing to see pure joy on her face. I always want to remember it.

Second, while we were walking around I started thinking about a school trip I took to the SF Zoo when I was in sixth grade. I remember foggy, faint snippets of that day, like making my way back to the entrance as we were leaving and looking out the car window at the Bay on the drive home. I also remember all the “cool kids” listening to Lisa Lisa on their Sony Walkman headphones (OMG!).

But, for the life of me, I can’t remember who I hung out with that day, or if I even enjoyed it at all. Was I crabby? Was I cold and wishing that I’d brought an extra jacket? Did I see penguins? I’m genuinely curious, and I wish I had a journal to look to and find out… It would be nice (and 100% hilarious) to remember who I was back then.

Black Mirror moment…with a hippo

Oh! — I also tried an experiment with my phone while we were there this time. No mindless scrolling and staring at the screen. I only took out my phone when I absolutely needed, which I only did to take some pictures.

I was inspired to do this after watching The Social Dilemma on Netflix the other day. It’s about social media and how it’s changed our lives for better and worse.

I thought about it when I saw a group of people at an exhibit, all with their phones out. They were all recording a hippo happily pushing around a gigantic ball, and I couldn’t help but wonder how many of the people were really in the moment. I dunno… It felt very Black Mirror!

Not gonna lie…it was hard to resist recording that hella cute hippo. For serious! Also, I really didn’t realize how much of an unconscious habit it is for me to quickly check my emails or texts messages or see what’s happening on the ‘gram. I really do waste a lot of time doing a whole lotta nothing while staring at my phone screen…

A map of the zoo

I’m going to stick with limiting my phone time, though. Hopefully this will allow me to be more present when I’m with my friends and family when we’re together.

Your friendly neighborhood beauty addict,

Karen

P.S. TGIF. 🦁🦓

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