Camping out in a zoo in a different setting after hours seemed interesting enough that when my dad asked if I wanted to go on a father-daughter trip with a bunch of other men in his YPO group, I jumped at the chance! We packed two sleeping bags and all our clothes for the night and next day morning and we were out.
Upon arriving at 4 pm, we got lost. It’s really not that hard. We missed most of the informational meeting with the staff, and when we walked in (as silently as possible) everyone turned around and clapped. And I hated being the center of attention in large crowds. Embarrased, we quickly sat down. Also one thing my dad did not mention was that most of the his friends in this group had kids far younger than me. They averaged between the ages of 4 to 12. Only a few kids were around my age, and two already had the advantage of knowing one another. The introduction ended with the staff bringing out snakes and other cool animals to let the younger kids pet. Dad took a bunch of photos of me with the animals. Cute, I know.
An hour later, I was acquainted with everyone: kids, toddlers, and adults all the same.
We first took a small tour of the parts we were to visit. And, I first hit it off with Kara and Kyle at the Elephant Odyssey exhibit. I don’t remember the details, but I must have done something crazy like ride a sweet elephant named Tembo (just for a second or two) and manage to fall off. I don’t blame the elephant, but it hadn’t even been more than an hour, and I had managed to get embarrassed twice! And this time, it was caught on camera. The only thing to do at the Panda Canyon was to stare at the adorable pandas and take pictures. Dad got a really good shot of the panda (of course, I send a copy to myself! ).
We took a break from visiting more animals to get unpacked and set up our tents and such. I finished quite early. Believe me, I was extremely excited since this was my first real sleepover… any where. Kara’s tent was much bigger to accommodate all the people ( her parents and two younger sisters who are beyond adorable.. they remind me of the girls from “Despicable Me”… maybe, except they’re white.)
It was about 7 pm now, so we were all ready for dinner and then the s’mores and campfire songs! It all happened all too fast, but it was by far one of the best nights of my life. There was laughing, lots of it. And bonding too, lots of it.
The s’mores were amazing. I ate so much, and honestly, I didn’t stop eating until they ran out of the Hershey’s chocolate bars. And even then, I helped myself to the extra marshmallows the younger kids roasted for me in the campfire.
I stayed with Heather and Daisy for the 15 minute tour before we headed back to the tents. We took turns going to the restrooms and brushing and getting ready for sleep. While there though, we made up a brilliant plan to hide in the park. We thought it was the best plan ever. Honestly, it was just us running away on stealth mode and hiding out of our camp grounds. It didn’t work out so smoothly. Within two minutes, we ran into one of the workers, and then ran away before he could say a word. It was just the thrill of being out so late that made everything exciting. That was enough to get a little adrenaline kicking through us and keep us from sleeping for another hour.
We had to wake up early the next morning at 6:30am for our breakfast and last exhibit, so when the adult told us to sleep, we welcomed the suggestion. I had a wonderful night sleeping in the tents on my sleeping bag. My dad and many other men, however, complained of a terrible experience in the tents. I not-so discretely laughed at them while I enjoyed a yummy breakfast. It was getting around time to say our goodbyes. We could choose to attend the last exhibit or just leave.
Most stayed, and although dad was seriously not in the mood to stay any longer, I convinced him. And, I don’t really regret it. He still does, but whatever. We got to see the giraffes up close! The trip turned out a million times better than I had ever expected when we had first arrived. We hugged and kissed and parted sorrowfully, but we got contact details with promises of staying in touch. It was a great experience… also crazy. And, I got a super cute purple t-shirt with koalas at the end!
Check out all the other items on my ultra packed bucket list for more crazy adventures!