Thursday, January 06, 2005

Tucson, Arizona—Salt Lake City, Utah—Days 339/340/341

As I flew from Tucson to Salt Lake, I had to get myself back into the hippo mode. I had gone over a week without anything hippo related (or travel related for that matter). But, getting back into the swing of things was not hard.

A tad turbulent, my flight up to Salt Lake was nice and I tried to get a look out of the window without staring too directly at the woman sitting next to me. The mountains were beautiful and we landed in Salt Lake on time, with the warning that it was 4 degrees outside.


I didn’t find it as absurdly cold as I would have though when I stepped out of the plane. I walked for what seemed like miles to the baggage claim where I found my bag and proceeded to the rental car center. Soon I was on my way to downtown Salt Lake.

I found my hotel just fine (the roads here are huge! Plus they are totally unoriginal in their naming system—every street is either 600 South or 400 east or 1300 North). I dropped my stuff off at the hotel, found the zoo on my map and headed out.

The zoo is set sort of near some hills (or what could be mountains really!) and I pulled in thinking that I must be the only person at the zoo. I bought my ticket and headed in despite the wind that had picked up. Brr! I found the hippo house (as it was called) and one lone hippo inside, which was what I had expected. Poor guy! He was sitting out of his water lying on the concrete trying to suck up something room the ground. I couldn’t see a water hose or anything like that—it seemed like hw as just sucking the ground.

I snapped away and waited for him to do something a little bit more exciting. I got distracted by the mating penguins next door (seriously—they were separated from the others so that they could “copulate”) and went back and forth between watching the bored hippo and the silly penguins (who weren’t copulating when I saw them I promise!). When the hippo finally settled down into that familiar “I’m not getting up ever” stance, I headed back out to figure out what the hippo’s name was. I stopped by the gift shop to pick up a few things and was impressed by their wide selection. I then asked the teenage guy working at the ticket counter what the name of the hippos was.

He told me Moe and spelled it out for me. I wanted to trust him, but since he wasn’t a full on keeper, I would make sure to ask again tomorrow, asking someone else at the zoo, just to make sure.

I went out of the zoo and spent the rest of the afternoon aimlessly driving around Salt Lake City. With no interest in visiting Mormon temples or figuring out just how Salt Lake was founded, I bypassed the museums and historical sites in favor of an early dinner and a movie. Its funny, whenever I think of Salt Lake (this being my first time that I have been here) all I think about are the Mormons. Its probably bad, I know, I am sure there are plenty of non-Mormons here, but I just begin to think about all the things that must be regulated—alcohol and caffeine for instance—and wonder how many root beer drinkers there are in this state.

Plus I was slightly disappointed that there was only one hippo—only one male hippo. Shouldn’t he have like, twelve wives? Heehee. Okokok, that isn’t fair. But still.

The next morning I got up, had breakfast and fiddled around on my computer. Its amazing all the things that you can fiddle around with while you are meaning to do something productive. I eventually made my way back to the zoo. By this time it had really began to snow (it had been snowing all morning) and I drove to the zoo with my hat and gloves on, and with the defroster at full blast.

I pulled into the zoo and realized that today I really WAS the only person at the zoo. Hardly any cars were in the parking lot and I was greeted by a snow blower who was paving the way on the walking path. I went up to the window and bought my ticket, then asked the man at the desk (different person from yesterday) what the hippo’s name was.

He told me Moe (aha!) but then said that actually, the hippo wasn’t here any more.

What? Did he like DIE last night?

The ticket guy told me that in fact, Moe had left last week to “go be with the ladies.”

I told him that I had seen Moe yesterday (only slightly embarrassed that I was admitting to the fact that I came yesterday too) and another guy appeared in the ticket room with the guy. They had a conversation and it was decided that Moe in fact hadn’t left yet, but would leave sometime soon. They didn’t know what was delaying him “moving in with the ladies.”

Aha! I knew there would be ladies involved!

So, apparently, Moe is due to move anytime soon to somewhere (they didn’t know where). I went back to Moe and found him just in the water but getting ready to get out. To my luck, I happened upon feeding time where a keeper came out, threw some gourds into the water, then heaved out some hay and lettuces to him. Moe got out of the water and I snapped away taking pictures as he chomped on the hay and threw back chunks of lettuce.

I said goodbye to Moe and headed back outside into the blizzard that was coming down. Okok, it wasn’t’ a blizzard, but it was definitely snowing. I have been away from snow for a year (although I did spend almost five winters in Minnesota) so it was nice to have it for, oh, five minutes until I got back into my car and had to drive in it.

I drove around a bit, stopped for lunch at Crown Burgers (boasting the “best burgers in Utah”) and settled in at a bookstore to read and drink tea for the afternoon while the snowstorm blew outside.

Today was much of the same—snowstorms and hot tea. If only I had my skiing stuff will me! I did go on a driving spree to find some cd cases to mail my hippo cds back to my boss in New York which took me to other parts of Salt Lake. But now I am back at my hotel feeling warm and looking forward to going to Fresno tomorrow (actually I am excited about San Diego, but Fresno is the stop in between).

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Photo--me at the Hogle Zoo--brrr!

Photo--Zoo sign at Utah's Hogle Zoo

Web link--Utah's Hogle Zoo Hippo

Monday, January 03, 2005

Tucson, Arizona—Days 328-338

Happy New Year everyone.

I had a great time being back in Arizona. Christmas was celebrated with my brother, my dad and myself jumping out of airplanes, failed skiing attempts, reuniting with my friends and lots of unpacking and repacking on my part. It was great to be back at home—somewhere that I have only been for something like three days this past year.

Tomorrow I am off to Salt Lake City, then onwards to Fresno and last, but not least, the infamous zoo in San Diego. That will finish up my hippo adventures and I cannot say in the least that I am excited to be done.