Thursday, October 3, 2013

georgia on my mind

I can't remember if I've mentioned this before, but October 1st was officially the last day I could have taken paid time off from work.
The new library is steadily underway, and October marks the beginning of the "blackout period" - where we can no longer have access to any of our paid time off, aside from (hopefully) Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Knowing this beforehand, Dusty and I began to contemplate when we wanted to use my last days off.
Georgia slowly began creeping up in our minds, because we wanted to go somewhere a bit further away, and had been wanting to visit with our friends over there for quite a while!
As a bonus, it's only a couple more hours to travel to Charleston, which is on my east coast bucketlist!

That being said, we finally made the decision to leave on a Thursday night for Georgia, then spend our last day in Charleston before heading back to Lynchburg that Monday.

We spent our weekend with Sarah, Josh and their little girl Brooklyn.
It was so much fun. We have seen Brooklyn at various stages of her littleness, but this time she was just so full of personality we could hardly keep up!
She's so spunky and adorable, and her and Dusty became besties pretty quickly. 

She has the most unbelievably adorable way of giving you this ironic kind of side glance, and it's impossible to describe unless you experience it for yourself. 
Sort of like, "C'moonn, you knowww, you know what I'm talkin'  bout".

We drove late into the night on Thursday, and pretty much crashed once we got there, after a quick greeting/chat with Sarah. We ended up sleeping until 11 the next morning!
Sarah was working, and Josh was sleeping (because he works nights), so we treated Friday as a much-needed lazy Saturday.
Later on we played with Brooklyn, getting to know her and letting her get to know us again.

We ate amazing New York style pizza for dinner, and watched Snow White and the Huntsman late that night. It was the greatest pajama day ever.

On Saturday we got up and headed off to the zoo, which we were really excited about! It was Brooklyn's first time, and it was obviously our first time to this zoo. It had been a while since we had been to any zoo at all, so we were just excited to see all the animals and hang out.

Penguins have long been a favorite of Dusty's. One of these days we're gonna try and arrange to go feed them at SeaWorld - we also wanna swim with the Beluga whales, but that's another story.

So darn cute.

It was a bright and sunny day, and we just meandered, ogling at the various creatures.
Zoos are kinda funny, really. Just walking around staring at animals all day.
But there's definitely no argument that they're incredibly worthy to be ogled.

One of the BEST moments was when we approached the giraffe enclosure -- during feeding time, there's a little bridge where you can buy food (lettuce) and the giraffes come right up to you and eat out of your hand.
Instead of buying food, we ran around like little scavengers and picked up shreds of dropped lettuce to bait the animals.
There was a pretty good crowd, but we still got amazing pictures and people were actually very nice. Maybe it was the childlike awe that made everyone so friendly to one another. And the actual childlike children around.

God, how did you think to create these funny little guys?

We named him Conrad.

If there's such a thing as a giraffe high, we were definitely on it after that.
The rest of the day I was floating on a cloud because I had met a spotted fellow named Conrad who was extremely polite and felt as soft and friendly as a horse.

It might have been a rather strange experience for Brooklyn, but she seemed to have a great day!
She especially enjoyed petting the cow. :)

 But not as much as that dude in the orange shirt. He was invested. 

We stopped for lunch at one of the park's restaurants, and enjoyed the shade.
It's pretty surreal to be spending a day with Sarah's family - her and I go wayyy back. Her parents and my parents became really close when we were all really little (she's known me since I was born), but then they moved away and there was much sadness.
Years later, Sarah came back to Arizona. She lived with us for two years when I was 11-ish, and we kind of adopted each other as sisters. She meant so much to me back then, and some of my fondest memories of being an obnoxious pre-teen involve her and I's relationship.
It was pretty crushed when she moved back to the east coast. I wasn't sure I'd ever get over it. Against all odds, we both managed to continue living life, and we were able to be a part of each other's weddings and now we're both on the east coast for a while! Being able to spend time with her has been a blessing.
Now we've just gotta work on getting them to move back to Arizona!

What does the fox say?

Another one of the highlights of our day was seeing the monkey enclosure.
It's so crazy because the entire monkey "island" of sorts is just in the center of a circular path, with water around it. They could easily leave, but for whatever reason (shy swimmers), they don't attempt to cross the water. Pretty crazy!

When we were passing by, they were calling out and speaking to each other so much! It was amazing. Their necks expanded as they murmured, inflating like a balloon, kind of like frogs - it was the funniest thing to watch!

Monkeys are such strange things. And so entertaining.

 One of the last things we did was head over to the park's gardens, which were a tram ride away.

We were all starting to wind down, a little beat from the heat.
The breeze from the tram ride felt amazing!
Once we got to the gardens, we walked around and even found a little playground area.

 Once we got back to the main park area, we made a bee-line for some ice cream. 
Not only to cool off, but because it was Dippin Dots, which is a secret theme-park (and now, zoo) weakness of mine.

Our last stop was the gift shop.
Dusty and I obviously picked up a stuffed animal version of Conrad the giraffe.
Afterwards we took some super cute pictures on the stone lion figures near the main entrance!

A great day was had by all.

This pretty much sums it up:

Awww, kids!

Once we got back home, we went out to dinner at this funky cool spot called Rooster's Beak.

We munched on chips, guacamole and queso, and had various tacos and house made custard. Yum. 

We were leaving early the next morning for Charleston, but it was pretty sad to leave!
We couldn't have asked for a better weekend spent with friends, playing with Brooklyn and being laid back and silly. It was a great way to spend our mini vacation!
Thanks guys. :)

Sunday morning we packed our bags and put Conrad in the front seat with us, ready for the next leg of our adventure.
But that's for another time!

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