Denver Zoo

Destination: Denver Zoo, 2300 Steele Street, Denver, CO 80205

Date/Time: June 3, 9:45

Alex loves animals, so we decided to take him to the zoo for his birthday. This trip was a huge success. The Denver Zoo is very family friendly – you can bring your own food and drink (money saver!). Also, lots of families brought their own wagon for pulling the kids and food (we were not that smart, but next time). Unlike our standard herd of turtles approach, we were out of the house early and through the zoo gates at around quarter to ten. An earlier start is wise on beautiful, sunny weekend.

It was ungulate (hooved) animal week at the zoo. This meant that all the hooved animals were highlighted and there were some special activities going on. Like feeding the giraffes leaves! Alex absolutely loved this activity and said thank you to the giraffes when he was finished handing out leaves. Alex was also very excited to see the elephants.

In the North Shore area of the zoo, there is a great kid play area with a sand box and a ‘tidal pool’. Alex enjoyed the tidal pool immensely. It is amazing how wet he got splashing in water that was barely 2 inches deep in spots. We stopped for ice cream afterwards (Alex’s was free – part of the birthday bonus pack) and took off Alex’s pants to dry in the sun while we relaxed. Lots of sunshine and low humidity, his pants were almost dry in 20 minutes.

The zoo also has some great programs through out the day during feedings and show times. Check out the website. We found all the employees and volunteers to be very helpful and enthusiastic. There is also a carousel and train, but we are saving that fun for a future visit.

Peacocks, peahens, and geese roam freely on the zoo grounds. Be prepared to have a goose stare intently at you for food (don’t feed them) or witness a goose fight. The fuzzy goslings were adorable. Keeping Alex from chasing after the birds was challenging initially, but he quickly learned that walking near the birds was okay.

Fun fact: Giraffes have very long tongues (think foot plus) that they can wrap around objects they want to grip.


Biking in Davis

We gave a brief overview on what it is like riding in a bike in Davis in a previous post. We wanted to expand upon our biking experiences.

When we arrived in Davis it had been a long time since we had done any biking. A few rides while we were traveling, but nothing that could be described as strenuous or long. Upon arriving in Davis, our hand was forced. We spent the first 3 weeks in town with only our bicycles for transportation. (Okay, so we did have Abby; was parked in storage since our driveway was too small to keep her at the house and HOA covenants didn’t permit that type of classiness in the neighborhood anyway.) Even after the car arrived, we stayed with bicycling.

In the last 14 weeks, we each have put about 575 miles on our bikes. It is probably closer to 625 since we did not have odometers for the first couple of weeks.

Alex off to daycare in his bike trailer!
Alex off to daycare in his bike trailer!

Our reintroduction to bicycling everywhere was a rather rude awakening. Muscles protested the new and consistent work, our butts protested the bike seat. Our transition was aided by the fact that Davis is rather flat. The most intense hills are the overpasses that cross the interstate. This is not the place to be if you are training for the mountain stages of the Tour de France. It was also helpful that the network of bike paths offered some safe alternatives to using the bike lanes all the time. This was especially key since Alex was being towed in a trailer. The bike infrastructure here is really amazing and promotes bicycling.

A fun discovery about riding in Davis in the spring is the wind. It always seems to be blowing, and it always seems to be a headwind. The wind just swirls, and we were always working hard into it while all sorts of dust and pollen bits were blown into our eyes.

Alex’s daycare was located on the other side of campus; riding through campus was challenging, especially if your timing was off and it was class change. The mob of students on bikes, skateboards, and walking in the bike path was unreal. It was a dangerous situation because of all the people riding with earbuds (can’t hear the weak bike bells) and texting (truly oblivious to the outside world, no way they could apply the brakes fast enough if they needed to). We worked hard to coordinate drop off and pick up to avoid the crush of students during class change.

It was also easier to ride our bikes downtown than trying to find parking for the car.

Overall, we really enjoy being able to ride our bikes. We are hoping that where ever we land next will have a bicycle friendly culture.

Oh yeah, the United States Bicycling Hall of Fame is in Davis. We park by it every week as we shop at the farmer’s market, but we have never actually gone in. And check out this video by the Empty Seat.

Living in Davis

Weather: There is a lovely lack of humidity. So much so that when the dew point creeps above 50 (a low humidity day back east), it feels rather humid in Davis. However, in the summer the temperatures can reach 110 degrees Fahrenheit or so. Even with the lower humidity still hot. A summer or two of that type of heat, we might even start wearing parkas when it gets down to 50 degrees Fahrenheit.

Taxes: 8.25% sales tax in the city of Davis. Coming from Delaware, land of no sales tax (and shell corporations to assist you in money laundering and tax evasion), this was a shock. We rented, so we cannot comment on property taxes. You do get something for your money though. The community park network is extensive, bike trails cross the city, there is yard waste pick up, and the city is neat and tidy. So, we grump a bit when we pay the tax, but we actually see the positive effects the money has to the community.

Roads: With the money one pays in taxes, the gentle weather (think no frost, so no frost heaves), and a bike culture that cuts back on motor vehicle traffic, the assumption would be the roads would be pristine. Alas, they are not. Definitely a step up from what we experienced in Louisiana, but a far cry from the glass smooth roads in Texas (county routes included!). The best part is the manhole covers. It looks like the wrong size collars were installed, so these covers sit significantly above the road level and they city attempted to pave a grade up to the covers. An interesting experience driving over these things in Abby. Oh, and the other drivers. Very indecisive to the point of timid, with a complete lack of understanding of how to use a rotary. Hint, if you are in the rotary, you do not yield to traffic entering the circle.  It could be argued that California has some of the worst drivers in the country.  Not paying attention, not caring about any kind of order, just a big whatever. This may be a reflection of our east coast driving style as well.

Liberal/Conservative: Davis a college town in California. It is a wee bit liberal. This may be a deliberate understatement. Here is a link to the campus newspaper. The town loves regulations. In the park near our rental there are about 100 signs each with a different town ordinance with a summary of what you cannot do. Feels like when Bart joined the Junior Campers and got the book the 10 Do’s and 500 Don’ts of knife safety. Just remember don’t do what Donny Don’t does.

The People: Cordial, turning friendly as soon as one begins to brew beer in the driveway. Being a college town, it is full of college students, who making going anywhere near campus downright dangerous. It is stressful to drive a car near the college. Why? Bicyclists who believe they are permitted to ignore traffic laws, all while they are texting (not a single hand on the handlebars), ear buds in, completely oblivious to the world. UC Davis, please put some serious consideration into establishing a semester long mandatory freshman seminar called ‘Situational awareness: keeping you alive’. And a bicycling safety seminar. Transfer students have to take these seminars as well.

Parks/Community Recreation: An extensive park system with small neighborhood parks tucked along bike trails bordering communities. Lots of large parks for soccer or Quidditch tournaments (remember, it is a college town). We signed Alex up for gymnastics class (Diaper Daredevils, Creative Climbers) through the City of Davis and he absolutely loved it.

Bike Trails/Lanes: Ubiquitous through out the city. A 12-mile scenic loop around Davis and many more paths across Davis. Some challenges are the rough roadways for the bike lanes, and some of the bike trails provide a good challenge in dodging potholes and heaves. Also, yard waste tends to be piled in the bike lane.

What we will miss: Parks, bicycle infrastructure, the produce (farmer’s market is fabulous), restaurants (nothing 5 star, but solidly decent food), simply gorgeous winter and spring weather.

What we won’t miss: Living six feet away from our neighbors, oblivious college students, the summer heat, how expensive everything is.