Thursday, February 16, 2017

Pet peeve of the day: conflating agencies

Image result for smokey bear Resist! National Park Service

Does anyone outside the various agencies, both state and federal, that deal with the environment, cultural heritage, recreation, wildlife, whatever, have any clue that those agencies are not all the same? The most recent irritant in my world is a meme that's kicking around on the Intertubes, a little gem that's being screenprinted on tee-shirts with the dubious claim that all profits from sales will go to benefit the National Park Service. Given that I've seen quite a few variations on it all making that same claim, I somehow doubt any money is going to anyone other than the person peddling the shirts. I am especially dubious given the sheer number of vendors peddling Smokey Resist! shirts -- when I did a Google Image search, there must have been two dozen variations, none of which were being marketed by any nonprofit actually associated with either NPS or the Forest Service.

In any case, the shirt features  Smokey Bear exhorting people to RESIST! Smokey is standing next to the National Park Service arrowhead. One problem, people. Smokey is a U.S. Forest Service employee. He also lends his services to Natural Resources departments in various states. He's not NPS. He's never been NPS. You want to get Smokey collectibles? You go to a U.S. Forest Visitor Center, not a National Park. You want to talk with someone tasked with wearing the Smokey suit for parades or other public appearances? You're not going to find an NPS employee wearing fur. It's going to be someone from a state DNR or the U.S. Forest Service. But try telling the general public that. If it involves protecting the environment, it's automatically the Park Service doing it. 

Of course, the Smokey shirt isn't the only place this irritant pops up. I joined a Facebook group that supposedly is focused on the National Parks. People post photos of the different NPS sites they've visited, share tips on nifty stuff to see, and describe especially nice experiences they've had. Only one problem: I swear half the stuff that gets posted has nothing to do with the National Park Service. Lots of cool photos -- waterfalls in various locations, gorgeous scenic vistas, and so on -- from state parks, county parks, National Forests, Bureau of Land Management sites, Indian reservations, and National Wildlife Refuges. This would not be a bad thing if people identified the sites as such. You know, threw in a sentence or two saying something like "If you visit Mordor National Park, be sure to check out the orc village just outside the gates," but most people don't. Instead they'll gush about visiting Grand Canyon National Park and seeing Havasupai Falls (outside the park boundary on the Havasupai reservation) or seeing Cochise Stronghold (Coronado National Forest) when they visited Chiricahua National Monument.

I don't know why this annoys me. Back when I did field work, I'd occasionally run into local residents who were sure I worked for the state DNR even after I introduced myself as a National Park Service historian, or who somehow thought the National Park unit we were standing in was actually a state park. Either that, or they thought I was Forest Service for some reason. The average citizen is really, really bad at telling government agencies apart -- and for sure Rick Perry isn't the only person on the planet who doesn't know what the various agencies actually do.

Actually, the thing that floored me the most back in my NPS days wasn't the confusion over just which agency employed me. It was the totally baffled look some people would give me as they asked, "Why would the Park Service have historians?" I could halfway understand that question when I was chatting with hikers in the middle of nowhere at Buffalo National River, but when we were standing in a place labeled as National Historic Site? The stupid, it burned.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Walnut Canyon National Monument

Installment Whatever of the Travelogue: Walnut Canyon National Monument.

After spending the night in Flagstaff, the trek continued. Checked out of the motel, got on to I-40, and then three miles down the road got off I-40. Walnut Canyon has to be one of the easiest parks in the National Parks system to visit: conveniently close to Flagstaff and with a dedicated freeway exit.
Walnut Canyon was popular with tourists long before it was designated as a national monument. Its numerous cliff dwellings began attracting visitors in the 19th century. Many of the ancient cave dwellings were vandalized and graves desecrated as pot hunters and tourists roamed through the canyon looking for souvenirs or anything that might be salable to collectors. Concern about ongoing vandalism and looting led to President Wilson designating Walnut Canyon a National Monument in 1915. The site was managed by the U.S. Forest Service. In the 1930s, the Forest Service requested that management of Walnut Canyon be transferred to the National Park Service, probably because preservation of archeological resources was a better fit with the NPS's overall mission.

Following establishment of the the Civilian Conservation Corps, CCC workers developed the Island Trail, a trail that includes multiple flights of stairs and allows visitors to walk down into the canyon and see the cliff dwellings from a closer perspective. It's not a particularly difficult trail, but, wow, after a while you start to hope you've seen that last flight of stairs. And then it hits you -- all those stairs you've come down require you going back up eventually. Anyone with bad knees or a weak heart should probably limit their views of the cliff dwellings to what they can see from the rim.
 One of the more amusing things I overheard on our visit was a woman talking about how she had been to Walnut Canyon about 20 years earlier and at that time the paved trail, concrete steps, and metal hand railings did not exist. She swore it was all dirt and that they'd had to scramble up and down the cliffs. I'm not sure where she'd actually been, but it wasn't Walnut Canyon. The CCC spent four years working in the Monument: they built a visitor center (still extant, but kind of hiding as a more recent addition masks much of the original building), the Island Trail with its 240 steps, and made other improvements. The asphalt in the above photo may be fairly recently, but the stone retaining wall was the CCC.

Walnut Canyon was occupied at about the same time as the pueblos at Wupatki, from about 1100 to about 800 years ago. Scholars have dubbed the peoples living there as being part of Singua culture, Native Americans who were able to practice farming with very little water, and whose culture spread across a fairly large area in northern Arizona. The cliff dwellings at Walnut Canyon aren't the spectacular pueblos you see at places like Mesa Verde. They're more typically single family dwellings, one or two rooms that take advantage of a shallow cave or overhang and are the equivalent of one story in height. I heard other visitors speculating about how the people got around when they were basically living on the sides of a cliffs, but if you look carefully, the cliffs are naturally terraced (there are more or less level areas in front of every dwelling, even if it's not always very wide) and you can also see natural routes up and down between the various levels. Eight hundred years of weather and revegetation can make it hard to visualize, but not impossible.

On the day we were there, recent snow meant that part of the Island Trail was closed for safety reasons. The trail normally makes a loop, but thanks to the ice on the shady side of the "island" visitors had to backtrack. In addition to the Island Trail, visitors who want to see more of the monument can sign up for a ranger-guided hike that goes along the terraces in the canyon and gives them a glimpse of the cliff dwellings not normally accessible to the public.

The park was surprisingly busy when we stopped. The parking lot was close to full, and there was a steady stream of visitors going up and down the Island Trail. Lots of families, and once again I was moderately amazed by the numbers of parents who didn't seem particularly concerned about letting kids run on a trail that had some fairly impressive drop-offs. But, as we all know, it's human nature to think that bad stuff only happens to other people's families.

There is a rim trail that's handicap accessible and has two nice overlooks of the canyon. There's also a picnic area that on the day we were there came complete with ravens. But then ravens were everywhere -- Grand Canyon, Wupatki, Petrified Forest, you name it. They were the one form of wildlife we were guaranteed seeing no matter where we went.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Buyer's remorse strikes again

In the three weeks since The Donald took the oath of office and moved into the White House, there's been a fair amount of hand-wringing and "holy crap, I didn't think he'd really do it" emanating from the folks who voted for Cheeto Mussolini. The latest surge in buyer's remorse seems to be coming from the agricultural sector.

"Farmers" (and I use the word loosely, because I'm not sure it applies when you're running an industrial operation involving thousands of acres and relying on hundreds of workers) in California and elsewhere are now freaking out over visions of a labor shortage. The one agency that seems eager to follow directions from the White House is Immigration and Customs Enforcement, aka ICE. There were record numbers of deportations under the Obama administration, but even so ICE was a tad restrained in some areas. Well, from the perspective of undocumented immigrants, those have become the good old days. ICE is now going after anyone and everyone who might be here illegally.

Not surprisingly, a good number of the undocumented workers in this country are farm workers. Let's face it. For various reasons -- changing demographics that resulted in a more urbanized population, for example -- there aren't a whole lot of people who actually want to work on farms. The work that needs to be done tends to be physically demanding, involves miserable working conditions, and pays shit wages. There are, however, still a lot of crops and livestock that require people to get them to market. Dairy farms need real live people to attach the milking machines to the cows. Crops like strawberries are too delicate to mechanically harvested so have to be picked by hand. Depending on the fruit, not as many bodies are needed for harvesting (I have seen mechanized blueberry pickers in action) but you still need people to do the seasonal pruning. And so on. You don't get food to the supermarket without a lot of labor being involved on the production end.

Which brings me to the buyer's remorse. Farmers tend to vote Republican, whether it's in California or Nebraska. In the most recent election, naturally, they voted overwhelmingly for Trump. Trump is now following through on his promise to crack down on undocumented brown people living and working in this country. ICE has already begun deporting persons they were ignoring during the previous administration. Once the easy targets have been swept up, how much longer do you think it will be before they resume massive raids on factories and farm fields?

Which brings us to all those Republican farmers who are suddenly realizing they just screwed themselves. Dude, the Human Yam talked loud and long about deporting undocumented immigrants. Did you believe he was going to make an exception for the Guatemalens who are picking your lettuce?

Actually, they probably did believe that of all the promises their candidate made, the one that would affect them most directly is the one the Trumpster would renege on. If it didn't mean that the price of fresh produce is going to start climbing, I'd be laughing. Just how out of touch of reality do people have to be to vote for a candidate who makes promises to do something and then freak out when the candidate actually follows through? Farmers freaking out about losing stoop labor isn't quite as amusing as the ignorant rubes who voted for Trump because he vowed to get rid of Obamacare and now are panicking because the Republicans are working on repealing the Affordable Care Act -- "What do you mean Obamacare and the ACA are the same thing?! No one told me that!!" -- but it comes close.

In short, when a candidate has a list of promises he's said he plans to keep, what makes anyone think that the one that impacts you where it hurts the most is the one he's going to ignore? The stupid, it burns. 

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Modifying the itinerary

It's odd how quickly one can become comfortable sitting in one spot. When the S.O. and I started talking about this whole snowbird thing the word 'ambling' got tossed around. We'd go far enough south to get away from snow, and then we'd amble. Spend a week or two here, a week or two there, staying in one spot long enough to do a little exploring, check out whatever units of the National Park system happened to be nearby, visit other local attractions, and then we'd amble on down the road.

Then The Kid got promoted and transferred to southeastern Arizona. Okay, so we'd stay a little bit longer in one spot before the actual ambling began. Instead of following the original plan of kind of hopscotching around to various state and federal campgrounds with an occasional stay at private RV park that had full hookups, we'd find a private RV park that did extended stays and sit in one spot for a month or two.

Well, the month or two became three months before we even got here Once we decided we'd head south at the end of October, it was an easy decision to say, well, it would be weird to take off right after the holidays so we'll stay at Lexington Pines until the end of January. Then we got here, time flew, we got comfortable, and suddenly the ambling didn't look quite as attractive. So we tacked on February.

So here we are. February is now 25% gone. We started talking about where we'd go at the end of the month. . . . and guess what the answer turned out to be? Nowhere. You got it. The itinerary has been modified again. We're now looking at the middle of March before we depart. The original ambling home phase has gone from about ten weeks down to more like four. Which means, I guess, that instead of a week at Big Bend National Park or Canyon Lake, it'll be more like 2 or 3 days. At this point, we're still saying we'll kind of waltz across Texas before aiming North, but the waltz is starting to look more and more like a schottische.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument

And the road trip narrative continues.

Sunset Crater National Monument is located slightly northeast of Flagstaff, Arizona, and is reached by the same loop road that passes through Wupatki National Monument. One would think it would be a rare person who visited one without also seeing the other, but apparently it happens. I spoke with a fellow recently who had been to Grand Canyon National Park and to Sunset Crater but drew a complete blank when I asked him about Wupatki.

 As is fairly obvious from the map, Sunset Crater isn't particularly large. It is also fairly limited in what one can do there. There are a couple short hiking trails that provide views of the volcano or the lava flows, but you cannot climb the volcano itself. On the other hand, it is surrounded by the Coconino National Forest. The Forest does have numerous recreational opportunities, including long hiking trails, back country camping, and a campground (Bonito) located immediately adjacent to the momument. The campground is named after the lava flow which, as my Guide to RV/Trailer Camping in U. S. National Forests, notes, lends "another worldly appearance to this starkly beautiful place."
 If I had any photo editng skills at all, I would play with the above photo so it didn't look like the mountain was about to be struck by a humongous flaming object.
I must confess that Sunset Crater Volcano was place where we behaved like windshield tourists. We pulled into one overlook, admired the view of the mountain, admired the view off in another direction, and then got back in the car and continued on our way. We overshot the parking for the trail by the lava fields, which actually merited a closer look, and then stopped at the Visitor Center. We briefly contemplated doubling back to the lava field trail, but it was getting late in the afternoon, we weren't sure just how far we were from Flagstaff or how long it would take us to find a motel, and so instead continued on our way.
In retrospect, I wish we had spent a little more time at Sunset Crater. It was interesting seeing what is obviously fairly recent volcanic activity. In geologic terms, a little over 800 years since the last major eruption comes close to being no time at all. Definitely worth visiting if a person is in the Flagstaff area; it's only 14 miles from I-40 so it's pretty easy to get to. If a person wants to camp, the Bonito campground is open May 4 through October 8 and can accommodate motorhomes and trailers up to 44 feet long. Sites at the campground are reservable through No hookups, but potable water is available and there are toilets.

Top photo and map lifted from the National Park Service.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Shoot me. Just shoot me now.

Speaking of RV park oddities, this is one we'd noticed the first time we campground hosted. Little old ladies and their drop kick dogs. Everyone knows that little old ladies have an irrational fondness for little yippers, the annoying rats on a string or the superficially cute balls of fluff that have the same lovable personalities as gila monsters. Like Pomeranians, a breed that terrorized me back in my newspaper carrier days. (I will go to my grave convinced Pomeranans are the nastist little bastards on the planet.)

With a few rare exceptions, though, when it comes to RV living it is not the little old ladies who get to walk those wee beasties. It's the old dudes, the geezers who spent their entire lives working so they could afford a really nice Leviathan or humongous 5th wheel. The golden years finally arrive, they're able to do some traveling, be snowbirds, enjoy the good years ("this message brought to you by the Ketchup Advisory Board. . ."), and what does The Wife do? She insists first on sharing that motorhome or travel trailer with a dog, sometimes multiple dogs, and the beast is one of those miniature breeds that puppy mills crank out by the gazillions and that are usually psychotic as hell from having spent the first ten weeks or more of its life in a canine concentration camp. Then she decides that walking that beast, that nasty-tempered little yipper, is a good chore for the Old Man. He apparently needs the exercise more than she does. End result? A lot of old dudes shuffling around the RV park or campground walking shih tzus, Pomeranians, Chihuahuas, etc., and all with the same expression on their face: "Shoot me. Please shoot me now." You just know that this is not how they pictured retirement.

One of the neighbors here is an older guy, I'm guessing he's probably somewhere in his 80s, who amuses us because his vehicle has a set of truck nuts dangling from the trailer hitch. You just don't expect to see truck nuts on a vehicle belonging to someone that old. (Actually, you don't expect to see truck nuts anywhere any more -- that fad kind of came and went a few years ago.) It didn't take us long to figure out why he has that set of plastic testicles. They're to compensate for the ones he lost years ago when his wife insisted on getting a couple of perambulating dust mops that he's now stuck walking and cleaning up after. Poor bastard.

Another set of neighbors, some folks who just pulled in a couple days ago with a high dollar Leviathan, actually have four, count 'em, four annoying little furballs traveling with them. The little bastards bark like maniacs every time anyone walks past their site. Now, I know a Class A has a lot more space in it than the Guppy does -- being quite a few feet longer does make a difference -- but even so, why anyone who was even remotely in their right mind would want to travel with four yippers is beyond me.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Inevitable result of living in a bubble

Every time I listen to the news, I get to hear about The Donald doing something else that's weird or illegal, like signing executive orders that clearly violate the Constitution or throwing hissy fits and dramatically firing personnel who would have been gone in a few days anyway.

I'm not exactly going out on a limb here by speculating that the cluster fuck that is the newly born Truamp administration is the inevitable result of American voters deciding to elect someone who had spent his entire life inside a golden bubble. The Human Yam had no idea how government actually worked, and no one around him -- the herd of butt snorklers and enablers whose income or access to power depends on keeping The Donald happy -- was or is willing to tell him. He thinks the President's pen is kind of like a magic wand: he signs something and it'll magically happen. No checks and balances, no having to beg Congress for appropriations for dream projects, no the American public freaking out and mounting massive protests, just issue an order and Stuff Will Happen.

Well, it's obviously true that if the President signs an executive order directly ordering persons working within the Executive Branch to do something, Stuff Happens. Witness the mess that has ensued because the Yam decided to persecute women and children fleeing war zones. That doesn't mean the Stuff Happening is legal -- that's why the Judiciary exists, it's part of the checks and balances built into the Constitution (a document The Donald has apparently never read). Except The Donald didn't know that. Having spent his life in a golden bubble where people only told him what he wanted to hear and having been able, thanks to the combination of money and celebrity, to bulldoze his way over the rare individuals who tried telling him he was wrong, he figured being President was like being CEO of a private company. He can bark out orders and minions will jump.

Proposed CBP uniform. Very retro.
And, yes, it worked with the Customs and Border Patrol agents who decided to be instant asshats at the airports and make life miserable for people who had already been through an "intensive vetting process," but that didn't surprise me. There's nothing quite like a lower level minion being told he or she is now free to be a power tripping asshat to bring out the Total Jerk in people who should never have been working with the public to begin with. Heck, having dealt with power-tripping asshats at the U.S.-Canadian border a few times (and this was back before we turned into a nation of sniveling cowards seeing terrorists under every bed), I know that of all the federal agencies, Customs and Border Patrol is the one that's probably been salivating about the prospect of getting an update to their uniforms, you know, to dark gray or black ones with lightning bolt insignia.

The question is, of course, will other agencies be as compliant? We've been seeing "Rogue" and "Alt" pages purporting to be the work of federal employees defying the dictates of Darth Cheeto but there's no way of knowing how real any of them are or how many employees may have actually joined the Resistance. And what happens when various states start telling Trump and the federal government where to shove it? Will the other federal law enforcement agencies and the military be as quick to defy court orders as the Border Patrol? Or will someone in Congress actually have enough of a spine to get serious about invoking Article 4 of the 25th Amendment?

I saw a brief news item, a tease to an article about Steve Bannon trying to prevent any paper trails in the White House. It was a pretty obvious reference to trying to prevent evidence that might be used for impeachment proceedings from building up in filing cabinets, but who needs a paper trail for invoking Amendment 25? All you need are the video recordings and the tweets. I mean, how mentally competent is a man who's up in the middle of the night to do Twitter rants about celebreties and who obsesses about crowd size? I've been saying it for two years: if Trump was someone's aging parent from an average middle class family, the adult children would be trying to find him an open bed in a memory care unit. He's the embodiment of everyone's angry elderly uncle who's been sliding into dementia for years but no one wants to admit it. People got seduced by his celebrity and willingly ignored the crazy.

We have had Presidents in the past who did a pretty thorough job of abusing their power, who lied to the citizenry, and who managed to do a fair amount of damage during their terms in office. All of them, though, knew enough about how the government is supposed to work that they managed to be subtle. They slid stuff through under the radar, so to speak, or were patient enough to move slowly and carefully. Reagan, for example, indulged in behavior similar to Trump's: he appointed people to head agencies those same people wanted to weaken or destroy, he indulged in crony capitalism, and he managed to end up with one of the most corrupt administrations in history. Unlike Trump, however, Reagan knew how to screw us over without we the people recognizing it. He was smart enough to not indulge in self-aggrandizing. If anything, he did the opposite, which is one reason the scandals that did hit never touched him. People loved Reagan. Almost no one loves Trump; his approval ratings are dropping so fast he's going to be hated more than Congress soon and he's been in office less than two weeks. I'm not sure if the Yam's megolamaniac style of governence is a good thing or a bad thing. After all, there's no mystery as to what he's trying to do. The big question is what the country is going to do in response. We definitely live in interesting times.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Arizona, land of an infinite number of ratty RV parks

 Every decade or so a new easy money scheme hits the collective consciousness. Chicken farms, emu ranching, alpacas. . . I find myself wondering if at some point 30 or 40 years ago property owners in Arizona decided en masse to try milking snowbirds. I swear there's a ratty, semi-abandoned RV park lurking behind every other cholla cactus or creosote bush in the state.

We had The Younger Daughter do some research before we came down here. She checked out the two or three in the Safford-Thatcher area that looked good, and then recommended the one we've been sitting in since early November. The runner-up park had an amenity this one didn't -- a heated pool -- but was a lot newer so the landscaping, even for Arizona, was bleak. The Kid had done drive-throughs of both, but said this one just seemed a little nicer, maybe because it had a few actual trees. She also said there were some other parks in the area, but just seeing them from the highway made her not want to explore further.

Since getting here, just our of curiousity I checked out some of the competition. Holy wah. Their rates better be pretty damn low because I can't imagine willingly driving the Guppy into any of them. But they all had some pretty nice equipment sitting there, people who were fairly obviously just passing through. I found myself wondering what happened. Did they get to Safford in the middle of the night and were desperate? Did they deliberately go looking for the park that had the lowest possible rates and still provided at least one amenity, e.g., electricity? How much sleep would you get if all the neighboring motorhomes and trailers looked like they were being used as meth labs? I've seen a few that make a Walmart parking lot look pretty good in comparison.
 The second runner-up was also looking a tad seedy when we did a drive through a couple weeks ago. Now there's an ad in the paper for manager/maintenance. Interesting. Makes me glad we were able to get in here.

And, while I'm on the subject of RVs and RV parks, I've noticed one oddity here. Well, I've actually noticed multiple oddities, but this is the one that I just got reminded about: Since we arrived, there have been other trailers and motor homes coming and going. The larger RVs, both the Leviathans (Class A motorhomes) and 5th wheel trailers, tend to have side entrance doors set fairly high off the ground. It seems to be common practice in this park (and I'm sure in many others) for the people who are doing extended stays to put up actual wooden porches.

I can see doing a wooden porch if you're one of those people who's decided to just keep the RV parked here permanently (and there are a bunch of them, some belonging to people who are still being snowbirds so are just here seasonally and others who have progressed to being here year-round), but if you're just here for a month? There have been a couple 5th wheels that came in that weren't here long but indulged in mammoth construction projects: big wooden porch with balustraded railings, a wooden fenced enclosure for their drop kick dogs, . . . one unit even had a trellis of the type one would expect to see roses climbing over. It was bizarre. It is bizarre.The thing that reminded me was spotting one of the neighbors busy adding yet another piece to his porch, a porch that's been in progress for about 3 weeks now.

Then again, maybe it's a way for some these old dudes to keep busy. There's a 5th wheel not far from us where the old dude there has been building a porch practically since they got here. I think he's adding a balustrade a day, all lovingly sanded and polyurethaned. I commented a couple posts ago that the S.O. was kind of loose ends with nothing to tinker on. Maybe I should suggest to him that the Guppy could use a porch, too. Or not. I do find myself wondering just what these people do with their construction projects when they move on. I've yet to see anyone build something that looked even remotely portable.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Did I mention we went to the zoo?

It's been a while since we were there but I might as well share a few photos. We hit the Phoenix Zoo right after coming back from Hawai'i. What do I remember most about it?

It had the highest admission fee I've ever paid for a zoo. It was unreal. It was so high that I didn't even buy a souvenir magnet in the gift shop on the way out. I figured they'd already gotten more than enough money from us, especially considering that it doesn't even have anything that's particularly out of the ordinary. I mean, a Watusi cow? Big deal. It was kind of nice that it was hanging out with a giraffe, and, yes, that is an impressive set of horns . . . but a cow?

Well, maybe the California condors would count. They really are humongous, remarkably ugly birds. I have a fair amount of respect for scavengers, but have to admit condors make turkey buzzards look like movie stars on the attractiveness scale.
They also had a good-sized herd of bighorn sheep. Ignore the fact there's only one in this photo -- he had a lot of friends hanging out in the same enclosure. The zoo does have a captive population of various native to the American southwest critters: big horn sheep, javelinas, various snakes and lizards, coyotes, Mexican red wolves, and so on. The usual suspects, so to speak, including the Gila monster pictured below. For some reason the beast reminds me of some the really ugly purses I see occasionally being proudly toted around by women who apparently are either blind or have no taste. Put a handle and a price tag on him and some Walmart shopper will snap him right up.
The zoo did have one kind of nifty exhibit. They'd apparently done some sort of art project with LEGOS because various creatures constructed from LEGOS were scattered throughout the grounds. Some were were neat, some were just sort of strange. The spider at the top was the first one we saw; I was impressed.
Overall I'm not sure what to think of the zoo. The layout wasn't bad, the informational signage was decent, but I don't think we'll ever go back. My wallet is still feeling the pain from that admission fee.