Washington, DC 5.5

Tuesday evening we went on a ghost tour. I picked it because younger kid has never been on one before, and because I thought he might be bored on a historical one. Given how much he’s begged to go on the historical canal tour I may have been wrong about that one.

The ghost tour was fun, and more story than ghost, although it’s nice to know that the capitol building is haunted by a demon cat (DC, get it, get it?). None of my photos came out well, and the main thing I took away from the tour is the desire to see the Library of Congress from the inside and to do a Halloween overnight at the Folger Shakespeare Library.

The tour guide was funny, interesting, and generally great (Ghosts of D. C. tour – highly recommend) and it ended next to a very cool thing – a robin roosting tree full of robins. They were asleep and completely ignored us, even though we were almost close enough to touch them (I could’ve reached them if I’d jumped). They seemed fluffy from below, cozy, and somehow magical.

Washington, DC 5

On Tuesday we went to the zoo and took literally hundreds of pictures. There are way too many to show here, so I’ll just go with a few favorites. The zoo is big, but we saw all of it, except North American mammals, because we were tired and most of those we’ve seen in the wild.

Washington Zoo is not especially big (I believe San Diego and Miami may be larger), but it has two outstanding features that other zoos lack. The first, of course, is the pandas. Notice the adorable toe beans. Both kids believe that it looks exactly the same as our cat (the cat, while large, is somewhat smaller and tabby, but also has adorable toe beans)

My favorite part of the zoo was the Small Mammal House. Unlike other zoos that I’ve seen Washington Zoo has a lot of buildings, and most of them seem larger inside than they are outside. Small Mammal House looks small, but it’s very cleverly planned and positively enormous on the inside.

There were porcupines. Look at that lovely nose. No, seriously, look at it – isn’t it wonderful?

This is a chinchilla. Yes, I do feel guilty for eating beef. Yes, there is an obvious connection.

This is a rare desert sand cat. Younger Kid thinks it looks like our younger cat, but he says that about every non-chubby feline.

This is a lemur, on his way to goose another lemur and run away with an evil laugh.

Dwarf mongoose – much cuter than the regular-sized ones.

Very cute meercats grooming each other.

Of course it’s not just mammals. We saw at least a dozen different species of turtles and tortoises. This one is definitely threatening.

One of the coolest buildings was the Think Tank. Also small from the outside, on the inside it’s a full-sized museum of thinking, with lots to read, fun puzzles, interesting historical exhibits, a cool rat house (with a cool rat in it), and two large enclosures – for chimpanzees and orangutans. Orangutans get the option of either staying there or taking a high wire across the whole zoo to their regular enclosure. The point of them being there is to conduct experiments that would help figure out whether or not they are thinking, and if so, what and how. For instance, the experiment described while we were there had orangutans look at their main enclosure on a screen and tracked whether or not they are more likely to go there if they notice the other orangutans do something interesting.

Orangutans, of course, are impossible to photograph.

Lastly, we visited the Amazon building, which had really great birds and rays.

It also had lots of different frogs and toads, a waterfall, and water dripping everywhere from walls and balconies to form stalactites, which was a bit disconcerting.