flora and fauna

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Tuesday, March 6 saw my first day by myself in the new city. It was déjà vu for sure - much like the first day by myself at band camp (laugh it up, I freakin' loved all five years I went to band camp. And the two years of drum major camp. Yes, I was that much of a band nerd. And always will be!). First day I drove myself in my new car to school (even though, I later learned, my parents followed me all the way into the parking lot). First day of college. First day overseas for the first time, braving a city for the first time. So it almost felt old hat Tuesday.

It's all about baby steps. Still feeling a bit mopey, I decided to explore my neighborhood (Lincoln Park - no, not where the band is from. Or where Antoine Dodson is from, that's Alabama. Think a plethora of nannies, dog walkers, and men wearing Baby Bjorns. Yuppies.). As is to be expected in Chicago, this area has some really fantastic architecture and wonderful old buildings that I am eager to get out and photograph. 

Tree-lined streets and walk ups. Standard for the area.

Not the best, but still a shot of the skyline from a nearby park. 

I decided to go see the famous Lincoln Park Zoo, which is a completely free, open-environment zoo (not the animals) located right by Lake Michigan and ample green space. It's terrific - lots of animals, light display during the winter, great concerts in the summer, and during hours you literally just walk through on your stroll through the park. It's really family friendly with elementary school kids frequently taking day trips through it, and I saw lots of joggers and suits passing through as part of their daily commute. How cool is it that people walk by polar bears and giraffes as part of their running trail?

Before seeing the animals, I was really looking forward to checking out the adjacent Lincoln Park Conservatory, another amazing completely free attraction. It's a greenhouse botanical garden with an impressive amount of flora - so many species that I'd never even seen, all housed together and flourishing. There were rooms dedicated to orchids, trees including ancient cycads, ferns, and a showroom of flowers such as tulips, roses, and hibiscus. Seriously impressive, and I'll definitely be coming back here for some peace and quiet.

Zebra fern

Pretty orchids

I just love tulips!! Amsterdam in the spring is totally on my bucket list. Someone take me there?

If you want to see all of the pictures I took, you can find them here. I took a lot of pictures - I was really excited, both personally and because I know Mom (an avid plant/flower/green thumb person) would've loved to see this place. I'm definitely taking her here when my parents come up for a proper visit. 

Afterwards, it was a short walk (literally ten feet) into the zoo where I continued to be impressed and, more so, overcome with amazement/excitement. Folks, my energy and giddiness levels were on par with all the children also visiting the zoo, I am not even slightly ashamed to say. I haven't been to a zoo in forever, and just knowing I was going to see a polar bear and possibly sea otters was almost too much. It wasn't quite like this, but close:

So the animals definitely cheered me up even though toward the end I started feeling really bad for the animals like most people if they really think about zoos. This is coming from someone who may or may not own a legitimate Save The Whales shirt. Not from my 90s childhood. I'm not even kidding. Oh god, my whale-love secret is out...

Anyway, the LP Zoo has an incredible variety of animals and, just to reiterate, it's totally free! Like, you can see lions and tigers and bears and like, free! Okay, I'm done.

:( :( :( He's sad and dirty. BUT I. LOVE. HIM.

:( Charlie.

He was rubbing against the rock to clean himself off :( Sad polar bear...

Is it a sloth?

Nope!! It's an adorable baby brown bear, playing in his hammock. No, it does not get any cuter than this.

Hi, I am precious.

The rare backward-facing giraffe.

They were galloping around like giant puppies or something.

Meerkats. They always seem to be moving.

Dramatic meerkat, anyone?

Slumbering wolves.

A bad picture, but this is definitely a black bear on the other side of the glass.

This guy was stalking along with all the other big cats (I took about six consecutive shots of a jaguar that are all equally blurry). I couldn't get over how stinkin MASSIVE this guy is! Some serious raw power here.

Lots of wild game at feeding time. Duck hunt!

Chimps after my own heart.

There were of course, a lot more animals, but I either didn't take a picture of them or the pictures I have are inadequate. After the zoo, I called it a day and made it home safely if a little windblown. 

On a mission to get the best view of the skyline! Check out the Sears Tower to the left.

Stumbled across this statue of William Shakespeare in a weird location. Well, weird to someone who thinks ole Bill deserves a better spot than this obscure place near an upscale hotel and elementary school. Oh well, the English major in me shall have to get over it.

"Glory is like a circle in the water,
Which never ceaseth to enlarge itself,
Till by broad spreading it disperses to naught."

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  1. Melanie here! I enjoyed this piece, please email me--I have a question about your blog. MelanieLBowen[at]gmail[dot]com


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