A Quick Trip : Miami, FL

Zephyr and the California Zephyr

Zephyr and the California Zephyr

We left Key West at the end of February, sad to go but excited to begin working our way up the Atlantic Coast. Miami was our next destination. We managed to find an open spot at a county park for three nights. Larry and Penny Thompson Park is located adjacent to Zoo Miami, which was perfect for us. We could hear the monkeys calling at night. Chris had some clients in Miami, so the first day we got to the park we got the RV situated and Chris went to do some biz with his customers. Zeph and I hung out and did some running in the open grass areas around the campsites and did some laundry in one of the the very clean and large laundry rooms at the park. We’ve had great experiences at County Parks and LarryPenny (as we called it) was no exception.
We decided to check out the zoo and got a wonderful surprise on our way into the parking lot. Just next to the zoo was the Gold Coast Railroad Museum. Anyone who’s spent a few minutes with Zephyr knows he is a huge fan of Thomas the Tank Engine. The Gold Coast Railroad Museum just happened to be hosting an event called “A Day Out with Thomas” as we pulled into the parking lot the zoo and railroad museum share. I was particularly excited, as I was familiar with this Thomas event and had tried to take Zeph to it when we were back in California. Basically there’s a lifesize working Thomas that tows passenger cars down the track around the museum, and we got to be passengers for the fifteen minute ride. Zephyr was a little confused at first, but pretty excited after a few minutes and shouted “All Aboard” pretty much the rest of the time we were there. I think the coolest part for Chris and I (besides watching Zeph see his favorite cartoon come to life) was the vintage California Zephyr train car at the museum. Although our boy’s name isn’t directly after these trains, they were a part of the reason we liked the name. (Zephyr means “movement” or “a light breeze” or “the west wind,” there is also a Zephyr car, a motorcycle, a train, and a skate/surf team from Venice Beach in the 70s.) But I digress…

Zeph (a bit in shock) and Chris with a life size Thomas

Zeph (a bit in shock) and Chris with a life size Thomas

After our train ride and realizing that a day out with Thomas was going to get very expensive if we let Zeph near the toy shop area, we made our way across the rather large parking lot to Zoo Miami. Now we are pretty spoiled with the world famous San Diego Wild Animal Park being so close to home, so I didn’t expect much from the Miami zoo, but it turned out to be quite nice. It’s a pretty big park as zoos go and it seemed the animals had plenty of space to move around. Some particular favorites were:
The elephants. We happened to wander by their home just as two trainers came out to give them an afternoon snack of giant palm fronds. The coolest part about seeing Mabel and Betty eat was their interaction with the trainers. The trainers stood where we, the patrons of the zoo, stood. They would talk to the elephants across a deep ravine with water in it (a moat of sorts so the elephants couldn’t leave their area) and then throw over a palm frond, which were bigger than the trainers were. We got to ask the trainers all sorts of questions and watch the very smart pachyderms roam about playing with various toys in their pen.

Elephant photo bomb

Elephant photo bomb

The giraffes: there’s a “feed the giraffes” station where you walk up a platform, buy an overpriced bowl of large lettuce leaves, and walk over to one of the giraffes to feed them the lettuce by hand. Chris took Zeph over to give it a try. Of course Zephyr loved it. I didn’t realize giraffes have giant black tongues! It was quite an experience for all of us.

The boys feeding a giraffe

The boys feeding a giraffe

The okapi: most of you are saying “what the heck is that?” It’s a large horse-like animal with a dark brown coat and stripes not unlike the zebra’s on its hind legs. It is a cousin of the giraffe. This was my first sighting of this animal. In fact neither Chris or I had ever heard of them before. As we were walking past their enclosure (there were two of them), one was very close to the wall down below us. I stopped to admire it, and started talking to it. It/he stared at me like he knew what I was saying and followed me as I walked past his enclosure. I think I made a friend!

Is that Chris or a wild gorilla?

Is that Chris or a wild gorilla?

We left Miami having not visited any real tourist traps besides the zoo. We didn’t go to Southbeach. We didn’t do much of anything, really, and left Miami to head north a night early because we were anxious to get to our next destination as we had a last minute surprise side trip planned. More on that next time!

  • Kathy Adams

    As always loved the blog and miss you all a ton!

  • Diane Palmer

    Loved the last blog with all the facts…very fun to read!!! That was a great picture of Zephyr sitting in front of the “Zephyr” it would make a neat picture in his room/your room…or when you get back. Loved the ape pic of Chris too! That’s my very funny son-in-law!!! I’m glad Zephyr is enjoying the pics and video’s I’m sending from my i-phone. Love you all much!!!

  • Allie

    Love Chris with his monkey face!