Saturday, August 11, 2012


That's my Susan, in the red and black blouse.
That's her son, Justin, in the white shirt.
Susan sent a piece today that she had written about a recent experience. I'm feeling the desire to share it with you. Here goes:

Quick Trip to the Zoo

Jill, my best friend for more than twenty years, is practically a second mom to my two children, now 27 and 31. Last week she gave my son Justin and me personalized annual passes to the Anchorage Zoo. She had taken her visiting niece there a month prior and thought it would be a great activity for Justin and me to participate in together for an entire year. My family is very fortunate that Jill is so gracious and has afforded us opportunities we otherwise would not have. We are grateful.

The last time I was at the zoo was probably twelve years ago. Justin was much younger, his wheelchair much smaller and he, himself, was about 100 pounds lighter. Back then the gravel paths were challenging but manageable. Of course I was much younger then.

When we arrived my heart sank a little seeing how much deeper the gravel is now, but darn it, we were going to have fun! We showed our passes and begin down the gravel path to the learning center area where we had decided to attend, ‘All About Reptiles’. 

The path began as a slight decline; I gathered momentum and velocity, Justin doing his best to assist. Then the path became an incline. So as not to lose the slow speed I had achieved, I didn’t want to stop at the exhibits as we passed on the way to our destination. “Quick! look, Justin, on your right, Snowy Owl, like in Harry Potter. There on your left, Golden Eagle, related to the Bald Eagle. On your right, porcupines, live ones not like the ones we see on the side of the road.” My voice now breathy. “Alpacas, sweaters, sock and scarves.” “Ahead of us Musk Ox”, Justin states, 'I’ve been to the Musk Ox farm', “Good, because we are not stopping”.

We reached the top of the incline and stopped to readjust my undergarments, catch my breath. Next to us was the Black Yak enclosure. We could see three Yaks, one had his head through the railing and stood motionless, staring straight ahead, not blinking. Justin said, “He looks sad”, I agreed. My heart rate close to normal, again breathing evenly, we continued just a few yards to the oasis of the grassy learning area, a welcome sight.

Folding chairs were already aligned in rows. Justin sat in his wheelchair at the end of the second row and I sat to his left. Because we were early we got to see the zoo keepers set up the exhibit. Within the metal playpens they put a variety of turtles. There were a couple of totes that remained unopened.

   At 7pm, the rows were now filled with families with children, visiting grandparents, tourists. The Instructor introduced herself, explaining the many years of impressive training and degrees she had acquired in her years of schooling. She explained that the evening’s lecture was “All About Reptiles”. Did anyone have any questions to start with?  Justin’s hand shot up, my stomach flinched, “The Yak seems depressed”. The instructor replied, “Probably because he is getting castrated tomorrow”. Justin: “What does that mean?” the crowd was quiet. The instructor looked to me as if I was going to whisper the answer to him. I didn’t and waited for her highly degreed answer. “That means he won’t be able to reproduce and create more Yaks.” Justin was satisfied with her answer. I did turn and whisper, “His testicles are being removed” Justin’s eyes got big but he didn’t say anything. We listened to the lecture and learned what was in the tote, a ball snake that the instructor wrapped around her neck. She explained that box turtles, geckos, lizards and other reptiles don't make especially good pets. The audience was told that after the lecture folks were welcome to touch the turtles and ball snake, although they do carry diseases such as salmonella. Hand sanitizer was available.

We headed back to the parking area, much easier going downhill. We are both good sports and laughed about our, ‘speed dating’ zoo experience. Justin sat on a bench as I dismantled his wheelchair to fit in my small car.  Once home he entered his house, bathroom bound, his housemate and staff in the living room. As he passed by them they asked, “How was the trip to the zoo?” As he hurried by them on his mission he said, “Good. The Yak is getting incarcerated tomorrow”.

Such is life with Justin, every outing an adventure…………………….


  1. A wonderful experience for you both and you became Wonder Woman. I can't believe they don't make it easy on wheelchairs.

  2. Great stories! Keep them acomin"
    A Non Y Mouse LaVona

  3. Oh Susan, how you inspire me! I wish I was close enough to be a part of such events!
    Thanks so much for sharing. ;)
    Laurie McF

  4. Good one! -to both authors.


  5. You know you are a writer when you can come up with the phrase: metal playpens. Kudos, Susan.

    It as fun going to the zoo with you both!

  6. What a great story. I too am surprised about the gravel path. Your dear son......what an inspiration this story is to go with what is and adapt~!!

  7. Lucky Susan-she has inherited your talent for writing! I love this story! Shelley

  8. Absolutely lovely!


  9. Hahaaa--that's a sweet story. Susan is a good mom--much like her own mother, obviously. And Justin sounds wonderful. I admit I get very irritated by places that are so hard to navigate with wheel chairs--my mom was in one at the end of her life and I remember how hard it could be. Kudos to Susan and Justin for being so upbeat with such conditions.