Hell on Wheels

It was so hot.

My mom and I had planned to take Saoirse and the mighty Quinn to a local wildlife park Monday.  It’s one of those places that prides itself on its showcase of herds of imported animals, mainly from Africa (because it’s not torture enough for us Yankee humans to endure these Pennsylvania winters…), and along with a petting zoo and reptile house, its main attraction are these safari vehicles (sawed-in-half school buses painted in camouflage.  Genius, I say) that tour the grounds.  Since I seemed to have thrown all of my ethics regarding animal welfare out the same window I tossed my vow to never own an SUV, I thought it might be fun.

It was really hot.

I had a doctor’s appointment that morning that ran late (yes, I’m alive and well.  Thanks for your concern, though!) that morning, so we decided to venture out after the afternoon naps.  Because absolutely nothing screams “good time” more than an hour’s ride at 4 in the afternoon in the middle of a 98-degree July day on an open bus covered in vinyl, we were bound and determined to have fun, whether we wanted to or not.  So off we went.

And the trip was actually okay.  Other than the brick oven temperatures and all (I saw somebody cooking a pizza on one of the bus seats.  No, not really.  But it was that hot), it was a good little adventure.  Granted, since most of my activities this summer have been geared toward the three-and-under crowd, my standards are a little low, but Quinn, at least, had a blast.  When she wasn’t crying, I mean.  Oh, and when she wasn’t tugging at my tank top, the back of which had become seared to the vinyl seat back in the sun.  Other than that, she had fun.  She’d stand there, gripping the side wall of the half-bus (no, not when it was moving.  What kind of mother do you think I am?) cooing at all the animals that approached (because there is nothing a semi-wild beast loves more than being fed crackers out of the side of a pimped-out bus).  An elk would walk by:  “Luca!” she’d cry.  A bison came nuzzling beside us (yes, bison nuzzle):  “Luca!  Luca!”  A water buffalo took a giant poop directly in front of her:  “Luca!”  I guess to a 13-month-old, all the world is her beloved dog.  Then she’d cry some more.

It was that hot.

SK hung in there.  At one point she was actually just hanging her head, hair damp from the weight of her hat, because the air was that oppressive:   “Mom,” she whispered, “I’m not feeling so well.”   Now, this oldest daughter of ours never complains.  Ever.  I was so feeling like mother of the year at this point.  But she smiled at the llama who grinned at her (she doesn’t know that they do that sometimes before spitting a bunch of regurgitated food in your face.   Ignorance being bliss, and all).  She fed a deer a cookie, which was pretty cool.  And she got to drink Gatorade after it all was over, which in SK’s world is almost better than ice cream.  I was just happy that the bathrooms were pretty darned clean, because after your 3-year-old downs an entire bottle of Gatorade in 30 seconds, well, you’re gonna need one.

We were tucking Saoirse in bed that night (Quinn had already been bathed and was sound asleep by 6:30.  Because it was that kind of day), and I asked her if she had a good time.  She thought for a moment, then said, “Mom?  I want to ride that bumpy bus sometime again.”  Okay, kiddo.  We will.  But maybe we’ll wait till September.

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