Posted in: Animal Sightings, Exploring Ohio, Museums & Tours, Sightseeing

Kanga Klimb at the Cincinnati Zoo

The Cincinnati Zoo has added a few things since we last had a membership. Ben and I went a few weeks ago for a date day and made sure to check out the new Roo Valley. It was lots of fun and the kangaroos are adorable! (Make sure you go earlier in the day to see them active. They are diurnal, active at dawn and dusk.)

One of the things we saw was a new ropes course called Kanga Klimb. It is next to Roo Valley; in fact, if you are on the upper level, you can see into the kangaroo exhibit. Both boys took a break to stand or sit on the platform and watch the kangaroos.

I really wanted to give the boys a chance to do the course, especially since Will will be under activity restrictions in July and August.

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The lower level is easier. The platforms are mostly stationary. The upper level is harder; the ropes and platforms move. If you are an observer, the upper level has a walking deck where you can observe your climbers. I could see most of the upper-level course from the walkway. There is part of the walkway that is a clear glass/plastic, so you can see down to the lower level as well.

The average length of climbing on the course is an hour, but it is up to you how long you want to climb. It looked like there was a nice variety of obstacles: a climbing wall, a rope wall, a platform to pull yourself across, a few different kinds of walkways.

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The zoo employees have to check the course every morning! They walked the boys through using the safety gear. They were all really nice.

The boys had lots of fun and were even a little worn out at the end. They were a little sore the next day, so it must have been a good workout.

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Tips: Closed-toed shoes are required, no sandals/crocs. Wear sunscreen. Drink water. If observing, a hat would be good. Climbers must be 48″ and taller (48″ to go with a partner, 60″ to go alone), ages 4+.


  • WHERE: 3400 Vine St., Cincinnati, Ohio 45220 (Parking lot address is 3427 Vine St.)
  • HOURS: Daily 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. Members can get in at 9:00 am (except during Festival of Lights).
  • COSTS: Kanga Klimb ($18/zoo members, $21/non-members). Purchase Kanga Klimb tickets at the attraction entrance booth. Zoo admission prices vary on the day. Prices start at $15.50/adult (ages 13+), $9.50/child. Please check website for pricing. Parking is $10 (or included with membership).
  • PARKING: Yes, on-street or paid zoo lot.
  • TIME RECOMMENDED: 1 hour+ for climbing, 2+ for the zoo
  • Details correct at time of posting, please double-check before you go.

Posted in: Animal Sightings, Exploring Ohio, Sightseeing

Cincinnati Zoo

It has been years since we have been to the zoo. Ben and I decided to have a date day at the zoo. It was a nice sunny day, so although it was a little crowded, we enjoyed walking around. If you have never been to the Cincinnati Zoo before, you should know that it is hilly, so I always feel I get a nice walk/workout in while there.

Cincinnati Zoo Date Day, Zoo Map (click to enlarge)

The main thing we wanted to see was Roo Valley, which was a new exhibit since we had last been there. There was a little bit of a line, but it moved relatively quickly. When you get up to the exhibit, you are placed into a holding pen (we jokingly called it the Human Exhibit for the kangaroos). The zookeeper gives a few safety items and then you can walk into the kangaroo exhibit! There is no touching allowed, but you are walking through their exhibit. There are nine kangaroos at the zoo, although we only saw about five.

Roo Valley (click to enlarge)

There is a blue penguin exhibit also attached to Roo Valley, although it was closed while we were there.

The zoo also has wallabies, but they were not easily seen while we were there. You can book a private experience with the wallabies where you may be able to touch them and give them a snack. How cool would that be?!

We saw the tortoises (also a new to us exhibit), giraffes and the rest of the Africa exhibit, and of course Fiona and the other hippos.

Zoo Animals (click to enlarge)

I want to go back with the kids over the summer. It’s been just as long for them seeing the zoo and I think they will get a kick out of seeing the new exhibits. Nick will love the tortoises and Roo Valley has a climbing course, the Kanga Klimb, opening up that I think both of them will love.

Posted in: Animal Sightings, Exploring Florida, Sightseeing

Our First Day In Florida

Our first day at the new campground was pretty successful. It was a larger campground and the sites seem nicely spaced. We managed to luck into a nice spot.

During our first exploration of the campground, we saw new (to us) animals. The Sandhill Cranes seemed to be everywhere in the campground. They are larger sized birds, with long legs, grey bodies, and a splash of red on their heads. They didn’t seem to be scared of people, but they were not aggressive either.

Nick was ecstatic that he got to see a turtle (which turned out to be a tortoise). We looked up what kind he was, and we think he (or she) was a Gopher Tortoise. Gopher Tortoises have claws for digging, as they create burrows to live in. They are listed on Florida’s Threatened List. We also read that you are not allowed to touch them, but can call a wildlife ranger to see how you can help if they are in distress. Apparently, some people have assumed the gopher tortoise is a sea turtle and put them in the water to help, but the gopher tortoises are not great swimmers and can easily drown. They recommend not putting any turtles in the water until you know their species.

It’s been fun learning about the types of animals we see along our journey.

Posted in: Animal Sightings, Exploring Louisiana, Hiking, National Park, National Parks, Sightseeing, YouTube Video Link

Jean Lafitte National Historical Park: Barataria Preserve

SUPER BONUS – Brought to you by the National Parks. Call (504) 799-0802 and learn about the Barataria Preserve.

We wanted to take a nice walk, so we headed to the Barataria Preserve (part of the Jean Lafitte National Historic Park and Preserve).

Our first stop was at the Visitor Center at the Barataria Preserve (the Jean Lafitte Visitor Center in the French Quarter is currently closed due to COVID). Unfortunately, we went after work/school, so we didn’t get there until 4:30 and they closed the gates at 5:00pm. We took the shorter Visitor Center Trail, which took about 20 minutes. We really liked the park and decided to come back on the weekend when we had more time. There are several trails that were closed because of damage, so I would recommend stopping at the Visitor Center to see which ones are currently open.

Our second time there, Nick got his Junior Ranger Badge. We took the Bayou Coquille Trail and Marsh Overlook. The trail began as a dirt/gravel path and once you got to the marshy bayou, it switched to a wooden plank trail.

It was gorgeous. We didn’t see any alligators, although we did see lots of caution signs for them. It was probably too cold, as it was in the 60’s. We did see a turtle sunning on a rock, several great egrets, a nutria eating and swimming in the bayou, and a deer.

Part of the bayou was covered in a flotant, which is a floating mass of plants. It looks solid, but is not always strong enough to hold a human’s weight. It certainly looked like you could walk on it, it would be a huge surprise to find out it wasn’t solid and end up in the water!

Although I was disappointed we didn’t see any alligators, going in the cooler weather probably saved us from a few mosquito bites. And as a friend pointed out when they saw the pictures, probably from seeing a few snakes too. (I am glad we missed the snakes, especially since they have cottonmouths and copperheads down here.)

I could spend several days there. I loved seeing the Spanish Moss on the trees and hearing the different bird calls.

The park did a nice job with the informational signs around the trail as well. Several stops had an audio tour that was a great touch. You called a number from your phone and entered your stop number to hear the information. It was really neat (see beginning of this post to experience it for yourself).

There are a few other trails on the other side of the road by the Educational Center. We were told those trails are mostly dirt, so if it had rained recently they would be muddy. We didn’t have the shoes for mud, so we may go back another day.

VIDEO: Clips From Our Walk In Barataria Preserve in Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve

Posted in: Animal Sightings, Exploring Texas, Sightseeing

Weird Ducks in Texas

I have loved Texas so far. However, I have to say they have some unique looking animals. We did not get to see any armadillos while exploring Texas. 🙁

Longhorns are just neat to look at and their horns can be huge.

The ducks though, man, the ducks are weird looking. I’ve seen mallards and Canadian geese. But there were a few that I hadn’t seen before.

Muscovy Ducks have bumpy faces.

Black bellied whistling-ducks have long legs.

Egyptian Geese were at the KOA San Antonio/Alamo. They were pretty weird looking with the orange circles around their eyes. They are not native to the US.

Posted in: Animal Sightings, Exploring California, School, Sightseeing, YouTube Video Link

Children’s Pool

One of the iconic pictures of San Diego that I see a lot is of Children’s Pool, near La Jolla. I love seeing animals and really wanted to see this beach as seals and sea lions are frequently seen here.

Although the wall was originally built to keep the beach calm for children to swim in, seals and sea lions have started congregating there too. People are still swimming there, although we did not after reading some warnings about water quality (due to the seals). (Link to for more beach info.) Parking was tight and in high demand when you got closer to the beach. We lucked out and found a spot pretty close.

The water looked clear when we were there. We could see several birds and seals on the beach and surrounding rocky areas. We walked out on the retaining wall to get some better views. The wall itself is neat to stand on and look around at the different views of the beach and the ocean. You can feel the rough surface of it where the ocean has worn it down. The wall gives you several good viewing points of the rocks where the seals were laying. Nick stood at the end and ended up getting wet from an incoming wave. (Video: Walking Children’s Pool Wall)

The seals were laying in the sun taking a nap, occasionally rolling over or adjusting position. I was surprised by the variety of patterns of their skin, I guess I had always just thought they were a solid color from pictures I had seen. They were fun to watch, although they didn’t move much while we were there.

Posted in: Animal Sightings, Exploring Arizona, Hiking, National Park, National Parks, School, Sightseeing

North Rim of the Grand Canyon

We made it to Arizona today! We drove to see the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. It was about a 2.5 hour drive from our campground.

We hiked the Cape Royal/Angels Window Trails and the Bright Angel Point trail. These trails were pretty well paved. There were some nice overlooks along the way. We could even see the Colorado River on the Cape Royal/Angels Window Trails. The views were amazing, although the trails were a little crowded.

It was pretty and had more trees than I was expecting. We saw some lizards, a couple of hawks, maybe a turkey vulture, some wild turkeys, and even a snake in the parking lot.

We have definitely seen more snakes on our trip than we usually do at home. We did our research before we left and learned identifying marks of poisonous snakes (at least for the US/North America). Poisonous snakes will have cat eyes (elongated pupil). They will have thicker bodies and broader triangular heads. Rattlesnakes will have the rattle sound, but some other snakes apparently will also mimic this noise by moving their tails against the ground/leaves. Poisonous snakes also have a heat pit on their face/nose, but I don’t think you can see that one from far away! The exception to these rules is the coral snake who has round pupils, but you can tell it’s poisonous by it’s coloring (red and yellow a dangerous fellow, red and black poison lack). This website was really helpful when it came time to teach the kids what to look out for. Of course, we still try to maintain all the distance we can!

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Cincinnati Zoo Date Day, Zoo Map (click to enlarge)
Roo Valley (click to enlarge)
Zoo Animals (click to enlarge)