A Weekend Full of Fun Adventures: St. Louis Zoo and Centennial Park


Yesterday, the weather at last cooled down from being in the hundreds of degrees to no more than seventy. My mom and I set out for the St. Louis Zoo. It drizzled off and on throughout the day, but that was loads better than dying of heat exhaustion.

Because of the cool weather, lots of animals were out, and it was amazing! Highlights included seeing the new African wild or painted dog exhibits, Sea Lion Sound, and my personal favorite, RED PANDA!!

There were also a lot of people who suffered from an, umm, uncanny lack of knowledge of the animal kingdom. I was always big on animal facts as a kid, so I know quite a bit. But c’mon–these people were serious thinking the warthog was an ant eater, the peacock was an ostrich, and calling cheetahs “cheetos.” *Sighs and shakes head* The future of America, people.

Some other highlights included the baby elephant, camel, and tree kangaroo, and also these awesome jellyfish. They are transparent, and the lights inside their tank change colors, making them look like they too change colors. Excellent premise for a fantasy creature in one of my books.

Then, today, I had another adventure all my own. Sundays are usually slow, boring affairs. My boyfriend is busy visiting his mom which SHOULD mean, “Yay, time to myself, get lots of work done, woot, woot!” But, well, you know how that goes.

Consequently, I wanted to be out of the house too. Thus, I decided to go on a little adventure of my own. Results? Found some awesome new woodsy trails.

Anyway. So on Old Collinsville Road, right where it branches off from Lebanon Ave. near the Family Video, there is this bike trail, and every time I drive by I am always like, “Hmm, wonder where that goes? Probably just a neighborhood or somewhere lame.”

Well, today, I decided to explore it at last. Man, and did it vastly exceed my expectations!! Armed with only some cashews, water, and apple, and my camera, I decided to check it out.

It started out as just a bike trail made of concrete; I don’t really favor paved trails, they have to be dirt to give the authentic adventurous feel. But whatever, it was someplace to walk, and not all that cool, so it was okay I was by myself, no one was missing anything.

But then, on my right, I found what I thought might be a trail. I explored it a little ways and soon realized it was just woods. I would have loved to explore and see how far I could go, but I was in a skirt and sandals and have not a clue what poison ivy looks like and thus decided against this.

Instead, I hopped back on the bike trail. After a few minutes, the trail branched off from the main trail and bent into the woods–and pavement soon turned to dirt. Yes. I knew I had found something at last.

The woods were lovely. There were these rivers and lakes and these little rapids. The sunlight through the trees made for some really beautiful camera shots. The ground wasn’t muddy, but it was moist, so continuing in my sandals wasn’t the wisest, but I did it anyway. There’s something about a trail that keeps going and needing to see where it leads to. Lately, I feel like I am playing a real-life game of Ocarina of Time. When you first start OoT, you have this giant map, but most of it is obscured by clouds. Gradually, as you discover new places, more and more of the map is revealed–which only makes you want to continue to explore and unveil more and more of the map. It’s like that. My world has always been so small, but every time I find some new little corner, that just makes me want to keep expanding it.

Well, after a time, I really had to use the bathroom. I had been walking a good half hour or so and didn’t know how far the trails went. But then the trail branched off and I found myself crossing a long arching ogre’s bridge to a park with a bathroom. Thank God for that.

Delved back into the woods then and walked a little ways more until the trail finally looped back around. I found my way back to the bike trail and continued down it, because while not as interesting as the woods, I was very curious where it led to. Along the way, I spotted more trails off-shooting into the woods. I’d love to check them out someday too; they just seem to keep going and going!

At last I reached the end of the bike trail, and what do you know? After a while, the bike trail led to a park, and it was the same park I’d used the bathroom at some twenty or thirty minutes ago. And not only that, but apparently the park is called Centennial and it’s this park in Swansea which is also another place I’ve been wanting to check out, because we took a nature walk there once in elementary school. So that was really cool because two places I’ve been wanting to walk for some time now–the bike trail and the park–met up and became one.

Now the question was how to get home. Of course I could turn around and head back down the bike trail, but that would be boring. The trail had led me from Old Collinsville Road all the way to 161 in Swansea. All I need do is take the sidewalk up 161, make a left onto Lebanon Ave., and that’d take me back to Old Collinsville Road.

What a mistake–in part anyway. Most of the venture was uphill, which I didn’t favor after I’d already been walking for an hour. However, I did what I do best on adventures–I kept going. I just kept walking and walking, and soon I was passing a half-way point, and then I was on the final road. The hardest parts were where the sidewalk finally ended and I was trekking across uneven ground, spiky plants, and railroad tracks. Yup. Also, saw some chickens??

At last the neighborhood was in sight. I ran the rest of the way and never was so glad to sit in my car, start driving, and turn up the air conditioning and the classic rock music.

And there you have it. Another of my spontaneous, hair-brained adventures where I am insufficiently dressed and fed but super excited to discover new things in nature!!