Friday, July 06, 2012

The Derecho, The Zoo, & The Fireworks

I remember when DH and I bought our house in San Marcos in 2007. He was still in Hawaii waiting to get out of his first enlistment so I was there in our new house all alone setting everything up.  In that first week we had a storm that was so scary and intense I remember being huddled in the corner of the dining room with my dog praying that the roof was not going to fly off.  Fast forward a few uneventful years (weather wise) and a few thousand miles to Camp Lejeune in 2011.  April 16th we had a tornado destroy our neighborhood -- leveling houses just a few blocks away (living in Tornado Ally growing up, I never would have thought I would experience my first CLOSE tornado on the east coast), August 23 I felt my first earthquake (again- being on the east coast, I would have never thought that would happen), and then a few days later on August 27th Hurricane Irene ripped though Jacksonville.  Now fast forward to last Friday and a few hundred miles north of Camp Lejeune and here we are at another weather first for me -- for all of us really -- a derecho.  We had moved into our apartment 2 days before, so I still wasn't sure of all the nighttime noises that go on around here, so any time I would hear something, I would go over to the window and peak though the blinds to identify whatever noise I had heard.  At about 11pm, I heard what I though was a sudden downpour of rain.  I looked out the blinds down at my car and saw that it was still dry outside -- no rain in sight -- but when I looked over at the trees at the end of the parking lot, I saw them whipping around like pieces of ribbon.  I instantly got that bad weather pit in the bottom of my stomach and was so scared that something really devistating was about to happen.  I have never seen winds that strong without being accompanied by either a hurricane or a tornado.  It was scary.  We were very lucky to only get buckets of rain and a few scattered small branches in the roads when I know that so many people lost power for days and some even lost their lives.  There were several times when I thought our power was about to go out, but it stayed on.  I always knew I would have new experiences being a Marine Corps wife, but I never thought that the majority would be weather related! :)

Well, by this past Tuesday, we were all pretty sick of unpacking so we decided to take a trip into DC to visit the zoo.  We knew that it would be pretty hard to get a parking space unless we left super early, so we opted to take the Metro.  There is a station not too terribly far from our house with a parking garage, so left around 10am and went for a ride on the rails.  I was a little apprenhensive about what it would be like because it seems that all I hear about the Metro are horror stories, but it honestly was not bad at all.  It was quite nice actually (besides the fact that the A/C was broken on the first train, so it was a little toasty).  I think we will definitely be utilizing that more often when we want to make day trips into DC.  When we got off at the stop for the zoo, we took the longest esclator back up to the surface that I have ever seen.  It took us like 5 mins to get to the top! (I took this pic when we were about half way to the top)

We had a ton of fun once we got to the zoo.  Some of the animals were hiding out because of the oppresive heat, but we had a good show for the most part! Their main male lion decided to "talk" up a storm for us, it was so cool to actually hear a lion rawr in real life, they are so loud! He was laying down in the shade with a lioness when he got up and decided he had something to say.  We joked that he was saying "Hey, we're trying to take a nap here, and yous guys are not helpin' with all the racket! Eh...I tried, but they don't seem to hear so good." What made it even funnier is that once the male lion laid back down, the female sat up and started "talking" too, like she was "Geez, I have to do everything myself.  Get lost!" Then she laid back down.  Other than the show the lions put on (that Little Man was totally enthralled in), the otters were out playing in the water, and one of the oranutans was right up against the glass in their enclosure so I was able to get a picture of Little Man right next to her. 

Needless to say, Little Man fell asleep in his stroller on the Metro ride home.  He had a lot of fun.

On the 4th, we had originally wanted to go into DC to the National Mall to see the fireworks, but ultimately decided that it was just going to be much to busy and hard to navigate to be enjoyable.  Quantico was not having any of their own fireworks, so we headed to Fort Belvoir. I was impressed with their show, and I liked how close it was to us (compaired to how far we would have had to go to see the National Mall fireworks).  Trying to find the "designated parking areas" was a trip though.  It seemed like every road we went down, they had blocked off, but we could see the parking area just a little bit past the barriers.  We eventually made it though.  Here's the finale, it was pretty impressive, especially in person.  How was everyone else's 4th?

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