The day started badly as I struggled to get everything organized (MUST HAVE DELICIOUS YET NUTRITIOUS PICNIC LUNCH) and out the door on time to meet the rest of the gang. We could have gone by bus with all the other families, but opted to get a Communauto for the day instead. That was fine, all we have to do is meet the group at the entrace to get our passes. No prob. We sailed out of the city, all the way down the highway without a hitch. Then, a mere 12 km from the zoo, we got stuck in a 45-minute lineup.
Oh, and did I mention that it's Construction Holiday here in Quebec? Using the same brilliant logic as the province-wide July 1st moving day, the powers that be decided that all construction workers get their holidays around the last two weeks of July. I actually looked it up on Wikipedia and here is the explanation:
In the province of Quebec, Canada, the Construction Holiday is the most popular time for summer vacations. In 1970, Quebec legislated an annual holiday for the construction industry during the last two weeks of July every year, and the holiday came into effect officially in the summer of 1971. Many Quebecers outside the construction industry also take their holidays during these two weeks, and it is the busiest time of year for the province's tourism industry, with a surge of up to 40% in activity at some sites.
Voilà. All this to say that it was busy at the zoo. Luckily, the buses were also caught in the same traffic so we actually found our group at the crazy-crowded entrance. Phewf. We were ready to bite the bullet and just pay the freaking $30/person entrace fee but yay, we didn't have to.
Our matching entrance bracelets
Once we got our admission figured out (included in the camp fees I paid way back when), we headed back to the car to eat lunch before diving into the jungle...
Note clever use of cooler lid.
No, she's not going to end up sleeping with the fishes... Just a handy spot for diaper changing.
Liliane Arbour, intrepid wildlife expert, decides where to make camp.
We saw lots of cool animals - these ones are all from the Africa section:
We like to move it, move it...
She snoozed through the hippopotami and was largely unimpressed by most of the big beasts that we pointed out. As Stéphane said, if there were a bunch of kids jumping around in cages, she'd be thrilled. One advantage to being stuck in a huge crowd, there were always plenty of other rugrats around to entertain her.
The petting zoo was a success however:
I've been baaaaad... (note: this is Stéphane's joke, used by permission)
The zoo also has a waterpark which is much larger and more impressive than the below photos depict, but we hung out with the under-1 crowd in the lagoon area mostly. No question, that kid LOVES the water.
You would think that after 6 hours of major stimulation (kids! animals! water! picnic! ice cream! more kids!) Liliane would be a little kvetchy but no. Here she is cracking up with Daddy in the parking lot:
Such a good time. Definitely worth all the (Mama-generated) stress. We did get a little payback last night when our totally wound-up kiddo would not go to sleep. Even though she could barely keep her little eyes open, she doggedly forced herself to roll over and try to sit up as soon as I put her in bed. And everytime I turned her back over, she did it again. And again. We went through that about 35 times, then I gave up. She finally did go to sleep and slept through the night no doubt dreaming about all the exotic children she saw at the zoo!