The trip to the Kansas City Zoo takes a frustrating turn – HaliPawz

I love zoos. It’s a great way to get outdoors, go walking, and enjoy seeing all of the animals.  Great zoos aren’t just about keeping animals in captivity but about learning about them and striving to find a way to help those in the wild stay wild.  Mom is down visiting right now so we are headed to the Kansas City Zoo.  With her electric scooter, it’s a nice day outing and I think she enjoys the zoo as much as I do.

Growing up, we didn’t get to the zoo very often, it wasn’t close to us.  The Detroit Zoo was about an hour away and when I was young, that seemed so far away. Both me and my sister now live close to a zoo, she is near the Comunbus Zoo in Ohio.  I think my mom made it to four zoos last summer between us; Kansas City, Omaha, and Detroit with me, Columbus with her.

The Weather Channel App for Kansas City

The Weather Channel App for Kansas City

We arrived around 10am, two hours after the zoo opened. I couldn’t believe how many cars were here. A lot of buses were also in the parking lot.  The handicapped spaces were full, there isn’t a lot of them, so we went in search of a parking space.  Even though there isn’t a lot of handicapped parking, there is a large area for loading and unloading, so it isn’t necessarily a problem.  Mom had her scooter, so we could park pretty much anywhere as long as I had room to get it out of the back of the van. We ended up parking by the buses.

Mom forgot her hat so the first 20 minutes were spent going back and forth between her and the gift shop as I looked for a hat for her.  She prefers the crush-able fabric bucket hats but it seemed like they only had those in child size.  She didn’t want to come in with her scooter because it is sometimes difficult to navigate in there with it, especially when there is a lot of people.  While most of the park is ADA friendly, I will say the main gift shop near the entrance is sometimes difficult.  It has enough room for a wheelchair, so they are compliant, but, like we often see in stores, they don’t take into account someone with an electric scooter.  There are quite a few sharp twists and turns from that perspective.  I finally convinced her to come in and look at them.  She didn’t want the adult hats because they didn’t say “Kansas City Zoo” on them, so I found the largest size child’s hat they had and she purchased that.  I’m sad to say I didn’t get a picture of it because of what happened as the day progressed.

Giraffes and Kansas City Zoo

Giraffes and Kansas City Zoo

As we were going through the back half of the zoo, after we crossed the swinging bridge, I noticed I smelled a burning wire / electronic smell.  I thought perhaps it was just being in that area and ignored it.  As we crossed back over the swinging bridge to finish our African Adventure and grab a bite to eat, I noticed my mom was getting further away from me.  She keeps the speed pretty slow in general, but this was slower than normal.
We had lunch at Rafiki Restaurant right at the beginning of Africa.  I had shut off the scooter and removed the key while we sat at a table inside.  After our day, I hate to say something negative about the zoo, but I really have to.  I know you can bring in your own food but when for me, between traveling with everything my mom needs and the scooter, the last thing I want to worry about it packing a lunch and keeping it cold.  The food at the zoo just seems so overpriced for what you get.  The fries were good.   They were the nice thick crinkle ones.  The double cheeseburgers are $8 and so dry! I understand having to cook them well done, they might even purchase them pre-made, pre-cooked, I’m not sure, but my cheese didn’t even begin to melt.  Is the cheese too cold?  The burgers not hot enough?  It’s a little disappointing.  One way to save some money though is to have a Friends of the Zoo Membership (FOTZ).  You save money on food, items in the gift shop, etc.  If you purchase a large, refillable, souvenir cup for $8, you can get it refilled for $1.50 or $1.35 with the FOTZ membership.   They will refill it with ice water for no charge.

Pepsi, Orangutan Canopy

Kansas City Zoo Souvenir Cup

The cups are nice and large and for us, they fit in the basket of her scooter quite well.

After we finished eating, mom started the scooter back up, ready to enjoy the remainder of the day and head over to the new Orangutan Canopy Exhibit.  She pushed the lever and nothing happened.  I looked over and the scooter wasn’t moving.  Uh Oh, what’s going on.  I thought perhaps I forgot to re-engage the brakes, but it usually gives us an alert when we do that.  I had her shut it off, I checked it all over, had her start it up again, and again, nothing happened.  What is going on?  I have her hop back off it so I can try to figure it all out.  I pull the battery out, check all of the connections, put it back in, and try it again.  Still nothing.  I turn it on and leave it on for about sixty seconds, and a series of beeps start to come from the scooter.  I know those beeps mean something, so I turn it off and back on again so I can count the beeps.  9 beeps.  Pull the battery back out to cross reference what 9 beeps means.  INTERNAL ERROR!!!  Contact an authorized dealer!  Ugh!!!! I leave a message with Chuck from Chuck’s Mobility over in Lenexa, KS.  He is the one we had purchased it from.  I guess I should be happy that this happened in Kansas City and not in Michigan.

So here we are, stuck in the back of the zoo with a scooter that isn’t working.  I can’t push her all the way to the front.  Even if I went to get a replacement scooter, I still had to get the other scooter back to the van.  What a dilemma.

The restaurant is pretty busy, so I push mom out of the restaurant and head over to the gift shop.  They weren’t quite as busy so I asked the associate if she could contact someone in guest relations to figure out if they had a solution.  She was so helpful.  She was able to reach someone and they were sending EMS out to help us out.  I didn’t really feel like we needed EMS because it wasn’t an emergency, mom was fine, maybe a little frustrated, but fine.  EMS arrived and after a few minutes discussing the problem, we came up with a solution.  He was going to take mom in his cart, we were going to lift the scooter into the back of his unit, and he called for another person with a golf cart to give me a ride.  They were extremely helpful.  I can not thank all the parties involved and the Kansas City Zoo for their quick and effective help in a very frustrating situation.

While we didn’t get to see everything we wanted to see, now we just have an excuse to go back sooner once the scooter is back in commission and a reason to compliment the zoo even more!

Additional Note about the Scooter

Chuck called me back and I ran the scooter over to him.  He called me back after talking to the manufacturer and they believe the mother board is damaged.  A new one is on it’s way and Chuck will replace it as soon as he gets it.  If anyone is in the Kansas City area and in need of a scooter rental, a scooter purchase, or any mobility needs, Chuck is a great resource.  I have rented two scooters from him before we purchased mom’s last year and we have had nothing but great service from him.  The mother board is just a fluke and not a common problem.  We will be happy to have it back and her rolling again!

Mom on Scooter at Omaha Zoo Summer 2014

Mom on Scooter at Omaha Zoo Summer 2014

If you like this and want to stay up to date with my posts, follow me on Twitter @HaliPawz  or Like me on Facebook.com/HaliPawz 

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Grass cutting dilemma over a holiday weekend – HaliPawz

My grass got too high.  It’s no one’s fault but my own.  I can make a bunch of excuses, but at the end of the day, that’s all they are, excuses.  It is the end of May and I had only partially cut my lawn in Missouri….where the rain had been flowing down for months now!  This leads me to spending my holiday weekend attempting to cut the grass….I say attempting because, it still isn’t done.

Let’s go back a few weeks.

I realized my grass was getting embarrassingly high.  I thought about getting someone to come in and cut it the first time because of how high it was, but I just didn’t want to spend the money.  Let’s face it, I’m still not where I want to be financially from doing the freelance writing, so I try to save every penny I can.  I’m one of the fortunate ones who lives in the city but still has a nice size yard.  When it comes to the dogs, it’s great, when it comes to cutting, not so great.   I begin to cut it and it’s still a little too damp from the rain we had overnight so the cutting is taking forever.  I decide to pause on the cutting and get out the weed eater to go around the house.  I don’t know why, but I also thought I could go back and forth like a machete and trip some of the high grass down.  I’m sure my neighbors were having a nice laugh at me!

Sometimes I swear I have adult ADHD because I jump around a lot when it comes to projects like this.  I always say I can justify it with a thought, but at the end of the day, I just can’t do the monotony of doing the same thing for hours.  It seems like writing is the only thing I can do for long periods without a problem.  Anyway…..I go back to cutting.  All of a sudden, out of no where, I see something wet looking and small fly out of the grass and away from the mower!  I stop the mower instantly and look down, there are three baby bunnies!  One flew into the tall grass, one took off down the slope of my yard, and one walked about six inches from where it came out of and froze.  Of course, I was convinced I had killed one; the one that had taken off and looked a little damp!  Looking around, I found their nest and then wondered, now what do I do.  I can’t see the other two anywhere, the grass is way too high, and the little frozen one is just standing still, even when I get close!

I go and sit on my porch and just stare at the baby bunny.  I send out a tweet about finding them.  I text my two animal lover friends to get some advice.  I google “who to contact when you find a baby bunny” and discover we have a nature center here in Kansas City that will help with things like this.  I call them.  No answer so I leave a message.  I’m still sitting on the porch.  Of course, I resolve to never let my grass get this high again because I don’t want to be a baby bunny killer.

Yes, I have since learned the nests are usually far enough into the ground I can

still cut my grass and cause them no harm…..but at the time, I didn’t realize it.

I grab the weed trimmer again and decide to do some more areas well away from where any baby bunnies might be.  Then it goes through my head, what if there are more and I won’t be able to see them while I’m cutting the grass?  Maybe I shouldn’t cut my grass until they are all gone?  How long will that be?  I stop trimming and sit on the porch again, staring at the frozen baby bunny.

I get up to go look to see if I can find the missing two, which I can’t.  One of my neighbors must have had enough of wondering what I was doing because he ventured over to me to ask.  We discussed the baby bunnies but I had the distinct impression he wouldn’t be as concerned as I was, or he just thinks I’m a little crazy! Either way, he walked away again without much advice.

My phone rings, It was Lakeside Nature Center calling me back.  She told me the mother rabbit will return around sundown, if I could find the babies and try to put them back in the nest, the mother would take care of them.  She then explained the “frozen” one was showing a tactic “If I don’t move, you can’t see me” to protect itself.  I felt better.  I had no clue where the other two were, but I was going to do my best to help these little guys out.  Needless to say, no more grass cutting was to be done that day.

I went inside for a little while, I was going to grab a yardstick to help me move the grass around so I could look for the wandering babies.  I ended up taking a phone call and got side tracked.  By the time I came back outside, I was overjoyed to see momma rabbit right by the frozen baby bunny and another one scamper into the grass as soon as I started down the porch.

Momma rabbit returns for her babies

 As you can see from the picture, the grass is quite high and stayed high for a while because, what I didn’t mention, is I was heading out-of-town the next day!

I was gone for a week and when I returned, it was easy to see the rain had not helped my grass growing dilemma.  My mom came back with me from Michigan so I had to do something about this situation soon.  She walks with a walker, so the high grass would be a problem for her since she has to walk through the grass to get to my porch.  I had built her a nice ramp last year to get up my steps, but she still had to walk up a slight hill on the grass so she didn’t need the problem of the high grass to go with it. It is clear my yard is not ADA friendly!  LOL

I grabbed my mower and cut a few paths for my mom to walk easier.  I cut about half of my front yard and then I saw a momma rabbit in a whole new area of the front yard.  I thought I saw a baby running away.  I decided to not cut in that area.  Maybe it was an excuse, but I cut all around it.  Then it started to rain.  Time to put the mower away again.

Rain came and went over the next few days and the grass kept getting higher.  The back yard was scary at this point.  Poor Zipper, my Jack Russel, had areas where the grass what much higher than him.  Because the dogs play out there all the time, some of the grass was trampled down, but it was still thick and high.  I had cut about two or three strips off to the side when I had cut the front yard and even that was getting high again.

Enough was enough, the grass had to be cut!  Who knew what was lurking in the grass, insects, rodents, it was time to conquer it so Monday, Memorial Day, I was out there.  It had rained earlier in the morning, so I knew it was going to be rough, but it was climbing to 80 degrees for the day, so the grass had to be drying somewhat.  I started in the back yard and began to cut.  I started in the area I had already cut, figured it would be easier and it was in the sun, so it would dryer.  As soon as I hit the higher grass, I knew I was in trouble.  The lawn mower would continually stop because of the high, thick grass.  I would have to back it up out of the high grass to restart it.  I would cut an area for a bit, then see a really high area and just cut across the yard to break it up.  My thinking was, if I broke it up into little pieces, it would be easier on the mower to go from high, then low, then high again.  In reality, I’m sure it was some more of my ADHD.  I’m so jealous of those who can go back and forth on their lawn in nice, neat rows, back and forth, so their yard looks great.  My dad would do that.  He would cut it one way one week, then another way the other.  Sometimes back and forth, sometimes on an angle.  My yard is cut in every direction, no rhyme or reason.

There were times I had to raise the mowers front wheels off the ground, go over a patch, then let the blades come down on it.  I had enough sense to lock the dogs in the house, so I wouldn’t have to be worried about them getting in the way or getting hurt.  Sadly, there were some loss of toys though.  I couldn’t see them, one was a stuffed animal, all of a sudden I saw the stuffing some flying out from around the mower!  Made me happy the dogs were inside, I felt it was safer.

I was dripping in sweat, the mower was stopping about ever 90 – 120 seconds.  I reached one part of my lawn where the grass was so thick and so wet at the bottom that I could only get about a foot or two and it would stall.  I was exhausted and my back was killing me from constantly pulling the cord on the mower.  I can usually cut my back yard with one full tank of gas.  I had filled it twice already.  About 4:30 pm, I had been at it over two and a half hours, not counting two fifteen minute water / rest breaks and my mower was now stalling every foot of grass until it was out of gas yet again.  I stopped.  I was out of gas in my gas can and decided I had enough.  Looking around at the patchy cutting I saw I still had about 1/4 of my back yard to cut and still tackle my front yard.  I was done for the day.

So, as I type this, I realize I have to run to the gas station to get more gas and get out there to finish my yard at some point today.  The grass WILL NOT WIN!  I guess the one good thing is, I had a nice workout!

Moral of the story, don’t let your grass get too high.  Just like so many things, if you ignore it, it will end up costing you more in the long run….in this case, more time, more energy, and more backache!

If you like this and want to stay up to date with my posts, follow me on Twitter @HaliPawz  or Like me on Facebook.com/HaliPawz 

Texas Roadhouse Restaurant; Port Huron, MI – HaliPawz

After taking Bella and Zipper to the beach, I decided it was time to get something to eat. Mom had been eating crackers, so I took that as a sign she was getting hungry.  We had to stop at Wal-Mart for a few things so I wanted to stay in the north end.  Since we had the dogs, we had to eat, then go grocery shopping.  Trying to do it in reverse would be pointless, the dogs would destroy everything.    Cheap Charlie’s had disappointed me the last couple of times so it was time to find another go to when I am home visiting.  I am sure I will give them another chance because I love their CC sticks.  I knew the last time I was home, they were building a Texas Roadhouse, but my mom didn’t think it was open yet.  I decided to drive by to check it out anyway.  The number of cars indicated they were open, and appeared to be pretty busy. We pulled in and found a handicapped location right in front of the door.  Because my mom walks with a walker, it is always easier when we can get close to the door.  After getting the dogs settled, we headed in to try Port Huron’s newest restaurant; Texas Roadhouse.

Once in, there was a small amount of people sitting around waiting for a table.  I asked how long and was told 5-15 minutes.  Not bad, considering the number of people.  I sometimes forget about the difference between Port Huron and Kansas City in regards to the number of people!  We ended up waiting about 15 minutes, which isn’t bad.  We started to be seated in about ten minutes, but they noticed mom had a walker so they asked me if I wanted to wait a few more minutes for a table that would be better for her.  She wouldn’t have to walk as far and they thought it would be easier for her to sit at.  I truly appreciate when businesses give thought like that to the situation!  I thanked them and said we would gladly wait a few more minute.

You could tell it was relatively new, everything still had that nice, “polished” look about it.  The staff all seemed to be working efficiently.  I asked the one seating us when they had opened and she said April 6th.  For only being open about a month, they seemed to be doing well.

The music was a little loud, even by Texas Roadhouse standards.  I have been in a few and I don’t remember it being difficult to talk over the music.  I didn’t mind it, but with my mom being older and wearing hearing aids, I was concerned it might be a little too loud for her.  They served the warm rolls and cinnamon honey butter right when we sat down.  I didn’t even want to wait for a drink because they looked so good.

Texas Roadhouse Rolls and honey butter

Texas Roadhouse Rolls and Cinnamon Honey Butter

Luckily, I didn’t have to wait long! Rachel, our waitress, appeared right away to take our drink order.  I have been trying to drink more water, but I ordered my Coke with lemon that night because I knew I was having steak and a cold Coca Cola with a lemon wedge just goes better with steak!  While I was waiting for our drinks, I bit into a roll.  It was as good as it looked!  I honestly don’t think I have ever had a bad roll from a Texas Roadhouse though so this location continued the trend.

She brought our drinks and as my mom was ordering her food, I took a sip.  Ugh!!!  It was Diet Coke!  I HATE the taste of diet coke.  When it was time to place my order, I politely told her I thought, perhaps, she had grabbed diet instead of regular, then proceeded to place my order.   She immediately brought me another one, which I took a sip of, and said it seemed better, but then, after taking a couple more sips, I was sure it wasn’t regular Coke, but diet again.  She said she had made sure she grabbed it from the regular Coke when she brought it to me.

I proceeded to eat my salad, which, was DELICIOUS!  Honestly, it was one of the freshest restaurant salads I have had in a long time.  There was just enough of everything, the dressing, blue cheese, had a nice flavor to it.  I was impressed.  If only the drink situation could be resolved!

Rachel came back and I asked her what other beverages they had, I just couldn’t drink this Coke anymore.  It wasn’t right.  She told me, but none of them sounded appealing.  I know it sounds silly, but for me, a bad beverage can really make a difference.  I was about to switch to water with lemon, because I knew it would taste OK, when she offered to go and get me a Coke from a different unit.  Honestly, at that moment, I so appreciated her!  She could have just brought me water with lemon and thought I was some crazy restaurant goer, but she went above and beyond to try to resolve the problem.  She brought me the new drink and I took a sip…… HALLELUJAH….we have regular Coke!  It was delicious too!   I’m sure I had a happy smile on my face, because she said she was going to look into it.  I didn’t expect anything more from it because they were busy and again, I figured she chalked me up to just a crazy person, I know I probably would!

Our meals came and I was impressed by the way they looked.

Starting with my mom’s meal, she had ordered a loaded baked potato.  The potato was, indeed, loaded, but more than that, you could tell how warm it was because the butter was melting down the side of it!   It made me almost regret getting steak fries it looked so good!

butter melting bacon sour cream

Texas Roadhouse Loaded Baked Potato

My steak and fries looked perfect.  I had ordered mine medium rare, which can be a crap-shoot at some restaurants, so I was hoping I would not be disappointed today. So far, other than the beverage, the food was spot on.  I ordered the bone in ribeye.  As you can see, it came out looking wonderful!  Bone-in Ribeye, Steak Fries, and a Coca-Cola, a winning combination!

Texas Roadhouse Bone-In Ribeye, Steak Fries, and Coca-Cola

The first thing I noticed was how well it cut.  It sliced through so easily I almost thought I missed the steak at first!  It was prepared perfectly.  The medium rare was visible, not too rare (which usually happens).  I bit into it and it was so full of flavor as well!  Perfect temperature, just enough flavor.  i was happy.  I would like to rave about the steak fries as well, but they were, well, just steak fries.  They weren’t bad, they were good, but compared to the steak and the look of my mom’s baked potato, I have to say, they were just good.

Funny story to go along with the meal, Rachel came back after serving the steaks to tell me a manager had gone to check the fountain and discovered someone had accidentally hooked up the Diet Coke syrup to the Coke! I had been redeemed!  I was not just a crazy person!  The manager was with her when they told me and we all laughed about it.  Mistakes happen, I’m just glad they followed through and actually checked it rather than just letting it go.  I wonder how many others were given the wrong drink and just didn’t say anything about it?

My mom said hers was really good as well.  She didn’t finish her whole steak and there was a roll  left over, so we took it home and I made her a steak and cheese slider with the roll the next day for lunch.  She was pretty happy with it!

Overall, a very nice experience.  There have been times in the past when Port Huron would get a restaurant and the quality or service wouldn’t be what you had come to expect from other locations, so I was pleased to see this Texas Roadhouse not only MET my expectations, but, honestly, superseded them!  Something you don’t expect with a chain restaurant.  I would highly recommend stopping in there if you live there or if you’re passing through on your way to Canada or just in the area.

Just remember, if the Coca-Cola doesn’t taste right, SAY SOMETHING!  Don’t suffer in silence!  🙂

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