New Day, New Experiences

I think we’re at the place in our “mourning” that usually happens the week or so after someone passes.  We’re mostly very peaceful with it and then all of a sudden, out of nowhere, WHAM! We get blindsided by the realization of everything that’s happening.

Happened to me driving back from DC yesterday.  Rachel got it last night.  Nothing to be done except try to be there for each other.

The DC trip was great!  Uptown rehearsal was theraputic and I think we should sound pretty good on Saturday. (Come up to the Bethesda Theater to check us out if you’re in the neighborhood)

Yesterday we got up really early and headed up north to the National Zoological Park (more official name).  We got there about 7:30 and Randall was waiting.  He took us over to the Panda House to meet Enika, the NZP PR person, and the panda keeper Nichole (sp?).  She let Charlotte hold a little tuft of panda hair and we got set up in our safe and still VERY close-to-the-cages spots.  There was this small, mini-maze of cages the pandas can travel to get from one enclosure to another depending on where the handlers want them to go.  When Nichole pushed a button on the wall, we heard a door open somewhere around the corner and in just a moment, Tai Shan came aound the corner to the cage where we were sitting.

Tai Shan was born the same day as CJ but at 175lbs (did I get that right) and with really big teeth and claws, I don’t think they would be able to share clothes.

Charlotte was pretty amazed at first and then just wanted to eat.  Seems both of them did, so Rachel got pics of Nichole shovelling apple pieces into Tai Shan’s mouth and me shoveling Fruit Loops into Charlotte’s. Those shots were taken with CJ and I standing foot from the cage.  I think I was more excited than CJ (which happens a lot these days).

After a little while, I think it was when the food ran out, Tai Shan decided he was done with us and headed back into his enclosure.  It was pretty amazing to be hanging out so close to such a rare (and famous) animal.

After we left the panda house, we wandered around the park a bit because it was still early and nothing was officially open.  We saw the Asian (not Indian as I was dutifully corrected), elephants, zebra, and a spectacled bear.  We also saw some of those Przewalski’s horses from Malaysia which is both cool and disturbing because they are extinct in the wild.

Then we got cold and went to Starbucks until the animal houses opened up.  Nothing like a Hazlenut Latte to shake off the chill.

There weren’t many people there (being a cool, weekday morning) so we didn’t have any problem getting into and around exhibits.

We headed out at around 11:00 feeling that we had had a pretty remarkable experience.  And we weren’t done yet (I feel like the TV infomercial guy saying, “But wait!  THERE’S MORE!!!”)

We came home and chilled out until the Wings Of Hope folks came by with a couple of horses for Charlotte to ride. She got on Wings (the little horse) by herself first, being held on both sides by us, and then they saddled up Razin ( a full sized horse) and she got on with me.  Both times we walked most of the way down street and then came back.  Lots of pics were taken so we’ll get some posted as soon as we can. Thanks to Fred Horn and anyone else responsible for organizing that.

Last night we had food delivered from Ruby Tuesdays.  Thanks to Kim Chestnut and the Richmond Moms for coordinating that.  Mighty yummy!  CJ, of course, settled for mac & cheese and peas. Kim also sent raw chcoloate chip cookie dough and a bottle of Purple Cowboy wine (some kind of inside joke between her and Rachel).

To close out the evening, Rachel chose the movie for the evening and out came “Matilda.” CJ watched the whole thing and seemed to like it.  We decided, Matilda is CJ especially in that she LOVES books.

Inspired, I am taking the princess to the Ashland library today.  Feel free to come meet us there.

Tonight is the big Thanksgiving dinner at Randolph-Macon College.  We’ll be sitting with the field hockey team.  It’s so highly anticipated by the students that they chose it over letting us buy them dinner at Chili’s.  CJ is looking forward to hanging with Walker and the girls.

Tomorrow is the first big meeting of the steering committee for CJ’s Thumbs Up Foundation.  We’re very excited.  As we were driving down from DC, I turned to Rachel and asked if she wanted me to draw up the agenda or needed me to help with it.  She informed me she had already done it!  Why am I NOT surprised?

One final reminder: Beth Boston is holding her “Just a Little Something” craft sale at her home from 10 am-8 pm TODAY.  She is offering lots of inexpensive crafts, cards, and gifts that she made that make great holiday (or anytime) gifts.  Profits from all snowman-related merchandise will be donated to Charlotte.  Please come out and support her if you are in the Richmond area.  Her address is 9423 Charters Gate Dr., Mechanicsville (in the Kings Charter neighborhood).  THANKS!

Off to find The Wind In The Willows!

– Roger (Charlotte’s Dad)
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