June 14-17, 2017
Indianapolis, Indiana

This city has been a circle on our wall map from the very beginning of this trip for one reason…..walrus. (I recently learned that the plural of walrus is walrus.) We asked the girls last summer,” If you could go anywhere to see anything in the whole US, what would you want to see?” Coral had one answer: a walrus. “Sure, no problem!” we replied. Turns out that is easier said than done. She feel in love with these animals at the Point Defiance Zoo in Tacoma several years ago. But there are only a handful of places where they can been seen in the US, and the closest zoo to our hometown just happens to be one of them. Out of all the other options, about half are in Sea World, which can be quite an expensive outing to see one animal. So when we learned that the Indianapolis Zoo had not one but TWO of these amazing animals, it was put on the must-see list.

This girl is ready to see a walrus!

We left early and packed a lunch: Fitzgerald style. We headed straight to the walrus exhibit to see Aurora and Pakak. The young male Pakak was incredibly interactive and entertaining!! As children stood next to the glass wall between them and the water, he played peek a boo from behind pillars, smashed his face flat, all googly-eyed against the glass in front of curious kids, and snorted at them when they got close in a way that sure made it seem he was trying hard to make them jump and squeal. After a couple of minutes of such behavior he would lift his mustached mouth out of the water and whistle loudly. Then he would push off the wall, swim a lap, and come back to do it all again.  It was extra cool to learn that this little guy was born in June of 2012, just like Coral. He was found orphaned in the Arctic, rehabilitated in Alaska, and then came to live at the Indianapolis Zoo with Aurora later that year.

Coral and Pakak….finally. Birthday twins.
The walrus and the girl considered one another.

I kid you not…this guy LOVED playing peekaboo with kids from behind this pillar.
He tried so hard to touch the hands of the excited kids in the viewing area.
Possibly the most engaging zoo creature I’ve ever seen.
Sunny and Pakak.

We also got to attend a Dolphin presentation. I had never been to anything like this, and it totally thrilled our whole family! We spent the rest of the 90+ degree day walking around the zoo enjoy by to exhibits & play areas, determine to counteract the oppressively humid, hot air with lots of snacks, Gatorade, and frequent breaks.

The dolphin show was quite impressive! It was a family favorite for the day.
Sunny was delighted to attend the “Cheetah Chat”, where she could see her favorite animal up close. Thanks to a recent investment in National Geographic Kids Magazines, she knew the answer to nearly all of the zoo keepers questions for the audience.
The butterflies that populate the lovely Butterfly House arrive at the zoo as chrysalises.
This butterfly emerged from its chrysalis 1-2 hours before this. An employee told me that they hang from the structure and allow their wings to fully dry for a couple of hours before they are ready to let go and fly away.
Checking out the aquarium, including the touch-a-shark tank.

We had also hoped to visit the very popular Indianapolis Childrens Museum, but since our museum pass wasn’t accepted there, we saved our money for the zoo and visited the Indiana State Museum instead.  There the girls learned about Indiana state history, rocks, wooly mammoths, and how an artists medium affects the final piece.

I realized this week as I was walking into a grocery store in Indiana to stock up on snacks for our zoo day, that I no longer feel as emotionally attached to these places as I did at the outset of this journey. I can still clearly remember each little town, each grocery store, or coffee shop from our first months on the road. If we stayed somewhere more than a few nights it felt a little bit like home,  and I would even feel sad to leave.  Now I sometimes find myself unable to remember which campground we just left!  It’s beginning to be a bit of a blur.  But what an amazing, wonderful blur of treasured, family memories!  I wouldn’t trade a moment of this for the world.

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