Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Day Eleven - Birdlands

Though I had many opportunities to take this picture, photo credit to

Birds (and to a lesser extent pandas) were the theme of our Tuesday. We got up relatively early and went to the National Zoo in Washington, DC. We drove as far as Greenbelt, MD and then took the train into the city. This all by ourselves as Vanessa had to work. She did provide good directions. The weather was beautiful all day and evening.

As usual, we had to eat as soon as we reached our destination. We had a nice lunch at a Thai restaurant on Connecticut Avenue. My plan for seeing the zoo worked perfectly for about an hour and a half. Walking the short "Asia Trail" near the entrance gave us a look at the famous giant pandas, Tien Tien, Mei Zhing and their baby. Nearby was the birdhouse, where I took dozens of pictures of exotic birds from all over the world. In a return visit to the pandas we saw them wake up and eat popsicles. There I made a tactical error after hearing a report that the red panda (whose habitat near the giant panda was being renovated) had been relocated to the small mammal house. I asked Kallie if that was nearby. Pretty close, she said. It was at least a half-mile downhill, which meant another half-mile walk uphill to get back to the zoo exit, and then another mile or so walk from the exit to our train station. I enjoyed seeing the red panda, though I couldn't get much of a picture because of the crush of youngsters against the glass and the nervous "head down" pacing of the animal.

At about 3:45 p.m. I slumped into my seat on the Red Line train. We arrived back at Vanessa's in Columbia promptly at 5 p.m., our intention all along as the caravan for Oriole Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore was scheduled to leave at about 5:45 p.m.

The game between the Orioles and the Houston Astros started at 7:05. We took our seats in the lower stands just as the first pitch was thrown. The game was an exciting back-and-forth affair with three home runs, innumerable pitching changes and arguments by both teams about ball and strike calls on the same batter. It was also "Wild Bill Hagy" Night in honor of a dedicated fan who'd passed away. We arrived a little too late to get a Hagy #34 t-shirt.

The medium-sized crowd seemed a little subdued until the Orioles' game-winning rally in the bottom of the eighth. They stood and cheered on the 3-2 pitch that third baseman Melvin Mora, 0-4 to that point, drove to right-center field for a two-run double that gave the Orioles their winning 6-5 margin. In the Astros' ninth, the fans stood throughout the final at bat, a strikeout by Astros centerfielder Michael Bourn.

All around the stadiums are signs saying "This Is Birdland." Erin and I developed a "Birdland" game to amuse Kallie. When she least expected we showed our claws and cawed loudly right in her face. She recoiled in fright every time. The oriole is not a very scary bird, but no matter.

Traffic between Baltimore and Columbia is a lot better than the Washington Beltway so we had little trouble getting home.
Check out more pictures from the day at
Today we leave our wonderful hosts in Columbia for my sister's house in West Chester, PA. Our tentative plan is to see the historical sights in downtown Philadelphia on Thursday.

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