We loaded up the car and hit the road for Asheboro around 8:30 a.m. By 10 a.m. we arrived at the North Carolina Zoo and the North America entrance already appeared to be packed. For any local friends, I wanted to take a second to share what I think is the ultimate “zoo hack” Ryan and I discovered related to the North Carolina Zoo this weekend. In the past we’ve always parked at the the Africa entrance as it’s always a lot less crowded but the layout of the zoo means we’re either walking all the way across the park back to our car at the end of our visit or waiting in a line for the tram. This time we parked in North America but used the “Connector Trail” to walk a mile to the Africa entrance to buy our tickets and enter the park. This worked SO well since a quick one-mile walk wasn’t daunting at the beginning of our zoo visit and then when we were done at the zoo, we walked right out to our car after we concluded our time in the North American portion of the zoo. I cannot recommend this enough! It made the whole trip seamless from a logistical standpoint.
The first animals we saw as we entered the zoo were the zebras and giraffes and Rhett was in heaven! He adores giraffes — a fascination prompted initially by the 500 Giraffe Wubbanub pacifiers he has as well as a large giraffe stuffed animal he has in his room — and he was absolutely thrilled to see a real giraffe in person! One of the juvenile giraffes walked right towards us at one point and Rhett was in awe. Ryan and I both said the zoo was right in the “sweet spot” for Rhett at 2.5 years old because he was completely fascinated by everything he saw. Since activities can go either way with Rhett (and all toddlers, really) at this age, we considered this a big win!
Since it’s been nearly a year since our last zoo visit, I was surprised when Chase remembered the exact spot where he lost a tooth last year as well as the best places to search for anole lizards and skinks on the zoo grounds. He is our Creature Man so I don’t know why I was so shocked he’d remember the best lizard locations! This year Chase spent about 25% of our time at the zoo looking at the animals and 75% of it obsessively looking for lizards and skinks to catch and release.
(Check out the blue-tailed skink in Chase’s hand!)
We have to get that kid back to Florida ASAP because his fascination with catching and releasing lizards is at an all-time high.
Favorite animals and exhibits for the boys this year included the desert exhibit (complete with tons of snakes, lizards and tortoises), the otters (so playful!) and chimpanzees.
We were bummed the butterfly exhibit the boys loved so much last year wasn’t open yet so we may have to make another visit to the zoo early this summer when the weather is warmer and it opens back up.
The route we took through the zoo had us ending our visit in North America which meant we stumbled upon the playground and mud kitchen area right when the boys were ready for some free playtime where they could run around and explore. We ended our visit in the early afternoon and both Rhett and Ryder fell asleep for a little bit of drive home which shocked us since Rhett never sleeps in the car (yes, not even on our 6+ hour drives to Florida).
After such a full day on Saturday, we wanted to keep things a little more chill on Sunday. We hung out close to home and the boys played basketball, imagination games and remote control cars for a few hours after they woke up and seemed to appreciate not being rushed out the door in the early morning.
Around 10 a.m., we headed off to Birkdale Village! Ryan is co-coaching Chase’s soccer team on Monday nights (a roll he kind of fell into when the coach originally assigned to Chase’s team fell through at the last minute last week) so we wanted to pick up a few things he needs to run practices for a rowdy group of boys! We also meandered over to Barnes & Noble to pick up the last few books from the Dragon Masters series of chapter books Chase loves so much.
We’re making our way through the series again and since we own 75% off the books in the series, we figured we’d complete our collection since we have three kids who may all read/listen to Dragon Masters books. (We initially finished the series by borrowing the last few books.)
(Unpopular opinion: I do nooot like the book Where the Wild Things Are. Ryder picked it to read together on Sunday and was equally underwhelmed. Clearly we don’t get the hype around that one!)
The boys love trips to the book store so we took our time and let them flip through books that called to them before rounding up our crew and making our way to a local pond to see if any tadpoles were out.
We warned the boys that it was likely still too early for tadpoles (it was) but thankfully our trip to the pond was saved when they were able to net tiny fish to catch and release in their little catch-and-release aquarium. (<– That thing is a must-have for creature-loving kids, especially during the summer months and at the beach.) The boys would’ve happily stayed at the pond all day but eventually we knew everyone needed lunch and Rhett needed a nap so we headed home.
The rest of our Sunday passed by in a blur of work, laundry, cleaning and movie night! Ryan and I both needed a few hours of work time on Sunday and set up side-by-side laptops on the couch while the big kids played during Rhett’s nap time. Eventually Rhett was awake and we got the boys in the shower/bath before watching the movie Cars and calling it a night.
It was a simple but full weekend! I hope you all had a good one and enjoy the rest of your week!