Tag Archive: Columbia


Today we visited the Riverbank Zoo in Columbia, SC. The girls rode ponies and saw a hatchling flamingo.  They also sang with monkeys, fed goats, petted tortoises and heard a tiger MEOW.  (And I even had the opportunity to see several leopard sharks up close and personal).  The zoo is also somewhat self-sustainable with massive gardens full of veggies and herbs.  

This was our first visit in the daytime to the neighboring city to the south and I was impressed with how tropical it felt.  In only an hour and 45-minutes, we went from the mountains to a place that felt much like Florida with its native vegetation unlike anything I had seen before, as varied and bountiful as the tropics (there was a tree with leaves far larger around than the length of my hand).

The all-time cutest exhibits were the koala bear and meerkat habitats.   The koalas were napping and had curled themselves up comfy into the arms of tree-branches.  One meerkat took a fascination with me and I swear behaved as if we were doing a Vogue photo-shoot.  

When asked what the girls enjoyed most, for the older two it was the pony trail-ride (although milking the fake cow was right up there).

Our littlest giggled when the goats literally climbed the fence to eat out of her hand.  They were sweet-natured and beautiful goats with shaggy colorful coats.  And what personality!  

We crossed a bridge over the Saluda River (Columbia marks the convergence of the Broad and Saluda) and saw the old stone foundation of a bridge that was burned during the Civil War.  In the peace and shade on the other side, we rested (and remembered the automatic features of my camera).

Afterward, we visited the elephants, giraffes and the sea-lion a little boy emphatically suggested we see.  I was certain the elephants were Asian elephants for their size, but through the crowds, I read something about Africa on the signs.  We were on some kind of deck above the enclosure, so perhaps the elephants appeared smaller.  Regardless, they were gorgeous creatures caught red from bathing in the Carolina clay.  

And how difficult it must be for a giraffe to eat grass when it feels so inclined!  We saw first-hand how they do it.  

We concluded our day with a visit to Erick’s uncle’s 18th century stagecoach house where the girls enjoyed tractor rides around the property while we sat on the front porch sipping iced-tea.

 

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It was a strange afternoon.  We drove down to visit Erick’s aunt and uncle in Columbia and enjoyed some time in the country talking about the future of energy and transportation in America.  The countryside was quiet without a single train passing until the very last moment, when we were about to leave and we heard the loud, long horn off in the distance.  I jumped off the porch, leading the pack of train-happy folk, down the narrow gravel road where Celli leapt ahead of me, tongue a flyin’ and hell-bent on scaring off whatever it was we were all chasing and woo-hooing about.  Suddenly, I became aware of a more immediate and urgent chase as my beagle was heading full-speed in the direction of a blind corner where the 200-ton engine was approaching at full speed.  

I called after her, but the engine roared and its horn blared and I could only see Celli’s mouth moving as she barked in cadence with her every step.  As the train emerged out of the woods she crossed one set of tracks and met it full on coming within in a few inches of the massive steel wheels.  I stopped and turned away; a sob caught in my throat.  I thought she was gone.  When I looked again, she was running away from the tracks and over to the road where I stood.  I scooped up her frame and sat down forgetting the enormous freight passing.  

Erick and his uncle informed me that as Celli reached the train, where the low oil tankers were passing, the larger box cars following emerged from the shadows and startled her in time to stop her from biting the wheel.  I’ve never been so grateful for boxcars in my life.  I love this beagle.

We had only been driving a few minutes on the interstate when I felt something akin to a bee-sting along my spine – right in the middle of my back where my reach was clumsy.  “Erick I think there’s a bee in my dress,” I said calmly; assuming it wouldn’t get any worse.  I was wrong.  A few minutes later, the lone and very pissy hornet was making cross-stitch patterns all the way down my back and my butt.  Erick pulled over and I jumped out of the truck doing a little dance as I tried frantically to find the angry little hornet.  I found him as he stung me one last time and flew off into the cab, where Erick smacked him off Celli’s head and smushed him under his shoe.  

The pain has subsided for the most part, but the image still stuck in my head is of that scene from Nothing to Lose where Tim Robbins leaps out of the car with the gigantic spider on his back and does that dance.  You know the dance.