Bronx Zoo

E. M. Forster wrote in his acclaimed novel Howards End, “It is the vice of a vulgar mind to be thrilled by bigness, to think that a thousand square miles are a thousand times more wonderful than one square mile, and that a million square miles are almost the same as heaven.”  We started our vacation on Friday, 27 June 2008, at the Bronx Zoo.  After a three-hour ride to our destination, we were ready to see what we considered the highlights of the attraction–the apes, lions, tigers, and rhinoceros.  The boys had other ideas; and that is when the magnitude of Forster’s insights became most apparent.  What impressed the boys the most was not what we thought might–riding a camel, going on the monorail, seeing the tigers, wild horses, and elephants–but rather the “simple” things that are, in essence, not so simple in that they mean the world to young children: climbing rocks and fences, splashing in mucky puddles, stopping to watch a small stream, gathering sticks, alternately chasing and running from Dad, and eating pretzels with–or without–mustard.   We left the zoo well beyond closing time because the walk back to the car was filled with observations and many rest breaks.  And it was perfect.  Back at the hotel, nothing was more enjoyable than “calling” Auntie Janice on the hotel phone (it was unplugged), pushing the luggage cart, and looking out the window at the surrounding highways of North Bergen, NJ.  Traveling with toddlers reminds us why we travel in the first place–to see, to observe, and to learn.  And as much as the boys did, so, too, did we. 

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