Friday, June 12, 2009

Flowers and Humidity

Two of my strongest memories are the smell of the old fern room of the Como Conservatory and the sight of the RC Cola machine at the entrance to the fern room. I remember my dad taking my brother and me -- it seems like it must have been a hundred times, but in actuality was maybe less than a handful. We'd walk the inside and make our way around the loop, stop at the RC Cola machine to get a can of our favorite soda, then open the doors to this magical, misty, musty room where the stone floor was just damp enough to make you question your step and the dank, humid air got caught in your throat just a little. I'd get some change from my dad and throw one coin after another into the moss-covered wishing pond that was fed by a trickle of water fed down the rocks.

They tore down the fern room a couple of years ago to add on a new visitor's center that serves as the gateway to the zoo grounds. That was in 2005. They've *almost* gotten the smell back. But, they probably won't ever have an RC Cola machine waiting for me again. It'll never be the same.

But that doesn't mean that it isn't a great, cheap way to spend a questionably cloudy Sunday. Clutching our suggested donations (Ooh! Paper money!), my friend Katie and I crossed the river and made our way to Como Park.

The Sunken Garden smelled intensely of orchids, and had the biggest lilies I've ever seen (but none of them seemed photo-worthy, apparently, so don't bother searching for a shot of them).

We made our way outside to the Japanese Gardens. The overcast sky made for some great photos.

Back inside, we found ourselves in the North Garden. It didn't hurt that the temperature difference coming in from the brisk air outside made our lenses foggy. I dig the ethereal quality it gave the few shots I was able to get.

The center area ("Palm Dome") looks a little worse for the wear, unfortunately.

We didn't venture into the zoo part of the grounds, but I'm so excited! The new polar bear habitat, Polar Bear Odyssey, is set to open in 2010! Poor bear(s) won't have to swim in heart-wrenching circles all day, everyday anymore.

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