Talk about a beautiful weekend! While the East was being inundated with snow, Washington and surrounding communities were basking in golf weather. My husband had been waiting for this — and he hit the course, while I headed for St. Louis, to go to the zoo.

I was excited at the idea of spending Saturday with our three granddaughters, Avery, 11, Phoebe, 8, and Parker, 7, and with our daughter Jennifer. I went by Maplewood and picked them up, and all along Manchester Road and the side streets, the sidewalks were jammed with folks carrying coolers and folding chairs; we never did find out what the attraction was, other than foot traffic in an area that’s growing in popularity.

Maplewood was a zoo and the zoo was too.

Unprepared for the Crowd

The route we wanted to take into Forest Park was closed due to construction, so we went north to Lindell Boulevard, and made a right, working our way up to the St. Louis Art Museum, creeping along with every other vehicle. It seems the entire city was going to the zoo, and there wasn’t a parking space to be had on the streets.

Fortunately, we have a zoo membership, which allows free parking in the lot, but we weren’t sure we’d ever get there.

Finally we got to the entrance, Parker and Phoebe all dancing feet and giggles. Phoebe had an early Valentine gift for Parker — a necklace with a half a heart on a pink cord, with the words “Best Friend.” She bought it with her own money and had the matching necklace with the other half of the heart around her neck. Put the hearts together and they make a matching pair, symbolic of these little girls who’re so different from each other but love spending time together.

Can I Pick First?

Naturally all three granddaughters had an area of the zoo they wanted to go to first — Avery won out because Jen and I got a vote and the elephants and rhino habitats were outdoors — a necessity on such a nice day. I brought my camera and Avery and Parker took turns taking shots of the hyenas, rhinos and elephants, Parker proclaiming “I’m going to be a photographer when I grow up.”

Phoebe’s mind was on food, having passed up lunch at Jennifer’s. We thought the kids might get hungry and had cut up apples to take along, but promptly forgot them. Fortunately we happened onto a snack bar, one without a line.

We soon understood why. “I’d like two pretzels with cheese,” I said to the attendant. “Sorry, we’re out of pretzels,” was the reply. They were completely out of Dippin’ Dots too, which was easy to understand — zoo officials couldn’t have predicted such great weather in mid-February, or the food it would take to feed the masses.

Inundated With People

All in all it was a fun day, despite the crowds. We saw lots of activity from the hippos, swimming about in the water, and a meerkat in the Children’s Zoo had us laughing out loud as it stood at attention on a pinnacle of a rock. He didn’t smell too great but his antics were adorable and outweighed his body odor.

We finally got Phoebe something to eat, concluding our fun outing with ice cream sandwiched between a waffle at Boardwalk Waffles and Ice Cream in Downtown Maplewood.

If you can’t wait until August to get your fix for this treat at the Washington Town and Country Fair, I’d advise a stop-by. The Belgian waffles are made on the spot and the Serendipity ice cream the shop serves rivals Ben and Jerry’s, and you know how I feel about that.

The treat was perfect for a winter day that was more like spring. By the looks of the forecast, it appears we have lots more nice days coming. If you visit the zoo, don’t forget your apples!