Saturday, September 29, 2007

Day 27 – A quick summary of the past week

Haven’t had much time to get online since early in the week. Probably a good thing since when I’m on the road I spend way too much time online.

Wednesday morning I worked at the Center for Great Apes cleaning out storage rooms. Found some interesting stuff that staff had forgotten about, including a large trash bag filled with pine cones. The next day I wrapped up my volunteering by dipping pine cones in warm peanut butter to make snacks for the chimps and orangs.

Wednesday afternoon I drove down to Lake Placid for an early dinner at D&D’s beautiful new home. All the kids and grand kids were there. A very relaxing and enjoyable evening. I couldn’t stay too long as I needed to get back to CGA before all sunlight disappeared. It gets really dark on those country roads and I was worried about finding the turn offs to get back to CGA.

Thursday I packed the car and tidied up the cabin. I took a walk around the grounds to see as many of the resident apes as would come out to see me and took a few photos. Darling Grub, the original alpha male at CGA, made me two (count ‘em: 2) masks and dropped them to me from the overhead chute. (Grub’s shtick is to tear three holes in pieces of paper as a way of courting visitors. The proper response is to hold his work up to your face to show your appreciation.) In the past few years, since more male chimps have come to CGA, Grub has become more interested in capturing my attention.

I finally pulled myself away and drove about three hours to Barefoot Bay, the eastern-most point of my travels. Here I’m enjoying the hospitality of R, my dad’s widow, watching TV, doing laundry and gabbing about family stuff.

Friday I drove to Save the Chimps, just west of Fort Pierce and the southern-most point of the trip. I first visited Save the Chimps on my previous trip when the sanctuary was nothing more than the freshly poured foundation for the first planned building. Now, seven years later, there are 12 large islands, each with a sturdy (hurricane-resistant) night house. Seven of the islands are occupied by chimp groups of varying sizes totaling about 130 chimps. Eventually the 150 or so chimps remaining at the New Mexico facility are being transported to Florida to retire in the sun.

I helped prepare treats for the chimps by smearing peanut butter on pineapple crowns and tucking in a few pieces of dried fruit. Wish I could watch them enjoy my handy work. I also prepared drinks (non-alcoholic, of course) and explored the property a bit with some of the staff. I had such a great time and the staff were so welcoming that I decided to return on Sunday (tomorrow) to help out again in the kitchen.

Today (Saturday) R and I got up early and headed to Melbourne and joined S&D and their daughter (R’s grand-daughter) K for a trip to the Brevard County Zoo. Getting there just after opening gave us a chance to see the animals at their most active – and before the day got hot. I’ve visited this small zoo repeatedly over the past 10 years and have watched it get more impressive with new exhibits and informative signage.

Around noon we headed back to S&D’s house to be greeted by their energetic little Yorkies. There we enjoyed a delicious, home-cooked turkey dinner (with all the fixins) and I was surprised with a birthday brownie cookie.

As I write this I can hear the wind and rain outside. I parked my car out in the driveway hoping that the rain would wash off some of the prolific Florida wildlife. With luck – and I’ve been having a lot – the weather will clear by morning and I can enjoy a dry visit to Save the Chimps.

Not sure when I will log on again. Monday -- the beginning of week 5 and the beginning of the second half of the adventure -- I will start heading west (well, north, then west) toward my next major destination: Shreveport, LA.

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