Then again, I could use a galley slave and gopher... one who can knit would be a bonus. So, April, bring it on.
So, we went to Charles Towne Landing, which is the place where the original settlers to SC landed from England in, um, 1670. (Considering my preferred area of historical study is the Neolithic in C Europe, this is a little out of my realm. And way too fooking recent. But alas, I was the victim of several good American history teachers over the years.) It's a state historical site, with an archeological dig, living history, reconstructions, etc. The 'zoo' isn't really a zoo, exactly, it's a bunch of critters that were native to the area when the settlers would have arrived. Which is great to teach the kids. (We were standing in front of the bear, I said "Can you imagine hunting one of those puppies with a bow and arrow?" and a bunch of adults scowled at me for suggesting we eat meat, but one of the kids got it immediately and agreed "That would SUCK!" My teaching for the day.)
Those of you in Australia or Europe or who-knows-where, you probably don't know (or just never thought of it), but the early settlers would go inland on a river as far as possible and then settle nearby for ease of transportaion. Jiffy idea, but they wound up in places just like Charlestown:
If you can't see the scum floating on the water, I assure you it's there. And the composition of the scum? Mosquito eggs. Mother nature arranged a revenge of sorts for the slaves who were transported here; they brought African diseases with them, the mosquitos would bite them and carry the diseases to the Europeans, who had no resistance to them. Yellow Fever, Malaria, and Dengue Fever were the three biggest problems, though I'm sure there were more. The white settlers died in droves. (I have heard as high as 95% fatality rates, and I believe it.) So usually I stand at these historic sites, like here and Jamestown and Williamsburg, and instead of thinking of Brave White Men I think of idiot haoles building houses in swamps and dying in hordes.
Anyway. We got to Charlestown today and agreed immediately there was no way we'd cover the whole area in one afternoon, particularly with the baby. So we headed straight for the critters. The baby likes critters.
Among other things (turtles, turkeys, bison, elk), they had bears, previously mentioned. It was a nice habitat and they looked very clean and well-fed and content, which is good. I HATE seeing badly treated animals. No enjoyment whatsoever. The baby spotted the bear (we wheeled her up in her stroller, right on the other side of the fence, and she said "OOOOO!" Best moment of the day.)
There were also otters. (I have one bad photo of them, but they were really cute.) I love otters. I could watch them all day. Unfortunately the baby gets bored fast, so I didn't get to. But they were cute. I want a river otter as a pet. (I understand they'd trash the house, so not really, but it would be SO cool.) These guys are like undersized sea otters, but they still have that smart look on their face, like they know just what the score is.
We also saw a fricking huge puma (click here for a photo of one mauling a toy deer), which I did not get a picture of (it was shaded and well camouflaged - I could post the picture but you won't see the cat). It paced along the habitat, looking through the fence at the humans like we were selections in a deli case. It made me have a lot more respect for my cat, at least until we got home and found her stoned on catnip and banging her head on the wall in the hallway.
I leave you with a photo across the Ashley River delta. In the center of the photo is the superstructure of the Ravenel Bridge, all the way on the other side of downtown Charleston. You can barely see it; looks like a white pyramid.