When I was 22 years old I promised myself that I would take a vacation every year. My parents never travelled with us when we were children, in fact, I remember only one vacation my entire life, to Six Flags when I was about 11 years old. I started traveling with friends when I was 19 but because of the costs associated with putting myself through college I was not able to vacation every year.
Until this year I had made good on that promise to myself and was sometimes even able to take a couple short vacations a year. But this year through some curve balls at me. We had considered taking a cruise this past winter but my husband’s truck suddenly needed a very expensive repair. With little left we decided to get a puppy instead of going on vacation this year. So into our lives came our little corgi girl, Nora.
But a few months down the road, year end bonuses were finally paid out and we began to dream again. This time we planned a camping trip to Smoky Mountain National Park with our dogs. A few short weeks before leaving for our trip we found a lump on my older dog, Phoebe. It was a mammary gland tumor with a 50/50 chance of being cancerous. So instead we used our vacation money to have her tumor removed (not cancerous thankfully!!!) and have our younger dog spayed in order to avoid those types of tumors for her. Apparently if you spay female dogs before their first heat cycles they are 99% less likely to ever have that kind of tumor.
Again we scrimped and saved and planned a fall camping trip to Rocky Mountain National Park but then I had an ectopic pregnancy and was out of work following surgery for several weeks. With not working for so long it put a trip to Colorado out of the realm of affordable. It appears 2014 was not the kindest to me and my family.
Luckily, we were still able to take a few days off and go somewhere we had talked about going to several years: Memphis, TN. When I first met my husband he promised to take me to Memphis someday to eat some delicious ribs and this week he finally made good on his promise! I was also able to cross something off my bucket list: #32: See the Pandas at the Memphis Zoo. There are 4 zoos in the U.S. with my favorite animal, the Giant Panda. Previously I had been to the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. and the San Diego Zoo.
I can’t even begin to say how impressed I was with the Memphis Zoo. It was evident that a lot of thought had been put into the exhibits and the locations of each animal. For example, Big Cat Country also included the Red Pandas, as they had a hunter and prey theme. The China exhibit in which the Giant Pandas were located included information on U.S./Chinese relations and how the Memphis Zoo became one of only four in the entire country to have Giant Pandas.
I was a little bummed that the female panda was on a sleeping schedule and thus was not out in her exhibit but it was very cool to get to see the male panda. It was without a doubt the highlight of my Memphis trip. If you are planning a trip in or around Memphis the Memphis Zoo is a MUST!
They also had an amazing Sting Ray exhibit (for an additional cost of $4 a person as of Sept 2014). I was able to feed sting rays which was such an amazing experience. This exhibit is seasonal so be sure to check our their website before you visit if the sting rays are a big draw for you.
They also go giraffe feedings twice a day in which you can pay to feed a giraffe. We were never able to time that one right in order to include feeding the giraffes into our day but it was really cool that they offered that as a possibility. I have been to quite a few zoos including the San Diego Zoo which is widely considered the best zoo in the country and I would say this zoo is definitely the second best one I’ve been to, with a close third being the St. Louis Zoo.