Tuesday, July 14, 2009

homework with kangaroos

Rather than post an epic blog on our recent weekend trip to Atlanta - awesome though it was - I've parceled the Kangaroo Conservation Center into a homework assignment for my class. The Aquarium was amazing (it's probably the only aquarium visit I'll remember, other than the one in Barcelona).

There were possibly more people than fish at the aquarium but that would only be because the restaurant where we ate dinner, Il Mulino, was serving some of the aquatic creatures as appetizers. It was all I could do to not lean over my rows of silverware to stare at the bulging dead eyes of the crustacean in the display and ask "Do I know you from somewhere?"

The Coke museum was brilliant. We saw commercials from Coke's global empire and tasted Coke products from around the world.

Next day we went to the Kangaroo Conservation Center an hour and a half north of Atlanta. The review is below.

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The Life magazine itself cost a bit more than the People propped next to it, but the photos were far more compelling. It was a special edition of small, little-known places in the United States. I was drawn to it for its inclusion of Poplar Forest, Thomas Jefferson’s summer home, located five minutes from where I grew up in Virginia. I was compelled to purchase it because of the story under the Georgia section.

“Well, I’ve never not had fun on one of your adventures.” When my husband said it, it sounded more like he was verifying in his mind that this could, in fact, be a true statement. Nevertheless, it was all I needed to start planning the next one.

One and a half hours north of Georgia, at the bottom of the Appalachian Trail, is the largest population of kangaroos outside of Australia. I’ve never been to Australia and counted the kangaroos living there, but I’m certain this is not a commonly found marsupial bounding through the forests of North Carolina. Largest or not, it was the largest grouping I had ever seen.

The Kangaroo Conservation Center is located in Dawsonville, Georgia. What started as a private collection has expanded to nearly three hundred kangaroos inhabiting the sloping hills. Is it a rabbit? Is it a rat? Is it an anteater? From different angles the kangaroo appears amorphous. Approaching closer, the large feet and strong tail are distinct. These three appendages can propel a kangaroo up to 10-to-12 feet in the air, forty-five feet forward at speeds of up to fifty-five miles per hour. None of the kangaroos we saw appeared likely to attempt those distances; they were happily resting in the slanted, dirt spots they had created for resting their hips.

We also sat through a presentation explaining the infamous pouch. Thanks to a most obliging and showy female kangaroo, we received the rare treat of seeing the inside of the pouch – I can assure you it does not look like the fanny-pack rendition commonly seen in cartoons. Baby kangaroos, or joeys, are born the size of a jelly bean and then mature in the pouch. One of the smaller species, two pounds at full-size, is born the size of a cooked grain of rice. The nourishment from the pouch has the potential to turn a male jelly bean into a full-fledged, eight-foot-tall kangaroo, or boomer, as the bachelors are called.

But this is not just a kangaroo-viewing facility (as if that’s not enough!). There are demonstrations and tour rides on the half hour. Picnic tables are conveniently located in the shade across from the boomerang throwing ground. Down a gravel path is a small house of lizards, birds and dragons. Here we encountered the world’s largest pigeon and learned what earns a reptile the distinction of dragon – it’s the beard.

And, I need an ending...

3 comments:

  1. "...a good time was had by all, including my husband (not a dragon--make of that what you will), who wisely volunteered this information so as to avoid being left in both metaphoric and literal boomer-land. Its a long walk back to North Carolina, and I don't think he'd fit in a pouch." done and done.

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  2. Also, what about for the beginning: "Life--it costs more than People. Zen koan, or true fact about magazines? Maybe both."

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  3. 1:59 AM! Don't lose any sleep trying to figure this out :)

    This is great help - I think I'll have to post anything and everything now so I can get your embellishments - much better!

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