Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Good Times

Over time, the phrase "good times" has meant different things. The phrase was first uttered after a few chicken wings and Miller Lites were being shared at our former apartment in Clifton. That night, Kristi and Wally had a few more drinks than Michael and I, and when Wally asked Kristi what we should toast to she said, "good times!" Wally clanked her bottle and repeated, "yeah, to good times!" And thus, good times was born.

The Kamienski and the Valentins have had many a good time together but over the years the phrase and the meaning has changed. On a beautiful sunny day in August, the Valentin Family and Kamienskis headed out early for a day at the Bronx zoo. At approximately 8:35 am, we headed over to Union to pick up Kristi, Mike and Michael for a day of fun. However, when we arrived we had to make the transfer to the car very quick since Valentin's neighbor that I tapped with my car who allegedly had over $600 in damage on her 89 Pathfinder was sitting on her front porch. Besides that, it was a smooth journey into the city. Michael and I sat in the back reviewing all the photos and memories from their 3 week road trip. We asked Uncle Wally to turn the volume up on the radio several times so we can enjoy the tunes but he was being difficult and raised it ever so slightly (what a grandma!). Aunt Kristi, entertained Benjamin with his new Click the Camera they purchased for him on their trip.

When we arrive at the Zoo, it was 10am on the dot (the exact time the zoo opens its gates). The families were primed for an adventure. Until...the 14 year old behind the register made us pay for a senior ticket when we only needed a FREE infant pass. By the way, we all look good for ages and there was no mistaking anyone for a senior. Ok back to the story. We then had to wait around for about 15 minutes until the 16 year old manager could reimburse Mike's card. Wally was going to run after her and read her the riot act until he thought better of it. With the past behind us and Mike's card $23 dollars richer again, we started our journey.

Our first stop were the seals then on to the monkey house. Ben and Michael were having a blast enjoying all the varieties of primates. Next we moved on to the Madagascar exhibit were we learned about lemurs and were able to climb inside a tree filled with hissing cockroaches (note I did not climb in the tree). Aunt Kristi showed Benjamin all the animals that burrow in trees including millipedes and some sort of rodent. Ben liked the display so much he wanted to open up the flap on the tree to no end, eventually, we had to divert his attention to a new attraction.
Wally that day took the lead and acted as tour guide keeping us on a very tight schedule in order that we could experience all the zoo had to offer. At times, this "guidance" was a little annoying, especially when we were only allowed to view certain animals for brief moments. Wally had us all so in line that Little Mike picked up the act and became junior tour guide and was heard telling the rest of the group, "let's continue" while opening the door or walking to the next exhibit. However, thanks to Wally and Little Mike keeping us in line, we were able to see almost every inch of the zoo (except for the World of Darkness and Birds of the World -- I did not shed a tear over this nor did anyone else, however, Little Mike did remind Uncle Wally he said we could see the elephants on the way out and we blew past them). We saw giraffes, gorillas, elephants, tigers, horses, lots of frogs, seals, camels, goats, otters, wild dogs, zebras, bears, butterflies -- a complete menagerie -- you name an animal we probably saw it! We even got to the Children's Zoo (the one Wally didn't think we needed to go but admitted to me that it was one of his favorite stops) where the boys were able to act like prairie dogs and climb trees and feed the animals. Also in the Children's Zoo Ben and I got to slide down the giant tree and Wally and Mike got to act like giant turtles. We were there from the opening to the close and not a word of complaint from either of the boys -- they were angels!
After the zoo, we headed to a wonderful restaurant on Tremont Avenue in the Bronx. Now.. Wally and I thought, "what are we in for here" but Mike was right it was fantastic! As the drinks were set on the table, we knew what we would toast to - there was no other way to describe it ...'Good Times'.

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