Places to go and things to see by Gypsy Bev

Posts tagged ‘snow’

Polar Frontier at Columbus Zoo – A Cool Place to Visit

Polar Frontier Entrance

Polar Frontier Entrance

Perhaps the “coolest” spot at the Columbus Zoo & Aquarium occurs in North America’s Polar Frontier. On a recent visit to the zoo, howling winds and cold temperatures seemed the perfect time to check out the Polar Bears. They certainly weren’t bothered by the cold.

Set in what appears to be an abandoned mine camp in the Arctic Circle, Polar Frontier is home to four Arctic foxes, two brown bears, and two polar bears. Snow, ice and cold help create the atmosphere for their favorite time of the year. A sign near the entrance states:

An Arctic without ice would be like a garden without soil.

Polar Bear statues

Statues of Mother Polar Bear and two cubs

Polar bear statues of mother and two cubs welcome visitors to the Polar Frontier. Since North High School in Columbus, Ohio had as their mascot a Polar Bear, their alumni organizations funded the statues. Local artist, Mathew Palmer, created these delightful bronze figures covered with a white patina. Statues of animals frequently appear throughout the zoo and are perfect places for a close up picture with the animals.

Two brown bears sleep inside their glass cave.

Two brown bears sleep inside their glass cave.

Two Alaskan brown bears, brother Brutus and Buckeye – from Ohio of course, sleep soundly as they huddle against a heavy glass wall. They appear to believe in hibernation even at the zoo. Usually, they can be found swimming in their own small pool or having a bear wrestling match.

Polar bears play in the snow.

Polar bears play in the snow.

Polar bears, Aurora and Anana, have a playful time in the new fallen snow. Both rolled around on their backs taking a snow bath or perhaps just relaxing . Today they seemed happy to play in the snow and didn’t venture into either of their two pools for a dip

Salt water tunnel where  polar bears often swim overhead.

Salt water tunnel where polar bears often swim overhead.

The polar bears have a 167,000 gallon pool of salt water in which to swim and catch lunch. You can observe the bears diving in for a swim from eye-level, or underneath through a 5″ thick acrylic tunnel. There is an ample supply of fresh trout available when the polar bears decide they might like a snack. Two underground geothermal tanks keep the water in their pools at the perfect temperature for polar bears to enjoy.

Compare the size of various bears.

Compare the size of various bears.

Inside the Battelle Ice Bear Outpost, you can find videos regarding the life of the bears. This interpretive center provides many activities that focus on polar bears and climate changes. It shares ways to practice conservation at home to save the polar bears. They have pictures to compare the sizes of various bears and even an animated Polar Bear Band at Ice Bear Mining Camp.

Bear Band

Bear Band at Ice Bear Mining Camp

A fantastic playground for the youngsters is right outside the Polar Bear Exhibit where children can build an igloo, ride an ice teeter-totter, or slide down a snow bank. Parents can grab a snack at the Polar Grille and chill out while the children have a cool time.

This corner of the zoo is one of the favorite stops for most visitors. A winter visit also has the benefit of being able to see the animals more easily as the zoo isn’t crowded. Make sure you save time for the Polar Frontier…any time of the year!

To visit Columbus Zoo & Aquarium, take I-270 around Columbus, Ohio and use Exit 20. From there you will see signs directing you to the zoo. You’re sure to have a great day!

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Chillin’ Out at the Columbus Zoo

Zoo Entrance with just snow flurries upon arrival.

Zoo Entrance with just snow flurries upon arrival. That soon changed.

Have cabin fever? Put on your warmest clothes and visit the Columbus Zoo for an entertaining, learning experience. Upon arrival,  a few snow flakes bounced through the air, but before long the zoo was blanketed in a cover of white.

Even on a crisp, cold winter day, the zoo had many visitors, although just a small portion when compared to a summer visit. Many animals were inside display areas or tucked away in barns just waiting for the summer season to arive, but there was still much to enjoy.

Snow covered Asian Quest very soon.

Snow quickly covered Asia Quest.

While the present Columbus Zoo opened in 1937, Jack Hanna, graduate of Muskingum College, developed the zoo into one of the best zoos in the United States. Hanna served as director from 1978-93 and still serves as director emeritus. Today over 9,000 animals live there.

This young elephant was inside bars during petting and feeding.

This young elephant was inside bars during petting and feeding.

Columbus Zoo & Aquarium provides something for everyone through five main areas: North America, Asia Quest, Australia & Islands, Congo, and Heart of Africa, the newest exhibit, which was closed on this visit. Still numerous displays make a visit worthwhile and memorable during the winter months, without the usual stops at the many gift shops and snack stands along the way.

While it’s impossible to mention all the adventures this winter day, here are a few gypsy highlights.

Hank, the largest elephant in a North American zoo weighed in at 15,600 pounds and measured 9’5″ tall. That’s one big elephant! People had the opportunity to pet and feed one of the smaller elephants, who kept looking for more treats.

Two Siberian Tigers lounge on top of their cave.

Two Siberian Tigers lounge on top of their cave.

Outside on Tiger Walk, several Siberian Tigers lounged in the snow, while one snuggled up in a corner of a stone cave. They watched movements carefully, probably ready to pounce at the slightest provocation.

Discovery Reef's Aquarium provides a break in the day.

Discovery Reef’s Aquarium provides a warm break in the day where you can sit and watch the fish among the coral reefs.

On a winter day, you might want a break from the cold, and a chance to rest your legs. Several possibilities exist. The giganitic Aquarium at Discovery Reef provides bleacher seats to watch the antics of the fish in a 100,000 gallon salt water aquarium. When you observe all the different species of fish from around the world swimming peacefully together, it seems there might be a lesson for those watching.

Close by, manatees also entertain as they pull lettuce and cabbage as a tasty treat from the surface of the water. Or perhaps you might want to slither over to the Reptile Building to see the snakes, lizards, and even turtles.

Two polar bears roll in the snow.

Two polar bears roll in the snow.

Visit North American’s Polar Frontier, which opened in 2010, to watch polar bears enjoy the new fallen snow. They like to be clean and dry as dirty fur provides little insulation, so they take a bath by rolling in the snow. Imagine the polar bears thought the weather perfect.

The Columbus Zoo & Aquarium is open every day of the year except Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. Of one thing you can be certain, every day’s a different experience while at the zoo. You never know what the animals will do next. Go to the zoo any season of the year!

To visit Columbus Zoo & Aquarium, take I-270 around Columbus, Ohio and use Exit 20. From there you will see signs directing you to the zoo. You’re sure to have a great day!

Beautiful Ohio’s Winter Wonderland

Jackson Park near Byesville provides a scenic place to walk on a winter day.

Jackson Park near Byesville is a great place to walk on a winter day.

Snow flakes fall against the window panes while the wind howls through the cracks in the wall. Looking out the window here in Ohio, there is snow as far as the eye can see. This is the perfect time to get out the picture album and reminisce about other snowy days.

Dad shovels snow.

Dad bundles up to shovel snow.

Shoveling snow has always been a winter chore throughout the years. Often this task got delegated to the man of the house as he bundled up in buckled boots, old overcoat, and toboggan to protect himself against the winter cold. At the time of this picture, the car wasn’t driven into the garage because the tires had chains on them to enable better traction in the snow. Sometimes it may have been days before anyone cleared the roads. It may be a neighbor with a blade on his tractor or perhaps the highway department, that finally opened the roads for needed supplies. Often when the snowplows cleared the roads, they would push a pile of snow a couple feet high across the end of your driveway. Or you may have lived in a place where the winds blew drifts several feet high. Those were and still are the times that try men’s souls and their backs.

Children enjoy a sled ride.

Children enjoy a sled ride.

Children always enjoy a ride on their sled whether they are being pulled by someone or gliding down a hill. Many neighborhoods have a favorite hill where children gather to race on their sleds. Sometimes they may use a large lid or piece of cardboard with the front bent up so it can slide easily down the hills without getting caught in the snow. An old innertube also provides a great way to slide down a hill. You can be certain that everyone is going to come home covered with snow and ready for some hot chocolate.

Carrot nose placed on his first snowman.

Carrot nose placed on his first snowman.

Another favorite activity in the wintertime is building a snowman. Parents enjoy helping youngsters build that first snowman as it makes dad and mom feel young again too. To add the finishing touches, a nose is created by using a carrot, while its mouth and two eyes are made out of coal. Many times a hat is placed on the snowman’s head with a scarf around their neck. Then everyone hopes it doesn’t melt away too quickly after all that hard work.

Pepper, the Pony, pulls a sleigh through the snow.

Pepper, the Pony, pulls a sleigh over the snow.

If you are lucky enough to have a horse of your own, or a kind neighbor with a horse, hooking up a sled or sleigh behind a horse is great fun. It is important that someone either lead the horse or ride it as otherwise the horse might take off too quickly leaving passengers on the ground in the snow. What a treat when it works properly!

Deer wander over the Ohio hills.

Deer wander over the Ohio hills, as seen from my kitchen window.

This is also the time to see animals seemingly enjoying the snow as well. Kittens leap over snow covered chairs and playfully wrestle on the ground, while dogs might just sit and watch the activites around them. Deer graze on a few blades of grass still poking through the snow, while keeping alert to any danger around.

While this is not a favorite season for all, many truly enjoy taking a walk in the snow, skiing, or ice skating on a frozen farm pond. Winter recollections can be an enjoyable way to pass a homebound day. Wonder what your favorite wintertime activities might be? To tell the truth, this gypsy would rather take a road trip on a sunshiny day!

Scenic Pikes Peak Cog Railway Blocked by Heavy Snow

Pikes Peak Cog Railway“End of the line for today,” announced the engineer as the Manitou & Pikes Peak Cog Railway locomotive came to a stop.  Thus, Windy Point, at about 12,000 feet, became the end of the journey up Pikes Peak in Colorado that particular afternoon. The snow was too deep on the tracks for the blower to remove it…and it was still snowing.

Traveling by car to the top of Pikes Peak has been a memorable occasion since childhood; however, traveling by cog railway was an entirely different experience. Even though it was April, seems that spring isPikes Peak's Windy Point the time for heaviest snow in the Rockies as the main road to the top for automobiles was not passable. The only possibility of traveling up the mountainside was taking the Cog Railway and seeing how far it would be able to go on that particular day.

Pikes Peak was named for Zebulon Pike, an early explorer, who happened upon it in his 1806 travels.  He attempted to climb it with a small band of men, but they only reached 10,000 feet before they were turned away by deep snow. Even before Pike, the Ute Indians camped at the base of Pikes Peak and it is suspected that they had a pathway to the top to get ceremonial eagle feathers.Pikes Peak Early Steam Engine

Starting back in 1889,  workers were paid twenty-five cents an hour to lay the rails to the top of Pikes Peak. The first steam locomotive took a Denver church choir to the summit. These early locomotives pushed the passenger car up the steep incline. Over the years the engines have developed from steam to gasoline and then diesel. Today the cog locomotive is run by a combination of diesel and electric.

A cog railway uses a gear called a “cog wheel”, which meshes into a special rack rail in the middle of the outer tracks.  With its use, the locomotive is able to travel much steeper inclines than a standard track. Manitou & Pikes Peak Railway is the highest cog railway in the world…with a perfect safety record.

Pikes Peak steep inclineWhat a great view all the way up the steep incline to the timberline, which designates the altitude where trees can no longer grow due to lack of moisture caused by the frozen permafrost under the surface.  Seemed like you could see  forever over the beautiful snow-covered Rocky Mountains with their forests of tall pine. Fantastic rock formations often gave way to breathtaking cliffs overlooking steep canyons.  Passengers oo-ed and ah-ed all the way to the top.

Back at the base in front of the old courthouse in Colorado Springs, there is a statue of Katharine Lee Bates sitting and looking up at Pikes Peak, which was her inspiration to write the words for “America the Beautiful”.  Although written back in 1913 after going to the Peak using a team of mules, the purple mountain majesty still reigns over Colorado Springs to this day.

Cog Railroad OrnamentWhen in Colorado, take Exit 141 (US 24) off I-25.  Go west toward the Rocky Mountains on US 24 about four miles to the Manitou Ave exit, which is in Manitou Springs. Keep going west one and a half miles to Ruxton Avenue. Turn left on Ruxton Avenue at the Mountain Man Shop using a roundabout. At the top of Ruxton Avenue is the entrance to the Cog Railway. Enjoy the ride!

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