Since we were heading to the beach for a whole week, JoeyAndyDad and I did some lightning research online for things to see and do besides our usual triangle of sand, pool, and boardwalk. In the last few years, we had expanded to include Assateague , a boatride, and yummy dinner at Hooper's , but basically, we did the sand, pool, boardwalk thing. Hey, its the beach, right?
So we put together a list of fun stuff, and set it to the beat of a schedule: breakfast, beach, ride to something fun, lunch, rest, something fun like the boardwalk, pool, dinner, more pool. We found some pirate museums, a pirate boat adventure, and a new nature center to check out. We even had some breathings of trying to visit Niksmom and Nik. I thought the boys might also like another trip to the Salisbury Zoo. We all know planning is everything, right? So we were so ready.
Joey hasn't been riding in the car well, so we thought of that, too. It's a four hour drive to the beach, so we pulled out the stops: videos, his CD player, plenty of books, toys, notebooks and pens. Hey, if it will get him through four hours, thirty minutes should be a cinch, right? I mean, the fact that I had been trouble even getting so far as Grandma's all summer was of no consequence at all, right? We had made it to Jamestowne before Summer Scholars began, after all!
So what happened?
Well, first, the Bay Bridge happened. This made a four-hour trip into an eight-hour slog. We went through our bag tricks, but the trauma of the long ride lingered. Whenever a ride was suggested, Joey insisted he wanted to stay in the room. In fact, we had a hard time getting him from the room even to go on to the beach or into the pool on enough occasions, we were afraid he might even be sick.
When we did manage to get him into the car, the results were, at best, mixed.
We managed to pry Joey from the car in Salisbury , after much complaints that he didn't want to go, and that it was too far. And that nobody likes him, and he doesn't want to go.
He showed mild interest in a couple of animals, then insisted on returning to the car. So JoeyAndyDad took him back to the car, and Andy and I roamed about, looking at animals and chatting. Then we discovered the little nature center, and managed to pry Joey out of the car to touch a frog. Hey, wouldn't you get out of a car to touch a frog?
We managed to lure him into the zoo some by promising him a look at otters. Joey loves otters. However, this time he was unimpressed. He did look at a few things- then wanted to go back to the car. So the zoo visit was over for him.
I didn't allow that to dampen Andy's visit, however. We saw the animals, some of them twice so he could get a closer look without the chorus of "Let's go back to the car, now!" Andy thought the flamingos were fabulous, and very very pink. He thought his friend Kylie would like them. He also was fond of the bobcats, though I didn't get any good photos of them. We also saw a black jaguar, which was awesomely beautiful.
It is a lovely little zoo, lots of shade, some nice benches placed around and about, and even these wooden walkways through parts of the exhibits. The focus is mostly on American animals, though there are a few exotic things like the jaguar (OK, South American... no big tigers or lions or anything). There were llamas, bears, otters, and peacocks. OK, India, too. But colonists had peacocks, so there. They have a cool exhibit with beavers and wood ducks, too. h, and a fancy wolf exhibit, though once again, we didn't see a single wolf.
The nature center was small, but air conditioned, and they had a turtle shell to crawl through. They had lots of turtles and snakes to look at, oh and frogs. They also had a young lady who would bring things out to touch (like the frog), or happily tell you all about any animal there in great and fascinating detail. When she wasn't talking, she had a chair to one side to sit. JoeyAndyDad noticed that she liked to rock. Yes, there really are wonderful options for people with ASD, if you find their interests and give them the opportunity.
Andy loved it. He got to look at real horseshoe crabs, and there were aquariums of fish, and a model of a steamboat to walk through, and a model of a Native American house, and trains to play with and... and... it is an impressive little center. I recommend it.
However, Joey got through the door and ran screaming through the building with me hot on his heels. I finally cornered him in a back room (no, I didn't actually catch him, I cornered him), and we gathered ourselves together. The ride was too long. The place was scary. He was a ball of anxiety and frustration. He wanted to go back to the car. He made a break for the car, and again, I was on his heels, so we managed to cross the parking lot safely, and get into the car with Grandma.
I then wandered through the museum taking photos of the exhibits and Andy having fun with his Daddy: touching the crabs and watching them swim, looking at different seashells, exploring a cool computerized globe thing and learning about satellite launching, and even looking at a reconstructed hut for duck decoy carving.
I then took my camera out to the car and showed Joey what was in the museum, the cool stuff he could see and do, to see if i could take the edge off the unknown factor and get him to come have some fun. He was finally convinced by the beaver lodge.
After all, I said he could go in it. I wasn't lying. He was happy to go in, but unfortunately scratched his arm on a stick on his way out, and it was kind of downhill from there. Even the big fishtanks were no use. The horseshoe crabs spooked him rather than interesting him. The big boat was overwhelming.
He did ply some with the trains, but then he wanted to go back to the car. And back to the hotel. And back to Ocean City. Because we were now "far from Ocean City."
Next segment: more successful ventures. Though not by too much.