For Christmas I asked one thing of my dear, sweet husband: a date night. A chance to get all fancied up and go out to dinner and some fun activity. I love spending time with him in our home, but I also enjoy dating my husband and remembering all the reasons we fell in love in the first place. So, he planned a date night. Dinner out and then down to the zoo for the annual “Zoo Lights” show – a beautiful spectacle he’d never been to before.
We planned the date for the Saturday after we returned from Michigan, the Saturday before both of us had to return to work. In case you were wondering, Zoo Lights takes place outside, you know, at the zoo (though at night). As fate and the weather gurus would have it, that Saturday it started snowing fairly early in the afternoon. And it didn’t stop snowing. I’m not talking like, cute snowflakes gently falling on the ground, either. I’m talking flying-in-every-direction, freeze-your-every-extremity-off snow storm, the kind of storm that makes you doubt whether or not you ever shoveled before because your entire driveway is covered with snow as high as the piles you made when you supposedly shoveled last. (I should note that I did not actually shovel, Anthony does that for me because he’s fabulous.)
Our tickets for the Zoo Lights read 9 p.m. so we decided to leave around 7 p.m. to head into Denver (we live in the ‘burbs like all the cool people) for dinner before going to the zoo. We opened the garage to a mad flurry of snow as Anthony stomped on the snow and realized there were already 4-5 inches of the stuff on the ground. And it was already 14 degrees out. Yay. We packed extra layers of clothes to put on after our fancy dinner and clamored in the car.
We’d picked out a nice restaurant in Denver that we have a gift card too (yay!). There are multiple locations of said restaurant, so I punched it in my phone, found the one closest to the zoo and hit “Go” and we were off. The roads weren’t that awful (or perhaps that’s just my recollection since I wasn’t the one driving), but the restaurant was in a slightly residential area of Denver. And there was no parking since it was on a basically one way street that was already packed with snow from the previous Colorado winter storms. And it was still coming down (the snow). Then I realized that the particular restaurant that Ever So Faithful (NOT) Queen Google pulled up was not, in fact, the one that we had the gift card for.
At this point in the evening, Pregnant Hungry/Hangry Lady was beginning to take over as the child in my belly/my stomach in general demanded that I be fed quickly or else. Despite the fact that I’d done my hair and makeup and was wearing a dress, I quickly suggested the Wendy’s we’d just passed since (1) it was close (2) it had an actual parking lot and (3) it would be fast. Anthony told me that he wasn’t going to take me to Wendy’s all dressed up – I appreciated the sentiment, but my hunger was growing. He suggested that, instead, we drive to the City and County building, which was still lit up with the beautiful Christmas display. After the City and County building, we’d then head toward the zoo and find some food along the way. As much as I wanted to see the pretty light display, I was hungry. I dug in my purse and – victory! – found a granola bar, which I
quickly devoured ate like a proper lady. The City and County building was wonderful and beautiful – we even got out of the car to snap a few pictures together. Then we were off in search of food.
We came across a Chipotle, which neither of us had eaten at in forever, and stopped in, parking on a mound of snow (I’m not entirely kidding about the parking spot either). We ate and then I went to the bathroom to change first. Changing in a bathroom stall is much more difficult when pregnant, I should add. Getting my snow boots on and off – and adding a thick layer of wool socks too boot – was one of my more trying feats of the night. Finally I emerged, Anthony changed and we went on our way.
We pulled up to the zoo right at 9 p.m. – the time our tickets told us to be there. What we saw was a crowd of people leaving. Perhaps they had a different package deal, we reasoned. Perhaps they are wimps and can’t handle the 8 degree weather. Then the entrance gate was closed. We knocked on the door of customer service and they greeted us and immediately knew the problem. The package we purchased should never have had a time printed on it, and, in fact, they were emptying out the park as we spoke (it helped when she told us that 7,000 people bought the same package and they’d had the same problem for then entirety of the light show display, which began before Christmas). She offered us a refund and/or tickets for the last show: the following evening, but we already had plans for that night. So she gave us a refund and ushered us into a back way into the park and told us to see what we could see before security kicked us out.
Grateful for the refund, but really, really bummed about not being able to see the whole thing, we wandered past a security guard who reluctantly let us through. Much to our surprise, we actually got to walk the vast majority of the park. Yes, it was frigid, but the magical thing was that we had the entire zoo to ourselves (minus the security guard who kept a good distance but made sure we didn’t get lost). The whole zoo, lit up with different scenes, fresh snow on the ground, and just the two of us. We walked faster than normal and didn’t snap a single picture, but the zoo was ours and the date had been restored. It was as if the whole park was open just for us in this perfect, magical Christmas scene. Though things may not have all gone as planned (when do they ever?), it ended up being one of the very best dates we’ve ever had.
Did we eat at a fancy restaurant? No, but we got to be our goofy selves and enjoy some delicious food. Did we get to spend time taking pictures at the zoo and basking in each display? Did we get our collector’s mugs? No, but we got a refund and got to enjoy almost the whole park for free, by ourselves. Sometimes in life things don’t always go our way, but often times it is the times when things appear to be going wrong that it all comes together beautifully.