I got started this morning on the wrong foot in a way, because I didn't manage to sleep well last night, and I really didn't want to get up when the alarm went off. But I managed to do it, and got my stuff together and got rolling only a few minutes after my goal of 8 AM. I only forgot one item of any significance, which was to put on sunscreen before I headed off. And once I got there, I couldn't find the other sunscreen that I thought I had. So I got a touch of sunburn.
As I drove from Muncie to Center Point, I continued to be impressed by what a wonderful spring this is for flowering trees. The redbuds and dogwoods are just coming out to join the fruit trees and magnolias.
There was a large crew of volunteers today, but by knowing what needed to be done and stepping up to do it, I think I made myself pretty useful. When there's only a few people, it's easy to stay busy, but when there's more people than really needed for the job, it's easy to get lazy. I did a lot of wheelbarrow pushing and cleaned several cages, and I think I was actually a help several times with convincing cats to move to the side of their enclosure we wanted to lock them in so we could clean the other side.
When we got done with the main push of the feeding and cleaning rounds, I needed a break, so I took my lunch into the shady spot across the road from the developed part of the center. (They own the land there, but except for a small parking lot, they haven't done anything with it yet. It is an old strip mine, which nature has reclaimed into wooded hills and ponds, so it won't be very easy to develop it. They purchased the land mainly so that someone wouldn't move in and then get NIMBY about lions and tigers next door. I assume that it wasn't very expensive.)
As I was finishing my lunch, Carl (one of the employees there, whose last name I don't think I've ever heard) joined me and started his, and we got into a conversation about private ownership of exotic animals. Carl was arguing from apparently sincere beliefs that private citizens shouldn't keep wild creatures like exotic cats, while I was arguing from my own very strongly held beliefs that responsible private ownership is both possible and important. The conversation reminded me that I want to write up a reasoned defense of my position. Hopefully, this writing will start life as an LJ post soon, and as I refine it, become something that will be worth putting before a wider audience.
After lunch, I got drafted to help a group of about 6 female students from DePauw who were volunteering for the day. (They were part of an organization known as the Society of Biologists, and were all "uniformed" in T shirts with the slogan "Dirty SOB".) They were working on clearing the logs out of an area which is supposed to be a new tiger pen, only it has a huge pile of tree trunks and brush on it that has to go somewhere else. Work started on this project in the fall, but it was mostly on hiatus over the winter. It's a couple of pickup truck loads of heavy stuff farther along now.
After we were finished with that, work was pretty well done for the day except for the people guiding tours. I walked around and took some pictures. I was feeling very tired, but before I left, I got to play with Brumby the black leopard cub and his new playmate Polly Ann the cougar cub for a few minutes, which recharged my batteries for the drive home.
After I got my stuff back in the car and was about to leave, I discovered the most annoying thing that happened all day. I had not gotten the lid on properly on my half full bottle of Gatorade when I put it back in my little cooler, and it all leaked out. (The cooler's too small for a quart bottle of Gatorade to ride standing up.) So instead of the liquid I needed, I had a mess in my cooler. Yuck. There was only a little water left in my water bottle, and I needed more than just a little to get me home, so I stopped at the first gas station on the way back and bought another bottle of Gatorade (which cost almost twice what I paid on sale in Champaign for the first one, grumble).
As I was taking a shower to wash the dust and sweat and tiger pee off, I mentally totaled up all the liquid I'd drunk on the trip, and it came to a whole gallon. I did pee some during the day, but not nearly that much. It was warm today, low 80's, but there was a nice breeze and low humidity, so this is an unpleasant reminder of how awful things will be when summer really gets here.
Now I'm going to go fall into bed. Between the short sleep last night and the hard work today, I'm hopeful I'll actually be able to sleep well.