But "no reason" was not the reason I had in mind. My reason was to see the groundhog. At the Staten Island Zoo.
Thought #1: Isn't the groundhog in Pennsylvania?
Well, yes, there is *a* groundhog in Pennsylvania, but that's Phil. You know, Punxsutawny Phil. But there is another (and I'm sure there are more than just the two) and his name is Chuck. Apparently Chuck is 80% accurate at predicting the climate outcome of the next six weeks, where Phil is only 30%.
Thought #2: Staten Island has a zoo?
Yes. It's where Chuck lives. But I didn't know there was one there either until about four days before I went.
Thought #3: What?
DL posted on Facebook that surely he had some friends crazy enough to go with him. Since he had to for part of his job, he wanted some company. I took it as a personal challenge. Could I and would I do it?
That being said. This story really begins the night before, when RaGo and I stayed at a friend's birthday party until 1:30am. And then we got pizza til about 2am. And then I got home around 2:30am. I didn't so much "sleep" as take a 2.5 hour nap before I "woke up" the next "morning" at 5:30am to reapply my makeup and get my butt down to the Staten Island Ferry at 6am. And I made it to the terminal in plenty of time, though I was sure that if I closed my eyes I would fall asleep and the man who smelled like urine sitting just two seats away from would inexplicably come sit next to me. I could have gotten myself a caffeinated beverage of some kind, but water was all I could really muster--I was also sure, somehow, that if I ate anything I would be ill. "What on earth am I doing??" I kept asking myself. My eyes felt nailed open.
Eventually we found ourselves on Staten Island, in a cab on the way to the zoo with a New York Times photographer. There were a bunch of people headed there, apparently, but there were even more when we arrived. Mostly children on parents' shoulders--god bless those parents for getting up so early and getting their children ready for this event, children who are so at the moment appear so excited that this may well be the February equivalent of seeing Santa Claus. Though it was quite chilly, we were given free hot chocolate that tasted vaguely, delightfully of raspberries.
Once the crowd dissipated, I actually had the chance to see dear old Chuck. It occurred to me that I had never seen a real-live groundhog before, and frankly it looks like a furry mushroom cap. I squealed like a child when I was able to see his trainer feed him what looked like pieces of cheese, though. He'd nibble at them just like a squirrel. A children's band played rousing renditions of songs gone groundhog, like "Groundhog (nee Crocodile) Rock," etc.
Afterward we explored the zoo, which is said to be one of the best small zoos in the country. It had leopards and meerkats and monkeys and giant fish and alligators and bats and llamas and goats and swans and ostriches and I'm writing like this because being at a zoo sometimes reduces me to a wide-eyed 10 year-old and I was so excited! While 10 year-old me was having a blast hanging out with iguanas and toucans, 25 year-old me was wondering how the hell I was still awake.