The zoo has been an annual family trip from Austin's first year with us. Actually, we went nearly every year as a child with my mom and step-dad. Our family has just grown and changed over the years and now includes our children.
Those zoo trips were always something that Austin looked forward to. He loved animals but it was more about spending the day with the family for him. The bigger our group, the happier he was. The day always ended at the park, with a full picnic and time to play.
There were a couple of trips we made just Tim, me and the boys. Once it was a Mother's Day surprise for me, followed by a picnic. It was a wonderful day, taking our own pace, stopping for as long at activities or animals as we wanted, since there wasn't a group waiting. One year, we squeezed in a visit to the St. Louis zoo while attending a family wedding. It was much larger than we were used to and the boys were thrilled at all the attractions.
But our big family trips were always special too. We've watched our kids grow up there, too small to see over the fences and riding in strollers, to big enough to push the next generation up the hills. Austin enjoyed seeing Bryanna experience the zoo on our last trip. She was old enough to enjoy it and be excited seeing the animals. Both my sisters and their kids made that trip and it was nice all being together. We watched our kids run the hills, yell about this animal or that, just as we did many years ago. And as was tradition, we stopped for family photos. The photo below is one of my favorites.
Our last zoo trip family photo
It will be hard walking those hills again without Austin, just as any activity is. But we go on, with heavy hearts, beating with a memory of him.