Amazing Summer Spotting Brookfield Zoo Arachnids

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Now Appearing Amazing Arachnids

This year, Brookfield Zoo celebrates arachnids with Amazing Arachnids.  The special seasonal exhibit opens this Saturday, May 26.  With over 45,000 documented species, there is a lot you might not know about arachnids.  We certainly thought we knew about these eight legged creatures, but it turns out we missed the impact they have on our world. 

Commonly, you will call them spiders, but arachnids also include scorpions, mites and ticks. One of the major distinctions are their 4 pairs of legs.  If you are already squeamish or uncomfortable, then I want to encourage you to continue.  If you consider yourself afraid of spiders, then this is the perfect place for you.  I admit that I am afraid of spiders.  Mostly, I can handle being around them as long as they keep a safe distance from me.  The arachnids on display (100 species) are much calmer than the typical and unsettling commonly found spider.  I’ll be honest the jumping spiders disturb me most of all because they are unpredictable.  aa a1

Jumping Spiders Are Just One Arachnid

Typically, when I think of an arachnid I picture a jumping spider.  Smaller than tarantula species, a jumping spiders’ good vision comes from the 2 bigger eyes which are actually quite adorable.  You will notice many tarantula have relatively smaller eyes even with bigger bodies.  The tarantula are also calmer in their solitary enclosures.  Most of the arachnids hide themselves either under cork boards or in self-spun webs.  Luckily, the staff have expertise and black lights to help you spot scorpions and spiders.  As well as Zoo Chats which will allow you close up encounters with some of the arachnids.  A perfect chance to reduce your fear is by learning more about their daily needs and habits. aa a4

Amazing Arachnids In Our Lives

Amazing Arachnids is open until September 3rd. Inside you will learn about how arachnids influence our art, culture and science.  With special displays on weaving, spinning silk, molting and even the Tarantella, these creatures have a wide range of skills.  The one part that surprises us is species of arachnids need protecting.  Certain species are so popular and easily wild caught, that their populations are under threat.  Arachnids are mysterious because they are such quiet hunters with tactics like trap doors or sticky silk webs. 

Beyond the arachnids themselves, the best part, especially for kids is the Mission Safari Maze.  With 4 wheels featuring 16 creatures and 48 missions to choose from you get one mission to complete in the maze.  All of these creatures can be found at Brookfield Zoo, so it acts as a special mission for them during their visit.  Inside the maze are interactive areas including a climbable web and a zip slide.  Especially if you have multiple kids, they can each have a separate mission and animal of the day.  We were lucky to get the Peacock Tarantula and one of the most beautiful specimens in the exhibit.  The Peacock Tarantula is gorgeously blue with fractal patterns.  Truly a sight that does not compare to anything else.  aa a3

There is even more to learn about arachnids.  You can plan your visit to Amazing Arachnids here.  Brookfield Zoo is happy to help you learn more about spiders this summer.  If you are interested in raising your own pet arachnid, then the staff have tips and suggestions to offer.  There are specimens that you might never see with pink toes or bird eating tarantulas as well as more common species like the wolf spider.  Truly, there is a world to be discovered amongst these 8 legged creatures.


Jeep Wrangler: Don’t Fear The Mud

2018 Wrangler Rubicon Manual

Jeep Invited Us To Off Road!

We were lucky enough to go off roading with Jeep to check out their newest lineup including the updated 2018 Wrangler, Sahara and Rubicon, and 2019 Cherokee, Trailhawk and Overland.  Off roading is something that we grew up around, living in the middle of nowhere, but we never did ourselves.  We do have a 95 Grand Cherokee, but no mud tires or skid plates.  So, being able to experience the all new 2018 Wranglers at Cliffs Insane Terrain is something we could not miss. 

So, thanks to the crazy April snowstorm the trails were wet and slick with mud.  Something we don’t ever experience living in the suburbs.  The trails though were way more than we anticipated.  With the first run we rode in the Sahara to get a feel for the trails and what to expect.  Only for us to encounter mud that while deep generally lets you keep crawling along.  Those ruts will suck you in, but they won’t beat you up and keep you moving on the trail.  The problem is that when those trails intersect the ruts were soft trying to suck us into a different trail.  In the end the tires and treads on the Sahara were shorter and less aggressive than the Rubicon.   2018 Sahara Wrangler

Crab Walking Is Not Just On The Beach

Thus, we got to experience some winches in action as the mud caused us to crab walk right into a fork in the road.  When we finally got free, we see the hole is as deep as the tire stuck inside.  The upside is that when you off road with Jeeps, you’re never truly stuck.  The new Wrangler Rubicon has eTorque which allows the winch system to be separate from the main engine.  So it will not cause engine strain when you use it to tow someone out of the mud.  

When we finally got done with our first run, supposed to last 20 minutes, but is closer to 90 minutes because that mud kept picking new targets.  We had learned that listening to the Jeep guides is paramount, but that trusting the Wrangler is the key.  Those Wranglers can handle way more than we imagined.  We had the chance to ride along with one of the parks’ owners and that experience is beyond what we had all day.  The angles are steeper, he pushes the limits of the trail by climbing more obstacles and driving them at angles we think impossible.  We shot video of our first experience off roading. 

Overall, we learned that we shouldn’t be afraid of that mud.  We were inexperienced, but the ruts in those trails will keep you on track.  Something we really believed after tackling the gulch in the Trailhawk.  That run truly felt like a roller coaster as we rounded the curve which dropped blind straight down, unable to see the trail at all.  Thankfully our guide had told us to start high and let it drop down into the grooves.  2019 Cherokee Trailhawk

More Than Just The Wranglers

Knowing that you can tackle steep climbs as long as you don’t let off the gas is beyond what we expected.  After all such a steep hill seems impossible on foot.  Yet, up you go with Wranglers roving around down below.  I did have the best parking spot all day as, our Cherokee Trailhawk ended up with the back wheel off the ground.  That is part of the beauty of a Jeep, you can go places you’ve never been before. 

There is so much more that we will be sharing with you in the following weeks.  We did focus on the Wrangler, but we also had fun with the Trailhawk and the Overland.  Mostly we still can’t believe we got to off road with Jeep.  I cannot recommend it enough.  Nothing else at 5mph is anywhere near as fun except maybe Camp Jeep at the Chicago Auto Show.  Either way we definitely want to see what else a Jeep can do. 

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