Throwback Thursday: Halo Portable Battery Chargers (Link up too!) #tbt

 Halo Portable Battery Pack and Charger- My Life: A Work in Progress

I always want to come back and update product reviews months later, but life often gets in the way. Personally, when I’m researching a product I like to know how it’s performing after a long period of time. Bloggers often test a product for a couple or few weeks before reviewing it on their blogs. It’s the nature of the business. Companies understandably want a quick turn around.

Earlier this week, my sister-in-law, my two nephews, and my mother-in-law went along with me, Little J, and Hubby on a day trip to DC. Near the end of our visit, we stopped near some of the Smithsonian museums for a quick break. My SIL sat down on a low wall, and when I realized she’d pulled out a Halo Portable Battery Charger, it seemed too good of an opportunity to snap a photo and blog about it!

Electronics can’t replace love or human interaction, but they can often make life easier. The Halo company sent me several of their products last fall to review, including their stylish¬†flashlights, the scanner mouse (which was a surprisingly popular post!), and their pocket power charger¬†model 2800. The charger my sister-in-law is pictured with in this post is like the 2800¬†but a little bigger. It’s the Halo Pocket Power 5500, and it¬†may not fit into your pocket as well, but it has more charging capabilities than the 2800. I handed out several of the 5500s to friends and family for their honest opinions. One has even been able to charge her iPad with it! She did say that it took a lot longer to charge an iPad than a cell phone (hours longer).

So how have our pocket power chargers been doing? Fantastic! We’ve used them on trips like this when we’re away from electrical outlets. We’ve used our chargers in airports when all the plugs at the charging station are being used (you know what I’m talking about). It’s easy to slip one in my purse or the diaper bag. In this digital age, I highly recommend that everyone invest in a portable battery charger.

Do you have a portable battery charger?
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A Family Outing: The National Zoo

Even though it was not the path I took, I’ve always wanted to be a wildlife biologist. I love animals in general, and think I would enjoy working with them. Because of this, I’m always up for a trip to the zoo! Although ideally animals should be free in the wild, zoos exist for multiple important reasons: education, research, reintroduction programs, and so on. Read more about animal conservation at the Association of Zoos & Aquariums.

Smithsonian’s Zoological Park is located in Washington, D.C., off Connecticut Avenue.¬†We visited the zoo back in October. It was a cool day, but there were still plenty of animals outside for us to see. The zoo charges for park maps, but there are signs throughout the park telling you the directions to go.

A highlight of the National Zoo is the giant panda bear exhibit. We missed the show, but we did see the male panda bear Tian Tian afterwards. The Panda House is open from 10am to 4:30pm, although the pandas may be away, sleeping. You can always watch the famous Panda Cam to see the mother, Mei Xiang, and her baby, Bao Bao.

The National Zoo exhibits include the Bird House, American Trail, Elephant Trail, Gibbon Ridge, Great Ape House, and Amazonia. There are¬†also animals in their own exhibit, not grouped in a building or themed exhibit like the ones I’ve just listed.

The Amazonia exhibit has an indoor tropical rainforest with monkeys! These little guys (and gals) were very interested in the human visitors and swinging on vines overhead. But be careful! They may try to pee on you. True story.

The boys especially enjoyed the Great Ape House. Many of the gorillas and orangutans¬†came right up against the glass and interacted with us. It’s a great photo opp.

We didn’t get to see the Orangutan Crossing, but there’s a wire or cable of some sort that leads from one building to another (outside), high up in the air. This is called the “Orangutan Transport System” or “O Line” for short. The primates will actually swing on the O Line and move to a different building.

Another area we really liked was the Great Cat Exhibit. The male lion, Luke, gave us a great show when he decided to perch on a large rock and roar for several minutes. It had just occurred to me that I should film him, when he decided to stop. ūüôĀ Luke has been a busy boy. One of the two female lions has new cubs, and the second is due to give birth any day now!

It was a fun trip overall and great for the family, but here’s a little more info about our experiences and, hopefully, some tips to help you plan your trip:

The zoo is spread out and covers a lot of area. I know some of ya’ll are diehard babywearers, but I prefer bringing a stroller for museums, amusement parks, etc., when I’m going to do a ton of walking, far from the car.¬†The main stretch of the zoo -Olmsted Walk- is almost a mile long. When you add in all of the side trails to different exhibits, you’re putting in a good workout. AND the zoo is basically built on a hill, so at some point you’re going to be climbing up (it’s not steps…more like a wide ramp or road).

I’m not a fan of carrying a toddler and a bag or backpack, so I keep all my junk in the bottom of the stroller. HOWEVER, at busy times of the year, strollers are not allowed inside of smaller exhibits like Amazonia. You have to leave the strollers outside (like at Disney). Since it wasn’t busy the day we were there, we were allowed to take strollers everywhere, inside the exhibits too.

We parked in Lot D, which is at the bottom of the hill. It worked out well, because we started off near the Kid’s Farm (fun to see). It also means we were heading downhill when everyone was tired. It’s much easier to climb when you’re fresh!

You should know that although admission to the zoo is free, parking is not cheap (like anywhere in D.C.). Currently, the zoo charges $16 for three hours of parking and $22 for more than three. It may seem like a lot, but if that’s all you’re paying for your entire family to visit, it’s not bad at all! I’ve also heard parking can be difficult to get after 10:30am during peak times of year.

If you‚Äôre coming up from Hampton Roads, you could park at the Franconia-Springfield station and then take the metro all the way to the zoo. Metro parking at that station is just $4.75 for all-day parking. If you’re planning on visiting more places than just the zoo, buying a 24-hour pass¬†could¬†be cost-effective. Check out my tips for¬†visiting DC with kids.

Definitely check the current Metro fares online beforehand, but children four years and younger generally ride free with adults paying full fare (two children per adult).

The food at the National Zoo is limited and expensive. So we brought our own lunches (also in the stroller). My breastfeeding days are over (at least until I have another little one), but there are plenty of benches to sit on. I also noticed quiet sitting areas inside some buildings.

And that’s about it! If you have any questions, please leave a comment, and I’ll see if I can answer them.

Do you like to visit zoos? What’s your favorite zoo?

Compensated Pink Opinions Expressed Pink Button

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A Family Outing: National Museum of American History

Oh boy, did Baby J love this museum! He’s almost 20 months old, and trucks and trains are SO COOL in his eyes. I’m visiting my brother in DC, and he’s just a few blocks away from the National Mall, so Baby J and I took a walk over there yesterday. I wasn’t able to take many photos since my phone was dying, and I forgot my Halo Pocket Power…I’m kicking myself for that one! Anyway, to conserve my battery charge, I kept my iPhone off for most of our excursion.

Here are the few photos I did take:

Julia Child’s kitchen!
Baby J sitting in a train car from the first half of the 20th century. He’s confused why it’s not moving!
Train engine
Replica of a tobacco ship

To learn more about the National Museum of American History, visit americanhistory.si.edu

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