Meeting Bean

Thursday, August 18, 2016


This past weekend I got to check off probably the single biggest item on my bucket list - I got to meet A SLOTH!

Up close and one-on-one, Mike and I got to hang out with Bean, the resident sloth at Lehigh Valley Zoo in Lehigh, Pennsylvania. He’s four and a half years old and the sweetest little thing I have ever met! I basically lost it when they brought him out to meet us, but getting to pet him and interact with him was seriously one of the coolest moments of my life. I wish we could have stayed all day watching him (slowly) climb around, eat, and take naps. He even fell asleep hanging onto his handler during the first half of our visit. When she woke him up so that I could pet him, he looked at me with his adorable sleepy little blinking eyes and I just about melted into the floor. 

As part of their education program, we learned all about where he came from, what he likes to eat, and what he needs to survive. We also heard some pretty disturbing information about how deforestation and the coffee industry majorly threatens sloths and their habitats. I had always known about deforestation, but never knew the degree to which coffee growers and coffee companies were involved. I always assumed it had more to do with fuel and timber than anything else and never suspected so many coffee companies (Starbucks included!) to be such huge offenders. See, the issue really boils down to this... Coffee is typically produced in tropical regions and naturally grows under the shade of trees. Back in the 70’s, farmers were convinced to replace this “inefficient” method with sun grown coffee and since then 2.5 million acres of trees have been torn down to support this new method of cultivation. As a result, animals, their habitats, and all forest biodiversity has been destroyed. To combat this problem, which affects not only sloths but thousands of other species in tropical regions worldwide, we learned about shade-grown coffee which is not only the natural way the beans are grown, but it’s higher quality and promotes biodiversity. As a parting gift from Bean, we were sent home with two little bags of ground shade-grown coffee. It’s safe to say I’m pretty much over Starbucks forever and I will only be buying shade-grown coffee from now on - which to my surprise isn’t hard to find. (If you’re interested, you can check out some of the major brands here.)


The best part about this whole experience is that Mike planned the entire weekend himself and kept it as a surprise for me as a belated birthday gift. 

After our visit with Bean on Saturday morning, we drove through some of the most beautiful country and mountains in PA to the small town of Macungie where Mike had booked a bed & breakfast for us for the night. We stayed at the Stone House Inn and Spa right on Main Street and found every inch of this place to be absolutely adorable. We walked a little bit of the town, sipped tea on the porch, and then got ready for dinner. Mike had booked reservations at Savory Grille where we tasted local craft beer before dinner and then enjoyed four amazing courses of some of the best food I’ve tasted since my last trip to Belgium. We started with salads and an appetizer of pork belly, arugula basil pesto, grilled peaches, and roasted scapes. For the main course, Mike had sesame-crusted ahi tuna with local mushrooms and jasmine rice while I chose the duck with fingerling potatoes, carrot slaw, shiitake mushrooms, and miso vinaigrette. I wanted to move in upstairs by the end of the meal. 



Overall, I could not have asked for a better weekend. It feels so good to indulge a little and spend time away from home. It’s neat to find little towns like these and explore all they have to offer. You never know what can be hiding in the most unlikely places!

6 comments:

  1. First of all, these photos are on point!! What camera do you have and what do you use to edit them?! Secondly, I have said this numerous times but Mike did such an amazing job planning this weekend for you and the both of you deserved it so much. I'm pretty sure he should tell Dave the details because I need to eat grilled peaches ASAP. I'm so glad you were able to experience this and have a weekend away. xoxo

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    1. Thanks girl! I've got a Nikon D3200 and shot these with my new 50mm lens. I've been dying to try it out. I need tons more practice but it's been so fun! Girl, you NEED to check this place out. It was this totally cute little town tucked in the middle of nowhere PA!

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  2. Sounds like an amazing weekend! I would probably react the same way if I met a sloth. It sounds like Mike did a fantastic job planning this weekend! Also, because I have to, I'll also add that Animal Agriculture is also a HUGE contributor to deforestation, probably the biggest which I why I now choose to not eat meat.

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    1. I'm glad to know I'm not alone! It was such a wonderful little trip. I had no idea that animal agriculture also contributed! I feel like I've learned so much in the last week. It's totally eye opening!

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  3. Okay, I just CANNOT get over the fact that you got to meet a sloth! When I saw it on Facebook, tears came to my eyes! Best. Birthday. EVERRRRR

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    1. Girl, you and me both! I still get so excited when I see the pictures. It was surreal! I wish I could have brought you with us since I know how much you love them too! You would have loved it!

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