Euphemisms, Toddlers, and Two-headed Elk

Euphemisms don’t work on toddlers. Many of you who are parents can certainly relate to this. Yet we silly parents still try.
This became especially evident when our two-year-old confidently explained to us that “tipping the cows” clearly translated to “putting the kids to bed.”
We thought we were so slick to come up with that one.
Clarence was somehow fine with being “tipped,” whereas being “put to bed” would have been a betrayal and an abomination in his mind (thus our attempt to disguise that trigger phrase).
Another favorite euphemism that we parents share is “The Presidential Agricultural Property,” or St. Louis’s famous and delightful Grant’s Farm. Try to explain to your toddler that his favorite place on the planet is closed to the public from October till May.Lone 2

The other day Aaron returned home from work and said to his dear wifey, “Let’s go to the Solitary Mammal Forest.” Kezia looked at him blankly. It always takes a minute to decode these phrases, even when agreed upon beforehand in secret…but Clarence piped up with the answer as if he had the thesaurus memorized.
Lone Elk Park.

You might have passed a sign for Lone Elk Park and the World Bird Sanctuary on I-44 in Valley Park. If you haven’t taken the time to visit, you have been missing out indeed! Lone Elk Park is the perfect place to go when you aren’t quite sure how much energy you want to put forth in entertaining your kids. Why? Because it is a drive through park! You don’t even have to leave your car. Elk walk right up to your vehicle, Bison creep nerve-wrackingly close to your car’s paint and body work, (You know, that sick flame job with spinners. On your minivan.) and children of all ages are delighted.Lone 5

Now you might be wondering, why is there a random animal reservation adjacent to a highway in the St. Louis Suburbs? We were pleased to find out that it has a bit of a messy (and therefore story-worthy) history.
During WWII the area was known as the Tyson Valley Powder Plant and served as a dump point for Class-C nuclear waste such as Uranium. And that’s why there are two-headed elk…! Okay, that was a lie. But it got you to read this post.Lone 4In 1948 the county opened up a park and established herds of elk and bison but in 1958 the federal government took the park back over as part of the Korean War effort and slaughtered all of the animals for “safety reasons.” Now, we don’t know what those safety reasons were but it is either another euphemism for “We don’t have a good reason, just trust us,” or they hadn’t quite cleaned up the radiation yet. Regardless, the park gets its name when one lone bull elk survived the slaughtering. St. Louis County then changed the name from Tyson Valley park to Lone Elk Park in 1966. In 1971 the park was opened to the public and 6 bison were donated from the St. Louis Zoo. Now its a scenic 20 minute drive through the park getting an up close look at these awesome animals.
But WAIT! There’s more!Lone 3

That’s right folks. Lone Elk park is not just a drive-through zoo. There are two scenic hiking trails that are quite a challenge for a toddler (this is a euphemism for he’s going to sleep well tonight) there is a lake where you can reserve a row boat and go fishing for a nominal fee and there are two picnic pavilions where you can have all kinds of jolly barbecues with friends. They even have a scenic look out (pictured above) that is a treat for toddlers to climb up and down. You could easily spend an entire afternoon in this little oasis beside the highway.

Whether you have 20 minutes or a whole day, consider driving through Lone Elk Park. It’s just another local treasure waiting to be found.

-Kezia and Aaron

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