Sunday, January 4, 2015

At the Phoenix Zoo

We're all settled in after our vacation to Arizona. I've been cleaning like a maniac all weekend and the house is spotless (well, almost). We put away the Christmas tree and decorations and took down the outdoor lights. We've de-cluttered and tidied everything. It feels good. I love this part of the winter we're in now; I enjoy cold weather and I like the feeling of a fresh start. I often feel that winter is the most domestic time of year for me; I'm indoors more so I feel more motivated to keep the house neat and to enjoy indoor pursuits like crochet and sewing. I also feel more inspired to cook and I bake more often too. I have some new decorating to share soon. And I couldn't be more excited for tonight's Downton Abbey premiere, along with The Great British Baking Show, the first episode of which I watched last week. I'm not usually into the reality/competition shows but this one seems nice so far, plus cake.

I'm still catching up in Blogland. I've been sorting photos from our trip and thinking about everything we did. I've decided to blog about our trip in a few installments, highlighting the main events. We didn't do all that much; we spent lots of time driving, and traveling with children always requires lots of stops and plenty of downtime and early nights, but we did some fun things. One was a trip to the Phoenix Zoo, which was about 30 minutes' drive away from the house where we stayed, in Glendale.


I found the house on Airbnb, and it was a perfect fit for us, bigger than our own house, even: four large bedrooms, two bathrooms and two huge living areas, all for less money per night than most motels. It was clean and comfortable. And we had a fully-equipped kitchen, which helped us save money on dining, and laundry facilities in the house. There was a pool, but it was too cold to swim. I don't love cooking and doing laundry on vacation, and I'd really love to take a real resort vacation someday, where I don't have to do a darn thing. But for now, with young kids, this is a good way to go. If you've never tried Airbnb, I recommend it. This was our second Airbnb rental experience; our first was in Denver in 2013. We've had very good stays in Airbnb rentals. So, the zoo visit...


We try to visit the local zoo when we travel. We all love zoos and they can be so different, it's a great attraction to visit in any new place. I've been to several of the major city zoos in the US and they've all been unique and interesting. The Phoenix Zoo is beautiful and so well-maintained. I'm really glad we made time for a visit. We ended up spending most of the day there, packing a lunch of sandwiches and fruit. The weather was perfect, sunny and crisp. The crowds weren't bad, even though we were there during a school break. I didn't take all that many photos there; I felt preoccupied just keeping track of both kids while trying to enjoy the exhibits.


I really loved the way that the zoo included a wild desert area, meant to showcase the flora and fauna found in that climate in a natural way. There were lots of cactus species, including the saguaro cactus. This is a type not found in New Mexico, where we live. A lot of people think of it when they imagine the landscape in the Southwest, but it doesn't grow everywhere. It's too cold here but the saguaro is  prolific in Arizona and you see it everywhere.


Our tactile-learning family members couldn't resist touching the saguaro spines when they could reach them without leaving the trail. They were pretty safe as long as you touched them carefully.


The same could not be said for the "jumping cactus," which I think may be a type of cholla cactus. We have those where we live, and the LB should have known better, but he ended up with numerous spines in his hand; Daddy and his Leatherman pliers to the rescue. There were tears, and a little blood, but I think he'll leave those alone now.


For a change, these telescopes did not require money to use them. Zoo admission was expensive enough, I think. You could use them to see deer up on a hill, but there were also wild birds to watch, and later, a zookeeper in an all-terrain vehicle came along to feed the deer and they walked right up to her like dogs and ate from her hands.



Soon, we were through the wild area and into the regular zoo exhibits. We all loved the baboons. I was so taken with the way this one female came right up to the glass and sat catching ants in her hands. She concentrated on her task and paid no attention to the people watching. Sometimes I feel bad for the animals in a zoo. I feel like they must learn to behave differently because people are always peering at them, being noisy, smelling strange. I think this zoo does a good job. The animals were fairly far from the viewing area, which was one reason I didn't get lots of photos. But I'd rather see happy, healthy animals in person any day.


The Galapagos tortoises were fascinating. They moved a lot faster than I might have imagined they would. But when they were resting, they looked exactly like giant stones.


We all loved the cheetah. I was impressed with how calm she was, and how agile. She walked so gracefully and could balance on the slenderest branches. I had hoped to see tigers and lions but all were sleeping when we passed their enclosures. One of the lions was waving its tail in its sleep, though, just like a house cat.


We wended our way through the whole zoo, including an area designed to be like the Central American jungle, full of parrots, toucans and other exotic birds. I wish I'd gotten better photos of them, but the jungle trees made it very dark and my photos are awful. It was beautiful, though. I loved the macaw parrot, especially. My mother has a pet macaw, Murphy, and I grew up playing with him when he was owned by my grandparents. I have a weakness for noisy, colorful birds. We eventually ended up in the children's zoo portion of the main zoo. One attraction there was a learning farm, with several big tractors for kids to climb on. This was a very big hit with my two.


They also liked another part of the children's zoo which had interactive exhibits, like this one containing replicas of animals they could touch and climb on. They climbed inside this giant clam replica and both could sit comfortably inside. There was also a playground with a slide made to look like a saguaro you have to climb through, and a big climbing net made of rope. I liked that they put the children's zoo at the end of the long circuit around the zoo. You could probably get to it easily from the entrance if you wanted to visit it first, and it was a good way to let them get out some energy after a long day of walking and before the drive home.


One of my favorite things about the zoo was the vegetation. I mentioned the saguaros already, but I also loved that there were citrus trees growing all over the zoo. I saw oranges as well as what I think were probably Meyer lemons. I saw lots of orange trees all over Phoenix. I wish I could grow oranges here. Phoenix's climate is surprisingly different from Albuquerque's. Not only are we farther north, we're also at much higher elevation. Phoenix reminds me a lot of Florida, actually, between the citrus fruits and the abundant bougainvillea, which I also loved seeing. All in all, this was a beautiful, interesting zoo and we all enjoyed our visit. And slept like logs that night; the Bear wears a pedometer and he clocked over 10,000 steps just during the zoo visit!

Back soon with another highlight from our trip.

39 comments:

  1. I love citrus trees too, they're pretty, with lovely blossom and of course that wonderful fruit. It sounds like you had a really nice trip, the zoo looks interesting, with well cared for animals and lovely gardens. The greenery always makes a difference doesn't it. I shall look forward to hearing about the rest of your trip too. CJ xx

    ReplyDelete
  2. It's really easy to clock up the mileage walking on holiday! The zoo looks gorgeous, and how amazing to not be in big coats, hats and scarves in December!
    The animals are so interesting; I know there is an argument against zoos, but I think if they make people more aware of the world around them then there is a good side to their work.

    ReplyDelete
  3. It looks as though it is all set up very well for both humans and animals too. I am glad that you enjoyed your visit. The giant tortoise are amazing aren't they, as you say, just like big stones when they are not moving and they look so prehistoric when they are! Fascinating for you all I imagine. xx

    ReplyDelete
  4. It looks like a great vacation! I like to stay in places that have laundry available, so I can stay caught up and not have to do lots when we get home. :)

    ReplyDelete
  5. Looks like a wonderful place, Jennifer. :o)

    ReplyDelete
  6. It looks and sounds like a great break away Jennifer. I love citrus trees too. Beautiful photographs as always.
    Marianne x

    ReplyDelete
  7. Hi Jennifer! What a fun trip you had.. save the cactus attacking LB! Good thing Daddy was prepared with his Leatherman! Did you know they are made here in Portland? Did you pick any oranges? LOL! We're just taking it easy here today.. I was supposed to go to a board social and I just could not work up the enthusiasm to drive 45 min and be "on" for several hours. ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

    ReplyDelete
  8. A brilliant way to start the New Year. Happy memories of happy days .....

    ReplyDelete
  9. The zoo looks like it succeeds in providing much more natural environs then the zoos I remember visiting, Jennifer.
    Your turtle photo reminds me that I have seen no turtles in the wild since I moved to Oregon. Have you seen turtles in the wild in New Mexico?
    When my oldest daughter, Mary, was around three she was wearing a hand knit sweater my mom had made for her. She was running around in my friend's back yard and she ran into a cactus plant. I don't remember what type of cactus it was, but there were so many spines in the sweater we could not get them all out and had to discard the sweater! I'm so glad you were able to rescue your son from his misery!! xx

    ReplyDelete
  10. Sounds like a great day out. Ow! Those cactus spines look ferocious - lucky you had the leathermans handy. The free telescope was a good idea - I feel uncomfortable visiting zoos where the enclosures are too small, but too big and the animals are difficult to see - this seems like a good compromise. Love the fruit trees too. I can't wait to hear about the rest of your holiday. x

    ReplyDelete
  11. Such lovely photos Jennifer, lots of lovely family memories being made.
    Kate xx

    ReplyDelete
  12. I love zoos and seek them out in most places we visit. Phoenix zoo is now high on my wish list, it looks lovely. I am glad your holiday was nice, it can be a bit stressful to travel with children and often their idea of fun is not quite our idea of fun.... Have a great week. x

    ReplyDelete
  13. What a wonderful holiday you have captured some wonderful memories to treasure. The rental home sounds amazing, we used to do that when my family were younger it is so much easier.

    ReplyDelete
  14. The Phoenix zoo looks very appealing, and I really like the differing vegetation and landscapes. The planting of fruit trees through the area is inspired. Love the two kids in the giant clam!

    ReplyDelete
  15. It looks wonderful, such an interesting place, not just animals but all the vegetation too. It's surprising how fast those tortoises can travel, you always imagine them to be slow but they can go at quite a pace when they get going.

    ReplyDelete
  16. That looks like a great zoo to visit. We regularly rent a house rather than stay in a hotel or B&B - it gives us more freedom and saves a bit on eating costs (unless we still eat out!). We have stayed in a place called Glendale (in September just past) but it was a tiny village on the Isle on Skye.

    ReplyDelete
  17. What a lovely vacation you had !!
    Good choice to opt for a house in stead of a hotel - you don't always need to go out for dinner, you can do some laundry (and not be confronted with piles of dirty laundry, when you go back home !), and I even think it's much more fun for kids (a whole house in stead of a single hotelroom, to play !)...

    ReplyDelete
  18. I think it is a great idea to stay in a house, my Nephew rents his out in Milwaukee all the time and people love it. Your trip sounds wonderful and that zoo does too. i love zoo's but feel so bad for the animals. But they are alive and well taken care of so that is something.
    Hugs,
    Meredith

    ReplyDelete
  19. What a great day at the zoo! I have such fond memories of visiting the San Diego Zoo when we would go down to my California grandma's for Christmas. I'm sure this zoo visit will stick out in your kids' memories the same way.

    ReplyDelete
  20. I'd definitely have picked an orange or two! I remember going to Kefalonia a few years ago (I love the Greek Islands) and seeing pomegranates growing on trees and being transfixed.
    And ouch, those cactus spikes! Made me shudder just thinking about it.
    Great photos, and it's nice to read about a zoo outside of the UK!
    Sarah.

    ReplyDelete
  21. That looks like the best day out! And you must've had good weather, too, I'm so glad for you. It would never occur to me to go to the zoo in the winter, but it's such a fun thing to do during the holidays. I suspect you do zoos a lot bigger and better in the US than we do here. x

    ReplyDelete
  22. We usually stay at rental cottages when we're on holiday. It's more practical when you're with kids plus saves you money as you can cook your own food. A trip to the zoo is always a big hit with the kids, and like you, I like to see happy animals with big spaces to roam around too...Hope you continue to enjoy the Great British Bake Off. It's one of my favourite shows! x

    ReplyDelete
  23. It must be a big zoo if you got that many steps in. I am not a huge zoo fan anymore because of the abuse that does happen in some of them. Let's just say the zoo here is pretty pitiful and some places just aren't meant to have them. I do wonder what the animals think about being caged up and stared at all the time. It's nice to see that the Phoenix zoo is surrounded by so much vegetation. Have a great week. Tammy

    ReplyDelete
  24. who doesn't love the zoo?
    I agree.. when on vacation i like to not have to do chores.. but with kids sometimes.. well actually usually there is just no way out.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Sounds like you had a great time! A zoo is a must stop for family outings. Always fun, interesting, as well as educational. Happy new year!
    xx Beca

    ReplyDelete
  26. Andy and I had a roadtrip before we had children and we drove through Arizona, I remember the cactus and endless stretches of road with just me, him and the Red Hot Chilli peppers on the CD Happy days!! Just caught up on your other posts - Your children look really excited. Chat more when I am not supposed to be in bed because it is my first day back tomorrow. Jo x

    ReplyDelete
  27. I got chased by a giant tortoise once. It wanted the toast I was having for my breakfast. Yep, they can get a wiggle on when they want to.

    ReplyDelete
  28. Looks like a great day out, I love the tortoise :)

    ReplyDelete
  29. Hey Jennifer,
    I Olly loves tortoises (he wants one for his birthday apparently...) I just showed him your tortoise picture. There was a television adaptation of Esio Trot by Roald Dahl on the BBC this Christmas. It was quite wonderful. I wonder if you would be able to get hold of it somehow? The little bears would love it. And is that The Great British Bake Off? One of my faves!
    Leanne xx

    ReplyDelete
  30. Citrus trees are my fave. And the Zoo looks like fun. :)

    ReplyDelete
  31. I love this part of winter too! A fresh start indeed! And that zoo looks just fantastic!! I am always on the hunt for zoos that have that interacting component for the beans...your kiddos are too cute in those shots by the way! And the vegetation is so cool....especially those citrus trees! What I would do to be able to grow those here! Wishing you a lovely week ahead Jennifer!! Nicole xoxo

    ReplyDelete
  32. It looks like the best kind of zoo!

    My cousin lives in Glendale, AZ.

    ReplyDelete
  33. Beautiful pictures, some of the plants look a little lethal don't they?

    ReplyDelete
  34. Your accommodation looks wonderful and I enjoyed the visit to the zoo. It looks so different to ours! The cactus looks so dangerous! Sarah x

    ReplyDelete
  35. Sounds like the Phoenix Zoo was a lot of fun! I've had quite a few experiences with AirBnB before, most of them very good, but it really depends on the individual property and owner.

    ReplyDelete
  36. The Phoenix Zoo looks amazing! I love all the beautiful, fruit trees. I have an aunt and cousin living in Phoenix, and this is the perfect time of year to visit. The house you stayed in looks really nice!

    ReplyDelete
  37. Oh gosh, I love a good trip to the zoo, my hubby and I try to go to one every time we go on holiday and Phoenix looks amazing and so different to any I've been to! Thank you for sharing! x

    ReplyDelete
  38. Oh, Oh! I can't believe I forgot to say.... I love the Great British Bake Off, as we call it, Mel and Sue are the funniest and I always fall in love with the contestants, discussions can get quite heated between me and my friends about our favourites! And then there's obviously the baking too! Enjoy it! x

    ReplyDelete
  39. What a wonderful zoo. I'm glad you had such a good trip.

    ReplyDelete

Thank you for leaving a comment. It's so good to hear from you! I don't always have time to reply but I try to answer questions when I can.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...