Friday, August 08, 2008

Big day in Big D, part 2.

After lunch, we walked a few blocks to the West End DART rail station. Our destination: the Dallas Zoo! There's a Dallas Zoo station, so it was easy to board the southbound Red Line downtown and end up steps away from the zoo's entrance.

It had been years since I'd been there, and neither kid had visited. (When you have the FW Zoo so close, why would you need to see Dallas's?) Still, this zoo is much better than I remembered, and it was fun to explore its attractions.

This tunnel connects two sections of the zoo and goes beneath the train tracks and a busy road. It could've been wasted space, but instead it's filled with safari pictures and these tubes that help visitors find different animals (like the "voracious plantain-eater").

At the ticket booth, we found out that the monorail was still running but could close if the temperature got any hotter. That made the monorail first on our "to see" list!

In our mad dash to beat the heat to the monorail, we happened upon the African penguins and just had to stop. It was strange to see them in this sweltering environment, but they were so cute! They'd walk up to our window to say hello.

We were excited to see them swim, too!

We did make it to the monorail before it closed for the day, and we really enjoyed the tour (even if Ryan and I kept saying, "Monorail! Monorail!" the whole time). Our guide gave us an overview of the Wilds of Africa.

Some of the animals were in plain sight, like this guy, but our guide helped us spot the better-camouflaged critters who were hanging out in the shade.

The scenery was neat, too!

Near the end of the tour, our guide told us that the gorillas don't like loud noises, which is why they're not visible from the monorail. She suggested we take the nature trail to see the conservation exhibit.

It was cool (literally—the conservation building that overlooks the gorillas' area is nicely air-conditioned), but I couldn't help but think of the gorilla incident that happened a few years ago.

Of course, we had to take advantage of several photo ops around the zoo!

The kids had Stingray Bay high on their priority list. We shelled out the extra fee to see the shallow pool filled with stingrays ready for petting.

We first touched stingrays at the Downtown Aquarium in Houston, but that had been a while. It was crazy to see these things swim right up to us.

We also got to see the underbelly of a horseshoe crab!

Of course, we saw lots of other animals, too. Because of the heat (which reminded us more than just a little of our San Diego Zoo visit), many of the animals were in the shade or enjoying their indoor accommodations.

(ChaCha has been known to sit like this!)

Jenny, alone since her companion died in May, is moving to a new home this winter. Her destination has caused some controversy.

We walked into several of the aviaries there, which...

...brought on a couple of Enchanted moments! Unfortunately, our singing did not draw any birds to our fingers. (If only we had those seed sticks like at FW!)

Nope. We weren't able to "enchant" any birds there, either.

We did see a ginormous snake, though.

I made Ryan stand next to it so we could tell just how huge he is in comparison (the snake, not Ryan).

Common sight: Ryan tying his shoes!

Before leaving, we stopped by the endangered species carousel. We're fans of fancy carousels, and we've ridden many traditional ones as well as themed ones (like the fish/sea creature one at the Downtown Aquarium).

Of course, this one had zoo animals, and we were impressed with the variety of animals it depicted.

The kids wanted to do the Spongebob 4-D ride, but we saw him chase that pickle countless times at Six Flags. We still had fun with the inflatable, though!

We arrived around 1:30, just hoping we could get a lot of the zoo in before it closed at 5. We ended up leaving around 4:30, partly because of the heat but mostly because of the TRE schedule.

Even though we didn't see several sections of the zoo, we still had a blast. We loved getting to explore a "new" zoo!

Then we were back to the light rail station for our trip north to downtown.

(I LOVE this shadow! We saw lots of cool fences at the zoo.)

Seeing Reunion Tower so far away made it seem like we had a long way to travel, but it only took about 11 minutes to get back to Union Station. We had a slight layover there, but before we knew it, we were aboard the westbound TRE.

We were all so tired! Our feet and even our eyes were worn out!

Ryan and I played tic-tac-toe to pass the time...

...while Katie drew some of her favorite animals
(in this case, the African penguin).

We had a WONDERFUL day! I'm so glad we were able to sneak in this trip before our summer got away from us!

P.S. - If you're planning to use DART, you'll want to look online to know exactly where you're going and print out some maps and schedules. There are signs, but it's helpful to know that you want the red train bound for Westmoreland and not Parker Road, for example.

1 comment:

Jennifer said...

looks like a neat trip!

And thanks so much for the recipe. can't wait to try it out!!