Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Phoenix Zoo

Whenever I ask Abe what he'd like to see at the zoo, he immediately responds with "A elephant!" Unfortunately there are no elephants in Minnesota. The Minnesota Zoo and Como Zoo have a good variety of animals (and not the same ones at each zoo), but neither of them have an elephant (maybe it's too cold for elephants...and the winters last too darn long). Anyways, since the weather is more agreeable in Arizona, we made a special trip to the zoo just to see their elephant.

I doubt Abe remembers much about our last trip to the Phoenix Zoo since he was only 8 months old at the time..

Man, I miss those chubby legs! This time his cousins were in school, so we went to the zoo with Daddy, Grammy, and auntie Imelda (my twin sister) instead.

I've been to the zoo a few times, but this time we took a different path and saw some animals I've missed on previous trips, like the tiger! We actually saw a lot of animals out enjoying the sun. I feel like in Minnesota, unless you get there first thing in the morning, the animals are either sleeping or hiding in their dens. 

Abe got to feed the giraffes, which he informed us were his favorite animal on the way to the zoo. They're my favorite too. 

Oh, but I also love rhinos. Especially baby rhinos. I didn't even know they had a rhinoceros at this zoo, so I was really happy when we stumbled upon him. Not just looks that way. He was pretty far away. That's another place a 300mm zoom comes in handy. Hiking, stargazing, and keeping a safe distance from dangerous (although adorable) animals. 

Does anyone else ever wish they could see a cheetah run at the zoo? This guy was just pacing his pen. I suppose a cheetah needs a lot more room to reach top speeds...and a reason to run...

Like this guy! Abe was pretty tired from the start (we headed out a little too close to naptime), but he totally perked up when we spotted this splash pad. He followed the little river in circles, through a cave, and back out for a good half hour, just running and splashing and having so much fun. I guess it's a good thing we found this on the way out of the zoo, otherwise we would have missed all the animals!

On the way out, we also stopped to check out the komodo dragon. Abe had no interest in the real komodo dragon, but happily studied and climbed on its bronze likeness. We've found that the fake animals are often more fun than the real ones...and less likely to eat you!

The Phoenix Zoo offers the following attractions and amenities (click on the links for more information):


For more information about the animals and exhibits at the Phoenix Zoo, go to

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The White Tanks

I'm just going to ignore the fact that there is still snow on the ground here in Minnesota and spend some time writing about our recent trip to warm and sunny Arizona. The temps were in the upper 70s to mid-80s everyday! It was wonderful. We wore shorts. We went swimming. Edie napped in the shade

We went to Phoenix to visit my family the week after Easter. On our last day in town, my parents left for Japan (to visit my little sister, Alicia - lucky ducks), so we went for a hike in the White Tank Mountains with my sister, Anastasia. The wind picked up just before we left the house and it started getting dusty pretty quick. I shot this picture on the drive out there...

...which my husband later told me reminded him of Andreas Gursky’s Rhine II (aka The Most Expensive Photograph Ever Sold). Too bad my horizon isn't level...and it was shot through the window of a moving car...with my phone. I wonder if an Instagram photo could ever be worth millions... 

Anyways, where was I? Dusty. Right. So it started getting windy when we left and by the time we got to the mountains we could barely see them! That's all sand and dust. 

It wasn't so bad in the mountains though. We were sheltered from the worst of it, and only a few gusts of wind blew through while we were out hiking.

Here's Noah in his "Indiana Jones" hat borrowed from my dad. He picked our trail for the day (Noah not Indiana Jones): the Waterfall Trail, which I was happy to find was nice and easy. (I'm used to hiking the mountains around my parents' house. They're not terribly difficult trails but I imagine they'd be sort of dangerous to try with a toddler and infant in tow!)

This trail was flat and paved (we could have brought the stroller!), there was a restroom and drinking fountains at the start, and plenty of benches to sit on and things to see along the way. There were even picnic tables and a playground near the parking lot, which Abe took advantage of before we left.

I love going to Arizona in the spring. The desert comes alive and you find gorgeous flowers and colors in the most unexpected places. On our last trip to Arizona, we visited the Desert Botanical Garden, but it was nice to find cactuses blooming in the wild as well.

Our walk along the trail brought us past Petroglyph Plaza, where you can see a number of ancient rock drawings. I was glad we brought our new zoom lens. A good zoom is handy when you don't have a telescope...or binoculars. I suppose most people don't take their telescopes hiking.

We only hiked a little ways beyond the point where the paved trail ended, along what appeared to be a dried up riverbed. 

We never did see the "waterfall" or any water for that matter, but I suppose it only appears when they've had a lot of rain.

It is a stunning view though, even when it's hot and dry.

We saw these yellow flowers blooming EVERYWHERE! 

It's amazing how just a few little bits of green and yellow make the desert landscape look so lovely in the spring.

While we were down there my mom mentioned that the Saguaro Cactus only grows in the Sonoran Desert. It never occurred to me that unless you visit Mexico, southwest Arizona, or a small part of California you might never see these things in person. They're pretty impressive.

If a cactus falls in the desert... For real though, what sound does it make? A hollow thud? A splat? Does anyone know? 

So that was our trip to the White Tanks. If you live around or ever visit the Phoenix area, I'd suggest making the trip out there. I'm hoping to go back the next time we're in town!

The White Tank Mountains Regional Park offers the following attractions and amenities (click on the links for more information):


For more information about trails and activities at the White Tank Mountains Regional Park, go to