Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Our Road Trip Out West: Day Five, The Albuquerque Zoo

Hello!  This week's travel post is for all the animal lovers because it's  about our visit to the Albuquerque Zoo.  After we spent the morning of Day Five on top of the Sandia Mountains, we drove to downtown Albuquerque to meet our son-in- law Jason at the zoo.

Our family loves zoos, especially our son, so whenever we visit a new city, if we have the time, we always try to make a stop to the zoo.  Unfortunately, our son was not with us on this trip because he was away at school, and as much as I enjoyed our visit to this zoo, the whole time I was there I experienced a sort of sadness because all I could think about was how much my son would enjoy this zoo.  I longed to 'beam' him from Minnesota to New Mexico, just so he could experience the zoo with us;  but of course, I could not.  So with the help of modern technology I took lots of pictures and videos and sent them to him.  But then, that ended up making it worse, because the second he got the pictures he called and said 'I can't believe your at a zoo without me!'  Oh well, I tried.

The Albuquerque Zoo is actually part of what they call The Albuquerque Biological Park.  This park consists of the zoo, an aquarium, and botanical gardens.  We had planned on seeing all three but when we got there at noon the cashier said that we would never have time to see everything before it closed, so we just saw the zoo.  And she was right.  The zoo ended up being so huge that it is was dusk and growing cold by the time we were done.  I was very disappointed, because I really wanted to see what botanical gardens would be like in the west, and the aquarium also looked amazing, but, time just wasn't on our side that day.  Oh well, if I ever get back to Albuquerque…..yeah, right!  We will probably never see New Mexico again, unless I can convince my husband to retire there!

The cost to just see the zoo for a non-resident was only $12.00 for an adult ticket and parking was free. I thought that was very reasonable compared to most zoos I have been to.  If you wanted to see all three parks, it would have been $20.00 per person.

The very first thing we saw when we walked through the gate was this lovely pond surrounded by bamboo and filled with beautiful flamingos and ducks.
 I squealed with delight the minute I saw these lovely birds.  Just look at the color!  The only time I've ever seen flamingos before was at the Milwaukee Zoo, but they were always far in the distance, and this was the first time I ever got this close to them.  What a breath taking sight!
 This little guy was sitting right next to my feet when I was taking pictures of the flamingo's.

 They had lots of birds at the zoo, including an aviary section where you could walk into and experience the birds up close.  This cockatoo was so friendly and flew right up to us and started to say 'Hi!' He absolutely loved attention from people and wanted to interact with everyone who walked by.

 There were several ponds on the zoo grounds and they were all filled with beautiful koi.
 The water seals and otters were all swimming in the water when we there, but they had an upper observation deck for when they are sunbathing on the rocks,  and a lower path with windows to see the animals when they were under the water, so we got to see them very close every time they swam past the window.
 Of course no zoo is complete without peacocks.  Our favorite part of our visit to the Springfield Zoo a couple of years ago were the peacocks.  They were so entertaining, as well as lovely to look at, and the peacocks at this zoo did not disappoint either.  Such beautiful creatures they are, and such fun personalities they have!
 There were two things I loved about the Albuquerque Zoo:  Number one, was how close we could get to the animals.  I have never experienced a zoo that brought us so close to them before.  Most zoos have big divides or ravines, so the animals are quite a distance away.  But not this one.  The second thing I loved about this zoo were the grounds.  They were absolutely gorgeous and well maintained.  They had lovely flowers, adobe styled buildings, and many gorgeous tree lined paths.  Below is a picture of me standing next to a fall ginkgo tree.
 We could get really close to the giraffes because they had an upper level ramp where the animals would come and feed.  We couldn't reach out and touch them like we did at the Springfield Zoo, but we were able to get some amazing photos because we were so close.
 Zebras always amaze me.  Every time I see this stunning animal, I think how creative God must be.  It's ironic in a way, because stripes or even the color combo black and white is perceived as a 'modern' style today, and yet thousands of years ago, God had already created it and put it on an animal.  Did you know that no zebra has the same pattern of stripes?  Amazing isn't it?
 Look at the muscle on this animal.  What strength and power!  The differences of animals in creation is such an interesting thought.  Some are shy, some are graceful, some are fragile, some are playful, some are mischievous, and some, like this guy, are just brute strength.  It's like they all have some small aspect of human personalities and traits.
 Speaking of personality, this guy came out to visit me when I was looking at some baby monkeys playing in the distance.  I had my camera focused on the babies, and never noticed him appear out of the bushes.  He was literally only a few feet away from me.  He just stopped, sat down, and interacted with me for quite awhile before he finally walked away.  What a joy!

 Here is one of the ponds on the zoo property with all the gorgeous fall colored grasses and trees in the foreground.
 We got this view looking through an man-made rock window from a path we were walking on.
 As you exit this path, you come across this opening where these magnificent, tall, blooming grasses bask in the sun.  I had my husband stop and turn around so I could take a picture with someone in it to give you all a perspective of the height of these grasses.  My husband is five feet nine inches tall, and these grasses are well above his head!
 The hippopotamus  viewing area was one of our favorite spots in this zoo.  As I said repeatedly already, we were amazed at how close we could get to the animals, and this one was no exception.  This guy entertained us for quite awhile by going in and out of the water, then suddenly popping up his head out of the water chewing seaweed or whatever, and then coming back out again to lumber around on his private beach.  So often when you visit zoos, the animals are sleeping or disinterested in visitors, but these animals seemed to thrive on the attention of humans and loved to put on a show for us.  We had so much fun this day.

 These guys put on the real show.  At first we thought it was a male and female doing a little, well, you know.  But later we found out that they were both males and they do this all the time because one is always trying to dominate the other.  I wonder if they got a couple of ladies in the sand pit, how the dominating factor would change?
 The elephant pen was so fun because they had a pond where you could watch the animals bathe, and also another feeding station similar to the one the giraffes had, where you could climb up top and get really close to these sweet creatures.

 My favorite animals I love to see at any zoo is the big cat.  Every time I see one, I find it hard to believe they are ferocious.  They always seem so cute and cuddly to me, like I could just walk right up to one and give them a big hug and tickle them behind the ears.  Oh well, maybe not on this earth, but someday we will be able to play with the big kitties and not get hurt!
 Ah, the King of the Jungle!  And he acted like a king on our visit, letting out some magnificent, powerful roars.  We really got a kick out of hearing him roar.  He also had to prove his dominance on during our visit, but this one had a lady partner in his pen.
 Because I was hiking in the Sandia Mountains earlier this day I was dressed in layers.  The temperatures changed from the 40's up in the mountains, to almost 80 degrees at the zoo in the middle of the day.  I was wearing a winter coat in the morning, and was down to a t-shirt and tank top later in the day.  Quite the extremes in temperatures.  My striped shirt I received from Stitch Fix this past summer.
 Look at this beautiful guy!  He was certainly enjoying the New Mexico sunshine on our visit.  Don't you just want to climb up on his back and wrap your arms around his neck and give him a big hug?  He looks so cute and cuddly!  I love that fur!
 The painted ducks were so beautiful.  Just look at all the detail and color in these creatures.  They almost don't seem real they are so perfect.  What a designer our God is!  Who is more than creative than He?  Are you beginning to doubt the existence of God because your plagued with the worries of this life?  Just go and visit a zoo.  You will see His amazing handiwork everywhere, and you will uplifted.  I know I was!
 We arrived to see the ducks at just the perfect timing.  A zoo custodian was walking by the pond carrying a bucket.   Every single duck came out of the water (there must have been hundreds!) because they saw her with the bucket and knew it was feeding time.  What fun that was to see!

Below is a picture of one of the many adobe styled buildings on the property.  The spirit of New Mexico was definitely represented on the zoo grounds.
 Here's my little giraffe friend smiling for the camera.  Isn't he a cutie?  Don't you just love those ears?  What an expression too!
 Well it was growing dark and starting to get cold by the time we finished our tour of the zoo.  So sadly, we had to say goodbye to all our new animal friends, and meet our daughter for dinner.  I wanted to try a famous, local diner I had read about called the Frontier Restaurant.  It has been in Albuquerque for over 30 years and is located right across the street from the University of New Mexico.

Photo Credit
If you ever are in New Mexico, you must visit this restaurant.  I absolutely loved this place.  The food was delicious, with very generous portions and probably the lowest prices I've seen in twenty years anywhere.  But what I loved most was the atmosphere.  Because it is located across from the University in downtown Albuquerque it is filled with such a mix of people of all classes, incomes, ages, and races. During our visit, there were young college students and hipsters there, college professors, African Americans, Hispanic, elderly people, etc.  And you know what?  Every one was kind and respectful to each other and every one got along.  Maybe that's what this world needs….more good, affordable restaurants that everyone can gather in and enjoy good food and company! As an example of humanity at it's best,  as we leaving, an elderly couple wanted our table (it must have been 'their' favorite table, for they had a good view of the bus stop from there), but they overheard us talking about directions and they wanted to help.  Then, we didn't know what to do with our dirty trays/dishes, and they said 'Oh, just leave them here.  They'll come and pick them up.'  My husband felt terrible leaving his dirty dishes in front of their faces, but they didn't mind.  They were so sweet and helpful,  just the complete opposite of the rudeness I experience everyday in the retail world I live in.  It was so refreshing to see.

The decor of the restaurant itself leaves much to be desired.  It is not fancy by any means, just your typical American diner, but, I liked it that way.  I felt very at home and comfortable there.  It was very nostalgic.  I don't think they've redecorated it since they opened, and they apparently don't need to by the amount of business they do everyday.  There were signs hanging from the ceiling in various spots through out the restaurant that read '10 minute wait from here' or '15 minute wait from here'.  Thankfully, it wasn't that busy when we were there, but there was still a line.

The restaurant is open daily from 5 a.m. to 1 a.m. (that means it's only closed 4 hours a day!), and serves breakfast all day and everything from Mexican food to traditional American food of burgers and fries.  We decided to order Mexican and this is what we got:
I don't think we paid more than $8.00 for all this food.  They also had a pot of chili sitting on the counter, that anyone could just walk up to and put a spoonful of chili on their plate.  We filled our extra tortilla with some.  Everything was mouth watering delicious!

The end of Day Five concluded with a brief stop at a Sonic (we don't have those in Wisconsin, so we always visit one when we travel to warmer states) for a malt, then we took Ashley back to the National Hispanic Cultural Center for yet another evening rehearsal for her opera.  She gave us a brief tour of this beautiful facility and we were able to see some of Carlos Santa's guitars and other memorabilia displayed in the foyer.  That was exciting!

Well I hope you enjoyed hearing about our visit to the Albuquerque Zoo.  What about you?  Do you like to visit zoos?  What American Zoo's are your favorites?

Have a great day!  Amy


  1. Looks like a very beautiful Zoo. Love that monkey! I love visiting Zoos too, wish my kids would have more interest in them though.
    I don't know how far you are from Madison, WI, but there is a smaller zoo there (it's free to visit) and they have flamingos.

    The food looks delicious!

    I don't really have a favorite zoo here in America - the only large one I've ever been to was Brookfield zoo in Chicago - but I love the Zoo in Nuremberg, Germany where I used to live close by. I really want to visit Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago.

  2. Fabulous images ! This zoo seems big !
    Oh and yummy plates héhé !!
    Superb, thanks to share with us !


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