January 20, 2019: Dallas Zoo

Sunday. Woke up at seven thirty, but decided not to get out of bed. Got up closer to eight thirty. Discovered that it had dropped to twenty six degrees Fahrenheit or negative six Celsius by the time that I checked the temperature this morning! We are very lucky that our pipes did not freeze, that’s one of the lowest days that we have seen in ten years of living in Dallas. That’s extreme cold for us here. We are expected to be above freezing by late afternoon, but still an extremely cold day. Francesca is going to be very unhappy when she learns how cold it is going to be for everyone going to the Dallas Zoo today!

Paul was the only person awake before me today. He was outside in a coat huddled around the fire pit in the atrium trying to stay warm. All of the kids were still asleep which was pretty surprising. Even Francesca was still asleep! So I went in the office and made sure that SGL was finished for yesterday, checked my email, posted on MangoLassi, and got ready for the day.

We hung out talking to Francesca till eleven, discussing her potential Mexico travel plans for the fall. She is thinking about taking the teens to Cancun or Playa del Carmen rather than going on a cruise.

Everyone showered and were getting out of the door to head to the zoo at about noon. Paul stayed behind to enjoy the warmth, and quiet, of the empty house.

Traffic was good and we were down to the zoo in about half an hour. Very easy. Francesca was very impressed by Dallas traffic. We are so much better than Houston. We often complain about traffic here, but in reality we probably have the best traffic situation in all of Texas. We are better than many cities that are much smaller.

The zoo was not busy, but we were not alone. We had to pay full price for parking, even with the Houston Zoo “discount”. That was not surprising, but we had been hopeful. Ten dollars is not terrible, and it still made the trip cheaper than taking the train, but only barely. I think that they price it specifically to make it nearly impossible to not justify taking the train whenever possible.

It turns out that the 50% off membership doesn’t apply in the winter months, either. So the good news is that the tickets were only eight dollars, but the bad news is that the entire reason that the Grices came up to Dallas this weekend at all was to use their new zoo discount membership and found out that it doesn’t do anything. Not a single thing was discounted.

It turned out to be much warmer than we were anticipating. For the Houston crowd, that still meant being bundled up. But for the Millers that meant carrying coats and still being too warm.

The biggest problem today was that almost none of the animals were out. Either because it was cold and they would not come outside, which was the majority of them. Or some large exhibits that would have been visible, like the gorillas, were all off exhibit because they were having their vet appointments today. Or the chimpanzees which were out, all ran away to do something just as we walked up so we never saw them, either. We got to see extremely little.

Flamingos and other birds were out. We did the insect house. We saw some gibbons, mandrills, cheetas, but not a lot else. It was super limited. We had okay time, but there was just too much empty and not enough to do.

The kids were hungry, so Liesl and Luciana each got a slice of pizza, which was not cheap. And Garrett and Clara each got a soda, which was about the same price as the pizza!

It was not a long visit to the zoo. Everyone was frustrated with the lack of animals. And, of course, the monorail is closed, the only attraction that would have been interesting. That’s two trips to the zoo so far with that closed both times. I’ve heard from others that it is always closed.

The one highlight of the trip was the children’s zoo which was open and had goats outside that you could pet. None of the other animals were around, not even the “crawl through” mongoose exhibit! Some exhibits even had signs on them claiming to be open, but had the doors padlocked. We did not feel that the zoo was very honest about the state of the attractions, or the cost of admission, before going. Sure, we expected lots of animals to not be hanging around outside, that can’t be helped. But half of the zoo was simply shut down sometimes with notice, sometimes without.

Liesl is creeped out by goats so avoided them. But Luciana, Clara, and Garrett (and I) went in and hung out with the goats. We got to pet several of them. That was fun.

We left early, around four. There just wasn’t anything left to do and everyone was bored.

On the way home we stopped at In and Out again and got a burger for Clara. All of the other kids just wanted to eat stuff that was at the house. We picked up Paul and went out to get food at Velvet Taco. Neither Paul nor Francesca had ever tried it before.

Dominica and I split an “elote” (what they incorrectly call elote in Texas) and each got three tacos. I got two Nashville Hot Tofu and one falafel. Dominica got her paneer that she loves. Francesca tried the fish and chips, but it was pretty spicy for her. Paul and two different pork tacos.

Velvet Taco was a win again. So delicious. They even remembered us!

We came back to the house and just spent a quiet evening watching Will & Grace on Hulu. This is one show that Francesca always watched, I watched a lot of, and Dominica basically has never seen.