Posts Tagged ‘zoo’

This weekend J and I went to the zoo with some friends from out of town. Since you’ve been inundated with enough animal and nature photos lately, here are some just fun (or funny) ones. Maybe I’m the only one entertained by them, but hey, that’s all that matters!

Zoo J in a keeper cut-out

OH NO, there’s a GIANT HAND coming out of that kid’s FACE! Maybe J should’ve looked at the front of this photo-op thing first…

Zoo, orangutan lounging

Chillin’ in the sun…

Zoo, monkey on a hippo

Dear Monkey: That thing you’re sitting on that you’re treating like a rock is not a rock. That thing is a HIPPO and they can be very BITEY.
(Mixed exhibit with monkeys and pygmy hippos made for some entertainment.)

Zoo group photo

The whole group of us!


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Birch Aquarium reef exhibit

A couple of days ago I visited the Birch Aquarium with a friend.Β It was a very nice little aquarium with a focus on local (southern Californian) sealife. I learned a lot about local fish and a bit more about the tide pools (that I still need to re-visit).

Birch Aquarium sea dragon

My favorite exhibits were of the octopus (it was huge!) and the seahorses. Birch is connected to the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and so is primarily connected with research and conservation. One of their big projects is breeding endangered seahorses and then releasing (or sharing with other zoos and aquariums).

Birch Aquarium red jellyfish


They had many many types of seahorses, including some very tiny ones (I didn’t get a good photo of them, sorry) that looked very familiar to me… and when I read the sign I discovered that species, called a dwarf seahorse, is from the Gulf of Mexico and is the type I caught as a kid. We used to find these big, fluffy pieces of seaweed lying on the beach after high tide and when you shook them, tiny seahorses (and other animals like baby fish and hermit crabs) fell out of it. We’d collect it all in buckets of water, play for a while, and then turn them loose.

Birch Aquarium spotted garden eel

Anyway, it was a fun trip and a beautiful location, perched above the La Jolla coastline.

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So here’s the thing.

I’ve been trying to go to as many national parks (or historic sites, as the case may be) this year as possible. I’m excited about my passport stampbook (as I’ve previously posted) and especially since we now live in the half of the country with all of the huge natural areas, I want to see them!

One of the exhibits I’ve always loved at the North Carolina Zoo is their Sonora Desert dome, so when I noticed on my newly-acquired roadmap of Arizona that the interstate went THROUGH it, I couldn’t resist! On the way home from the Casa Grande ruins, we looked it up on our GPS and found a place labeled “Sonoran Desert National Monument.” That sounded promising, so we programmed it to take us there.

And we started driving.

And driving.

Arizona, Sonoran Desert sign

See that? PROOF we were in the RIGHT AREA.

Arizona, Sonoran Desert road

We took a couple of smaller roads, then wound up on a two lane highway going straight across the Sonoran Desert, generally back in the direction of I-8, which we would pick up on the other side after stopping at the monument. The desert was fascinating, with far more plant-life that I expected in a desert, and we drove between two long mountain reaches, watching for wildlife (though we never saw any) and grateful for the full tank of gas and water bottles.

It was interesting, too, that there weren’t many cars. Most of the “scenic” stops were closed for the season, but that didn’t bother us because we planned to stop at the monument.

Arizona, Sonoran Desert wide

At this point I want to note that there are not that many photos from this drive. That’s because I kept expecting to, y’know, GET to something. These photos of cacti?? Actually from BEFORE we got into the national monument area.

After a while, we reached the point where the GPS told us to turn and drive 11 miles to the monument. We slowed down to make the turn…

…and then stopped. We were facing a sandy track that crossed some railroad tracks that ran parallel to the two lane highway. On the near side of them was a VERY large sign that said: “DO NOT ENTER.” Oh, and some WILD COTTON BUSHES.

Arizona, Sonoran Desert wild cotton

I looked again at the GPS. We’d followed the directions correctly. But then I noticed that the 11 mile “drive” was supposed to take over an hour… across sand… And we realized then that the “Monument” was probably the DESERT ITSELF.

THANKS, GPS. We were now in the MIDDLE of the Sonoran Desert. Well, about 11 miles from the middle, as far as I can tell.

Arizona, Sonoran Desert cacti

To be fair, I DID say I wanted to properly SEE the desert, and not just drive past it on the interstate. And boy howdy, I SAW that desert.

We checked our map and discovered we were closer to I-8 if we kept going forward rather than backtracking, so that’s what we did.

I guess some monuments are bigger than others. I’m still bummed I didn’t get a stamp for it, though.

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Okay, so as a reward for (finally) having a functional (and neatly organized) closet again, I got myself up earlyish today and went to the San Diego Zoo during the morning BABY PANDA viewing. I’ll just leave this here…

Baby panda hugs

I would say that I could just quit the internet for today… but I really ought to write a blog post about what I did last week. And there are more photos from the zoo for you. I hung out in the Reptile Walk, mostly. Less people, and some awesome lighting. ^_^ But mostly there’s more of this:



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Okay, so I know I haven’t updated at ALL and for that I apologize. So here are a few things:

1. My email seems to be okay. You can go back to using my yahoo account if you like, but if it happens again I’ve got a shiny new email address lined up and waiting for transfer.

2. We went to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park today. Here are photos.

2a. The Safari Park was awesome! We didn’t get to see everything even though we were there about six hours. One of the things we DID get to see was the cheetah run– they have a cheetah sprint on a track for 100m. The one we saw did it in 6.01 seconds. Amazing! But the best part was that we got the behind the scenes cheetah tour, too… And got to meet the cheetah after the race! We stood down by the track, got to talk to the trainers, and then got our photos taken with the cheetah. It was very, very cool. I’ll have to post those separately.

3. San Diego is dry. Have I mentioned that? If not, well… It is. It’s is the driest place I’ve ever been and it will take some getting used to the climate.

4. We got a place to live! It’s a great little condo in a trendy, nice area of town and is within walking distance of Balboa Park and the zoo. Yay! Photos next week when we move into it.

5. I really like how many options there are here in terms of things to do. I doubt I’ll ever be bored, especially living so near so many cafes, shops, museums, etc.

I think that’s about it for now. I have other photos of the last week, including the ones from the zoo, but I will have to post those later.

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September rains

Well, I’m sitting in a coffee shop to access wifi and generally realizing that during moves I drink way too much coffee and tea and whatever else I get at coffee shops. Probably not great, but wifi is awfully helpful.

We got places to stay lined up in California (including four nights in Anaheim!!) until the 9th, so that feels pretty good. I’m not worried about this move, other than the usual stuff that goes along with being unsettled. There seems to be a wide variety of housing available, too, which is nice.

This move has (so far, anyway) been a little TOO smooth, if that makes sense. We haven’t had on anything go really wrong or become difficult. I shouldn’t complain (and I’m not, believe me!), but I remember all the stress of coming out to Hawaii in the first place… Of course, the cats were with us then and now they are waiting in limbo for me to come get them in October, so maybe that has a lot to do with it. I don’t have to find pet friendly hotels, or worry about driving them around, or worry about crazy import paperwork and blood samples and all of that this go-round. It’s so… NICE. Ha.

I’m thinking I’ll do the request I received for un-pretty Hawaii photos before we leave. If I have time this week, I’ll take some. In the meantime, I have photos from my last zoo day in one of the sections where I volunteer. Big kittehs!


Aren’t they beautiful?


It’s nice having a big zoom and access to great views. ^_^

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monk seal basking

We went hiking twice this weekend– in the same state park. It’s the Kaena Point part, and there are two entrances. You hike around the western point of the island where there aren’t any roads– just a wide trail. And at the very end is a beach where the monk seals bask and have their pups. ^_^

Here are photos from that.

Two weekends ago was Military Appreciation Day at the zoo, and I have photos from that, too.

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