Saturday, July 25, 2009

My new little friend

Can you see him? He's on the rock. I happened to be looking out the window at the wood pile and spotted him jumping around.
(if you missed him in this picture, he's on the end of the log)

This place is a ZOO... Part 2

I'm a little late posting this trip, only 6 weeks or so. This was our last family outing before our kiddos left for their father's house in AR. We thought this time we'd leave earlier for the zoo and arrive in time for them to open at 10AM. You know, get a decent parking spot, see the other half of the zoo...

Not quite. You see, the grounds open at 6am and the animals come out at 10am. We managed to park in one of the lots, but not nearly as close as last time. This time we drove past all the lots and found ourselves a nice spot in lot E (the last one). I'll spare you the sunscreen application pictures and just tell you that it took us 30 minutes just to get to where we left off last time. First order of business was, well, business, and here are the kiddos outside of the restrooms.We decided to look through the reptile house this time since there were no lines. Here are some pics of what we saw...

The American Alligator...The Anaconda... Tim did surprisingly well with these snakes. As long as they were behind Plexiglas, he was OK (it was the one the guy was holding to show the kids that freaked him out). This big guy just coiled up under the water and only poked his nose out every once in a while to get a fresh breath.Other four-legged reptiles... one is a Cuban Crocodile, but I'm not sure which.This isn't a giant floating mossy rock, this is a snapping turtle with his nose above water and his mouth gaping open waiting for his next unsuspecting meal to investigate the new cave. The biggest tortoise I've ever seen.Once out of the reptile house, we opted for the elephants. They were cleaning and refilling their water feature, but I can tell you that the new "Elephant Trails" that they are building is huge. It will have 4 different terrains, and it can support a small family of elephants. They'll be able to roam throughout this new exhibit so that the scientists can study their behavior more accurately.Our customary duck picture (with duckling)...And who doesn't love the pandas? This guy was a photo op just waiting to happen. He even came out and plopped on the rock for all to admire.The last place we got to see was the bird house. We didn't have time to go inside, but we did see all of the birds around the outside.I never knew that flamingos were so LOUD! It sounded like an unruly cocktail party.And finally the kiddos by the giant stone bird. Dougie was a little pouty, but that's OK.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Oh, Deer!

Through the window of the kitchen this morning, we saw this deer munching away at green leafy somethings growing in the rocks behind the wood pile."What's so special about a deer?" you might ask. Well, Audie's comment on the matter was, "I wish we could shoot it so we could eat it for dinner." I think he liked the bacon-wrapped tenderloin medallions we made out of the last one. The things kids say these days!

This place is a ZOO... Part 1

I've been told that my father-in-law is a very organized man. He plans everything down to the detail including times and places. It is nice to see that the genes passed down to his children, or at least my husband, because we had an itinerary for our trip this past weekend. Amy met us at the house, and we left at 9am for Washington D.C.

Our first stop was the temple. Obviously we couldn't go in, but we could definitely take the kids to see it, visit the visitor's center, and walk the grounds. Of course I would be remiss if I didn't take lots of pictures. For this one, however, Tim had the camera and thought is rather comical to see the "fair-skinned" folks putting SPF 50 sunscreen on. Something about not needing any made it all the funnier to him. Once the kids and 2 of the 3 adults were sufficiently greased, we started our tour of the temple grounds. Here, the kids are posing by the fountain in front of the temple.And in front of one of the pairs of doors on the east end of the temple. We spent a few minutes trying to figure out what the symbols meant, only managing to pick out the big dipper and north star, sun, moon, something resembling an eclipse, and the globe. I last visited the temple in March of 2008 with Amy, the Thorton family, and the elders. I didn't get too close then, but this time I got to touch it. The marble was surprisingly warm, and looking up the side of the temple at the spines and spires made me feel kind of small.We also took a walk through the nature trails on the grounds. As we were walking through, I saw this and just had to take a picture. I've only ever seen pictures like this, and I got to take one. This was so cool!We walked the path to the end, ended up cutting through some grass behind the visitor's center, and loaded everyone into the Trailblazer. Once off the temple grounds, we found a nice semi-shady spot alone the bike paths for our picnic of cold cuts and tuna salad (sorry, no pictures of us eating).

On our way through D.C. to the zoo, we stopped for traffic and I had to take a picture of the balls. Don't know why, but they were cool... and huge. We were actually ahead of schedule and thought we could spend a little extra time at the zoo once we found a parking spot. We'd already budgeted the money for parking, so why not? Ha! fooled you! Parking was a nightmare. We circled the zoo twice and found nothing but "full" parking lots. I say "full" because we must have seen half a dozen empty spots, but the attendants were too busy in the shade on their cell phones to move the "lot full" signs. We finally roused one from his conversation so he could let us in. We started in the middle and made rounds on the east side of the zoo. Time ran out before we could see the pandas and elephants on the west side, but we've made plans to see them this Saturday. Here are some pictures of our trip...

The Bald Eagle. They had two of them, but I'm happy with the pictures I got of the one. Tim said he'd never seen one except in pictures. Beautiful birds!
These next few were in the section of the zoo called "Amazonia". This the a freshwater ray.
... and probably the biggest cat fish I've ever seen. It just hovered there by the glass, gently swishing its tail. It must have been 4 feet long!
Tim's favorite pictures of the big fish, not cat fish, but still big!
And turtles. Who doesn't love turtles? The little guys move pretty quickly in the water, so this is the best picture I got.
Out of the humidity in the "climate controlled" section of the exhibit, we saw the beetle mosaic to end all mosaics. The actual size of the beetle is about 3 inches long, as seen over Chloie's left shoulder, but good grief! I hope to never see this again!
On the first floor, they had this wicked-looking globe that was essentially a white spherical projection screen with 4 projectors in the four corners of the room covering the globe. I took pictures because it was cool how they did it. This first one was of ocean temperature currents.This one is of the Earth and it's moving cloud cover. The images moved! Later they had one of the sun, but I didn't get a picture of that one.Nice kitty, these are pictures of the big cats... lions, tigers, and kids, oh my!
These are the lemurs. We watched them jump in their funny way, but I kept hearing, "I like to move it, move it!"
This must be the laziest pair at the zoo. They just laid there, and every once in a while, the one on the right would raise his flipper and put it back down. That's it.
I know ducks aren't technically part of the exhibit, but I have a picture somewhere of ducks at Hershey Park from my 8th grade trip. Don't ask me why... I just like taking pictures of ducks.
Here, the kids are posing across from Lemur Island with a dinosaur that starred in a movie (who's name escapes me).
At the lizard viewing, we got to see the Komodo Dragon, the largest lizard in the world. He (or she) came out of hiding just so we could take pictures.
Amy best likes the primates, I think. We got to see the small primates, and the large ones. Yes, I was shocked, too, to find out that there was a difference. I got a cute picture of one playing with a burlap sack...
And this little guy was having fits over the attention he was getting. I think this one was a golden lion tamerine.And finally, cute little mammals along the way...
Prairie dogs are just cute!
We've decided that when the kids come home from Arkansas for the summer, and before school starts, we're making a trip to the Baltimore Aquarium, but for now, we're still working on the other half of the zoo.