Things you didn’t know you had

The downtime between Christmas and New Year provides temporal space to start cleaning those things that may not merit daily attention, but languish in that to-do list priority category just above “limbo” or “someday.” Today it was a handful of glassware reserved for celebratory use and a compact flash card that somehow found a hiding place in the LowePro backpack.  Among the findings from the latter:

July 12, 2014, supermoon
Supermoon framed by pine trees. Taken July 12, 2014.
Indigo bunting in tree.
Indigo bunting preening. Taken July 13, 2014.
Upside down butterfly.
Butterfly hanging on the underside of an azalea branch outside the office window.

 

 

Going to the Gulf

There are few things so refreshing as being around salt water. We managed a few days away at the Alabama coast for some mental freshening.

One of our favorite places is the Estuarium at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab. With wonderful exhibits and knowledgeable docents, it’s a great place for adults, kids or kids at heart.

It was great to see how well Dauphin Island recovered from the battering it took from Katrina. (See before and after photos from USGS.)

Color on the edge of the Tibetan Plateau

Cousin Dang sent dozens of photos from her journey into China (including the unhappy looking monkey of the previous post.) The prayer flags are a beautiful expression of faith.

ZZzzz is for zoo

What to do on a hot, bright June day in the Land of 10,000 Lakes? Go to the Minnesota Zoo! What better idea than to see exotic animals in a natural setting while enjoying a beautiful day away from the blue glow of the computer screen and the hubbub of the office. It was vacation, after all.

The zoo was all excitement. Dozens of school buses and minvans were wedged into the parking lot. Families with strollers and adults with “chaperone” tags were clamoring for tickets. Once inside, one could hear see the boundless energy of thousands of elementary school children in their last week of school unleashed in the zoo’s broad walkways.

Weaving our way through the maze of youthful zoologists, we were privileged to hear some of their observations, including: “It smells like poop here” and, after glancing at the tortoises,  “Are those real?”

This brought back youthful memories of school visits to the Bronx Zoo and watching  many and sundry creatures doing what came naturally: grazing, grooming, walking, swinging, flitting, et cetera.

Well, on a hot, bright June day, what we saw at the Minnesota Zoo was a lot of ZZZzzzzzzzz-ing.

AHEM — Can you keep it down? I’m trying to nap here.
WARNING: Exposure to sun can induce sleepiness. Do not operate heavy equipment, including self, while exposed.
TIRED TIGER — A refreshing swim calls for a nap on a bed of grass in the shade.
CARIBOU — After scanning the great expanse of the caribou exhibit for some time, we finally caught these two. Napping. This may be one of my favorite zoo photos ever.

Shadows of former lives.

Despite being home for a week, our thoughts are still on the road somewhere along the vast flatness that is the prairie land of the Dakotas, the vibrance of “The Cities,” and the cornfields of Iowa.

View of road with headlights.
Evening lit by headlights heading south on I-29 in South Dakota.
Windshield splotches cast shadows on dashboard
Shadows of former insects fall across the dash.
Concrete tepee at a rest stop in southern South Dakota.
Looking up through the top of a concrete tepee at an interstate rest stop in southern South Dakota. Someone's now-deflated football joins a bird's nest as addenda to the structure.
Big white booty
Polar bear at the Como Park zoo in St. Paul cools his booty on a hot summer day.
Shadows on stone
Shadows sweep the stone at Minnehaha Falls, Minnesota.
abandoned farmhouse
Abandoned house sits alone near Stack Slough WMA in North Dakota.
Lone tree in Iowa
Lone tree breaks up the horizon, along with wind turbines, in northern Iowa.