Thursday, August 14, 2008

If I could walk with the animals, talk with the animals

My mom and I took my nephew to the L.A. Zoo on Monday.
It was a rather short stay.
My nephew, who is just shy of 2 years old,
fell asleep about 90 minutes into it.
Luckily we were there on a prepaid season pass.
So really, it was not like we were out anything.
So here is my thing with the zoo:
I love seeing the animals. All of them.
But I do have qualms about seeing them confined.
Of course at L.A. they have a pretty good life.
Free food, no hunting, no worries from predators.
But still, they are confined even though the habitats
do seem to be pretty nice and not too cramped.
Anyway... Here we go, talking to the animals.

The lions are always a favorite. And on this day the big dude
was trying to be tolerant while she was in a playful mood.
At one point she walked right up to him and smacked him
on the head trying to entice him to play, too.

When that didn't work she decided to try and catch her tail.
Since she was being so frisky, I switched to video
mode and got a little snippet of her.
So cute!

The highlight for my nephew was seeing the gorillas,
which get fed at certain posted times.

We were able to get a pretty good look at some of them.
They come right up to the glass wall.

This one, again through the glass, shows one of the younger gorillas.
I am not sure what he is eating. A burrito?

The big silverback posed only for so long out in the open part.
He would not venture to the glass.

He decides he has had enough and moves on.

Please. No pictures.

This really is one hungry, hungry hippo.

These are nubian ibex. They were a bit far away.
But I loved how they were all lined up at the top of their little mountain.

One of the nice things about the L.A. Zoo is that it is very nicely landscaped.
There is lush vegetation and tons of trees to provide a lot of shade.
And there is a lot of color brought in through various flowers.

I am a desert girl, so I always love the giant tortoises.
I saw many of them growing up in Joshua Tree. None quite this large though.

Zebras, so fashionable in their stripes.

For me the alligator was all about the texture.
This guy was huge, too. I think he was at least 8 feet long.

I dig the giraffes. Maybe it is because I am tall.
Maybe it is because they are just so freaking cool with those markings.

I don't know. But I dig 'em. Especially the bony legs.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Cat woman

Yeah. We like to have some fun with George.
Luckily he is mostly tolerant.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Ending on a high note

OK. This is it. The last vacation post.

Sure, I have been back for more than a week now (boo!), but it takes a while to do these posts.

Plus it is good subject matter. Especially on days when I can't come up with another topic.

The last full day of vacation, Friday, was a dive day.

The plan originally was to dive Thursday. That way there would be no question about the diving-flying thing.

But then the weather was bad and a volcano on a nearby island erupted sending ash into the sky and down into the water which messed with visibility.

Or so said the woman at the dive shop.
Anyway, she hooked me up with another shop that had a boat going out Friday morning.

The dives would be done well before noon. The flight back was not until 12:45 p.m. Saturday.

OK. More than 24 hours between diving and flying. Perfectly acceptable.

The dive shop was called St. Thomas Diving Club and they are based at Bolongo Bay Beach Club, which was the neighboring resort, so it was close.
They had their own boat that was docked right there at the resort.

It was a fairly small group, six of us total and two guides (one for each dive).

The first place we headed was a site called Cow Rock, above.

Date: 8/1/08
Max depth: 40 feet
Bottom time: 50 minutes

This was my 10th dive to date.

The guide had told us that there would be a few swim throughs on this dive. They were through some small tunnels and such in the rock.

Before that the only swim through I had done was swimming through the little hole in the ship earlier in the week.

I was worried about staying off the bottom as well as not bumping myself or my gear into the roof or sides.

I spent so much time and effort worrying about not scraping that I pretty much missed the best thing.

As I came out of the first swim through, a nurse hark swam right up the middle of our group and right by my face. All I saw was a blur of tail as I looked up.

Luckily one of the other guys on the dive got video of the shark.

You will see the shark go by a guy. That was the guy in front of me.
After it goes by him you can barely see it go straight back.

That was when it went by me, just as I came out of the tunnel. If you slow it way down, you see my arms and that is about it.

As for the rest of that dive... a couple more swim throughs, lots and lots of amazing fish and coral and some huge tarpon that were swimming above us in groups.

Here are the tarpon, above.

It was pretty cool.

But I still can't believe I pretty much missed that shark entirely.

As for the second dive... it was good. But the first one was better.

For the second dive we went to a place called Armando's Reef.
This was at the request of one of the other divers. It was her 100th dive and that was where she wanted to go.

Date: 8/1/08
Max depth: 45 feet
Bottom time: 45 minutes

This dive offered a lot of rock formation and coral. There were some large crevices to swim into and through.

Another diver pointed out an eel right at the start of the dive.

Then coming around one rock formation there was a break in the rocks with another nurse shark resting there in the sand. It looked to be about 5 feet long. This was my third shark of the week.

This time I managed to get pictures of it. Finally!

The other thing to note about this dive was that it was surgier than any of the others.
At some points I could feel a current pushing against me. It was not too bad until it was time to surface.

The closer I got the the surface the worse it got. It was starting to make me a little queasy. But we surfaced and got back on the boat shortly, so I was OK.

I had contemplated taking seasick medication before the dives while I was there, but it can cause drowsiness so I passed.

I guess it is just something I will have to play by ear from now on. I never thought I was prone to seasickness, but it seems that I can be.

Anyway, there you go. That was my dive vacation. I got in six dives for the week.
I feel pretty good about that.

The only problem now is that the next time I go diving I won't have 85-degree water. I think I got a little spoiled.