Birthday orcas!

***WARNING: Photo-heavy post. It might take a while for all the photos to load but I think it’s probably worth it.***

EVERYONE. I got to see orcas for my birthday. It was amazing.

For those of you who don’t know, I LOVE orcas (also known as killer whales). My love of orcas actually predates my shark love by at least 15 years, if not more. Plus, Washington state is a great place to see orcas in the wild because we have a bunch of different kinds of orcas that live around here. So ever since I was a wee undergrad in Washington, I have wanted to go and see them. But I never got the chance… until this year when I told Cobalt that all I wanted for my birthday was to see the orcas.

So he and my friend Titanium put together a trip for my birthday. And then my sister (Deoxyribolove), my sister in law (she’s going by Strontium now), and our friends M and P decided they wanted to come too! Yay whale-watching party!

So this is the story of our adventure, complete with tons of pictures. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride.

We got up super early. Like 6 am. Then we picked up Strontium at her hotel and headed north to Anacortes, WA. There we met Titanium and her bf J and M and P at the ferry terminal! We boarded the ferry and headed to Friday Harbor on San Juan Island. It was a beautiful ferry ride. Not too cold, not rainy, just cloudy and cool with mountains jutting out all around us. We spent the majority of the ride outside catching up.

Strontium on the ferry.

Once at Friday Harbor, we stopped for a bite to eat. Then it was time for whales.

It was raining as we walked to the San Juan Safaris shop but it soon stopped and the rain decided to stay away for the rest of the afternoon. We met our two guides who told us about all the animals we could see on our trip: bald eagles, minke whales, orcas, humpback whales, porpoises, seals, sea lions, and more! As they were talking, a bald eagle flew overhead! It was a sign…

Then we loaded onto the boat and headed out into the Salish Sea.

Titanium on the boat. So it was a little windy…
Deoxyribolove was all bundled up and ready to see some whales!!!

To give you an idea of where we were: we had to turn our cell phones to airplane mode because our they might try to pick up Canadian cell towers. So yeah, we were basically as close to Canada as we could be. At one point, we even passed the most northwest lighthouse in the United States.

Anyway, we weren’t out very long when we discovered another bald eagle. So regal up in the tree!

This seagull wanted to be photographed too. We did see other birds besides bald eagles! But most of them were too fast to be captured with my camera!

Not long after that, someone spotted tall black fins sticking up out of the water. ORCAS! Our guides quickly determined that we had found T101 (a transient/Bigg’s killer whale), her two sons (T101A and T101B), and her adopted son (T102). One way to ID an orca is to look at the dorsal fin (the one on the whale’s back). We could easily tell T101 apart from the boys because female orcas have smaller dorsal fins. But it was harder to figure out who we were looking at when it came to the boys. T102 had the biggest fin because he’s the oldest. His fin was huge and kind of wobbly (no bones in these fins!). But unless they were all in a line, it was hard to tell the other two apart.

Mother and adopted son (I think that’s T102)
I think this is T101A, but I’m not sure. He got super close to the boat so I got an up-close picture!

Time for a short killer whale lesson: there are two types of killer whales in this area: residents and transients (or Bigg’s). Residents were named because they were thought to reside only in this one area while the transients were thought to roam up and down the coast. But it turns out that both kinds can be found anywhere between Alaska and Monterey Bay, California, according to our guides. So the names “transient” and “resident” are kind of misleading. Annnnnnnyway – resident killer whales eat Chinook salmon but Bigg’s killer whales, like T101 and her family, eat everything. Especially seals. Which is what they were hunting when we found them.

So killer whales are super smart. And Bigg’s killer whales are super stealthy so they can sneak up on their prey. It was fun watching their crazy shenanigans. The water was pretty dark though so I think we missed out on most of the plotting.

They were doing all sorts of acrobatics. We kept seeing random tails stick up and slap the water.
Look at that floppy fin!

We followed the orcas at a respectful distance, slowing the boat down and/or turning off the motor when we got closer. I loved when that happened because we were drifting in our boat near these giant creatures. We could hear them breathing. It was incredible to be so close to one of my favorite animals. And I got to coexist with them. I was breathing, they were breathing. I was drifting, they were… doing whatever they were doing… It was beautiful.

At some point, we left the orcas to try to find some other critters. We saw a few porpoises but they weren’t interested in hanging out with our boat so they left. It also turns out there was a HUGE sailboat regatta happening on Saturday though so we found a lot of humans out on the water! It was fun to watch them too.

Then we found our orcas again! So we hung out with them more! By this point, we were starting to get pretty cold…

I like that it looks like this orca is hunting the sailboat.

Then it was time to start heading back to land. So we said goodbye to the orcas and tried to cram into the inside part of the boat to get warm. But the tour wasn’t over! On our way back to Friday Harbor, our guides took us past some of the other islands to look for other wildlife. We found more bald eagles, some sheep, deer, and more!

Not sure what this guy is but he looked pretty awesome standing on top of a ridge…

We arrived back at Friday Harbor tired but content after such an amazing day of hanging out with some of Washington’s finest creatures. The ferry ride back to Anacortes was filled with snacks and laughter as everyone looked over their photographs and recounted their favorite parts of the day. Everyone mostly stayed inside this time, which was good because it was SUPER windy outside. I went outside to watch the last of the sun go down and I loved the feeling of the wind on my back. It made eerie tones as it wrapped around the ferry too. It was such a neat ethereal experience to close out the day.

Well. That definitely became one of my top birthdays ever. Now it’s your turn – what’s your favorite picture? What was one of your favorite birthdays? Why was it so amazing? This bald eagle wants to know.

Bee my valentine?

Hi friends!

I don’t have much time to chat today but I wanted to leave you with this fat bee! Last weekend was the first time we’d seen the sun in a while (Holy rain/flooding, Batman!) and Cobalt and I took full advantage of it by going to Carmel-by-the-sea with our friend Mercury and our other friend C! We did this epic hike at Point Lobos to explore the beautiful forest and beaches near Carmel. The trails were very muddy (more like small creeks instead of trails) but it was all worth it for beautiful views of the coast. I found a bunch of fun anemones and crabs hanging out in tide pools too! But today’s picture is a cute bee that I found on the trail. These huge bees were hanging out with some bright yellow flowers, bending them every which way when the fat bees landed. I was amused and had to stop to do a quick photoshoot of bee/flower interaction.


Ahhhh how has it been two months again?! Oh I know… first the holidays happened and then school started up again! AHHHHHH! This quarter is equally as crazy as the first in some ways but also quite different in others. We only have two classes instead of four and we’re writing a few really long pieces instead of a bunch of tiny ones so the pace is quite different. One really fun part of this quarter is that I am working for Big Picture Science, which is a fun sciencey podcast based out of the SETI institute. You should check it out if you are interested!

Back to homework for me…….. :(

One rainy Yosemite adventure

This past weekend, Cobalt and I embarked on an epic day trip to Yosemite National Park. Over the past year, we’ve been to five other national parks and monuments and we thought we could sneak one more in before 2016 ends. Plus my family and I used to go to Yosemite National Park every summer when I was growing up and I was itching to get back.

Having spent at least a week in Yosemite when I went with my family, I had to do some careful planning for our short day trip. It helped that a lot of the stuff that I enjoyed seeing in the summer (Glacier Point, Tuolumne Meadows, etc.) is not open in the winter so I had a shorter list of things to choose from.

It’s about a 3.5 hour drive from here so we left at 7:30 a.m. to make sure we would have time to spend in the park. Our first stop: Yosemite Valley. It’s often super overcrowded in the summer but there’s a good reason for it. It’s simply spectacular to be surrounded on all sides by huge slabs of rock, rushing water, and impressive waterfalls. Cobalt is not one for crowds so I figured that by going to the valley in December, he’d still get to see the awesomeness without being surrounded by people. It was kind of a dreary day — rainy and cold — but there were still quite a few people in the valley. We headed to the Happy Isles trail head to go see Vernal Falls. You can’t drive to the trail head so we had to park the car and hike in. We got a little lost of our way to the trail head and wandered around the Happy Isles for a bit but it paid off because we saw a deer family! Here is a picture of the buck. I think this might be the best deer picture I have ever taken. Enjoy:

I love how regal he looks…

We eventually found the trail head and wandered up the short trail to the footbridge below Vernal Falls. It’s a nice trail, with amazing views of the river crashing around below and waterfalls sneaking down the walls of the valley. In the summer, I enjoy hiking past the footbridge via the Mist Trail to the top of Vernal Falls but it is closed in the winter (mist = ice = slippery!) and we had a lot of other stuff to see! So we headed back down the trail to the car where we had a quick lunch before heading back to see the rest of the valley.

The rain was starting to come down harder by this point but that didn’t stop our fellow tourists from having fun on the valley floor. We had to stop to take pictures of the Yosemite Falls because I loved seeing the people playing in the snow through the mist. There was so much going on! People were taking Christmas pictures in Santa hats or throwing snowballs at each other. Some people were even getting out sleds to slide around the icy snow.

The upper Yosemite fall sits above the mist on the valley floor.

After touring the rest of the valley mostly by car, we set off towards Wawona, which is on the southern edge of the park. To get there, you head up out of the Valley through a long tunnel. Right before you leave the valley, there is a “Tunnel View” parking area where you can get one last glimpse of the entire valley. It was a family tradition to stop and take a picture so Cobalt and I stopped and asked a family to take our picture.

The mist covered up the valley minutes after this picture was taken.

It was pouring and starting to get dark by the time we reached Wawona but I had one required stop left. My family used to stay in Wawona when we visited Yosemite and we loved hiking the Chilnualna Falls trail. It’s about a 10 minute hike to the lower fall so we parked at the trail head and ran up the trail. It was incredible! We usually go in August, which is when the water is at a pretty low point but the fall was just gushing this weekend. Forget the rain, Cobalt and I got majorly misted as we scuttled down toward the fall. It was so great to see an old family favorite again. Can’t wait to come back here with my whole family one day (hopefully soon!).

Let’s get some humans in that photo.

How are you? What are you up to? This week, I have to report at the American Geophysical Union’s national conference. Should be fun but also scary!

Whale you needn’t

A few weeks ago, Cobalt and I went whale watching with my classmate, whom we will call Mercury on this blog, in the Monterey Bay, courtesy of Sanctuary Cruises.

It was definitely an adventure. First of all, we were supposed to go watch whales on Saturday but we drove all the way out there and they canceled the trip because it was too windy. We made a quick call to get on the Sunday whale adventure and then then we went to brunch with the Sanctuary Cruises boat captain and naturalist. The food was delicious and we had a really neat conversation.

On Sunday, we tried again. The winds had died down so we headed out to the bay in search of whales. Although the Monterey Bay pretty much always has some sort of whale-related activity going on, we went at sort of an awkward time. The humpbacks that spend their spring, summer, and fall feeding in the bay were on their way south for the winter and the gray whales that pass through the bay in early winter were just starting to arrive. We hoped to see some straggler humpbacks or earlybird gray whales and we were not disappointed (as my picture at the top hints).

Not long after getting into the bay, we saw humpback spouts! They were huge. Humpbacks take a few breaths of air before diving deep into the ocean for about 5 minutes. Then they surface and start the whole process over again. Our whale-watching trip turned into a waiting game. When the whales were up, we took a bunch of pictures, hoping to get shots of the spouts or the tails (like the one at the top). Then the whales would dive and we sat around, letting the waves rock the boat back and forth (note: not a great feeling) until the whales decided to surface again.

Once when we found the whales, they were surrounded by hundreds of long-beaked common dolphins. Seriously, the ocean was suddenly churning with dolphins everywhere. They swam toward us and played around the boat. So fun and such a new version of photography.

Photographing dolphins is one of those “shoot first, look later” types of experiences. Just set up your camera to have a pretty fast shutter speed, make sure it is on continuous shooting mode, and then go. Click click click click click click click click. The more pictures you take, the more likely you had a shot of a dolphin above the water. I think I took at least 1,000 pictures while on the boat (a feat normally reserved for weddings). Something else I struggled with: Do I use the zoom lens zoomed in or not? Zooming in meant that I got a fairly high resolution picture of a dolphin but it also decreased the likelihood of actually having a dolphin swim in the field of view when I took the picture. I kind of did a combination: zoom in… no dolphins… zoom out… ALL THE DOLPHINS…zoom in…

Baby dolphin! :D

Mercury and Cobalt tried other approaches. Cobalt recorded videos, both with our GoPro and with his cell phone, and Mercury had a point and shoot camera and her iPhone. I think they both got some pretty nice shots/videos at the end of the day. Basically I think the lesson here is take a lot of pictures/really long videos with whatever device you have and plan to do some editing later. :)

Taking pictures of humpbacks was a bit easier because there were only two of them and they hung out together. As soon as we saw the spouts, we knew to point our cameras in their direction and take a bunch of pictures in a row with the hope that they would flip their tails at us when they headed back down into the water. At one point, both whales dove together and gave us a beautiful view of the two tails diving in sync and I am pretty sure almost everyone on the boat missed the shot (whyyyyyyy) because we were just recovering after the dolphin extravaganza and hadn’t quite gotten back into humpback mode. There was a collective sigh of amazement/exasperation as the tails disappeared beneath the water together.

All in all it was a fun adventure, though after multiple attempts at taking pictures of humpbacks, drifting aimlessly for 5-10 minutes, then taking more pictures of humpbacks, etc, we all started to get a little seasick. But it was still a rewarding experience and I can’t wait to go out in the spring when maybe we can see some other whales (and maybe orcas?!?!??).

Here are some more fun pictures below:

Hey! How’d this bird get in here?! Though it’s kind of a cool shot… The birds were having a field day with the dolphins. I think they were hoping to get a snack of whatever the dolphins were eating.
The benefit of having a fast shutter speed: even if you miss the dolphin (see the stripes underwater at the bottom right?), you still get cool splash photos.
We saw a lot of sea lions out there too but I liked this picture the best. I just love the sea lion in the water next to the buoy: “Uh guys? Is there room on there for one more?”

One last note about the pictures: if you’re going to go whale watching, don’t spend the whole time behind your camera of choice. Look up every once in a while and really notice how neat these animals are. It’s a pretty cool experience. :)

On the school front: whew. I can’t believe it’s been 10 weeks since I wrote in here. It feels like it’s been a year. This is one intense program. I learned a lot about writing through my classes and my newspaper internship. I also learned a lot about photography at the internship. I even learned how to use Canon DSLRs! I still prefer my Nikon, mainly because my fingers know exactly what to do to change all my settings.

If you’re interested in seeing what I was working on for the past 10 weeks, feel free to check out my writing portfolio. There are a few assignments that are still to come but whew. I did a lot! :)

I know I say this in almost every post but I really miss this blog and I really miss photography when I get too stressed out to go exploring. I’m really going to try to make more time for pictures during the next quarter. I’ll try to post more on here too, maybe with less words when I’m especially stressed.

What have you been up to?

The search for baby geese!

This past Sunday was National Camera Day so I took my DSLR and my faithful camera buddy – the one and only micro Squishable T rex Sir Chandler “Cornflakes” Montgomery III – on a bike ride to the park by my house on a mission: find baby geese.

A few months ago, Cobalt and I were on a run in this same park when we came across the following sign:

and then were promptly chased down the path by one aggressive hissing goose!

It’s been a while now so Sir Chandler and I decided to see if we could find some baby geese! Sounds like a great way to spend National Camera Day!

We got to the park and set out looking for clues…

Sir Chandler found a feather! We must be on the right track!

We finally found them in the lake. Turns out that I kind of missed the “baby” goose phase and now the little guys are starting the awkward preteen goose phase… Still, they were really cute to photograph so I sat in the grass taking pictures.

The geese started swimming in my direction. Not wanting to make the parents mad at me, I retreated to a safe distance as the geese got out of the lake and started chillin’ in the patch of grass I had just been sitting in. Also I took some more pictures!

Ahhhhhhhhhh I love their awkward teenage puff feathers!!!

Anyway, I had a lot of fun photographing these guys. I had to be quick and quiet. I also wanted to make sure I gave the geese a nice distance between me and them – both out of respect and also fear of goose attacks (I am secretly scared of geese – too many close calls with my childhood friend’s crazy goose!).

Apparently my adventures with baby fowl were just starting because yesterday as I walked to the store, I saw a mom duck and her baby ducklings in the creek by my house! The baby ducklings were sooooo small and soft and puffy looking. I just wanted to hug them! Instead, I went home and got my camera. I am not sure the picture below accurately captures how adorably cuddly these baby ducks were but I didn’t want to get any closer to them – I think I was stressing the mom out as it was! Still! Look how tiny! And puff!


How are you guys doing now that you’ve had a cuteness dose for the day? Seriously, I am so happy that I saw those baby duckys yesterday – trying to finish grad school is hard and seeing adorable baby ducks put me in a way better mood…

The world is just a little less puffier today

Potassium and her wee holding Patti and Smokey the day the kittens joined the family.

A long time ago (read: before braces and growing up and all that jazz), Potassium and her family adopted two tiny kittens to befriend their older cat Blackberry. They named the kittens Patti and Smokey. Patti, the runt of the litter, was so tiny that the vet refused to draw her blood for the customary FeLV test at her new cat exam. “She needs all the blood she can get!” the vet commented, adding that Smokey’s test results would be fine for both of them.

In addition to being so tiny, Patti had epically long fluffy fur, she had the tiniest squeak of a meow, and she didn’t even know how to purr (Potassium and her friend G had to teach her). Potassium and her family fell in love with her instantly. Then Patti grew up into an even fluffier little puffball who loved being petted (so much so that she would bite your butt if you were “ignoring her” by petting one of the other cats), thought that cars were her friends (that was scary – she would flop down right in front of people pulling into the driveway so she could get her belly rubbed), and was our adorable little Snowbeast with her little pantaloon pants.

In case you didn’t believe me about her pantaloon pants…

Unfortunately after almost 17 years with our family, Patti succumbed to heart disease earlier this week. We love you and miss you, little puff!

Dallas Day 4 – Sharks need food too!

Helllloooooo and welcome to today’s post on the last day of our trip in Dallas. We’re going to wrap up this series this week I think because there is a lot of exciting stuff going on right now that I want to talk about! So today will be about the Dallas aquarium and then later this week (Thursday or Friday) we’ll wrap up Day 4. Be warned, the entries this week will be picture heavy…

So let’s start at the top of Day 4. Cobalt, Jem, A, and I got up early because there was so much stuff that we wanted to get done! To start the day off, we headed to the Dallas World Aquarium because they feed the sharks at 11:30 am! Jem and I brought our cameras along and we had fun photographing all the aquatic animals!

So let’s take a look, shall we?

We got to the aquarium right after it opened so we got to witness the sloth being brought out to its tree. It immediately started climbing to its favorite spot which made for a pretty cool picture… :) PS – When you see a sloth do you think about Kristen Bell freaking out or is that just something I do?

I don’t think we had any pictures of monkeys from the zoo so let’s remedy that right now! Aquarium monkeys!

I like this one – the manatee swimming out of the shadows and crazy catfish hovering.

My MIL loves frogs so I always try to get a picture when I see one…

or two… I think this one is my favorite.

My sis in law loves penguins so I tried to get a pic for her. :) This one looks like he just got done with a swim!

These guys were fun to photograph. I was playing with manual focus on my camera and I love how this guy is just popping out of the side of the picture.

This picture is just beautiful. I love this guy.

These fish were creepy. Their angry eye-like spots were all you could see… I liked them because they look mad and grumpy creatures make me happy. I am not sure why. I just know that the rule is: if it’s fat, furry, grumpy, has sharp teeth, or wings (or any combination of those things), I will generally like it.

I think we’re at the shark part of the post. The sharks were swimming in this big tank with a glass tunnel underneath. You could stand in the tunnel and look up at the sharks or walk to the end of the aquarium and look down into the open shark tank. I had a lot of fun standing in the tunnel trying to capture the sharks through the glass…

One of my favorite things about taking pictures in the tunnel was that I could capture sharks and passerbys so that it looked like there wasn’t glass between them. In this picture, I especially like that the shark looks annoyed at that guy. He’s like WHO SAID YOU COULD TALK IN MY TUNNEL?!

The rays were also in the shark tank and they looked really cool too. I like this picture because I like the kid watching the ray. I wish I had made the depth of field better so that the ray was more in focus… oh well.

We did get to see the sharks get fed! The tunnel was packed with people but I managed to snap a few photos of this sawfish eating a squid. This little kid was pointing at the chomping the whole time so his hand is in all of my pictures… Oh well… at least you know what to look at!

The Dallas World Aquarium was really fun! They did a really good job making unique habitats for all the animals. It was like being whisked away into an exciting and magical world of all sorts of animals. Usually, I feel like it’s obvious that I am at an aquarium but for some reason this aquarium seemed more magical and exciting… I wished it could have been a bit bigger though… Though considering all the craziness planned in the rest of our day maybe it’s a good thing it wasn’t. Stay tuned!

In other news… wtf Boston?! I was horrified to hear the news yesterday (seriously… I was like a broken toy repeating “SO SCARY!” over and over again, ask my lab mates…). Plus I had friends running in the marathon. They’re okay but my heart goes out to everyone who was there/was affected by this tragedy. :(

Your turn – Do you have a favorite picture? Which pictures did you like better: zoo or aquarium? What is the best aquarium you have been to? I really like the Monterey Bay Aquarium but I have heard that the Shedd Aquarium is quite amazing. I am so excited to go one day. Also, what is the weather like there? I am so ready for spring. It has been snowing nonstop here. They even closed campus early yesterday (not like it matters for us grad students who practically live in the lab anyway though)!

Dallas Day 3 – Fort Worth and what followed

Hurrah! The rest of the zoo pictures are finally here! I hope you all enjoyed the rest of your week! I definitely did, though mine was crazy busy as usual… Probably my favorite part of this week was on Wednesday night a few people in my lab and I had a cookie party. Basically, every Thursday at 3, all the labs on our floor of our building have cookie hour. Each week, a different lab (or a professor) volunteers to bring cookies for everyone else. This week it was our turn so we ordered a few pizzas, opened a few bottles of wine, and set to work. We made: snickerdoodles, Mexican hot chocolate cookies, chocolate chip cookies, and these crazy brownie bites that I basically designed on the fly with chocolate chip cookies on the bottom, a Reeses peanut butter cup in the middle, and delicious brownie mix on top/to hold it all together. Everything turned out delicious and our cookie hour was definitely a success yesterday! Yay lab bonding!

Moving on… Back to Fort Worth for the conclusion of the zoo. I have some non bird animal pictures today (including that adorable elephant at the top) and then I’ll conclude with the rest of Day 3. Let’s go!

Animals at the Fort Worth Zoo

First another pic of that cute elephant up there. Dust bath continued…

Zebras! And a bird…

A giraffe happily sitting in the sun. I learned the other day that apparently the nerve that connects the giraffe’s voice box to its brain goes allllll the way down its neck, wraps around its heart, and then alllll the way back up its neck to its voice box. Craziness… what an odd creature!

So this was so cool… When we got to the lion’s cage, he started roaring! I’ve never seen a lion roar in real life before. It was kind of awesome… but also scary.

Another lion…

A shark at the zoo?! No way! Must be photographed…

I like this picture! I was taking pictures of this guy and then he started to turn and swim away from me so I got a picture of his snout under the water in focus and his head out of the water slightly out of focus. It makes for a bit of a creepy pic I think.

So this snake marks the point in the reptile/amphibian house where we got turned around because they were closing the zoo! Booo… but at least this picture turned out pretty neat!

That’s all folks. For more animals, you’ll just have to go visit the Fort Worth Zoo yourself! I highly recommend it if you’re going to be in the area.

So after the zoo closed on us, we made a trek to get some delicious Texan BBQ. C1 and C took A, Jem, Cobalt, and me to this smokehouse called The Woodshed Smokehouse. It was amazing. We got some delish Texan beer, wild boar sausages, and artichoke chips for starters. Then I got some goat tacos with some amazing tomatillo sauce and Mexican corn (yummmmmmm) and everyone else got such delicacies as ribs and wild game tamales. Mmmmm…. It was so happy. Plus the restaurant is right on the Trinity River so we sat outside on the patio and watched the river slowly go on by. Highly recommend this place if you like meat. After we finished our amazing dinner, we headed to this bar C1 and C had heard about and hung out there having desserts and (root) beer floats and chatting. It was a great end to a great day. Then we all had to say goodbye and Jem drove us back to Dallas… Once back at her place, we stayed up late planning our last epic day in Dallas. Watch out… it’s intense. We even got up early so that we could do even more stuff! I am not really sure how to break up this last day into blog posts so you’re going to have to wait until next week. One thing is for certain though – aquarium pictures. Tell me if you have a favorite fish!

Any fun plans for this weekend? I think I am going to get to go horseback riding on Sat and then I am going to a girls’ craft night on Sat night. Yay! I am super excited. Tell me what you are up to. How’s the weather there for you guys? Is it spring there yet? Boulder can’t decide… It snowed ALL day on Tuesday (like it was snowing when I went to sleep on Monday night and still snowing when I got up on Wednesday morning) and it was so ridiculously cold on Wednesday that my car windshield cracked :( but it’s supposed to be in the 60’s this weekend and then back to snowing next week… :-/

Okay, this post has gotten long. Bottom lines: tell me what fish (if any) you are excited about seeing next week, tell me what your plans are this weekend, tell me what the weather is like for you guys, AND a new question: tell me about the best restaurant you have ever been to while on vacation. What made it amazing? The food? the experience? the company? I want to know! :D

Dallas Day 3 – Fort Worth Zoo Birds

Hello and welcome to the first part of Dallas Day 3 – the day that was spent mostly in Fort Worth. I went through my zoo pictures and decided that there are a ridiculous amount of bird pictures so they get their own post…. Thursday (or Friday… life soooo busy…) will have the remainder of the animals/the rest of the Ft. Worth story. Yay!

First I want to draw your attention to that magnificent toucan on the top of my blog. I fell in love with him and we had a little photoshoot with him modeling and me clicking away. Seriously, Jem can probably tell you, I was saying “Yeah… yeah… now tilt your head a little to the left… aw yeah… perfect… work it!” :-/ Anyway, hurrah birds. I apologize in advance if you’re scared of birds but I hope that all the fun colors and poses of these birds will warm your heart anyway.

Let’s start at the top. We slept in again. Then A, Cobalt, Jem, and I all piled into Jem’s car to go to breakfast at this place called the Kozy Kitchen. For some reason, I can never remember the name – just that its name starts with a K…. Moving on. This restaurant had a lot of gluten free and organic organic options… but it also had a lot of tasty meat options as well. I got this epic omelet complete with venison sausage inside and Cobalt got buffalo tacos! Yum…

Once we enjoyed our amazing brunch, we headed to Fort Worth to go to the zoo with one of my best friends from high school C1 and her boyfriend C. C1 and I played trombone in band together throughout high school and she, the T (my maid of honor), and I were fairly inseparable during high school/band trips/etc. Much hilarity ensued…

Here’s C1 feeding a bird at the Forth Worth Zoo:

Anyway, so we went to the zoo! It was amazing! Definitely one of the best zoos I’ve been to in a long time. The animals had really neat habitats and the whole place was huge. We were there for three hours and we still didn’t get to see everything before the zoo closed (we got kicked out of the reptile house because they were trying to close it and we just wanted to see the lizards)! Epicness. It was also a perfectly warm day and we Coloradans were basking in our sandals and short sleeved shirts. Ahhhhhh…. so this is what spring feels like (for the record, we are supposed to get 6-10 inches of snow and “blizzard-like” conditions here today…). Anyway, enough babbling! Let’s see some birds!

The birds of the Forth Worth Zoo
We’ll start in the part where they let you go hang out with these little birds. We bought sticks with birdseed on them so we could feed the birds (like C1 is doing up there) but they seemed full – possibly because small children had been feeding them allllllll day… :-/ I was so excited about being so close to them that my birdseed stick went mostly uneaten as I ran around with my camera…

I like this guy because he’s looking at the camera… He looks a little wary of me. Not sure why seeing as I had a stick covered in birdseed in my hand…

This bird kept closing his eyes when I was trying to get his picture. :-/

I wish I had gotten these guys’ tails in the picture but I like that they are looking at the camera too.

After all the cute little birdseed stick fed birds, we moved on to the birds of prey which were scary/magnificent. Especially because many of them were being fed when we were there. :-/ This guy was kind enough to pose for a picture. I love how pointy his beak and claws are. Yikes!

Another picture of the toucan, just in case you didn’t believe that he is real (he looks fairly plastic in the first picture, I’ll give you that…). It was grooming time after he posed for that first picture.

This bird looked so shy with its beak hidden in its wing…

Yay penguins! These little guys looked so silly with their little ear tufts. I like them.

I love this picture because the tufty penguin looks like it is freaking out and the other two penguins are like “… awkward! We don’t know that guy…” Cracks me up! Look forward to more penguins next week from the Dallas World Aquarium!

Flamingos! These flamingos were not very pink but they did appear very fuzzy. I especially like the one scritching its back – its neck is so fluff…

This concludes your tour of the birds in the Fort Worth Zoo. There were of course many more so really you should just go visit and see them for yourself! Later this week – more animals and the rest of our day in Forth Worth. You still have time to tell me your favorite zoo animal and I’ll see if I have a good picture of it for you! :) In other news, tell me what you think about these birds? Any favorites? Anyone want to write some captions for the birds?

The Valentine’s Day Shark Cake Pop says….

Happy Valentine’s Day!

I hope you all have a wonderful day! The Valentine’s Day Shark Cake Pop will (though he is currently residing in my tummy… sorry shark cake pop! You looked so delicious!). Anyway, if you have yet to get your special someone a Valentine’s Day card, the Monterey Bay Aquarium has some adorable e-cards for you! Check them out!

I made the shark pop at a Valentine’s Day themed craft party last weekend. I also made this little Valentine’s mousey (don’t judge my sketchy sewing skills…):

Now, tell me how you really feel about Valentine’s Day. Yay Valentine’s or ugh… pink…? Are you excited to see the millionth Die Hard movie tonight or are you braving the crowd to go out to a fancy dinner (or both)? I like Valentine’s Day generally, though I worry that people will think they only need to tell their special someones they love them only on this one day. So remember to tell those people you love them not just today but every day!