Travel Theme: Bark

Ailsa has another good challenge this week at her ‘Where’s My Backpack’ blog. This week’s theme is “bark“.

Here’s my take…

I took these photos at the Houston Arboretum last week (click on a photo if you want to see it bigger). I stopped in for a little relaxation after work while I was waiting to go to a meeting of the Sail la Vie sailing club. I always enjoy wandering around in nature and don’t get to do it enough. Even tho the Arboretum is in Houston, once you get to wandering around there, you can’t really hear much of the city noise.

It’s a nice quiet place to chill out, relax, have a picnic, walk the trails, etc. I saw a few people jogging around with headsets on. I prefer to walk and listen to the sound of the wind in the trees, birds, turtles plopping off their logs or poking their heads up out of the water.

 

I wandered around for a couple of hours. Taking pictures of everything and looking for interesting shapes, patterns and colors. I enjoyed watching the turtles in the pond and a small snake that was crossing the boardwalk with me. 🙂

Anybody know what kind it is? We had a ranger from the Brazoria County Parks & Wildlife department come to tell us all about our local snakes at last weeks Campaign for Liberty meeting. He even brought some to show us. It was really pretty interesting. I wish I could have gotten better pictures, but he was moving around pretty quickly (and the snakes were not sitting still either). I am guessing this one is some sort of garter snake.

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Tarangire: Preview

This is the first halfway decent internet we’ve had since we left the African Tulip on Monday. We’ve been covering a lot of ground since then.

Tonight we’re staying at the beautiful Sopa Lodge on the rim of the Ngorongoro Crater. This place is really something! I only wish they had internet available in the rooms, but actually happy to have it even in the main lodge. 🙂

Here’s a little preview of the sort of things I’ve been seeing the last couple of days.

Hopefully, I’ll have a chance to post again tomorrow night. If not, hang in there, I’ll get to it as soon as I can get decent internet again. 🙂

Daily Walk

I just got back from my daily walk. Interesting to see so many bats flying around this evening. I wonder if it was just because of the time I happened to be out today, or if there were more than usual.

I’ve had friends staying with me until recently and when they were here I was walking much later than usual. Lots of days not until close to midnight. That’s not normal for me. Usually, I try to go before noon, before it gets super hot and humid. Or after 5, when it starts cooling down again. I think the night time walks are probably what caused my vitamin D level to get so low.

I haven’t seen the bats until tonight. Except the ones they found in my telephone box when they came to fix my internet. After the 4th-5th time I called them to come out, someone FINALLY climbed up on the telephone pole to check it out. They cleaned them out of there, and the internet actually worked pretty good for a few days, but I think the bats must be back. My internet is still crap and getting worse again daily!

So I wonder if it’s just the time they come out, twilight? Or do they come out all night and I just don’t notice them when it’s darker? Or do they come out more in certain seasons? Anybody know?

I like to see them since they eat lots of mosquitos (and other bugs). So far, I haven’t noticed all that many mosquitos yet. With all the rain we’ve had around here, I was expecting a lot more of them by now!

We’ve still got almost 3 weeks to go until the Great Texas Mosquito Festival. Maybe they’ll wait to show up til then. 😉

Wouldn’t kill me if they skipped this year altogether. 🙂

Movie Review: Tarzan

I went to see the latest Tarzan movie, “The Legend of Tarzan“, the other day. I liked it. I pretty much always like Tarzan movies. I used to watch Tarzan every Saturday morning when I was growing up. I used to wish I could live like that- wild, in the jungle, friends with all the animals.

I’ve always loved animals. All kinds. Growing up we had cats, dogs, lizards, turtles, gerbils, hamsters, guinea pigs, rabbits, birds (parakeets, cockatiels, myna birds), fish and even a kinkajou for a while.

I got an animal encyclopedia one year for a present and read through each book, cover to cover. I was fascinated by all the beautiful creatures, all the glorious diversity. I wanted to be a scientist, studying how to save the animals. Or a vet.

My grandparents were pharmacists and wanted me to be a doctor, but I didn’t really like people that much. Especially not sick people! I think I would have made a great vet tho!

I still think we have too many people running around. I thought that way back then and of course since we have WAY more people (and all the problems that causes), I think it much more strongly now. Even with all the improvements we’ve made and increased standards of living for so many, we’re still destroying the planet and wiping out other species at increasing rates.

I think everything on this planet has just as much ‘right’ to be here as we do. I really object to the position so many people take that we have the right to do whatever the hell we want to with whatever we can. Still acting like cave men (which might have been alright back then with only a few hundred thousand people on the planet), it’s definitely not OK now with over 7 BILLION people here (projected to be over 11 BILLION by 2100)!

I don’t think it’s a good idea to just cover the planet with people. More and more and more people! Our cities, our towns, our farms, OURS, to use and abuse as we see fit. What about all the OTHER species we’re supposed to SHARE this planet with?

I love how Tarzan was able to co-exist with the animals. He was always a protector of the land. He lived in the jungle and knew how to use it’s resources without abusing them. He didn’t have a bunch of kids (who would each have a bunch more, etc).

I love how he was always able to keep ‘his’ forests safe from the greedy men who came to rape the wilderness. For diamonds, for oil, for hides, for tusks, for whatever they could take.

This latest movie sets the scene in the Congo during the time of King Leopold II of Belgium. He was really awful, you should check out the book “King Leopold’s Ghost“. I read it a while ago and it’s a pretty good story (tho pretty sad history).

Leopold has basically been raping the Congo. Gobbling up resources and enslaving the people. His henchman- slick, suited Mr Rom (Christoph Waltz) makes a deal to trade diamonds for Tarzan with a tribal leader with a major grudge.

Tarzan gets lured back to Africa by American George Washington Williams (Samuel L. Jackson), who convinces him to accept the Kings invitation- to verify rumors of slavery and destruction of his beloved home in the jungle.

I loved watching Tarzan swing through the trees (do gorillas really do that?). Such a great way to travel! He always finds such freedom, joy and wonder to share. Alexander Skarsgard plays the part well. He doesn’t say much, but he does a great job with the character (and he’s nice to watch with his shirt off). In this movie version Jane (Margot Robbie) plays a pretty big part. She does a good job as a ‘damsel in distress’, you really wind up rooting for Tarzan to come and save her.

The Legend of Tarzan was a fun way to spend a couple of hours. The movie had it all- adventure, gorgeous scenery, great looking actors, romance, action, wildlife, history. I was cheering for the animals in a few places and hoping the despicable Mr Rom got ripped apart in a few more. I really enjoyed it. I might even go see it again. Or hope for a sequel.

If you go for a matinee and skip the popcorn, it’s only $5.51!

Daily Walk

Guess what I saw on my daily walk?

I’ve been having a real hard time getting motivated to do much of anything lately. About all I have been able to do is to stick with my daily walks.

I started to walk every day when I was living in Austin. I was going to school at UT (chemical engineering) and I started on the Nutrisystem program. I figured since I had a fairly regular schedule for once, I could try it out and see if it would work for me. It did. I did pretty good sticking to their packaged food and actually managed to lose 40 lbs over the 8 months I was able to follow their rules.

As long as I was on a regular schedule and living on the beach full time, it did work. I started walking every day. It was a nice break from my stressful studies, and it got me outside to pay attention to what was going on in the neighborhood.

That was back around 1998. I gained back all the weight I lost (about 40 lbs) in my first hitch back offshore (no more packaged food), but I’ve kept up the daily walks. I still enjoy them for the same reasons I did back then.

I see all kinds of interesting things around the neighborhood. Not just who’s moving in or out, what the kids are up to, who’s into gardening or pets, but the natural world. Yes, even in the middle of town I still see nature all around.

There’s a ditch down my street. It has different wildflowers all the time. I see frogs, toads, tadpoles, and raccoon tracks. Sometimes I see the actual critters: raccoons, possums, squirrels and armadillos. 🙂

There’s another ditch further up the block, a big turtle lives there, but it hides a lot. I see lots of different birds (I’m not a birder so can only identify a few). This is what I saw today.

I wish I could have gotten a better picture, but this is the best I could do. I think it’s a yellow-crowned night heron. It has a few babies in that nest, but I’m not sure how many (2+ for sure). I called the Gulf Coast Bird Observatory since I’d just read an article about how they had a program where they were into banding local birds. They pretty much confirmed my ID over the phone tho they didn’t seem interested in coming out to band the birds. They apparently just do that at their facility. It sounds like it might be interesting to go check it out one day.

I also saw (and heard) this guy. He was way up high and so hard to see exactly what kind of bird he was, except he was for sure some kind of woodpecker with a red head. I think it might be a red-bellied woodpecker.

I like to try and keep up with what’s going on around me. I prefer keeping up with this kind of stuff, instead of what’s on TV. Seems that kind of news is unavoidable, no matter how much I try. 😦

Shrimp Packs a Punch

I saw a video from National Geographic about this peacock mantis shrimp in my Twitter feed today. I thought it was pretty cool and deserved a wider audience. 😉

This little shrimp really is an amazing creature. It’s colors are beautiful and it’s punch is strong as hell! I wouldn’t put it up against any human boxer, if it was our size it would really be scary! TKO any heavyweight champ in a NY second!

I do love nature and all the wonderful plants and animals we share the world with. I think the natural world is beautiful and fascinating. I love to spend time wandering around in any forest, beach, mountain, etc. I really wish more people would take a look at the bigger picture and not stay so tightly focused on their own self, family, tribe, etc. We are killing off so much of our world, just so we can fill it up with billions more humans. Seriously, I don’t understand why.

My Froggy Friend

It rained hard the night before. My window sprung a major leak and soaked my bedroom. My backyard is still flooded.

When it stopped and I was able to get out for my daily walk last night, I noticed the streets were full of frogs. Hundreds of them, just happily hanging out This little guy hopped onto my shoe as I was walking and refused to leave. Even the flash of the camera didn’t bother him. 🙂

Transitions:2

My response to the Daily Posts weekly photography challenge.

I took these at the Houston Museum of Natural Science a couple of weeks ago. A butterfly was just coming out of its cocoon. They have a beautiful butterfly center there. I thought it would fit this weeks theme of ‘transition’. 🙂

 

PS. Until I can figure out why this blog didn’t carry over to my new blog like it was SUPPOSED to, I’ll try to post here too (but it’s hard a lot of times even to post on the one site, so if you can- if you like this blog- please go to my new blog, it’s at http://www.captainjillsjourneys.com). THANKS!

 

Best Autumn Photographs from the Last Ten Years of Photo Contests

Best Autumn Photographs from the Last Ten Years of Photo Contests| Smithsonian Magazine.

These are some really beautiful photographs. I wouldn’t expect any less from the Smithsonian. Hard to compare between them and National Geographic. I try to look and learn something about what makes a good photo, at the same time just enjoying the beauty. 🙂

Watch Out for the Harvest Moon

Watch Out for the Harvest Moon – NASA Science.

I knew about the Harvest Moon, but I didn’t know that every full moon had a special name. It’s almost time for the Harvest Moon, it’s coming up here (USA) the night of Sept 18-19.

I was out earlier this evening and looking at the moon. Took a few pictures. It was already up pretty high by the time I got out there. This should remind me to get out there earlier and try to get some good moon shots. 😉

It’s real hard to do out here with the motion and vibration. Maybe some of you can get some nice, clear shots. Best time is early, right around sunset. 😉

For the First Time in 35 Years, A New Carnivorous Mammal Species is Discovered in the Americas | Science & Nature | Smithsonian Magazine

For the First Time in 35 Years, A New Carnivorous Mammal Species is Discovered in the Americas | Science & Nature | Smithsonian Magazine.

Good news in the world of nature for once 😉