Photography . . . Travel . . .

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Christmas Morning at the San Diego Zoo - Tiger and Fishing Cat

I spent a few hours on Christmas morning with the Malayan Tiger and the Fishing Cat at the San Diego Zoo. I've been going to the Zoo on Christmas morning for years, and really enjoy it. For some reason I seem to meet more interesting people that one day than almost any other, and this year was no exception.

Most of my time was spent watching Connor, the Malayan Tiger, and at the same time visiting with some friends who also photograph there on a regular basis.  







After a few hours with Connor my friends and I decided to take a short lunch break. On our way up the hill we spotted the female Fishing Cat sitting on top of a log in the bright sunlight. Lunch would have to wait a bit.



I guess this is a comfortable way to stretch out in the sun?



Click here to see a few more images from the San Diego Zoo on Christmas morning.
      

Christmas Day Sunset at La Jolla (San Diego), California


   
   Click here to see more.
    

Monday, December 23, 2013

A Holiday Decorating Tip

Many people like to decorate their homes and yards this time of year. Heather and I always enjoy driving around to check out just how creative some of our neighbors can be. Snowmen seem to be a particularly popular decoration this year.

But, I think a word of caution may be in order. Think of this as a sort of public service announcement.

If, like my friend Aimee here, you decide to decorate your yard with a pinata in the shape of a snowman, please give some thought to what you fill it with. The traditional pieces of candy are probably a great idea. Even just stuffing it with paper would be fine. Fresh meat, on the other hand, might not be such a great idea . . . because . . .


. . . you just never know when the neighborhood cat is going to show up.







Merry Christmas Everyone !
     

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Arctic Club Hotel - Seattle, WA

We spent the last night of our weeklong Thanksgiving trip to the Pacific Northwest at our favorite hotel, the Arctic Club, in downtown Seattle. I've put up pictures of the Arctic Club on this blog before, but here are a few new ones from this trip.

The Northern Lights Dome Room is spectacular. This has to be one of the best ballroom ceilings around.



The Polar Bar is always a warm place to hang out and relax.


The coffee at Juno Restaurant is good, as is the food.


The views of downtown Seattle from the rooms are always good too, in this case 3rd Ave looking out at the Smith Tower.


No walrus pictures this time. You'll have to check out earlier blog posts to see images of them.
     

A Walk In The Woods - Moran State Park, Orcas Island, Washington

One of our favorite places to spend time when we go to Orcas Island is Moran State Park. The Park opened in 1921 when Robert Moran, a shipbuilder and former mayor of Seattle, donated more than 2,700 acres to the state for a park. It has grown to 5,252 acres, with five freshwater lakes and more than 30 miles of hiking trails.


This year while we were on Orcas for Thanksgiving we hiked the approximately 5-mile trail around Mountain Lake.







From Mountain Lake we continued on up the road to the top of Mt. Constitution, at 2,409' the highest point in the San Juan Islands. The stone tower at the summit was built by the CCC in 1936. It was pretty hazy on Thursday, so no pictures of the view, just details of the tower this time.



    

Orcas Island, Washington

We spent Thanksgiving this year on Orcas Island, one of the San Juan Islands, in Washington State. After 3 nights in Vancouver, BC (see the previous 3 blog posts) we drove down to Anacortes, WA on Wednesday to get one of the Washington State Ferries out to Orcas.

There's not a lot to do at the Anacortes ferry dock while you're waiting for the boat, except perhaps enjoy the great scenery, and the new walking paths recently put in along the marsh near the shoreline.







Our rental Toyota was packed in tight on the main car deck of the MV Elwah (it's a good thing it was a low car or I would not have been able to open the door) but we made it out to Orcas without incident. Not everyone who's traveled on the Elwah can say that, as it is somewhat infamous as the ferry that ran aground on an uncharted rock off Grindstone Harbor in October of 1983. Apparently the captain had a friend in the wheelhouse with him, and the story is that he wanted to show her what her home looked like from the water.



We wound up on an afternoon boat, and got to see a great sunset as we cruised through the San Juan Islands. Most everyone stayed inside where it was warm, but when I saw this I had to go out on deck for some pictures.





If you look closely in this next shot you can see another WSF boat passing in the distance, I think it's MV Chelan.



On Thursday morning we wandered around the little town of Eastsound before heading up into Moran State Park for a hike. Heather checked out the little maze alongside the church.



The views of the sound were nice in the morning sun. I can see why these chairs are set up here.





There's a new sculpture next to the Orcas Island Historical Museum. Being Thanksgiving morning the town was pretty much empty, nothing was open.



We spent most of our time on Orcas with family, and much of that involved food, including this crab that Heather's cousin caught on Thursday morning. It was quite good.



Here's one last shot of Orcas Island, looking back at the ferry dock on our way back to the mainland on Friday.



I'll post pictures from our hike around Moran State Park in a separate post.
   
Click here to see more images from our trip to Orcas Island in November 2013.
    

Capilano Suspension Bridge Park - Vancouver, BC

On Monday morning we rode the SeaBus across to Lonsdale Quay, and from there took a city bus up to the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park, to check out not only the suspension bridge but also the new Cliffwalk and Treetops Adventure trails.

The SeaBus is a fun ride, and we wandered around the market at Lonsdale Quay for a little bit before heading to the nearby bus terminal. If you sit at the front of the boat you get a nice view of North Vancouver on the ride over.



Here's the view of downtown Vancouver looking out from the deck in front of the Lonsdale Quay Market.



The Capilano Suspension Bridge was first built in 1889. It stretches 450 feet across and 230 feet above the Capilano River.



For as solidly as this thing appears to be built, it does wobble and vibrate quite a bit, which I guess is understandable since it's just hanging from these cables.







Once you get to the other side of the gorge there is the Treetops Adventure trail and the Nature's Edge Boardwalk. The Treetops Adventure is designed to give what the Park describes as a "squirrel's eye view" of the coastal forest, via a series of elevated suspension bridges, some reaching as high as 100 feet above the forest floor.



So, this is a Pacific Northwest coastal forest, I'm guessing this sign is pretty much out all year round. Actually, we had pretty nice weather on the day we were there.



The Nature's Edge Boardwalk is a long series of walkways through the forest, much of it fairly close to the edge of the Capilano River gorge.



The Suspension Bridge was a lot of fun to walk across (I like walking across bridges, check out the blog posts for our December 2011 Southwestern US Road Trip for several great bridge walks across the Colorado River), and the Treetops and Boardwalk were also great, but the best part of the Park has to be the Cliffwalk.

The Park describes this as being "a series of unobtrusive cantilevered and suspended walkways jutting out from the granite cliff face above the Capilano River" and "not for the faint of heart".  As far as I'm concerned, this alone was worth the $31 admission charge to the Park. Here's how it starts out, after a tight downward spiral staircase from the visitor center.













By the way, unlike the Suspension Bridge, which is designed to flex, this thing feels every bit as solid as the rock it is bolted to.





We had a great time at the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park. About the only thing we didn't see were any real bears or Mounties.



Click here to see more images from our visit to the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park in November of 2013.
     

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San Diego, California, United States
About me . . . When I'm not working I like to be out exploring and photographing. I do this blog just for fun, and to be able to share these images with friends. I hope you enjoy viewing these images as much as I enjoyed creating them.

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All of the content and images on this site (c) Frank B. Baiamonte. If you would like to use any of these images please contact me via email at frank@frankbaiamonte.com to discuss terms of usage. Note that images from the San Diego Zoo and Safari Park are not available for commercial usage.

Header image: Cibola National Wildlife Refuge, Cibola, Arizona. End image: Downtown San Diego, California skyline from Coronado Island. Profile picture: Craters of the Moon National Monument, Idaho, by Heather Baiamonte.