The story of Malayan Tiger Mek Degong is a bit fuzzy. It looks like she came to the US sometime in 2003, after being captured by Malayan authorities. Over the years I've heard several variations of the story as to why she was captured, it seems she was either scaring villagers by getting too close, or eating the villagers' livestock, or eating the villagers. Who knows? At least she wasn't killed, either by authorities or poachers, and she ended up in San Diego. I have photos of her going way back on this blog, including her litter of three cubs in 2009, then Christopher and Connor in 2011. You could say that she is the "mother of all tigers" because she is in fact the mother of all of the other tigers at the San Diego Zoo right now. Mek moved from San Diego up to Fresno in late 2013, where she had four more cubs in January of 2014, bringing the total up to 11. Two of those cubs, the males Cinta and Berani, have been here in San Diego since November of 2014. There are lots of pictures of the two of them on this blog. Fresno Zoo is apparently going to renovate its tiger habitat and so . . . Mek is back in San Diego. Here are a few pictures from one of Mek's first days out in the large enclosure.
They are not even sure exactly how old Mek is, so they are using the assumption that she is 20 this year, which makes her a fairly old cat. Still, she is quite quick and alert, and from what I saw yesterday, still fairly aggressive and loud. Click here to see more pictures of Mek Degong, one of the Malayan Tigers at the San Diego Zoo.
All images in this post were taken with a Fujifilm X-T2 and XF55-200mm lens.
We spent a day at Universal Studios Hollywood back in late April. It was a blast. The last time I was there everything was still in black & white. It sure has changed. The main thing we wanted to see were all the Harry Potter attractions, and it was worth is just for that. The rest of it was really good too, including the Waterworld show, the Studio Tour, and even the Walking Dead thing. It was crowded (we went on a Saturday) but it was fun. They were previewing a special light show called Dark Arts at Hogwarts Castle, and we waited (along with a shoulder-to-shoulder crowd) for well over an hour before it started. It was impressive.
Standing around, waiting for the light and sound show to start.
Click here to see more images from our day at Universal Studios Hollywood in late April of 2019. All images taken with a Fujifilm X100F using the Velvia or Acros film simulations.
The old Los Angeles Zoo was open from 1912 to 1965 before moving to its current location. I actually remember going to this Zoo as a young child.
I like that they've left many of the old structures in place, and turned it into a family picnic area. Some of the old stairways used by the keepers to get to the back of the grottos are covered in colorful graffiti. They are supposedly fenced off, but there are lots of holes in the fencing. We saw several groups using it as a location for photos and videos when we stopped by on our way home from Universal Studios in April.
Click here to see a few more images from the Old Los Angeles Zoo in Griffith Park. All images taken with a Fujifilm X100F using the Velvia film simulation.
The last day of our Lone Pine Road Trip was a short one. I got up early and went out to the Alabama Hills to photograph the mountains at sunrise. Then it was back to the hotel to pick up Heather, get one last breakfast at the Alabama Hills Cafe, pack up the Xterra and try to beat the traffic home. The sunrise light was amazing. The sun rises over the Inyo Mountains to the east, which are about 10,000' high, and the crest of the Sierra Nevada Mountains is about 14,000' high when looking west from the Alabama Hills. The Hills themselves sit at around 4,000' elevation. What all that means is that the tops of the Sierra Nevadas are in beautiful pinkish-orangish light well before you can actually see the sun coming up over the crest of the Inyos behind you.
This is the view east towards the rising sun at about the same time. The picture above and the one below were taken about one minute apart.
The biggest thing with trying to photograph the landscapes in the Alabama Hills is all of the RV's and campers that are out there. I generally try to frame my shots to avoid them, but sometimes it's just not possible. And sometimes, it's nice to actually have something for scale in the photos. This Jeep happened to drive by at just the right time.
Click here to see more images from sunrise in the Alabama Hills on the last day of our May 2019 Lone Pine Road Trip. Note: For some reason lately the images on this blog have looked somewhat soft and mushy, which I think has something to do with the blog software. They look a lot better in full screen view at the gallery website linked above.
After another great breakfast at the Alabama Hills Cafe we headed north on US 395 to do a bit of exploring around the area near the town of Independence. Our first stop was the old airfield across the highway from Manzanar. We had to stop for a "Top Gear" style photo of the Xterra on the old runway.
From there we continued north, and then west on Onion Valley Road up into the mountains.
Later, on the way back down to US 395, we turned south on an unpaved road that runs parallel to the crest of the mountains and to the highway, to see if we could find a less traveled and more scenic way to get back south. We didn't quite make it, as we got to a stream crossing that was overflowing due to the high water levels, and had to turn around. Still, we saw some great scenery in the foothills of the eastern slope of the Sierras.
May is a great time of year for flowers in this area, but it can still get cold as you climb in elevation towards the mountains. We dug out our old Adventure 16 "Elmer Fudd"* caps for a little walk in the hills.
We've stopped at the Mount Whitney Fish Hatchery many times over the years, and for some reason we've always managed to arrive when the building is closed. For once we finally got to go inside and see the various historical exhibits.
Next we headed out through the Alabama Hills and up to Whitney Portal.
The views on the road down from Whitney Portal are great; you can look across the Owens Valley to the Inyo Mountains on the other side.
On the way down we detoured off onto the back way (Hogback Road) into the Alabama Hills, on our way back to the town of Lone Pine.
We stopped in to see the Lone Pine Film History Museum in Lone Pine, then had dinner in town. After dinner we drove back out to the Alabama Hills to wander around bit after the sun went down.
Click here to see more images from the third day of our Lone Pine road trip, including more of the Alabama Hills and the Film History Museum. I even managed to get a selfie with a Graboid from Tremors.
* I think A-16 actually called them Bomber Caps when they sold them, which was many years ago. Note: For some reason lately the images on this blog have looked somewhat soft and mushy, which I think has something to do with the blog software. They look a lot better in full screen view at the gallery website linked above.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss terms of usage. Note that images from the San Diego Zoo and Safari Park are not available for commercial usage. You can also see more on my Instagram page @frankbaiamonte.
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.