Thursday, February 26, 2009

Carcassonne






Here is another entry from my 2005 Europe travels:

Carcassonne! I was here with the family all those years ago and it is even cooler than I remember! A very impressive, completely walled city that sits on a little hill. However, here is where the question of the day comes in How do you hide an entire walled city?!?! OK, it didn’t help that it was raining, rush-hour in the fairly large town/city that surrounds it, and I didn’t have a good map. Now to the other more interesting aspects of finding it—I had to come in a weird way due to lots of construction. That shouldn’t be too bad. However, you can’t drive in the medieval city—and they (the people who live there) all know where it is—so they don’t bother putting up obvious signs!!! And the City Center signs don’t lead you there, they take you to the surround city’s center—no where near and clogged with traffic. But lots of parking areas such that it looks like you are in the right neighborhood. Oh, and the buildings are all tall enough that once in the area, you can no longer even see the medieval city!!! Needless to say, there was much frustration and circling ;) I did finally get there (1 hour later—wanted to stop and ask for directions, but was stuck in traffic and no where to stop!). Turns out the signs say La Cité and evidentially you are supposed to know that that means the medieval part of town.
Argh. But, as I say, I did make it and it was great. The youth hostel is in the city and I have included a picture from outside the bedroom window! I wandered around town—walking the outside walls, for a couple hours taking many a picture and then finally ended up in the town square for dinner while writing post cards and petting a really cute kitty-cat. Then I went out again later with my tri-pod to try some night shots. Though getting ther was difficult, it was well worth it as a stop over on my travels south to Spain.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

A little slice of hell...


OK, so I was going to post a pretty picture of a butterfly on lavender today, but I have come down with a cold and I am trying to grade close to 200 exams while feeling yucky! Not fun!  So, I am going with a picture from Cathedral (Duomo) Cupola in Florence.   I think the subject sums up how I am feeling about right now.  OK, no, it  really isn't all that bad, and I am actually blessed with a very good immune system.  I only rarely get sick and when I do it is usually only for  about 24 hours or so, but man, those are a fun 24 hours!  My elementary school secretary said that I actually turned green!  The Grinch aint got nothing on me ;)

Friday, February 20, 2009

Picture? What Picture?!?!


An icon...seen in real life...and it is darned tall!!  Needless to say, seeing the David in person was very impressive.  And just in case you are curious, you are not supposed to take pictures so you don't actually see this one.  I would never take a picture where I am not supposed to! :)  The Galleria dell'Accademia in Florence is a small, though good museum.  David is certainly impressive, though I find the Nonfiti (unfinished slaves) be be equally fascinating.  Seeing the creative process is amazing. 
     Most people only come to see David and the Nonfiniti and miss the rest of the museum.  Most people don't even realize that there is a second floor!  In fact, the average visit time, based on ticket sales and other data the museum collects is just 7 1/2 minutes.  Ummm...wow!  If you ever go, take a little more time to enjoy!  If you are on a tour, make them wait for you :)

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

More Froggy Friends


Some more froggy friends from Fernbank!!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Hello, I am a cute little froggy!


In September of 2007 Courtney and I headed over to the Fernbank Science museum to check it out--being the nerd that I am it kinda surprises me that it took me a year to get to the museum! Though somewhat smaller than similar museums in Chicago and San Francisco of course, it is still a great science museum with a good amount of hands-on exhibits and some fun variations of some classics. We went to the museum on that particular weekend as there was a special exhibit on the color of frogs. It was a bit challenging getting pictures through the glass and around all the little kids (and finger/nose prints!), but it was fun trying. Here are a couple of my favorites with more to come in the next post.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Highlight of the trip?


It would be hard to pick a single highlight of the Africa trip this past summer, but this might come close. While traveling around in Botswana we say a couple impala watching the brush very carefully and ignoring us--a good sign. A little down the road we found this guy. For close to 11 minutes we were able to follow him around as he marked his territory one last time before sleeping for the day. It was only 8:30 AM, but still, leopards are not usually up at that time and the most that you usually get to see is the flip of a tail hanging out of a tree. We were very luck to say the least!!! If you look closely in the 2nd picture you an see him marking the tree :)

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Goats on the Coast

One of the big pushes up at The Sea Ranch where my parents have a place is to have a minimal environmental impact. However, being the California coast there are often lots of dry grasses around which are a real fire hazard. So, the community has hired a shepherd with his flocks of sheep and goats to move up and down the property trimming the grasses to a reasonable height. They use a mix of sheep and goats because the sheep are more efficient, but there are some grasses that even they won't eat--no such qualms for the goats! Environmentally friendly, and around the time of kidding/lambing season, really darned cute. This little goat was posing for us this past Christmas, just getting ready to eat his way south!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Not just in America!

Fish eagles were one of the more prevalent or the large birds we saw in Africa--though not usually this well! This guy was hanging out on a branch we think drying himself off. We were able to get actually very close to him--this is no where near maximum telephoto for me. Many of our guides were also photographers and we could always tell when we found a good sighting when the guide, who does this all the time, brought out his own camera! Needless to say the guide snapped quite a few pictures of this Fish Eagle