Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Dogs Wanna Have Fun!!

This Dog (Ricochet) Can Surf, Del Mar Dog Beach, San Diego County, California
Healthy dogs for a happy dog life :) Last Sunday, September 25, 2011, we were able to witness the nation's largest dog surfing competition at the city of Del Mar, San Diego County, California! It was really a fun event, and if not for my work assignments, I would love to have stayed longer to the end of the competition so that I will be able to see the winners.
Ricochet Can Maneuver a Turn on the Surfboard! ( winner in the large dog category, and 2nd over-all)
But despite not having finished watching the competition, we sure had a very enjoyable day! This is an event that I know I will not get tired of watching! Though we live in San Diego, but this is the first time we witnessed this event, but definitely not the last time.
What was very joyful was seeing these pets having fun, running around, showing their responsibility as they enjoy the beach interacting with other dogs almost freely. Aside from surfing, dogs were having a time of their lives swimming for the tennis balls or whatever floaters thrown for them to catch, dogs having tug-of-war with frisbee, among others.
The event raises fund for the orphaned animals and promotes responsible pet ownership.
Pets are such joys to have, they reduce our day to day stress and is even found to be therapeutic in most aspects. But we have to take care of their well being too. Pets that are not well taken care of would hardly show friendly agility because they are not used to friendly atmosphere.
Just like us, when pets don't feel healthy, it is hard for them to enjoy life moving around. Feeding our pets the right way, and having their health constantly checked is important as it is for us. If we are new to a place, sometimes we do not know which veterinarian to go to, but we can always go to trusted and reliable reviews in finding a veterinarian for our pets. In Austin for example, Angie's List has trusted reviews on Austin Veterinarians. Pets need to have a proper diet, grooming, a place to sleep, proper training, social interaction and of course, a good veterinarian to help us make them on top of their health in order for them to enjoy pet's life as happy as they can be. Look at all those pets above, are they not awesome?
Gee, they look a lot better than me surfing the waves!!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Faces Part 3: My Version

Red Panda
I have shared a while back two posts, Faces and Faces Part 2. However, all those pictures I shared were taken by my hubby who is always excited to shoot faces of animals. His influence taught me to be patient on animals too :) Photographing animals is not always the easiest since we have no control over their movements and lighting. If they are in the dim shade, we can cannot ask them to be out to get lit a bit. If they are too far, we can not ask them to move closer. To capture their interesting faces, oftentimes, we have to patiently watch them as they transition from one activity to the next, or from one emotion to another. Patience out of the doors is not something I have since I am easily distractible especially when I see a lot of flowers and other subjects to shoot. Anyway, here is my version of faces.
Happy Red Panda ("hello, am glad you came to visit me today" )
Giant Panda ( just shoot you girl, I am busy eating and will continue eating )
Giraffe ("Hi)
Lion - "I am the King! I can sleep all day if I want to" :)

Baby tigers - "hello, we are still curious about our world, are you one of us?"
Baby and Mom Tiger - (baby: "mom"? )
Mom Tiger - (mom:"what? today i'll teach you to growl, growl at them!" )
Pensive Orangutan
Jaguar- fierce!
Cheetah running at full speed- he completed 100 meters in 5.6 seconds! No land mammal can beat that! Cheetahs are the fastest land mammal on Earth. They can run up to 70 miles per hour. 
(anyway, a lot of people did not even attempt to take picture of cheetah since cheetah was too fast for their camera, just watching cheetah run at full speed alone is already a unique experience). 
Cheetah and Dog- who is the leader in the relationship? It is the dog! Trainers use dog to train cheetah.
Playful and Pensive Orangutan

Galapagos Island

 Dusk in San Diego (not in Galapagos)
No, I have not been to Galapagos Island yet, all pictures here are from San Diego. However, since I watched Ocean Oasis at San Diego Natural History Museum, it has always been part of my dream to one day explore the Southern Pacific Ocean in Baja California, and further south, in Galapagos Island. 
 One Fine Afternoon by the Sea
Seeing how the diversity of ocean's life exists and thriving in a seemingly barren landscape in the movie, brought me a strong sense of hope that life regardless of the harsh conditions can still exist beautifully. And if we remain strong and wise enough to adjust to the conditions and know how to respond well to the environment around us, life will go on. There may be changes, painful it may be at the start, but slowly, transformation occurs to allow for a deeper beauty embedded inside, character strongly built by the natural forces of this Earth. 
Desert Tortoise
Since watching Ocean Oasis, I always am looking for cheap Sea of Cortes and Galapagos Cruises. 
 Harbor Seals
The Galapagos Island has always been associated with Darwin's theory of Natural Selection. Man observes, and observation is followed by so many questions, analysis, and theories. Questions arise such as: how did these many plants and animals arrived at the island? How were they able to adapt to the new surroundings?
 California Sea Lions
California Sea lions, fur seals, penguins, giant tortoises, among others, probably immigrate to the island through the periodically changing currents. The currents brought them in, but they could not get out! But life continues for them and made the island and its surrounding waters their new home. 
Flock of Cormorant, Sea Gulls and Pelicans
Because of this, Galapagos Islands are very popular amongst natural historians, both professional and amateur. Galapagos Cruise allow travelers to experience the migration of giant tortoises, sea lions, penguins, marine iguanas and different bird species can all be seen and approached. The landscape of the islands is relatively barren and volcanic, but still very beautiful. Peak season for Galapagos Cruise Ship is December through May when the seas are the calmest and the weather the warmest. However, summer months is also a good time to visit the island because of more activities observed from wildlife. Ahhh, I wish someday, I can share pictures of my experience of Galapagos Island in this site. Meanwhile, as I dream about experiencing Darwin's Theory of Natural Selection in Galapagos, I get content with observing marine wildlife here in San Diego.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Mathematical Parrot

Trainer: 1 x 4?
Mathematical Parrot: 4! (then, biting his claws, cute!)

Trainer: 2 + 2?
Mathematical Parrot: 4! (smart!)
Me: Hmmm, do you always ask questions where the answer is 4?
Trainer: Oh you are doubting the Math aptitude of this parrot? Want to challenge? We'll see if you can answer correctly before the parrot.
Me: Okay! ( I was telling myself, "just say 4 before the parrot says 4")
Trainer: What is the square root of 25 minus 2?
Parrot: Three! (said it right after 2 was said)
(My ego was hurting, parrot beat me! I must find an excuse!)
Me: Oh-oh, I was wrong, so he knows another number?
Trainer: Oh yeah! What is square root of 49 minus 4?
Parrot: Three! (smart parrot)

Me: Oh, 4 and 3? So, the next one the parrot will say is 4, pairs of 2's?
Trainer: Hmmm, still trying to beat the parrot? Okay, parrot, what is the square root of julienne minus 1?
Parrot: 4!
Me: Weeeee, I am right!
Parrot: 4!
Trainer: (Winks! )- don't say anything, we'll test others vs parrot :)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Matanuska Glacier Hike

Matanuska Glacier
Where:  Mile 102, Glenn Highway National Scenic Byway. It is about 2 hours drive Northeast of Anchorage.
Guided Hike With: Matanuska Glacier Adventures
Glacial lake Inside Matanuska Glacier
(can you see the climbers above the glacier for comparison how huge this glacier is?- you can click the picture to enlarge)

The Matanuska Glacier is the largest valley glacier accessible by car in Alaska.  Since we were in Denali National Park the day before we explored Matanuska glacier, we made Wasilla as our place to sleep in from Denali. 
Matanuska Glacier ( you can click on the photo to enlarge )

Glacier hiking was one in my "must do" lists when I was planning for our trip. Before the trip, I searched for the cheapest guided glacier hike near Anchorage. I found a lot of guided glacier hikes online, but either they were so expensive or their pictures did not catch my fantasy! Thankfully, the one that caught my fantasy was also the cheapest I found. The Matanuska Glacier Ice Fall Trek is $90 per person ($70 for the guided trek + $20 for entrance). I was so happy about it knowing that other guided glacier hikes range from $150-$350 per person. I thought $90/person was the cheapest I found online, but we were in for a better surprise!
Fireweeds, Inside Matanuska Glacier Park

Nature intervened beautifully in our plans. We did not meet MICA Guides but we met Matanuska Glacier Adventures. A day before we planned to hike Matansuka Glacier, there was heavy downpour of rain. Because of heavy rain we did not attempt to book guided Matanuska Glacier hike with MICA Guides. The next day, the rain was again pouring! Because of rain, we decided to just drive to Matanuska Glacier without making any reservations.

Our First Close Glimpse of Matanuska Glacier and Mountain

Despite the heavy rain, the drive was very pretty. I will share some pictures of the scenery along Glenn Highway National Scenic Byway in a later post. Nature was so kind to us because when we got to Matanuska Glacier Park, the rain stopped. On top of that, we were greeted by  Matanuska Glacier Adventures at the entrance which offer guided glacier hike and ice fall trek for 3 hours, but only for $50/person and without entrance fee! Now, that saved us $40/person.
Guided Trek with Becky ( the one in front)
( the black muddy like soil is actually moraine- debris of gravel and sand that collected above ice!)

The best thing with Matansuka Glacier Adventures is that we were not with a group unlike most guided glacier hikes! We were happier we did not have to go with other people! Not that we are allergic to people, but we preferred always to have our own time with nature. Our guide, Becky, was awesome and very knowledgeable with glaciology! We did not only save money, but we enjoyed and learned more from our private tour and lesson on ice! Though we were unfamiliar with hiking on ice, but it was actually so pleasant, easy, smooth, and above all, SAFE and fun with the help of our guide, Becky. Here are some more glacial features we found in our guided hike.

Features Inside Matanuska Glacier (you can click the picture to enlarge)

Inside Matanuska Glacier were a lot of little reflecting pools like in the above picture. Everywhere we looked seemed to be ice sculpture, such as the arch above and the hoodoo like formation which seemed to be looking up to heaven ready to catch all the blessings.

Just Us and our Guide Becky exploring Matanuska
( what a treat!!! I could imagine tha chaos if we went with bigger glacier guided tours )
After some easy uphill and downhill walk on ice, we reached the glacial lake inside the glacier. It was such an out of this world experience to be in it.

Glacial Lake inside Matanuska Glacier (you can click the picture to enlarge)
 (you can click the picture to enlarge)
Crevasse and Moulin  (you can click the picture to enlarge)

It was definitely interesting to see the crevasses and moulin up close. A moulin is a narrow, vertical tubular hole through which meltwater enters a glacier from the surface down to wherever it may go, sometimes into the sea.
This looks like Slot Canyon to Me, Only that the Walls are Ice

After our glacier hike, we stopped at the fireweeds meadow which is inside the Matanuska Glacier Park. On our way out, we saw the Micah Guides guided tour coming in, the company we were initially planning to reserve, and on seeing the crowd of people (too many) and the heavy clouds coming in (threat of rain), we felt so lucky we had a more private almost an on our own hike on ice. 
Fireweeds and Matanuska Glacier from Rifle Lodge in Rain

When we finally reached Rifle Lodge for lunch and physical nourishment, the heavy rain poured. I looked out at the glacier again from the restaurant, I couldn't help but thank nature for stopping the rain before we started our hike, and waited for us to finish the hike before the heavy rain poured again! I also thanked nature for beautifully intervening in our plans, saving us $40 each and giving us so many pictures to bring home without the crowd hanging around us. We discovered Matanuska Glacier Adventures by serendipity, rain was such a blessing for us on that day.
Pink Fireweeds and Blue Ice, What's Not to Love? 
** that giddy smile in the midst of pink wildflowers and blue glacier was because I was surrounded by pink and blue! :)  **

Though in our trip we saw several towering glaciers, have hiked to two valley glaciers, Exit Glacier and Byron Glacier, but we did not explore deeper inside because of our fear of unfamiliar glacial terrain. After Matanuska Glacier hike, we knew that experiencing the glacier inside cannot be compared from simply watching it up close, and we gained enough confidence that glacier hiking can be as safe as it can be.

After the Rain at Wasilla, Alaska

Just would like to share with you after rain photos of Lake Lucille in Wasilla, Alaska. The photos below were taken at about 11 pm, very close to midnight, yet there was still so much light. 
Why we were up and jumping at this time of the night was because it rained the whole day. Though the rain did not stop us from Hiking at Savage River in Denali National Park, but it did stop us from taking photos for fear of losing our camera to the rain. From Denali, we moved South to Wasilla so we can be closer to Matanuska Glacier, which we plan to hike the next day.  
This was the last night we would be sleeping in Alaska, and we were rewarded with such a pretty view. Yet, during the planning, I simply considered this place as a sleeping place, no more than that! But to my surprise, the view from our room was this beautiful lake, and there was a glass door that connects to the patio and then outside.
I believe the beauty of this lake was enhanced by the rain, clouds scattered up the sky for some colors, but allowed enough light for reflection. 11 pm, should we be outside or inside?
My Cousin, photo taken by me ( I wanted to show reflection)
Me, photo taken by my cousin ( my cousin wanted to show me flying)
And a muskrat joined us :) Though the low light and the very fast swimming muskrat did not allow us to take a better picture, so all I can say is that this muskrat had fish in his mouth, since when we saw him fast swimming, he dived, disappeared, and when the muskrat came out, he had a fish! Muskrat's dinner at 11 pm!
All the jumping and playing in this lake had to end since we knew we had to get up early the next day for the Glenn Highway National Scenic Byway drive and Matanuska Glacier hike, which I hope to share next. 

Friday, September 09, 2011

A Break From The Waves... Critters Came to Play

Giant Barrel Cactus in Bloom, Cactus Garden- Balboa Park
Finally decided yesterday would be the last day for me chasing the waves this summer. So, today, I took a walk at Balboa Park and am so pleased with who greeted me. My first stop always at Balboa Park is the Cactus Garden, the unique twisting of cacti branches always awe me.
Cactus Garden, Balboa Park
After the Cactus Garden, I went to Zorro Garden, where I would usually see a lot of butterflies and hummingbirds. The hummingbirds today were too restless for me to take picture, but some butterflies cooperated.
Monarch on Pink Flower
They were so busy enjoying the sweet nectar of the flowers that they hardly mind my presence.
In fact, it was I who got tired taking shots of this monarch since it won't leave the flower. I finally decided to leave it alone and enjoy the flower without my presence. I wished another butterfly would join but all the other butterflies were simply busy fluttering their wings around, so confused probably which flower to enjoy.
After Zorro Garden, I then continued my walk to Alcazar Garden, and then to the Palm Canyon Trail.
From Palm Canyon Trail, I made a loop to Organ Pavilion and then to the the Reflecting Pond.
Reflecting Pond
Nearby the reflecting pond I saw some more busy creatures. 
Happy Moth
Busy Bee
and when this busy bee looked up, I walked away :( I was afraid the bee did not want me there :) But as I walked away, it made me think, "hmmm, maybe the bee was just greeting me, asking me where have I been?"
My walk today made me excited to wander on land again and just merely get contented looking and listening at the sea. No more riding the waves, but well, happy to say this summer had been my best so far in terms of enjoying the waves. Now, the land is beckoning me.