Tag Archives: nature

Wildlife Adventures

Tonight I went out to play frisbee golf with some ETC alums and some park in Pasadena. It was a fun time all around, but being out in the park really drove home for me how unfamiliar I am with the plants and animals of my new home.

Ever since the sixth grade (go Holy Family Ecology Team, woo!), I’ve had some ability to identify trees, and while I may not remember their scientific names anymore, I could always name the more common varieties in the woods of Kentucky and Pennsylvania. The animals I ran into always felt familiar to me. I mean, I grew up with all of that, right?

Tonight at the park, I saw some lizards, but didn’t know what kind. We flushed out a family of some kind of ground bird with a stray frisbee. Kind of like quails, but I don’t think they were. And, of course, we trudged through all manner of desert scrub and under trees which I couldn’t name if I tried.

Basically, I feel like I have a lot of catching up to do. Surely the library will have one of those tiny books on identifying local trees.

Speaking of trees, around the 13th hole, we saw some guys who had treed their frisbee, and couldn’t get it down by throwing rocks (it was wedged high up among the small branches pretty good). I was feeling adventurous, so I clambered on up into the high branches of the tree (about 15 feet up), then walked out onto a bough near the edge, in spite of the terrified protests of my friends below. I managed to prod the frisbee out with a stick, and climbed back down without injuring myself (though I did sustain a fair amount of scrapes).

The two guys were extremely grateful, and I felt very happy knowing that I can still climb a tree at 27 – I’m pretty sure the last time I did so was in high school or earlier. Adventure! I’ll probably regret it tomorrow morning, but for now, I feel hard core 🙂


So my boss and I are in Folsom, CA, for the aforementioned training. I have a feeling this week will be exhausting, but we did get a chance to see the sights yesterday a bit.

We went into Sacramento to the zoo. They have a hyena there! I love hyenas! They also have a giant anteater. Those things are awesome!

Later we wandered around historic Sacramento, which seemed to have been founded on candy shops. We then returned and poked around Folsom, which has some pretty bike paths and such.

The rest of the week will be training and eating, I think. Anyone near Folsom want to visit?


First of all, thank you guys so much for your congratulations, it really means a lot to me! I feel all warm and squishy inside knowing I have so much support.

In other news, Scott and I went to Chicago this weekend to visit D Flo, and it was tons of fun. We got to meet Ezzie, who is D Flo’s little Maltese puppy. She is a fluff ball of playfulness and love, and has reshaped my previously bad experience with Maltese. D Flo needs to video her and post for all to see.

On Friday, Scott and I went to the Museum of Science and Industry. It was tons of fun, though Scott had his hopes raised because Body Worlds 2 was on our map. However, it doesn’t open until next week. Hopes crushed! We still had lots of fun at the museum, and we saw a cool Omnimax about Deep Sea Volcanoes.

That night we went to see D Flo in a sketch Comedy show at Donny’s Skybox at Second City. The show was written by the Second City Conservatory writing students, and was quite entertaining. D Flo remains the funniest man I know.

On Saturday we went to the Shedd Aquarium. We saw the sharks and the rays and the dolphin show, the belugas, the sea dragons, and so on. I love aquariums, but it tempted me to run out and buy another betta, which I can’t do right now. Sadness! That night we ate out to celebrate my grad schoolness, and I got to see Squirt, who I haven’t gotten to hang out with in aaaaaaaaaaaaages. Yay Squirt!

The rest of the trip was all Guitar Hero and Mario Party, but I am very happy I was able to see D Flo. Yay Chicago!

Mammoth Cave Adventure!

What a fun weekend! I love camping.

We got to the park and set up camp with no troubles and saw our first batch of wildlife right off. There were some deer nosing around the trail, and a pileated woodpecker having a fit up in a tree. Pileated woodpeckers are huuuuuuuuuuuuuge. We actually have one of those that used to live in the woods right behind my house. He still comes around now and again, and occasionally pecks on the house to make us think someone is spraying machine gun bullets into our walls.

We also saw a yellow jacket nest in the ground right next to our campsite. It was strange because there were always one or two horseflies milling about near the nest, and occasionally one would wander too close and get its ass handed to him by one of the wasps. I don’t know what the deal was with those horseflies, but I wasn’t about to waltz up and get a closer look at the yellow jacket nest either.

My new tent is quite nice, and for some reason I am very good at sleeping in tents. Sleeping on the floor hurts my chest very badly nowadays, so I was a little worried, but sleeping on the ground was very pleasant and I got a good night’s sleep.

It rained a bit early in the morning, and thundered some. It was nice, though, because the thunder rolled on and on all across the park and the rain pattering on my tent was very lulling. I watched through the mesh of my tent as the daddy-long-legs scurried underneath my rain slick to keep dry. It was a very lazy morning, disrupted only by some turkey vultures screeching and calling on the road near our campsite.

When it stopped raining we got up and prepared a fire for breakfast. I think I need to learn more about different types of fires. The only fire I can build (and I can build it well), is the massive heat-generating “keep this drafty house built in the 1700s warm on the coldest of Connecticut winter nights” fire that I refined while staying with Carleton’s family awhile back. I’d built said fire the night before, and it was a bit much for a summer night. I think it would have been too hot for cooking, so I tried another fire design that apparently wasn’t very good, because we had a tricky time getting it started. If anyone has tips for building a cooking fire, I am listening!

Anyway, once we got the fire going, I made a delicious breakfast on my cast iron skillet. Nothing fancy, just bacon, eggs, and pancakes (the trick to amazing pancakes, I found, is to cook them in bacon grease, but isn’t that the trick to amazing anything?) My brother and sister-in-law were very appreciative, as they’d never had a hot breakfast on a camping trip before, usually resorting to powdered donuts in a box. After the delicious meal, we promptly returned to our tents for a nap.

The cave tour was also awesome. It was hot and muggy out, so the 54 degree cave was a blissful relief (until we exited the cave at the end, at which time the muggy atmosphere was amplified by comparison and it felt like we were walking out into a rainforest). I’m really glad we did the lantern tour, because exploring caves by lantern-light is quite different than a walk-through tour with electric lighting, or scrambly spelunking with a flashlight helmet, which are the two types of caving I am used to. We had a main ranger giving the tour and another ranger following up the group, and occasionally slipping ahead and hiding off the trail, so that when you walked by and held your lantern out to see some area the main guide had just finished telling some spooky story about, he’d be standing there staring at you. GAAAAAH!

Mammoth Cave tours focus a lot on human history, which I am only so-so interested in. I’m much more of a formation/geology person when it comes to caves. Not to say the human history of Mammoth Cave is dull by any means, for example, I had no idea there was a TB hospital inside the cave in the mid-1800s. KIND OF CREEPY A LITTLE. Regardless, Mammoth Cave is GIGANTIC, clearly, with huuuuuuuuuuuge rooms that are quite impressive. However, it is somewhat of an ugly cave, both from the damages of its historical use and from the fact that it has a very strong roof, with a layer of sandstone overtop, so you don’t get many stalactites and stalagmites until you get closer to the surface. As I said, I’m a formation girl, and I think in the end I prefer the smaller yet prettier Marengo caves than the gigantor Mammoth. (My next camping trip is planned already!)

I shouldn’t sound overly picky, though, as I had a great time on the trip and am really glad I went! Plus, there were tiny bats at the end of the cave tour that were so adorable it was worth the 3 mile underground hike. The Tuesday night ballers should really go caving more often.

Beaches and Bread

Today we wandered to the beach, where we played with the Pacific Ocean. The Pacific is much more unruly and prone to wrestle than the Atlantic and the Gulf, but it made for fun times.

Then we sat quietly and I dug a hole in the sand all the way to India.

Now I am baking a fresh loaf of bread.

NOTE: Please be aware that I cannot find my phone charger, though I’m almost certain I packed it. Thus, my phone is dead for the moment, so don’t freak out about it.

Old pictures

Cleaning my room never works. I always find something to distract me, and in this case it was my stack of photo albums. I really haven’t been taking enough pictures lately.

I plucked out some of my very favorite pictures I’d taken to share with the world. They are all old, though, so chances are you’ve seen them before. But still.

Working at the LSC was probably the first place I learned that hugs fix everything. Even grumpy ‘ole Howie the Humpback Whale can’t really resist. Thanks for everything, Marsh!

The 2000 Vice Presidential Debates at Centre turned the entire student body into raging savages. No, really.

A sign in Wales. I thought the stinky lines coming off the poo were a particularly nice detail, just as an explanation, you know. So many people see signs and wonder, “Why? WHY no fouling??”

One day, me and Jen were hiking, when we stumbled upon a near-disaster! Jen, because she is a good-hearted superhero, threw down her bag and rushed to take care of the situation. To this day she keeps the forest safe from imminent smooshing. Good ‘ole Jen.

No story, really, I just like this one.

I could have included a gallery of SETC pictures from that one year, but this one is nice enough. Hooray for cuddle puddles.

Okay, that’s enough of that. My room will never be clean!

Junior High Education

From Denali, as we were both discussing our disappointment with Girl Scouts in our youth, because we thought that it was supposed to be like Boy Scouts only for girls…

Jr. High’s science class made up for it, though. Alaska being Alaska, a year of science class was dedicated to wilderness survival. They taught us everything from different ways of building a fire, how to turn your pants into a floatation device if you end up in the ocean, how to make fire-starter sticks, signaling aircraft and rescue boats, what’s edible and what isn’t, etc. This training concluded with an optional survival trip. They put us on an island for three days and we had to pack everything we thought we would need to survive with into a three-pound coffee can… and that included our shelter. We were allowed to carry sleeping bags, though!

No fair! I want to learn how to do all that stuff. I haven’t even been camping since freshman year of college.

Turtle Eggs! (maybe)

Today, Carleton and I went on a walk at a nature preserve. It was very pleasant and brisk, and we had some interesting finds, one being a nest of reptile eggs, likely turtle eggs (I only make this assumption because the nest was on the bank of a pond, I know nothing of New England turtle species to make a guess of what kind).

I at first plucked up what I thought to be a small, deflated ball, only to realize that it was actually the leathery egg of some reptile. We soon found more half-buried beneath the sand where the first one lay on the surface. Now, it’s awfully close to first frost, and I don’t know enough about the nesting habits of turtles to say if the eggs were still kickin or if they were drowned in the recent rains or what. Nonetheless, it was still an exciting find, and we recovered the eggs that were poking out and went on our way.

We also found several lively frogs, a woodpecker, a few finches, and a dragonfly that let me hold it as if to say “Look at this pose! Aren’t you sad you didn’t bring your camera? HAHAHAHAHA!!”

This week is tech for Guys and Dolls, so I will be absent and chained to the theater. Have a good week, all!