Dripping Springs Nature Walk

 

 

Dripping Springs

My hubby has been very busy lately, not only with work, but he is one of the musicians for the Southern California tour of LES MISÉRABLESIt is an incredible opportunity for him and I’m bursting with pride…but it’s a lot of hours of rehearsal and shows.

We’ve been missing him for sure, so on his first weekend off, we decided a day out in nature was in order. We took a drive to  Dripping Springs, a little campground tucked away in the Cleveland National Forest. We’ve camped and hiked there before and it’s usually very quiet…exactly what we needed. 

We enjoyed a picnic lunch and let our little one run up and down a hill, peer into several hollow logs and just explore.

Dripping Springs

 

Dripping Springs

We walked along a dry river bed and looked for pretty rocks and found a few that were eye catching, to say the least. 

Waterfall & Shoe Rock

Waterfall & Shoe Rock

We found lots of lichen and moss that were interesting to touch and look at. 

Dripping Springs

Dripping Springs

We pretended we were pirates looking for treasure and drew maps in the sand.

Dripping Springs

I can’t imagine a better way to unwind after several weeks of a tightly packed schedule, than to walk in the wilds and listen to the gentle sounds of nature.

Dripping Springs

 

San Diego Zoo 7-28-14

We had a rare weekday visit the San Diego Zoo last week. Because of work we usually reserve trips for the weekends, but there was a scheduled power outage for maintenance. Since we are self employed, a holiday was declared, and we spent the day together at the zoo. The summer crowds were light and we had no trouble doing and seeing everything we wanted!

We spent a lot of time in the reptile house this visit. We don’t often walk through this exhibit, but we have been doing a turtle unit study and it was a perfect accompaniment.

San Diego Zoo Reptiles

The Komodo Dragons were out and quite active, much to our delight!

San Diego Zoo Komodo Dragons

We also made a point of seeking out some turtles to observe. We watched the Alligator Snapping Turtle for a bit. I didn’t get a really clear picture of him, but I love the effect of my daughters hat reflecting on his head in the glass!

San Diego Zoo Alligator Snapping Turtle

We also really enjoyed the Galapagos Turtles exhibit. They are fascinating to watch, slowly making their way around. We found out this guy is 110 years old and came to the zoo in 1928!

San Diego Zoo Galapagos Turtle

We saw some very cute and fuzzy baby flamingos that had just hatched in June.

San Diego Zoo Baby  Flamingos

And, speaking of cute babies…

San Diego Zoo Baby Giraffe

This very tall baby was also born in June at the zoo.

Of course, our trip wasn’t complete without a stop to see some magnificent big cats. We just happened upon the new mountain lion exhibit. It is open and has plenty of viewing area for many guests. Luckily, the two mountain lions we saw were out and ready to be admired.

San Diego Zoo Mountain Lion

The jaguar was also very active and stayed close in proximity, which was exciting for the kids. Of course, with him being in a darkened cave, behind glass, it didn’t net me the greatest photograph. But I still enjoy what I got and the experience of watching this magnificent animal with my daughter.

San Diego Zoo Jaguars

That brings us to our stately and beautiful M’Bari. I know I’ve posted about him many times, and most visits we see him sleeping in the shade. It is the fortunate day, indeed, when we catch him actively earning his title of King. Then, it’s a matter of squeezing through a throng of eager guests to even get a glimpse of him. This trip we got the best of both…M’bari was out and the crowds were light. We observed him gnawing away on a bony snack and he even got up and strutted a little before turning his back on everyone and laying down. 🙂

San Diego Zoo M'Bari

San Diego Zoo M'Bari

He certainly is one gorgeous kitty!

If you have an opportunity to visit the San Diego Zoo this summer, they are once again having Nightime Zoo. It looks to be very fun and a great chance to see some of the animals that aren’t always out during the day.  There are also a host of shows, activities and contests! We are definitely looking forward to our next visit!

 

 

Butterfly Jungle

San Diego Safari Park Butterfly Jungle

My hubby and I celebrated our 9th wedding anniversary recently. We never do cards or gifts but opt instead for a special trip or outing. Before J was born it used to be a weekend trip to Vegas, but now we like going somewhere all three of us can enjoy together. It worked out perfectly that the San Diego Safari Park’s annual Butterfly Jungle exhibit was in full swing. We have taken J to this every year since her birth and we decided it would be a wonderful anniversary day special trip. Thankfully, hubby got the day off from work and we spent a rare weekday at the park. It was fantastic, as all the schools were back in session from spring break. The butterfly exhibit was very quiet in comparison to the long lines and packed house that we usually fight through.  We even got a really close parking spot…win, win, win! In preparation for our visit, J and I started a butterfly lapbook. We studied three of her favorite butterflies, the Blue Morpho, Orange Julia, and Giant Owl. Before our trip she was able to read their names and identify them by sight. So imagine her delight when we walked into the atrium and all of these glorious butterflies were fluttering around her. I think she was astounded! We have worked on this book the whole month of April and I’m planning a separate post all about it.

San Diego Safari Park Butterfly Jungle

San Diego Safari Park Butterfly Jungle   Butterfly Jungle is a photographer’s paradise! I was so happy to have my new camera there to use this year!

San Diego Safari Park Butterfly Jungle

Great Orange Tip

San Diego Safari Park Butterfly Jungle

Blue Morpho

San Diego Safari Park Butterfly Jungle

San Diego Safari Park Butterfly Jungle

Blue Morpho

San Diego Safari Park Butterfly Jungle

San Diego Safari Park Butterfly Jungle

Blue Morpho

San Diego Safari Park Butterfly Jungle

Orange Julia

San Diego Safari Park Butterfly Jungle

San Diego Safari Park Butterfly Jungle

Orange Julia

J’s absolute favorite butterfly is the Orange Julia and she wanted one to land on her more than anything. It took some waiting (around 40 minutes) and patience…two things that aren’t usually easy for a three year old…but we finally had success. The lovely little Julia perched on my daughter’s finger long enough for her to admire it’s delicate beauty and for mom and dad to snap plenty of photos!  And as it turns out one of those photos was selected as a winner in the park’s Butterfly Jungle Instagram contest! We won a cart safari for four! We have never done a cart tour before so we were especially excited by this. We are hoping to take my sister and brother in law and their little boy. Since we are all homeschoolers, I believe this will be a superb field trip! Many thanks again to the Safari Park for choosing our photo. We are so grateful!

San Diego Safari Park Butterfly Jungle

Santa Rosa Nature Walk

The weather has been beautiful and spring-like lately. We decided to take advantage of it and get outside. My little girl, J, loves nature walks, but it is not so easy to find somewhere to explore that isn’t an hour or more drive. Thankfully, we remembered a nice little Nature reserve that’s only a few miles away. Santa Rosa Plateau is a 9000 acre ecological reserve. It is home to many species of birds and plants. 

We had a nice time just strolling along appreciating the nature around us and taking photographs.

Santa Rosa Plateau

Santa Rosa Plateau

Santa Rosa Plateau

We took the Granite Loop Trail. Including the walk to the picnic grounds, it’s a little over a mile. I thought that was pretty good hiking for a 3 year old. She showed interest the whole way, not one complaint! That made this mama pretty proud!

Santa Rosa Plateau

 

Santa Rosa Plateau

Santa Rosa has a lovely picnic area. It was shady, quiet and we spotted many birds in the surrounding trees.  Some of them even ventured up close.

Santa Rosa Plateau

Santa Rosa Plateau Acorn Woodpecker

Santa Rosa Plateau California Towhee

One detail I really appreciated about Santa Rosa Plateau is that they have many of the plants and trees identified at the visitor center. I love being able to note the names for easy reference when we study them later at home.

Santa Rosa Plateau

This turned out to be a great close to home day trip. I’m looking forward to our next visit and discovering some new plants and animals to photograph and learn about.

Santa Rosa Plateau

 

San Diego Safari Park 3-16-14

A beautiful Sunday visit to the San Diego Safari Park.

We took a leisurely stroll through the Wings of the World aviary and enjoyed some close and personal attention from the many Golden Breasted Starlings. They were quite eager to have their portraits taken!

Safari Park Golden Breasted Starling

We watched the elephant keeper talk. It’s always very informative and fun. Showing off their stuff today was Swazi and her baby Qinisa.

Safari Park Qinisa

Swazi received an elephant pedicure.

Safari Park Swazi

And Qinisa got a little trunk wash.

Safari Park Qinisa

Safari Park Qinisa

Kastan the Caracal was the featured animal encounter near the African Outpost. He is such a beautiful wild cat and always astounds with his jumping prowess.

Safari Park Caracal Kastan

Beautiful spring blooms were on display throughout the park.

Safari Park Fortnight Lily

Safari Park

The meerkats were out and about and being cute as usual.

Safari Park Meerkats

The cutest of all, though, are the two new  lion cubs Ken and Dixie. They are currently in the zoo nursery area and guests can see them playing, eating and sleeping. They are full of lion personality and a pleasure to watch and photograph. Every time we visit they are noticeably bigger!

Safari Park Lion Cubs Ken & Dixie

 

 

San Diego Zoo 1-4-14

We visited the San Diego Zoo a few weeks ago and I am just now getting around to posting. It was a great day to go! We had perfect weather, a bit overcast, which is great for photographing the animals. They are also much more likely to be out and active with a little cloud cover. It’s hard to believe the rest of the country is in a deep freeze when we are wearing shorts and flip flops during the day. That’s Southern California weather for you…shorts in January.

The flamingos were especially colorful this day!

San Diego Zoo Flamingos

We also happened upon a beautiful peacock eating his afternoon snack. He was close and very comfortable in front of an audience. He lingered for quite a while allowing for some great photo ops. Our other bird stop was one of my favorites, the Secretary Bird. There is just something so beautiful and strange about this bird. I love to photograph it.

San Diego Zoo Birds

A gorgeous leopard was perched on a rock people watching.

San Diego Zoo Leopard

The primates were all active and having fun in their various enclosures. They are always entertaining and interesting to observe.

San Diego Zoo Primates

A cute little Sun Bear found a tasty treat inside a large tube.

San Diego Zoo Sun Bear

This camel definitely had the best animal expression of the day!

San Diego Zoo Camel

We also spent some time at the wonderful Balboa Park Carousel, which is just outside of the zoo grounds. It’s one of the loveliest carousel rides I have ever been on. Lots of fun for kids of all ages! It’s now a must visit on our trips to the zoo.

With this unseasonably lovely winter weather we have been having I hope we can plan another trip to San Diego Zoo soon and share some more adventures and pictures.