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Saturday, April 26, 2008

Sunset near Kerrville TX

Traveling through Texas is one of the things that makes my job a constantly joyful experience. I never tire of seeing the different types of terrain and landscapes that unfold as I drive the roads and highways. One area (thankfully close to home) is known as the Hill Country of Texas. There is no end to the beauty in this part of the world.

I was returning from Del Rio, near the Texas/Mexico border, back to Austin, and passed a ranch just as the sun dipped below some heavy clouds. Luckily I had my "travel camera" with me and pulled to the side of the road to grab a few shots. I had no sooner gotten back up to speed when I saw a much better photo in the making. I pulled over again (glad there were no other travelers on the road!) and took another shot. The photo above is that shot.

When I looked at the photo just now, it reminded me of a photo I had taken of the windmill on Jan's family ranch a couple of years ago. I include it below mostly because I like it so much. I hope you enjoy it too.

I also took some flower photos, and those will be on a later post. I also want to post some more photos of our trip to the Houston Zoo. Come back again soon!

Friday, April 18, 2008

From Houston Zoo, Rachel and the Tropical Bird

Rachel has such a special touch with the animals in her care. It was evident everywhere we went. This bird (I think it's a toucan) had "adopted" Rachel, and as soon as he saw her, he came quickly up to the glass to say hello. I think he was a little suspicious of me and what I was doing there! I got the shot and quickly backed away so as not to worry him unduly.

As another example of how Rachel has "trained" her wards, when we got to the otters' pool, they immediately got out of the water and headed for the back room! Rachel said it was because they were hungry. Whatever the reason, they were sure glad to see her.

BTW, thanks to Brian from the Houston Zoo, who signed my guestbook and left a nice comment about the meerkats from another post. I really appreciate everyone's kind words (and yes, the constructive comments too!) and hope to post up more interesting, fun photos and stories in the future. There will definitely be more about the Houston Zoo!

Thanks again for stopping by.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

This One Will be Quick, a Photo From Our Walk

On our most recent trip to Houston to visit MD Anderson, Jan and I took a walk as the sun was setting, out to one of the fountains around the medical center campus. As usual, I had brought the "little" camera just in case...

I think this is a type of iris, but I can't be sure. Anyway, it looked so fragile blowing in the wind that I just had to bend down and see if I could catch it. I think I did allright! Just outside the shot, Jan's hand is steadying the stem, otherwise it wouldn't have been nearly as good a photo.

Well, enjoy. That's about it for this one.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Meerkats at the Houston Zoo

Looking over some past posts, I realized I had promised to post some photos of the Houston Zoo. Here finally is the first "installment." Jan and I had the opportunity to visit the Houston Zoo with her brother David and niece Rachel. Rachel is a zookeeper there, and we were excited to get a "behind the scenes" view of the zoo and its' operations. It is truly amazing that they do all the things they do to keep the zoo running smoothly, and make it mostly invisible to the public. We all know that it takes massive amounts of care and work, not to mention food!, to make the place run. But Rachel's tour gave me a real sense of the magnitude of the undertaking.

The meerkats were our first stop on the tour, and they had been a favorite of ours on the last zoo visit, maybe ten years earlier. Since then I had watched Animal Planet, and gained a great appreciation for these little guys. They are cute and fun to watch as they move about scratching for food and socializing with one another. The picture above is of the Matriarch of the clan. Rachel says her name means "dirty" because her fur was so much darker than the others'. I have forgotten her african name, sorry Rach. Many times the other meerkats would come by and visit, then go on about their business. The exhibit itself is very nice, in that it is open (not a "cage" in the old zoo sense) and gives the 'kats a large area to move about or burrow into. They all seemed to be comfortable about being observed, I guess because so many had looked in on their lives!

Rachel pointed out to us the Lookout meerkat. His (or her) job is to scan the area constantly for predators and dangers. Even though there really aren't any dangers in the zoo environment, instinct drives them to maintain the vigil. Every once in a while another meerkat would visit the lookout. A great way to relieve the boredom, I guess! If you zoom in on the photo, you'll see that he was in the middle of reacting to a sound or movement, and his head was turning to it. He constantly looked one way, then the other, to make sure all was well.

The one thing that I never saw them do while we watched, was sit up very tall on their hind legs and look around, like I had seen the meerkats do on Animal Planet. A small disappointment, but I can live with it. Rachel told us a lot about their habits and social order, and we were grateful she could give us that further glimpse into the World of Meerkats.

More of the Houston Zoo in another post. Keep watching! thanks again for visiting.