Saturday, July 05, 2008

Happy 4th of July!

Ok, a day late, but the pictures are from the 4th. Yesterday morning we went to Floyd Lamb Park with the camera and a bag of old bread we'd been saving. The critters at the park are not shy about letting you know they'd like some food. In fact, they tend to get too close for the lens to focus. This guy followed us around with his tongue hanging out like a dog.

I managed to get some pictures of Coots out of the water so you can see their really weird feet. They swim ok anyway, but they sure got shortchanged compared to ducks. Coots are so odd that I can't help kind of liking them. They are the nerds of the waterfowl set.

It's a little late in the year for goslings, but we found a couple. Incidentally, the new bird book I got for Christmas (thanks Mom!) identifies most of the geese at the park as domesticated geese. In other words, they're hybrids with ancestors that have a long tradition of, ahem, coming over for Christmas dinner. We did see quite a few Canadian geese this time, though, so apparently a herd decided they were far enough north for this year. Anyway, on to the babies!

Say it with me: "AWWWW!"

However, there are strange doings at the park. What do you suppose happened here?

My guess is that someone's mamma was seeing that rooster down the road (if you know what I mean and I think you do). Weirdest part was, he followed us around wagging his tail like a dog. I wonder if he takes swimming lessons from the Coots?

Another weird but less improbable sighting, this pair of ducks seems to be hybrid or mutant or something. Just something a little different from the usual Mallards.

It was a good day for the oddities. We've seen this white peacock at the park before, but he seems to be fairly shy and we hadn't gotten any good pictures. The old bread was genius though, and he came trotting on over with the rest of them. (The down side of the bread is they don't get mad at you when you come close, so no big tail displays this time.)

And darting amongst the grownups, a baby peacock! (A peachick? I need a ruling over here.) This little booger was fast. He'd grab a big hunk of bread and run around trying to keep it away from the adults. He finally started coming closer to us though, and I got a few shots. Check out the little bitty feathers just starting on top of his head.

For our really big finish, we've "Cannonized" a new (for us) bird. In a quiet little backwater, Mr. Snowy Egret was catching breakfast. He caught a fish while we watched him, but I missed that shot. Oh well, after our banner year last year, we've had a shortage of unusual critter sightings, so this was kind of neat.

Hope you all had a good holiday!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Spring Flowers

After hitting a record high of 108 last Monday, today is overcast, rainy and we've barely made it to 60. An inside day, to say the least, so I figured I might as well get some pictures together. Not too long ago, we got a macro lens so I've been playing around. A macro lens can focus at a very close distance and is capable of rendering an object at a 1:1 ratio... in other words, you get extreme closeup, life size images. I've been amusing myself by finding things that hold reasonably still in the back yard to practice my mad photography skilz.

This is our prickly pear cactus. The blooms last only one day, but we were fortunate to get a bunch of them this year. The flower base is the cactus fruit, which I understand can be made into quite a tasty jelly once it ripens, but I haven't the faintest idea how you'd do that. Looks like more Welch's Grape for me!

This rose is actually kind of a purple color. I'm not having any luck getting the color right, the camera really wants to make it pink. I'll have to keep working on the light and/or my processing. It's important, because it's the "blue" part of my red, white and blue rose bushes, which completely thwart me anyway by never blooming at the same time.

Red rose.

White rose.


This is a kangaroo paw, a new addition to our yard this year. Supposedly the flowers look like kangaroo paws but I don't know, I guess I've never been that close to a kangaroo. Anyway, it makes for some fun macro pictures because the flowers are shaped so strangely.

Purple lantana.

Palo Verde blooms. Our tree was so pretty this year, it just glowed yellow, but the blooms don't last very long and they're mostly gone now.

My little columbine plant, which I got last year against my better judgment, assuming it would die immediately since they are wildly not native to our hot summers. Wouldn't have been the first time I've lost a non-native that I just had to try. Much to my surprise, it's done very well and bloomed like crazy this spring.

Another gardenia, this one is more macro-y, showing what you can do with an extreme close up. I like the abstract feel to this one.

A more identifiable picture of the same flower.

This is a hybrid cactus, bred for amazing flowers. Unlike most cactus, these flowers last a couple of days. I guess our weather has been good for something, usually this cactus doesn't bloom until later in the summer, but I'm seeing bunches of flower buds so we may get a pretty good show this year.

Another macro-y close up.

And one last shot of the columbine.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Pirate's Cove - Riding

Of course, we get together at Pirate's Cove to ride, not to act like eleven-year-olds on our first trip to Disneyland (we're all far too mature for that). So here's a bunch of pictures of everybody showing off their stuff.

Giving the tourists a little something more for their money.

Full disclosure, I had what for me felt to be a pretty darn good run, but I will post the picture so you can see how far I have to go!

Pirate's Cove - House

Everybody tired of the old pictures? Yeah, me too.

A couple weeks ago we were invited to Pirate's Cove. If you're one of the few people we haven't bored to tears with our stories, Pirate's Cove is a house/houses/compound... whatever, where some of our foiling friends get together to ride and hang out at the house. It's an amazing place and this time we actually got some decent pictures, although you really can't do it justice. It's just something you have to see to believe.

This first picture is the main house and upper pool, taken from the driveway/courtyard entrance area.

From farther away, another look at the main house. Our room is the upper floor to the left in this picture.

One of dozens of interesting displays, this is the deck of the big pirate ship. When you step down onto the deck, it tilts gently back and forth, which is pretty entertaining the first time you step on it. Ok, it's entertaining for everybody else, anyway. Once you pass the tilting deck, you can look down on part of the water slide and the lower pool.

How awesome is it to have your own water slide?

Another shot of the upper pool and what may be the world's largest bean bag chair.

One of my personal favorite parts of the house, the upper hot tub overlooking the lake.

The big pirate ship, water slide exit and lower pool complete with rope swing.

This overlooks the new area which is still under construction. When completed, this will include a tamer water slide for the kiddies and a wave pool. You guys all have your own wave pools, right? At the bottom right of the picture you can see the lower hot tub and the bow of the big pirate ship.

The view from our room.

The entrance to the water slide.

The lower pool.

Another picture of the water slide exit and lower pool with hot tub in the background.

The mast of the smaller pirate ship, which is actually pretty much just the mast. Unfortunately we didn't get any pictures, but we had a serious diver there this time doing all kinds of crazy dives off the mast.

So that's some of Pirate's Cove, hope you enjoyed the pictures!