Searching for cool
Searching for cool
We tried to pick a non-rainy day to go to the Bronx Zoo. Yet, when we arrived, storm clouds swirled; it did not look good. Luckily, the threat never materialized. I had forgotten just how large it is. This June, the vegetation reminded me of a tropical jungle except the species of plants differ.
This zoo is huge and old with elegant, classical style buildings.
These photos were taken in the Madagascar building.
Water flows everywhere, making for a very natural feeling environment for many of the animals.
The okapi can really blend in with its forested environment. This is one of my grandson’s favorites.
The gorilla area is so large I was never able to discern its perimeters. This seemed good to me; they have lots of room.
If you do not want to spend much of your time walking from exhibit to exhibit, some of which are not close to each other or are very large in terms of acres, a shuttle circles the zoo regularly and you can get off and on at various stops.
Another option is to ride the Monorail which goes all around the huge Asia exhibit. The only downside is, due to the area in which the animals have to roam, you may not see many up close. Can you find the tiger?
This is an Asian rhino and we were told she especially likes hanging out in the water.
Red pandas are not related to pandas at all. Although they are a unique species, they are most closely related to raccoons and weasels.
Many people criticize zoos and would rather have animals roaming free. Sadly, some animals are already extinct in the wild. A number of animals at the zoo fit this category. In some cases the zoo has a breeding program and are working on reintroduction programs which will reintroduce extinct species back into their original wild habitats.
No matter how you plan to get to the zoo, you are going to have to walk some distance unless you hire a car or taxi. You can take the subway and walk about 1/2 mile or so, or you can take the bus but will have to walk to the correct bus stop to catch the express bus which stops near the zoo entrance. We took the bus which allowed us to get a sort of “tour” of Uptown, Harlem, and the Bronx. It was comfortable and not very crowded. I took the following photo at 124th street.
A small community garden.
Today Martina, my exchange student from Milano, Italy, and I went with my students of the Wildorado Cattle Company to work cattle on a ranch west of Amarillo. When I posted this on Facebook, a city friend asked what does working cattle mean. These were calves of various sizes, both male and female, all Angus.
First, a person on horseback heels a calf (ropes it by its hind feet) and drags it to the branding area. Then, depending on the size of the calf, a few persons flank it (hold it down) while a person gives it shots, e.g. vaccines, vitamins, another brands it with a hot iron, and someone else ear tags it. If it is a male, its testicles are cut off. Having raised cattle, this was not new to me. However, for a girl from Milano, it was the definitive Texas ranching experience.
I think we worked over a hundred calves during the morning which started at a chilly 47 with a strong West Texas wind. Later, in the afternoon it warmed up about 30 degrees. The wind just now finally quit; it is 8:54. Here are a couple of photos of the day’s activities.
Three people from the National Angus Association headquartered in St. Joesph, Missouri, were there making a documentary. Although currently I live in the country in the Panhandle of Texas, I grew up on a farm about 30 miles from St. Joesph. Small world.
Caprock Canyons State Park, at the southern end of Palo Duro Canyon, requires about 1 1/2 hours to drive from my house. Yesterday, we met the Panhandle Native Plant Society there to investigate flowers and grasses.
When we first arrived, it seemed blue might break through the cloud cover, but it did not.
The park ranger took us to several different sites to identify different flower and grass species. The above is an area which in the early 90s was a cotton field and has been restored with native vegetation.
We drove to another area which remained “wild”–never cultivated.
Then we drove to a picnic area overlooking the lake. Close to there we found the poppy below.
After lunch, we parted with the rest of the group and drove to the end of the road. Martina had hoped to see bison–the state bison herd roams there. At this point we had seen none. As I drove along, a bison bull was strolling down the road. Martina took this photo from the side window. He was only a couple of meters from the car.
We stopped and took a few more photos where the road ends. I have hiked from this point in the past, but not yesterday.
After leaving the park, we headed to Silverton, Texas, to visit a coffee shop there which was recently featured in a Texas magazine as the place to go.
I loved the murals and sculptures. The owner is a sculptor and also a raptor trainer. The shop features coffee, desserts, unique clothing, and art.
On the way back we stopped at the Palo Duro Canyon overlook/picnic area on highway 207.
If you are in the Amarillo or Canyon, Texas, area, I highly recommend this day trip.
“You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.” Jane Goodall
Gelada in Simien Mountain National Park, Ethiopia
Yes, no kidding, I took my Italian exchange student to something so typical of where I live, a livestock auction. However, this was not just any livestock auction. With the guidance and support of the Ag Teacher, the students at Wildorado ISD, where I teach, have created their own cattle company. They did the advertising, contacted potential buyers and consignors, marketed, everything. Top bulls from various ranches and producers were in the sale. A few brought over 4000 dollars and many brought over 3000. Mostly these were top of the line registered bulls. Several were bred and raised by the students themselves. The freshmen and sophomores spent most of the week washing (no kidding) and moving bulls to Amarillo Livestock Auction where the sale was held.
Although there were two other breeds of bulls in the sale, The Wildorado Cattle Company raises purebred Angus cattle. The students have learned to AI, doctor, maintain records, and every thing it takes to maintain a superior quality cattle herd. I was especially impressed with several students the night before the sale at the pre-sale dinner. The students introduced the speakers and top consignors, introduced the Cattle Company program, waited on tables. Kudos to all my students who worked so hard to make this sale such a big success.
Another student submitted a pond poem today:
cold, still water
moss covering the surface
catfish swimming around the banks
frogs croaking like an old car horn
This is my pond.
Author: Harris Albracht
The following poem makes me laugh every time I read it:
Roger the Rabbit was an interesting rabbit
who had a eating habit
orange sour skittles were his favorite
He always savored it
He was white with black spots
And he slept lots
Rodger lived in a tree hosue
He was quiet as a mouse
Rodger is gone now
Thanks to the owl
He will be missed
But I am not very pissed
R.I.P. Rodger the Rabbit
Author: Jess Merrell
Most of my posts are poems, things I have learned, travel adventures, or serious comments about the world. This one is more of a personal sharing post. Here are three photos of my dog, Athena. She is a standard poodle and quite fearless and territorial. She will even stand off coyotes. Sometimes this makes me sad because I do enjoy the wide variety of wildlife where I live. However, I like the idea that she is fearless and protective and warns me about anything unusual. Nothing escapes her notice.
When I took this, she had just demolished a bone and fragments appear on her left leg.
She and my grandson playing.
Inspecting her territory in her short summer haircut taken last summer.
I just finished the book “American Wolf”. Most people do not associate their dogs with big predators. Poodles were originally bred to hunt. When I watch her roam the wild around my house, hunter, predator comes to mind. I have watched her chase foxes, coyotes, skunks, you name it. She is clever enough to never get too close to the skunk. The coyote and she had a stand off. Eventually, Athena won. I have not seen a coyote since and that was months ago.
Yucca will take over if you let it.
Every summer after the blooms dry, I tackle them with long,
red-handled clippers and cut off long stalks.
Not bothering to put on boots, I set out in black and grey Chacos,
cutting stalks in places unreachable by tractor.
I climb down to a rough area, open these long, red-handled clippers,
chop off the dead blossoms, then look down.
She lies there, her body slightly bigger than the size of my upper arm,
fat, not long.
A snake stretched out, only 1/8 inch from the front of my Chacos.
I look again. Crap. She’s a rattlesnake, one of those short,
stout prairie rattlers, perfectly blending with the grey and brown
rocks and soil.
Slowly, I inch backward, taking care not to fall on the steep slope.
When several feet away, I run to the barn, grab two shovels off their hooks,
run back. She’s gone. I search everywhere around.
I never find her.
Late on a Monday morning, Gaston’s parents and I headed toward Cafayate, a relatively small town at the edge of the sierra which grows some of the best wine grapes in the world. It is a long drive through incredibly varied landscapes.
One of the first towns we drive through is Jesus Maria. As in many Argentianian cities, trees line many streets. Here acequias provide water for the trees.
Except where cleared for farming–giant soybean and corn fields, much of the land through which we drove looks like this.
Taken as we sped along, this photo show soybeans in the distance. Since it seemed relatively dry here, I asked if they were irrigated. Gaston’s father told me no, that they had developed a type of soybeans that require much less water.
When I first saw this out my window, I thought maybe water, but no, this was the beginning of miles and miles of salt.
Another photo taken looking through my window.
And then we speed into the cloud forest. I was astonished my whole time here. I had to idea there was such a thing in Argentina.
We climbed higher and higher and stopped at a visitor’s area where displays explained the flora and fauna which live here.
This area is a subtropical jungle.
Often we drove through clouds or along the side of rushing mountain rivers. And then as suddenly as we arrived in these mountains, we were on the other side where it was dry. The selva–jungle–stopped almost as suddenly as it began. One side of the mountains lush and green with ocelots, all sorts of other wildlife, and on the other semi-arid country, equally beautiful but so astonishingly different only a few miles away.
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