Month: July 2003

At the entrance to…

At the entrance to Wild Animal Park we find their patriarch and symbol. The guides told us a long story of his history at the park – something about maybe the first of his kind to breed in captivity and he fathered 50 of this rarest rhino, or something…

I Made it… …

I Made it… I got to the top, I couldn’t &^%$ be-Lieve it and I butt-walked most of the way down.

Leigh made it too. Huffing less, ok, but she’s way waaaay younger. If you want to go, go now, go as young as you are Now. You don’t want to be one day older.

And see those teeeeeny…

And see those teeeeeny little people under the trees? Feeling high?

The Maya began primary development at Chichen Itza around 600AD (although there is evidence of some building as early as 300AD), and left for unkonwn reasons in the 9th century. Chichen Itza was resettled in the late 10th century, then invaded by the Toltecs, then came the Itzas and then abandonded again, mysteriosly, in the 14th century.

The story of the site then is very complicated, layered as it is by all the different eras of occupancy and by overlaying constructions.

See all those dozens…

See all those dozens of amazingly colorful butterflies? You had to watch out or you’d sit down on one by mistake. You don’t see them in this picture? Me either. That’s because I took about a dozen shots in here and got exactly zero recognizable butterflies.

Let this be my first opportunity to report that it was a nasty hot day and it was Sweaty in there. It was hothotHot outside and inside, you’ve got hot and water and that makes hot and humid = SWEATY.

(I have given myself permission for three comments in total with resepct to the relentless heat to be followed by comments along the lines of ‘why Me? why is it always Me?’. One down.)

Like the picture above,…

Like the picture above, taken by me myself from The Top of El Castillo, Grupo de las Mil Columnas, (Group of the Thousand Columns) is another of the restorations at the site. Notice it’s Flat out there and the buildings are all very far apart.

LP: ‘The lost Mayan cities continue to be discovered even today – more than a century after scientists and adventurers began a concerted effort to find them. The reason is simple: Most of the lost cities remain buried beneath jungle, and the territory ruled by the ancient Maya was vast, extending from the Yucatan Peninsula and the bordering Mexican states of Tabasco and Chiapas south through Guatemala and Belize, and into northwestern El Salvador and Honduras.’

Detail from Tzompantli -…

Detail from Tzompantli – the Toltec ‘Temple of the Skulls’.

LP: ‘You can’t mistake it because the T-shaped platform is festooned with carved skulls and eagles tearing open the chests of men to eat their hearts. In ancient days this platform held the heads of sacrificial victims.’

This guy is giving…

This guy is giving all the saPHari truck riders a welcome aboard lecture. We learned the difference between horns and antlers, we promised not to annoy the animals, we heard about the parks mission to protect and restore endangered species.

We also heard an extended and fervent rap about rhino horns. This issue of killing rhinos for their horns just drives these guys NUTS. The horns, they told us on more than five occasions, have no medicinal properties whatsoever. They have no magic, no Nothing. Rhino horns are nothing more than densely packed hair and finger nails.

So if you want an aphrodisiac or a cure for cancer, eat your hair, bite your nails, just don’t kill the rhinos.

This they call the…

This they call the Principal Ball Court as seven others are already found in Chichen Itza alone. The game must have evolved over time because some stories say the players could not use their hands and yet the carvings here indicate the players used bats. The object is clear though, get the ball through the hole.

It was a very big deal – ball courts are in every city throughout the empire, and the game had serious religious overtones. The players were prist-like honored citizens still you really Really wanted to win. Because indications are the losers ended up as sacrificial victims themselves, their heads up on the pile at the Temple of the Skulls.

When you get your…

When you get your ticket for the truck you also get a spiral bound ‘home made’ seeming booklet put together by the staff themselves, with a great representative shot of all the animals and a loving rap about them. Everything I forget I will copy out of this book and pretend like I remember.

But what are These!?!

The environments in the…

The environments in the park are divided into four parts, East Africa, South Africa, Eurasian Plains and Asian Waterhole. This guy, the Cape Buffalo lives in both East and South Africa so they have some in both parts of the park.

My streched out hand would not cover his nose.

The Fringe-Eared or Kilimanjaro…

The Fringe-Eared or Kilimanjaro Oryx. His markings are a good story. The dark strips hide his real eyes and those dark spots on his ears are meant to be taken by the bad guys as big scarry eyes making Mr Orxy seem much bigger than he really is.

Or is this a Gemsbok? Or a South African Oryx?

They have two kinds…

They have two kinds of rhinos, the Indian or Greater One-Horned Rhinoceros and the Southern White or Square-Lipped Rhinoceros.

We see here a couple of Square-Lipped girlfriends. They go everywhere together and have yet to take much interest in the male. Whenever one of them does try to have a date with him (have a date – guidespeak for – you know…) it just ends badly. The guy is a bit of a dip apparently.

We heard a Lot of ‘People Magazine’ style stories about all the family groups. The guides were total gossips and loved to relate who was with whom and who had just lost out to whom. ‘It’s a soap opera out there’ was one of their favorite expressions.

I thought I had…

I thought I had an idea of what these guys were like – mean for example, and not very interesting. Wrong. These guys seem utterly prehistoric and were No Doubt the model for the velocoraptors(sp) in Jurassic Park. Totally. You remember the ones.

They have that same swaggering motion as they approach with undulating boa-like necks, driving, pushing forward purposeful heads and far too intelligent and complicated eyes moving forward moving scanning for opportunity. Oouw.

At the upper right…

At the upper right you can see the rail for the regular tour tram. This is an example of how well animals can camouflage themselves.

In order of preference, according to the guides, the best method to avoid being lunch:

1-blend into the environment
2-blend into the herd
3-get outta Dodge
4-fight

This is the Indian…

This is the Indian rhino. The guides treated these guys like GIgANTic pets (here kitty kitty?). We couldn’t play with the two horned variety because of the way they are built, they can’t get their heads up to the truck but the one-horns just Love the truck.

This mass of mussle and stomach has his head inside the truck cabin and the guide is petting his face. Another couple of rhinos were pulled up alongside. We all dropped apples into their gapping maw (oh yeah) and pet their soft smooth face. At one point the person with the bucket stopped pulling out apples and the rhino gave the truck a hey-you nudge.

We almost keeled over.

Javan Banteng, they…

Javan Banteng, they look so sweet and healthy. Beween here and the San Diego Zoo they have extensive medical facilities and everybody looks healthy out in the field.

One thing they do here, unlike Nature, is bring out the dump trucks every morning to clean up the poop. They recycle the stuff of course, into fertilizer. They also aerate and treat the waterholes and river-like-things for mosquitoes. It surely does keep down the ickies and during the whole trip on the truck we were not troubled at all by bugs.

A common site, various…

A common site, various species hangin’ out. See the very smallest guy with horns, up on the crest of the hill? He’s guarding his territory and the females are all his.

Female hoofed animals look for males with the biggest most symmetrical horns or antlers. The bigger the better – it means the male is healthy and strong enough not to lose any part of his headpiece to battle.

Some males even have bright markings to stand out in their environment. This is so the females can think, Wow, look how he stands out and yet he survives. He must be Hot! I wish I could have a date with Him.

I’ve seen what look…

I’ve seen what look like real fights in the movies and on National Geo specials but here they basically push each other around and then decide a winner. The guides say they just know who won without anyone having to get hurt.

All the animals within…

All the animals within a quadrant share the same water hole.

Here’s an interesting story: These are all herbivores in the open areas but they do keep some tigers in one enclosure and some lions in another. The cat enclosures are positioned upwind from the park so that their scent floats downwind all over the area. The idea is to keep the animals alert and acting more naturally.

Us. The woman…

Us. The woman in sun glasses did the driving and she had on her front seat a rather overwhelming collection of camera gear. This woman was Ready.

Since they are a breeding facility and according to them, wildly successful, they can get several births a day during the busy time and with each birth they have to send out a team to check on the mother and to test and tag the young one.

Besides the tram tour…

Besides the tram tour and the PHauxPHotosPHari there are dozens of displays, shops, eating opportunities, shows etc etc there at the Wild Animal Park. I was too bushed to do much more since the heat and blazing down sun had sucked the life outta me…

See that leafy looking tree thing? It’s a woman on stilts. She’s resting now to gather a crowd and soon she will move out to the rhythm of the Peruvian pipe band playing around the corner.

The Wisteria blooms starting…

The Wisteria blooms starting bottom right, then up and over and then bottom left, and then up and over so that the whole thing is never perfect all at once since the bottom right is all leafed out by the time the top left is drippy purple.

The process begins in early March and finishes in early April – and I always miss so much of it doing SeaTrade and the over-there vacation I usually add. Ephemeral, that’s it. My Japanese friends just love ephemeral and make a point to drive by, to catch the fleeting and the seasonal…

I’ll take a picture like this one when I get back – just to notice, and add it at the end.

Here’s the trip:
1) Cancun
2) Isle Mujeres
3) Chichen Itza
4) Ruta Puuc
5) Merida
6) Mexico City
7) home

P&G friends from NY…

P&G friends from NY here on their annual family get-together at a very cool place in Carlsbad. It was a wildly recommendable place – sort of a cross between the Sea Breeze in Redondo and a funky condo project from the 50s.

So the gang saw…

So the gang saw this honkin’ slab of wood over by the parking lot. That thing was so huge we just Had to have it. So the guys do some serious confabulating and work out this method involving a rope and extended discussion and encouragement, and coordinated pushing and sustained pulling.

‘Hey HEY’ these guys…

‘Hey HEY’ these guys call out. ‘That’s Not Yours’ they say. ‘Oh, ok ok’ we say. So our guys offer to help these guys haul it to their spot. No problem, they say, and just pick up the thing.

We did get some small satisfaction noting they did not make it to their campsite without several put-it-down pick-it-up stops along the way.

This little boy was…

This little boy was wondering around our area whimpering like a lost little puppy, which he pretty much was. So Angela gathered him up, wiped his eyes, helped him blow his nose, told him not to worry and everything would be fine and generally stayed with him at the life guard station until, a loooong time later, his mother noticed he was missing. We all nodded knowingly. TickTock.

Paul and Gretchen are…

Paul and Gretchen are here for our summer outing – this time Down South for a stop in La Jolla and then we’re hitting the Wild Animal Park PHoto PHaux saPHari, PHun.

Taking pictures in the dark without flashburn.

There’s Christa, welcoming her…

There’s Christa, welcoming her Granty for a quick visit and family dinner before the ship sails from Honolulu.

The last of the Home Improvements are underway and soon the landscaping will be just what Beth has dreamed of – ‘ok kids, why don’t you go on outside and play!’. And note the blue railing. This color is repeated in the window frames in back and on the doors. The other thing Beth dreamed of: a beautiful blue door. Fresh siding, more paint, plants etc. still to come.

the font size =…

the Cat

Here’s a haiku about my cat. My cat who on occasion, when he’s not playing panther, fancies himself a hawk.

Perched atop the frig
hooded eyes glare, watchful, oh
get over yourself.

This is a compound…

This is a compound of very small, attached cottages right on Venice Blvd.. Ever since ‘they’ painted it this amazing popsicle color it has had a magnetic effect on my eyes. I pulled up to the parking lane and snapped this pic through the window.

Testing my efforts to…

Testing my efforts to learn about skin tones. I didn’t try to manage their faces separately but clearly their coloring is very different. She was closer to the strobe, which no doubt had some affect.

Aside from the color I could clean up those faces in a simple flat second. Looking back through the old pictures on omoshiro I am utterly amazed and agape and Appalled by the embarrassingly bleary red badbadBad color. Ewwwou.

From our balcony in…

From our balcony in Cancun.

I expected to tolerate Cancun, the tourista capital of Yucatan. I expected it would be just.fine but really, if you are in search of ever new places to soak up sun you’ll be very happy in Cancun. The streets and roads are safe and clean, the beaches are georgous and clean, the food in the many upscale restaurants is delicious and clean and the dozens of major resorts are chock-o-full of modern first class amenities, and they’re clean too.

I’m not that crazy to soak up sun and still I thought it was a fine place to be.

More than halfway up…

More than halfway up our climb to the top of Diamond Head.

I’m taking a photo-op break and doing some heavy breathing exercises while the kids are goofing around and Beth has carried one year old Charis From The Bottom.

OK, so how do…

OK, so how do we feel about these colors? They just came back from spending the day at the Renaissance Pleasure Faire getting cooked inside and out. So the slight sunburn is how it was. Was John ever more adorable?

A delightful Concierge, cute…

A delightful Concierge, cute as a button and full of enthusiastic recommendations. She encouraged us to go to this restaurant where she knew Ricardo – she would call Ricardo even, and he would be our host. Ricardo was a tequila sommelier and gave us a long and entertaining lesson in tequiliadome.

Salute!

The Waikiki Beach view…

The Waikiki Beach view from Diamond Head.

That guy is trying to convince the gathered crowds to sign up for a tour that will make them better human beings for having done it.

Now that Beth has reached the top without apparent effort she can look forward to carrying Charis DOWN Diamond Head.

Let’s hear it for Power 90!

An essentially Italian restaurant….

An essentially Italian restaurant. Cao Bella! I took this using the 28-80 zoom at its fullest extent and then clipping out maybe half the picture and without too much light either.

So if you were shooting film what you’d expect is a grainy foreshortened picture with soft highlights. But this is digital and what you get is a grainy foreshortened picture with soft highlights. Those guys at Nikon are awfully good.

Ricardo and some dang…

Ricardo and some dang fancy pants.

So I told him ‘uhh-uhh please be in my picture, I just love your pants, they’re just so dang fancy’ and he immediately leaned over into this cancan pose. Leigh couldn’t believe I had said such a thing and no doubt was wondering what it the world it was she had gotten herself into…

From this dinner (which was in fact our first dinner) whenever a beverage was in order, we had learned to order tequila shots, and they Always, Everywhere came with a little side glass of Sangrita. Each place had their own twist on the recipe and I searched the internet for one that looked like it would be closest to my favorite, and here it is:

Sangrita of the Yucatan
1 1/2 C Tomato juice
1/2 C Clamato juice
3/4 C Orange juice
2 TBS Minced onion
4 TBS Seeded and minced green chilies
2 TSP Grenadine
1 TSP Salt
1/2 TSP Black pepper
1 Dash each Worcestershire sauce, A-1 Steak sauce, Tabasco
Juice of 4 limes
Stir together all ingredients, strain and chill well before serving.

A small clip from…

A small clip from a giant mural on the wall in the spa where Leigh enjoyed what she reported to be an excellent massage.

A beachside bar. …

A beachside bar. Unknown to me ahead of time, not even occuring to me to ask, we arrived in Cancun during the first weeks of Spring Break.

It could have been a disaster. PartyDrinking and DrinkingParty are 1-2 the most popular sports in Cancun. But it all worked out fine because we asked before going anywhere ‘is this a place for grownups?’.

Is this a location…

Is this a location or What? Not that it has to be this exact place but there must be plenty of places like it…

A group was gathering to set-up chairs, flowers and an arbor, the string trio was tuning up.(The wedding coordinators were at 619.501.3543.)

But really… the Cancun…

But really… the Cancun area is most well known for its coral reefs and its world class snorkeling and diving all along the coast including as far south as Cozumel and Tulum. It takes a whole day to see Cozumel or to go to Tulum so we decided to take a quick run up to Isle Mujeres for a ferry ride and a quiet snorkel.

And since we had a car we thought to go to the pier a little further away but that had many more departures because it was for locals, not all gussied up for tourists. It was easy, fun and unlike everything else we had done in Cancun, actually a bargin.

What a crowd, what…

What a crowd, what a crowd. (standing: Trevor, Beth, Hartley, Lona, Janis, Penny seated: Caleb, Mom, Charis, Christa)

This was one of the numerious occasions when we hurrayed and ‘Happy birthday-ed’ my mother (84) and Charis (1) both born on January 22 all those years apart.

By the way, Treveor and Beth put up every one of these people in their fabulous house overlooking Waikiki Beach.

Really.

On Molokai, a scene…

On Molokai, a scene riding down the hill for the half hour trek from the lodge to what they call ‘camp’ – the $300 per night (rack rate, not agent rate!) tent camp on the beach.

Me, originally entirely missing…

Me, originally entirely missing in a blackened window but by the magic of PhotoShop I emerge, like used to happened with so much effort in the stinky old darkroom days…

Mostly La Jolla is…

Mostly La Jolla is of the ‘low profile but lots of money to throw around’ style of architecture. These two hotels are on a slightly larger scale but still, don’t they just woo you with promises of comfort and civility.

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