Wildlife/animals


Biplane Ride!

While camping on Carlsbad Beach in California, I noticed an ad for a ride in a biplane.  Barnstormers! Wilbur and Orville!  Snoopy and Red Baron!  Two for the price of one! Janene revved high spirits as we opened our pickup doors, “You look like you came from Colorado!” Enthusiasm flowed as she briefed us, checking for hazards: “Are you wearing earrings, Ann? Tuck your hood in, so it won’t pull. I have a vest if you’re cold.” I especially appreciated these efforts because I was so nervous about getting airsick, I’d taken two pills, and they were making me slow […]


Pine Cones 101

A few years ago a pinecone dropped out of the top of a ridiculously tall tree and wacked me upside the head.  It didn’t need to do that.  I learned a long time ago that paying attention to pinecones pays off. I figured out how pine cones come into being when I noticed a few clumps of needles that had turned red.  Apparently cones don’t start from a special bud, just some co-opted needles. In biology lab I learned that tiny cones like these above are males.  If you spot one in spring, shake it and watch for yellow powder–pollen.  […]


Tenerife Lizards

Though Tenerife’s giant lizards are now extinct, many other types can still be found. Our tour guide has a gecko that patrols the ceilings for mosquitos at night then naps in the warm cubby behind a television set through the day.  In Colorado we once had a lizard quietly volunteer to clean out a housefly infestation in our sunroom. He did a fine job then disappeared. A Tenerife blog post painted a darker picture of living with lizards.  The poor little guys tended to lurk in dangerous places like door and window frames or underfoot and cause serious guilt issues.  […]


Dogs, Canaries, Islands, and Confusion

No, the Canary Islands were not named for canaries. Canaries were named for the islands. That seems to be certain. Many claim that Europeans visiting the islands were surprised to see large dogs on Gran Canary so named it “big dog island” in Latin. Others say the name came from a tribe of people with a similar name or maybe a tribe that worshiped dogs. Whatever.  A Canary Island dog surprised me as well, though it wasn’t particularly big.  I just never saw one that looked quite like that.


Thanks Mom, but…

Mother Nature outdoes herself on so many of the trails we walk: trees, flowers, rock formations, waterfalls, stunning skies, sometimes even snacks. Her gifts warm my heart, but much as they tempt, I generally pass them by. I hope she and her other guests aren’t offended that I’m more comfortable sharing from a distance.


Camel Caravan

When our tour guide asked whether anyone in our group preferred a truck trek in lieu of the planned camel tour, I said: “We came for the camels!” I was so excited I dubbed it “Hump Day,” but the camels didn’t seem as happy. The memory of their grumbling still makes me smile hysterically. The handlers made interesting noises as well. They urged the camels forward with an odd kiss/whistle, and when a rider wanted the camel to kneel, he made a gagging sound. The toughest part of the ride, I was told, is in leaning back and holding tight […]


Egyptian Donkey Ride 4

A donkey ride in the Valley of the Kings helped sell Mom and I on the tour we booked to see Egypt.  We both grew up riding horses on the family ranch, but neither of us has ridden much in the last 40 years or so.  Also, donkeys are small and quick and can easily turn out from under a rider.  Between those issues and that fact that Mom is under doctor’s orders not to re-break the collar-bone she shattered last year, I couldn’t help being leery about this ride. Our bus delivered us to New Gourna Village where we mounted up on the street with traffic passing by.  The donkeys were tall enough that […]


Batty Bird

As I cooled my trail-weary feet in a mountain stream, I noticed a small creature flitting above the water about tree top height. A glut of recently hatched gnats no doubt inspired the critter’s erratic hover.  The flier was bat-sized, a little small for a bird, and its flight was bat-like as well.  Yet the evening seemed too early for bats.  I watched for several minutes trying to distinguish bat or bird and finally got the right angle to see that the head was bird-like. Shortly after that, as I sat beside our camper, something flew just over my head and apparently clung briefly to the side of […]


Crustacean Liberation Cruise 2

“See the lady in the pink shirt? I think she’s from Colorado. She’s got a blog and everything.” I was actually wearing green, so I overheard Emily Ford, the event organizer, pointing a faux me out to her setup team. A retired Water Resources Director and lobbyist from Houston, was also awed that I’d come 1000 miles to the Texas gulf to rescue crabs from derelict traps. Well, excuse me, but Abandoned Lost and Discarded Fishing Gear (ALDFG) kills countless sea creatures every year including dolphins, whales, turtles, seals, and yeah, crabs. Why wouldn’t I want to help? An unexpected bonus came in my being assigned […]


Jungle Bowl

My favorite bowl game took place in the Amazon River basin in Peru. The ball was round, and the “crowd” didn’t speak much English, but they gave us the best seats in the house. We only heard about the game because our jungle guide mentioned it as we returned from an excursion to see monkeys, caimans, and medicinal plants–complete with instructions for making cocaine. The game might have been better if the field had been longer since the players generally kicked the ball from one end to the other.  We didn’t get to see much tricky dribbling. We also didn’t get to see anyone score. […]