Sunday, July 31, 2011

Jake Turns 12

Well, three whole days to celebrate, how about that? 
 It would have started much earlier if Jake had a say in it. Karen told him no opening presents until at least 6 a.m.  We didn't even need to get out of bed!

Gramma took us out for dinner and what would a birthday be without a free dozen Krispy Kreme donuts (right next door to the Red Robin)?

And a Birthday hat from Miss Marta?

Friady we spent up tokens at Peter Piper Pizza, then Saturday was his party. He decided (for the first time) to invite just a few friends and have the party at home instead of at Peter Piper.  Here's Cade & Liam with Jake and his birthday cookie. 
 They had spent time in the pool and we played Apples to Apples, then they had to compete on the Wii.  I believe it was Mario Kart - don't know who won, probably Liam.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Hide & Seek

Stopped the truck at work the other day and a bunny hopped into a prickly pear for a quick hide.  "Can't see me if I don't move..." 

Friday, July 22, 2011

Mission at San Juan Capistrano

 The Mission at San Juan Capistrano, that's where the sparrows return every year, right? Well, sort of.  They used to return to the mission by the thousands, but lately have been going farther inland and only a few return to the mission. 
The chapel was destroyed in an earthquake back in 1812, and about 40 people died trapped in the rubble.  It is reported to have had 9 vaulted ceilings and had been adorned with Indian artwork as they were the ones who built it (under the watchful eyes of the Spanish, no doubt).
Much of the courtyard buildings housing the monks and Spanish guard were either spared or rebuilt, but the chapel never was.  There had been some relatively recent efforts to stabilize the ruins and protect them from further damage in future earthquales.
Jake wasn't very interested in the mission, but a new DS game kept him from bugging us to leave for a good little while.

This small chapel was rebuilt and still holds worship services.

Here is a storeroom for food and wine. it even had a loft (you can see parts of the ladder on the right).

I don't know if it was typical for men to share a room or if this was more for the guard and/or guests and doubled as a dining room (though most of the time, I would think it would be nice enough to eat outdoors).

The grounds had been well kept and lush with flowers and fountains as well as cacti

Plants in the fountain are designed to have someting in bloom pretty much all year round.

This little passageway was blocked off, but it seems like it leads to a nice peaceful little spot.
There was certainly more here than I had expected and I didn't get to see everything.  They had nice little recorded interpretive stations you could listen to as you went and little extras to listen in on if you wanted.

Silver Strand Beach

We had intended to hit the beach near Hotel del Coronado on Coronado Island.  Near the hotel we couldn't find any place to eat the boys would both like, so we drove on past and found something beyond Silver Strand.  We went back and due to heavy traffic near the hotel we just stopped in at Silver Strand State Beach.
All the kites in the background are wind surfers. The beach wasn't very crowded for as warm (80 degrees) as it was.  Plenty of wind blowing in off the ocean to cool things down a bit.
Karen got chilly even while sitting in the sun.

Erik was content to mess around in the sand.
That didn't interest Jake enough.  He had to get into the waves.
And I joined him for a bit.
Couldn't talk him into htting the bigger waves, though. Eventually, he found a 'friend' to ride the waves with and he was quite happy.
 We all got a bit of sunburn even with sunscreen on, so we were too tired to do much else the rest of the day.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Birch Aquarium at Scripps

Jake has little time or patience these days for photos, so it was Karen & Erik beside a little two-man sub. Maybe it was just me; he did pose with Erik for Karen.

Erik wanted to wander on his own, so we let him while we took turns keeping an eye on Jake.
I mean, what kind of trouble could Erik get into anyhow?

These remind me of the Monterey Aquarium, though this is much smaller.

Just missed the Octopus when it was near the window. They are strange-looking creatures.
But then, so many sea creatures are on the strange side. I guess if they were more commonly seen we wouldn't think of them as being very odd.
Even Jellyfish have a wide variety of appearances, though these two aren't so terribly different. Click on this link to see how vastly different Jellies really are.

Seahorses are pretty cool looking.
Ever hear of Seadragons? 
Kind of wonder what they might look like (or do) if they grew to any kind of whalish sizes!
Imagine the stories sailors would tell!

Lots of this kind of stuff seems to wash up on the beaches, but it is essential for life in the ocean. This is the kelp garden - a huge tank with all kinds of fish and (smaller) sharks.
*click* on picture to see the Kelp Cam live!

One tank with a myriad of colorful fish.

Funny how things are sometimes. As we were leaving, it was Jake who was willing to pose and not Erik. Go figure.

The Fish Bowl - Page Museum (La Brea Tar Pits)

Not many people would like to have their boss looking over their shoulder while they worked.  The Page Museum has a work center with all glass walls so the public can watch as volunteers work cleaning and sorting various items.
Inside this huge 'office' you can see a tusk in white plaster (left side just above center) - one of two of the only Mammoth tusks just found in La Brea - apparently, the petrolium eats away tusks, but these managed to fall in a riverbed and were quickly covered in sand and clay sediments rather than tar.  The recent Mammoth find is priority work, but there is much more going on in here (as you'll soon see).  On the foreground desks are a variety of items - an ADD paradise! You can come every day and do something different each time.

Volunteer cleaning a large Mammoth bone.  Cleaning tar has got to be a messy job.

This volunteer is cleaning a jaw bone with a few teeth.  Perhaps a Dire Wolf?

Can't tell from this photo, but the lights have a powerful magnification lens attached. In the past, digs concentrated on large bones and animals, and much of the small stuff was never looked through and some was discarded.  They have found seed, pollen, small bones, bugs, leaves and plant parts and all kinds of goodies.

Of course, everything found here is kept here. That means a huge collections room where everything has been sorted, labeled, catalogued, and stored.
Here's a peek into the catacombs.

One last little thing about the fishbowl. Looks like they like to get 'stuff' from visitors and display them in the room...
 Must be a fun place to work!
Interesting at the very least!

Page Museum (La Brea Tar Pits)

This was my third visit to La Brea Tar Pits, but my first time in the museum 
Harlan's Ground Sloth

Shasta Ground Sloth forefeet and claws
It is interesting to see the size of animals found in the pits. They must have been extremely tempting meals to have attracted so many predators. The ancient bison was larger than those we know today. The larger ground sloth, Harlan's, was estimated to have weighed 1500 lbs. and stood 6 feet high.

 Below are skeletons of a camel, an adult Mastedon and a baby Mastedon, which are smaller than the Woolly Mammoth of an earlier epoch.
Camel in front

baby and adult Mastedon in front

Woolly Mammoth bones have been uncovered, but only recently have they found any with tusks intact.
So what were the predators who often got stuck with these huge beasts?

Raptors  and scavenger birds were found in abundance.  I like the way the museum displays the skeletons with a rendering of what these birds may have looked like.

Hundreds of bird bones were found, but they were small in number compared to the 'big 3' predators
Coyote - over 1000 found
Sabertooth - over 2000 found

I can't imagine these huge teeth were helpful

Dire Wolf - over 4000 found