dranthonysblog

April 7, 2012

An afternoon at the Zoo

My parents took the family to many zoos when I was young, from San Diego to the one in Boise, Idaho.   After I was grown, I visited various zoos, including some in Europe and others in Asia, occasionally and usually only as part of the sightseeing that many of us do when visiting new places.  Since I became a parent, zoo visits have become more frequent as our children, like most kids, really enjoy them.  Recently, we visited Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo and found it to be a terrific place to spend an afternoon.

It is not a particularly large zoo, nor is it very showy, but it is well-organized, very kid friendly, and not overly expensive, when compared to other area attractions.  One thing that struck me about the place, and you will see it in these pictures, is that many of the animals have a lot of personality!

Also, you can get amazingly close to many of them, which really enhances the experience!

The petting zoo in particular includes many common animals, and some not as much so, that seem to thrive on the human attention or at least do a good job of pretending for their human visitors!

These African Penguins looked like they were at a pool party, with the one in the middle one appearing to strike poses for me.

You are actually able to walk into the Wallaby area and view them with no screen, gate, or fence in between, though there is a member of the staff who keeps a watchful eye nearby.

The Koi were very large but you cannot tell from this picture because there is nothing to compare it to.  I liked this one because the color was so bright!

The Giraffes were very sweet and really enjoyed looking at us!

The Siamang Gibbons were interesting to see, though they were not as close as the other animals.

The Manatees were difficult to see clearly, and more so to photograph well, due to the thick glass and multiple tiny pieces of lettuce (their lunch apparently) that were floating in the water at the time.  Still, they are fascinating to watch and were a special treat for us to see since we have yet to view any in the wild.

This Bald Eagle was unexpected and reminded me why this noble bird of prey was selected to be the national animal as well as appear on the Great Seal of the United States.

This zoo, probably not unlike one located near you, is a wonderful place to visit that is easily forgotten about when thinking of reasonably priced things to do.  To me Zoos, regardless of where you are in life, are terrific places to reconnect with the natural world and forget about your personal challenges, at least for a few hours!

March 31, 2012

Another visit to St. Augustine, Florida

When I was growing up in California, I remember reading about St. Augustine, the oldest continuously occupied European-established city and port in the continental United States and thinking how great it would be to see it.  Now that I live in Florida, it has become one of my favorite places.  Founded by the Spanish in 1565, the city has a long and rich history and definitely is a wonderful place to visit, which is what I did again recently.

St. Augustine is located on the East coast of Florida and has a beautiful waterfront, that never fails to up-lift even the most tired traveler’s spirits, even if you have been there many times before.

Near the historic city center, is the Castillo de San Marcos, which is a fortification that was build by the Spanish, beginning in 1672, to help defend against attacks by pirates.  It is the nations oldest Fort and is a must see place when visiting the city.

The downtown area is filled with shops, boutiques, and great places to eat that is always fun to explore!

This structure was built over 200 years ago and is said to be the oldest surviving wooden school house in the country.

Not too far from downtown, is the 100 plus year old Alligator Farm Zoological Park that has every species of extant gator, and other animals, alive today!

Including this albino gator that looks fake but is very real and quite alive!

Nearby, are neighborhoods that have examples of grand homes built during the Flagler era of the later part of the nineteenth century.

Down the road lies the Mission of Nombre de Dios where the first church services were held in the new world.

The grounds include an early cemetery that makes a nice place to walk around and take a break.

This tree is also located there, which almost looks like it could talk though fortunately it did not, at least while we passed by!

There is much more to see and do in St. Augustine, but I will leave that for you to discover during your visit to this amazing and timeless place!

February 16, 2012

A Visit to the 2012 Florida State Fair in Reverse

A new perspective is gained when viewing events in a different order!

The Florida State Fair was Definitely worth the visit and I would urge you to check it out, if you are interested.  As of the date of this posting, you still have one weekend left to take it in for yourself!

The evening was unusually cold for Florida on the night of our visit.

The lights and colors always remind me of fairs past.

Interestingly, not all who came did so for recreation or escape, some came to work!

The rides were plentiful and varied.

There were also animals of all types!

The exhibits and vendors were as you would expect and appeared to be doing a healthy business this year!

A talkative Robot amused the crowd.

There were singers and dancers that did not disappoint the viewers, who themselves were variously eating, talking and watching the show.

We sighted Elvis shortly after we entered the gate, though he was a bit taller than we expected him to be!

The crowds were already gathering when we arrived and I immediately noticed the typical vendors and sights of fellow fair goers quickly blending into the experience.

Some of my best memories growing up were of attending fairs on the west coast, so I was looking forward to visiting the Florida State Fair this year and it did not disappoint!

February 2, 2012

Some of my favorite pictures so far!

Years ago, I was asked why, given my travels, did I not have many pictures, to which I responded that I just was not “into” picture-taking.  Somewhere along the way that changed and I now wish I had started taking them sooner.  I have no illusions about being particularly good at it, nor do I aspire to be a modern Ansel Adams or make half-time on Super Bowl Sunday.  I simply find them fun to take and are even better when shared!

The following represent some personal favorites that I have taken so far…

This one is a sunrise in central Florida.  I have not placed these pictures in any particular order, except maybe for the first and the last ones.

This one is of the Florida State Fair in Tampa last year.   I snapped most of these simply because l found something interesting about the scene.

I captured this picture at a zoo and what struck me about it was that the two animals really seemed to be visiting with each other!

This picture was taken at the moment that Legoland Florida was officially opened to the public last year and confetti was flying everywhere!

This one captured the final lift-off of the Space Shuttle Challenger (my first shuttle launch), which was the third to the last shuttle lift-off!

This picture was taken late at night by a very tired elf who wanted to add some cheer to the season!

I happened upon this view when in Yellowstone three Winters ago and I had to try to capture it!

This one found me on the same trip while I was leaving the park.  He was so close that I could almost reach out and touch him!

I stumbled upon this view (not literally!) while taking the stairs in a hotel in Savannah recently.

I noticed these “Whirligigs” (that is what they are called) while walking the dogs one evening.

One of my kids dragged me outside to see this a couple of weeks ago and I am glad that he did!

I hope you enjoyed the pictures because  I certainly had fun taking them!  In case you are wondering, I used a Kodak EasyShare camera to take most of them.  Also,  I have others posted here if you are interested in seeing some more;  http://bit.ly/y2SmUW

October 16, 2011

Opening day at Legoland Florida

The weather was ideal with a slight breeze and high clouds and the traffic was light when we arrived for the park’s opening.

The crowd was not too heavy at the gate, though we still had 45 minutes to wait.

Fortunately time passed quickly with music (sorry – no Justin Bieber), entertainment, and even a brief speech, and soon the gates were opened!

The shops and restaurants were the first things that we saw and the staff were all very welcoming and friendly.

The Island in the Sky Ride was renovated and kept as a reminder of the past.

It afforded a great view of the park from 150 feet above.

There were some really cool models to see of many familiar places done in fine detail.

There are also many rides that, for the most part, had short lines.

They kept the fantastic scenery from when the property was occupied by Cypress Gardens, such as this southern belle, in Legos of course!

The gardens make for a quiet and beautiful break from the pace of the rest of the park.

Before we knew it, it was nearly closing time and we had to depart.

By the time we started to leave, the park was getting ready to close and end its first day of business.  My family very much enjoyed the visit and brought back more than a few souvenirs, many good memories, and a desire to return again, which is not a bad first day outcome for any amusement park!

August 7, 2011

A cool bridge…

Recently, I was on a trip out-of-town with one of my kids.  Nearby there was a bridge that we decided to walk across to further explore the area.

We were nearly halfway across when he said “dad take some pictures!”

I was looking in the other direction, but I quickly turned around and noticed that the bridge was opening, while we were on it!

Neither my son, nor I, had ever been on a drawbridge when it was opening.

We could feel the hum of the motors and the vibrating cables as they strained to do their work.

My son smiled a broad “this is so cool” smile the whole time!

It was then that I realized, like my son, that this was very cool to see!

Then, it abruptly stopped.

Enabling a ship floating below time to cross.

then another…

When the last one passed, it closed as it had opened and people and cars soon continued on about their journeys.

We continued on our walk both now smiling at the mundane marvel that we had just saw while walking across a very cool bridge!

July 9, 2011

The last Space Shuttle launch; before, during, and after!

I had seen it live before, but this was the last one, and so we had to see it again – one more time!

Then we waited…

And took in a few sites…


And this…

And, unfortunately, also this.

We had a brief scare that was caused, or so I was told, by someone’s lunch left unattended!

We also entertained ourselves…

Then we watched as it started!

And we were rewarded with this!

Then this…

And this too!

Then fairly quickly it was out of sight!

But definitely not out of mind…

Then or ever!

We soon left as we came, people from all over.

Leaving all at once!

It was quite a morning and quite a crowd too!

It took a while, and we were a little sad, but still excited, though a lot tired, much in awe, but happy to be back home!

May 7, 2011

My Mom…

I could not write about my father without also writing about my mother, Dorothy Jean Smith.  Her experiences are less expansive than my father’s, but that does not mean that her journey is no less unique or important than his.  Also, with Mother’s day coming up, and the world still digesting the recent news about what bin Laden’s demise means, a story about a mother is just what this doctor decided is needed.

My mother was the third born child of Ivan “Jim” Smith and Adelie “Addie” Kent.  She was born in the middle of the depression in Boise, Idaho.  Her father was earlier in life a farmer and park ranger but, by the time she was born, he was a beer distributor and her mother took care of the 5 children (4 girls and 1 boy).  Addie could trace her family tree back to the Mayflower, while Jim’s included a Dutch grandfather born in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean and also likely a confederate soldier from Louisiana.  Addie was raised on a horse farm and though short (a couple of inches shy of 5 feet tall), she was said to be a great rider.  At nearly 6 feet, Jim was tall for a man of his day (he was born in 1899), and had traveled the rails for a time when he was young.  When Dorothy was a girl, her father told her stories of a place where they eat flat, round bread with vegetables so hot they would burn your mouth.  She would later retell this story acknowledging the irony of her later life with my father and that fact that she was a great cook, especially of Mexican food dishes!

Dorothy, according to my grandmother, was a headstrong little girl, who when she was 3 would make neighborhood kids walk around, not on, her father’s sidewalk.  She loved to play with her younger sisters and sometimes had crushes on her older brother’s friends.  At 15, she took a job as a soda jerk (mom’s term for it) at a local ice cream shop, where she earned money to buy clothes and have fun, like most young girls in those early post war times.  While in high school, she was a cheerleader and among her classmates at Boise High, was a young man with the last name Albertson, whose father owned a local grocery store.

After graduating high school, a first in her family, she wanted to see the world. She found her ticket when a girlfriend suggested that they join the newly created United States Air Force (prior to 1947 it was part of the Army) together. Unfortunately, her father would not allow it and refused to sign off on her enlistment paperwork, a requirement in those days.  She eventually convinced him to sign and a few weeks later she found herself in San Antonio, Texas attending basic training, which is something that few young women did in 1951.  Her friend, unfortunately, was not found to be fit for service and so Dorothy entered the Air Force alone.

Immediately after completing basic training she attended a service school where Dorothy learned administrative skills.  Upon completion of the program she was stationed at Eglin, Air Force Base, in Pensacola, Florida.  Dorothy would later say, as her husband did as well, that this was one of the happiest times of her life!  The base was staffed with thousands of airmen, including pilots and support staff of all types, however, only a couple of hundred were women.  Mom said finding a date to catch a movie or go to a dance was never a problem.  Playing on the then undeveloped beaches, snorkeling and enjoying a game of ping-pong were the favorite pastimes that mom said she enjoyed while stationed in Florida.  One evening she met a Latino airman from California, who played piano in local clubs after hours.  The pair were soon dating and eventually became a couple, not unlike the popular one portrayed by Lucille and Desi on prime time television at the time. They soon married and spent most of their last year in the service living off base in a small house, where mom said that they constantly entertained their friends who liked escaping barracks life as often as they could.

After both were honorably discharged, the couple moved to southern California where they decided to settle down.  Over the next 10 years they had 5 children, 3 girls and 2 boys.  Early on they opened a restaurant which did not last, and my father worked a number of jobs, while mom stayed home and taught the children how to make beds so tight you could bounce a quarter off of them, and at bedtime lined them up and marched off to bed.  These practices were amusing remnants of the fact that Dorothy really wore combat boots and had all the training that came with them!

Mom was always there to make sure we were up in the morning, did chores after school, cleaned our rooms on weekends, had fun, and along the way taught us those skills that would be needed as adults.  Like most mothers during those days, her job was to manage the household.  She did this very well and cooked, cleaned, and coordinated all the daily details for her family while still making the time to befriend many and enjoy life.

She had a great sense of humor, even if it was at her own expense such as the time one of my sisters, who was 3, locked her out of the house when she really needed to use the restroom.  The result was predictable and mom loved to retell the story anyway never failing to mention the devilish grin her daughter had as she repeatedly refused to let her in the house.  There was also the time when mom needed to dry her hair while simultaneously trying out her eldest son’s mini-bike in the backyard.  She drove round and round until her hair was dry and had fun while entertaining us.  During our last trip together as a family, we drove 200 miles through the Sonoran desert (that is a tale for another time) and have super 8 film of her being chased by a bull while answering natures call and of her literally kissing the pavement when we eventually reached it!  The road did not look that clean either, but mom did not mind as she was just happy to be on pavement again!

When the children were a little older, she worked as a waitress part-time at a restaurant to earn to extra money and told us kids to help ourselves to her tips, which we (the bigger ones anyway) apparently did perhaps a bit too often.  Later on, she worked part-time as a hotel maid, but did not share those tips with us!  After her kids moved out, she worked full-time for a state social services agency helping field client calls and completing paperwork.

She supported my father’s career fully and even helped to found a halfway house and assist with professional association membership drives. She made sure our holidays were filled with cheer and laughter and that we took vacations back to Idaho, down to Mexico, up the coast, to the desert, or in the mountains whenever possible.  In later years she even made sure that Dad and her visited Alaska, Hawaii, Central America, the Deep South, the East coast, and Europe.

She loved to shop and enjoyed buying her friends and family presents, which she did often.  Dorothy believed in helping people and many times while growing up we had family or friends staying with us to assist them in getting through some transition in their lives.  She told me that it was important to always celebrate marriages, births, graduations, and other significant life events and to remember those who are no longer with us.

At the age of 60, she was diagnosed with an aggressive form of lung cancer and I was present when the doctor gave her 4 months to live. This was one of the very few times that I saw the twinkle leave my mother’s eyes. She quickly rebounded, obtained another medical opinion, and fought with everything she had to live.  Five years later she was cancer free and went on to live another 10 years after that! Mom was quite the fighter!

She saw the birth of 7 grandchildren, 4 girls and 3 boys, and made it a point to be present when both of my sons were born.  She told us children that she loved us very much, but that grandchildren were very special in a different way in terms of the joy that they bring during that stage of a person’s life.  She and my father were together over 50 years and, though they were quite different, they loved and supported each other as much as any couple I have thus far known.

Summarizing a life in a few hundred words provides an incomplete glimpse at best, regardless of who they were or what they have done.  Still, hopefully enough was written so that you have an idea of the kind of person my mother was and what she meant to her many friends and family members.  As this mother’s day approaches, the third since she has left us, I am very much reminded of her wise words about celebrating life and about how fleeting it really is.  If yours is still with you, spend time with her, and listen to her unique stories, even if you have heard them many times before…

Blog at WordPress.com.

CBS Denver

Find Denver news, Colorado news, Colorado weather forecasts and sports reports including Denver Broncos at CBSDenver.com.

CBS13 | CBS Sacramento

News, Sports, Weather, Traffic and the Best of Sacramento

CBS Chicago

Chicago News, Sports, Weather, Traffic, and the Best of Chicago - CBS 2 TV | WBBM Newsradio 780 | 670 The Score

CBS San Francisco

News, Sports, Weather, Traffic and the Best of SF

Michelle Muldoon's Blog and Website

I love to write. I love to film. I love to write about film.

Confessions of a Job Seeker

Musings on my job search journey

Whimsical Corner

Poetry of Love and Life written By Kathy Cammisuli

The Travel Wench

A woman with a serious case of wanderlust!

Little by Listen

Breakin' it down one tune at a time

thisGIRLjen

names used in stories are not real.. you decide if the stories are.

Hiking Photography

Beautiful photos of hiking and other outdoor adventures.

Brenda Stonehouse Fine Art

My artistic journey

Average Us

Real Hope ✣ From God ✣ Through Christ ✣ For Us

Rudraksha Yoga

The Highest Knowledge - that reality knowing which everything else becomes known!

A Wilderness of Words

a good place to get lost

Jackprimus's Stalwart Chronicles

Just another WordPress.com weblog

The Illustrated Adventures

Chronicaling the adventures of a South African illustrator living in Barcelona

Boring Cape Town Chick

Let's Celebrate the Good Stuff.

BeezusKiddo

Adventures in Pittsburgh

Phunny News

Funny News and Daily Updates of Funny Stories, Crime and Fails!

Deus Nexus

Messages for an Entangled Universe

monsterminions

They Don't Make 'Em Like They Used To

Survival At Its Worst

The Misadventures Of Ryan DiG

Dodge City McKinney Texas

Where Our People Make The Difference!!

Old school - NEW world

Bridging the gap . . .

Barroom Gamer

Rants and Reviews while drinking brews!

Flying Here in the Middle of Somewhere...

...or random thoughts of an almost-closed mind.

The Unseen World

bigfoot, ghost, UFOs and more!

jevningresearch

Smile! You’re at the best WordPress.com site ever

Miss White Hat

too many thoughts in one small head

Raisin' the Signal Flag

Rogues, Rebels & Rakes

Todd Alan Benevides - Artist

Illustrations. Comic Pages. Anything and Everything.

shooting stuff

by Becca Gulliver

The Ready Center Blog

Informing and Equipping for What May Come...

Preservation and Place

Presenting preservation-related issues in an approachable way

The Home Security Superstore Blog

Affordable Security Solutions

Steele's Wheelhouse

Alan Steele's Blog

Notes From The Underground

Emerging Brands In Music x Art x Film x Fashion

Lost in the 21st Century

The 21st Century from a 20th Century Perspective

Entertainment Division for Adults only

main blog is at http://angloamerica101.wordpress.com/

The Cooking Dailies

a spanglish blog for the love of food

nicoletasaucristina

despre nimicuri simple, complicate, absolute

Aussie Bookworm

Book and gaming reviews from Australia

Meadefischer's Blog

Just another WordPress.com weblog