My AFFs (Animal Friends Forever) at the San Diego Zoo!

My AFFs (Animal Friends Forever) at the San Diego Zoo!

When we first pulled into the parking lot of the San Diego Zoo, I could hardly wait to step out of the door of the truck. I have been waiting to come here since before we even left Maine.

After we went in and got our tickets, we headed to the zoo tour bus. We decided to go on the bus first because it covered 75% of the zoo and we would know where everything is. It was a double decker bus and we got to sit on top!

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When we got off the bus we made our way over to the “big cats.” On the way there, we passed an exhibit with TONS of monkeys in it.  My favorite ones are the Capuchins. They are the cutest monkeys you could ever imagine, and they were definitely the most entertaining! They would pick the bugs out of each others fur and eat it, and the way they eat is so human-like!

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I really liked the gorillas too. The troop leader is always a male and called a silverback. The silverback of the troop we saw was sleeping the whole time with his foot pressed against the glass. I felt kind of bad for all of the gorillas, because how would you like it if millions of people came to see you all day, everyday?

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My favorite animal there was the cheetah. It would just pace along the fence watching your every move. Did you know that every cheetah at the San Diego Zoo has a dog as a companion? Well, when we were there the cheetah we saw was paired with a husky mix. River explained to me that they do this so the cheetah is more calm around people. Sadly we didn’t see the dog, but the cheetah was absolutely amazing! The tiger was also one of my favorites, but it didn’t do much except sit on top of a rock and look down on everyone. I was half expecting it to lick it’s lips thinking we would all make a great meal, but it didn’t.

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There were also two different kinds of leopards, the black leopard and snow leopard. We saw the snow leopard, but not the black one because it was inside it’s little “house” the whole time. The snow leopard was not white it was grey, and had a tail that looked almost as dangerous as the claws. It was really long and very fat at the end.

After a while we finally got to the pandas. There was a mom and a cub. The baby was a lot more active than the mom. He would roll around, climb on stuff, and run around the pen. All the mom did was sit there, eat bamboo and watch her son.

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When you think of polar bears do you think of big, white bears? Well that’s basically true except the “big” part. They are not just big, they are HUGE! Did you know that full grown polar bears can get up to 10 feet?! I don’t know how big the one we saw was but it looked pretty close to 10 feet! The way they get their food is very interesting. They’ll wait outside of a seals breathing hole for hours until a seal comes up, then they will grab it. They must be so patient! If I tried to do that I’d be getting up within 5 minutes trying to find food elsewhere.

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On the way over to the elephants we passed more monkeys. This time there was an otter in the same exhibit as the monkeys. It was funny to see an otter and a monkey living together. Just like the Capuchins he was very entertaining, and happened to be my Dad’s favorite animal there. He was super cute especially when he would float on his back down the river, and catch the food the monkeys threw him.

Then we got to the elephants. There were about 3 of them and we were watching one of them eat hay. It’s really interesting how they use their trunks to take the food then put it in their mouth. The San Diego Zoo has 2 different types of elephants, the African and Asian. Two ways to tell them apart are the shape of their ears and their tusks. African elephants have bigger ears that are the shape of the continent of Africa and both males and females have tusks. Whereas Asian elephants have much smaller ears and only the males have tusks.

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After, we went over to the giraffes. There were a few adults and a few babies. They were all so cute and a lot bigger than I thought they would be. A giraffes neck can be 6 feet long and weigh 600 pounds! Imagine having a neck that tall weighing that much!

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I thought the oddest looking animal there were the rhinoceroses. They have a protective layer of skin on the outside which looked like a huge layer of fat, it was very weird. Well I can’t say the rhino is the oddest looking animal there was, because the camels came pretty close. One of them was very old and had a lopsided hump. Through my research I found out that his hump is like that because he is old and his activity level is low, therefore he uses all his stored energy (which is in his hump) causing it to droop. He also had spit coming out of his mouth. I mean literally hanging out of his mouth, it looked like toothpaste. YUCK! The reason camels do spit is to surprise, distract, or bother whatever the camel thinks is threatening it.

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I had such a good time at the San Diego Zoo and it is definitely on my list of places to come back to.

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The Ups and Downs of Traveling

The Ups and Downs of Traveling

Astoria

It’s been one year since we’ve been on the road and so far we’ve been to 25 states. My favorite states we’ve been to so far are Colorado, because it was just so lush and green, and Texas, because…well, I just liked Texas. Now, my least favorite state was Alabama. (Sorry to all the people who live there.) The campground we were at was horrible, the capitol looked like it was completely abandoned, the area we were in was not a very pleasant area, and the skies were NOT so blue!  Some of my favorite attractions were Yellowstone, because the mountains, wildlife, and rivers combined were just breathtaking! Bryce Canyon, The hoodoos were so cool! Grand Canyon, it was just so massive and amazing! And, I liked Rocky Mountain for pretty much the same reason as Yellowstone, (they were a lot alike.) The cities I liked were Austin, because during SXSW it was so much fun (and I got a lot of free stuff.) Vegas, the shows we saw there were cool and the light are really colorful. Seattle, because the Pike Place Market, the EMP museum, and the Space Needle were all so awesome! New Orleans, because it was so alive, and I can’t wait ’till we go to all the cities in California!! Right now we’re in Sidney, Montana where there is next to nothing. Our parents are working the beet harvest so my mom is gone from 10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., and my dad is gone from 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.! This is the only reason we’re in Sidney, and if my mom and dad weren’t working we would most definitely not be here!! On the bright side, there have been kids here the whole time for us to hang out with, while the parents are working, although they are leaving tomorrow. That’s what I don’t like about being on the road. Whenever I meet a friend either we always have to leave or they always have to leave. I also have to share a room with my brother which is not very fun because of the limited space, and he is always yelling at me to pick up my stuff. When the harvest is done we’re heading towards California to work at a Christmas tree lot for a while. I’m excited for that because I heard that my brother and I get to work too! 

Seattle Gum wall
Seattle Gum wall

 

 

Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park

Have you ever experienced the majesty of Glacier National Park in Montana? I have, but my plan for the first day we were there did NOT include throwing up outside the visitor center, the Ranger telling me to move into the grass, and spending the whole day sprawled across the back seat reminding my family every 5 minutes that I didn’t feel good. Besides all that, Glacier was amazing! The second day there we planned to do a hike, but the one we wanted to do was along the Going-to-the-Sun Road, which we already went on, so it would be the same view. (Not to mention it was really windy!) The Going-to-the-Sun Road is the most famous road in Glacier. It runs from the west to the east entrances. On that road we saw 2 mountain goats and 2 bighorn sheep.They were so cute!!!

Big Horns
Big Horns

So that day we just drove around the park and stopped to take pictures and admire the views. Scientists predict that all the glaciers will be gone by the year 2030. They are all melting faster than they normally would, because of Global Warming. One of the glaciers we saw was called Jackson Glacier, it was absolutely breathtaking!

Jackson Glacier
Jackson Glacier

There were also unbelievably clear lakes. My favorite was called Lake McDonald, which is the largest lake in Glacier. It was formed during the last ice age ten thousand years ago. Huge glaciers slowly pushed down the mountain taking rock, dirt and other debris with it, when the ice melted it became Lake McDonald.

Lake McDonald
Lake McDonald

The last day we were there we finally did a hike. It was called Avalanche trail because it leads to Avalanche Lake. The hike was 4.8 miles round trip and it was very cool. When we come off the trail we saw a big lake surrounded by mountains and one of the mountains had a massive waterfall flowing off of it. On our way back down, the people in front of us said there was a bear that had just crossed the trail 4 minutes ago. I guess we were too late because we didn’t see it.

Avalanche
Avalanche

On all 3 days we were there we went on the Going-to-the-Sun Road.  The weather there was nice, but I would’ve liked it a lot better if it wasn’t so windy. 

Going to the Sun
Going to the Sun
Elk and Moose and More Elk, Oh My!

Elk and Moose and More Elk, Oh My!

RMNPWhen we first drove into the Rocky Mountains in Colorado I was so amazed by how awesome they were. I felt like I had just walked into Narnia. There were so many mountains, and rivers in the distance. This was my first time going to the Rockies and it is definitely not going to be my last!

After driving a few hours we made it to the campground. It was not at all what we expected it to be. I thought there would be lots of trees and plenty of privacy, but I was wrong. Well it turned out there used to be lots of trees there, but all that’s left is a bunch of stumps. I guess they had to cut them all down because of a tiny little bug called the pine beetle. The beetles infest the trees which kills them so they have to cut them down. As we were driving along the road, I noticed a bunch of log piles in the woods. They were piles of pine trees that had to get burned because they got infested, and believe me, there were LOTS of piles! It’s hard to imagine what the campground would look like with a bunch of trees, but I think it would have been a lot better. Oh, and almost every evening we would have a herd of elk visit our campground.Mercy's Elkfriend At first the elk were cool, but then we would see them EVERYWHERE and they sort of started to get boring. I mean, they would be on the side of the road like ants would be on a chocolate cake that got left outside! While I’m taking about elk I might as well mention the moose too. We saw about 6 or 7 moose on our visit to the Rockies that’s including a mom and a baby munching away on some bushes by the river. Since the baby follows the mom everywhere, at one point the mom pooped on the baby! It was really funny! So we saw a mom and a baby, about 3 bull moose with antlers, and a few more females. They were all so cool!

Mama/baby mooseWe also attended a ranger program about moose, which was really interesting! Did you know that during the rut (the mating season), to attract the females the male moose do this thing called scraping. Scraping is when the moose picks a spot in the dirt and scrapes it with his hooves, then he urinates in it. Next he will then roll in it. I guess this makes him smell good to the females, although I don’t know how having pee all over you would be attractive!

The next day we drove on trail ridge road, the highest continuous paved road in America! The road’s highest point is 12,183 feet in elevation! That’s 4,183 feet higher than the road they take in “The Long, Long Trailer” which is like my favorite movie starring Lucille Ball, well…… actually it’s the only movie I’ve seen staring Lucille Ball. But anyway when we got to the top we were at the alpine tundra. It was about 47 degrees up there, and 77 degrees down at the bottom of the mountain! The wind was soooooo fierce and strong that if you jumped with your sweatshirt out like wings, you would fly about a foot in front of you! It was really fun, but what was even better was getting back into the nice and warm car! Tundra Girl

While we were driving along the trail ridge road we stopped at the continental divide. For those of you who don’t know what that is, it’s an imaginary line that runs from Alaska to Mexico where on the east side of the line all the water and melted snow flows to the Atlantic Ocean and on the west side it all flows to the Pacific Ocean. The Rocky Mountains were truly amazing, and our stay there was beautiful! This was absolutely one of my favorite parts of the trip so far, I will really miss it!

Colorado Rockies


Desert Wildlife

Desert Wildlife

For the past few weeks we have been staying at a ranch in the desert in Arizona. It was fun at first, but now I’m tired of it because it’s hot, dry and windy, we’re 40 miles from the nearest town, and there is no one around except for the animals.

The past few days it’s been around 90-100 degrees outside. Sometimes it’s so windy that we have to stay inside the R.V. until it dies down. I mean I don’t mind wind but let me tell you, here it’s bad! The other thing about the wind is that it’s really dusty here, so whenever the wind blows the dust moves with it.

We have been doing some things here in Arizona rather than sitting around on the ranch all day doing nothing. Tucson is only 2 hours away so about a week ago we spent the day at the Sonora Desert Museum in the Saguaro National Park. A saguaro is a type of cactus that you can only find in the Sonoran Desert.

The desert museum is basically just a long hike with all different kinds of wild animals on the way. The part that is really cool is that they are in their own habitat with just a fence around them! There was a ton of all different kinds of animals from prairie dogs to javelinas.  A javelina is a pig like animal although it is not a pig at all. It is an ancient ancestor of the hippopotamus. We also saw mountain lions, bobcats, black bears, beavers, rabbits, bighorn sheep, and lots of birds! If I had to choose a favorite it would be the mountain lion. He was just sleeping up on a rock, and we were right next to him with only a thin layer of glass between us! At first I wondered how it got up on the rock it was on, then I read something that said mountain lions can jump 20 feet in the air if they are standing on their hind legs!

I also liked the reptile exhibit, which was a room with a bunch of display cases that had snakes, spiders, frogs, toads, and scorpions in them. There was more than a dozen different kinds of snake, and more than half of them were rattlers. There was one case that was really dark with white scorpions in it, and when you press a button a black light turns on and the scorpions glow bright green.

This desert museum is in the book called 500 places to take take your kids before they grow up, and they were right! I am sure glad I got to go there before I grow up! And I hope to go back there again. Oh, and speaking of desert wildlife, yesterday while I was feeding the goats and sheep, in the feeding trough I spotted a tiny newborn jackrabbit! It was SO soft and cute! First I asked my mom if we could keep it as a pet, and she looked at me like I had 2 heads! Then I researched what to do and it said to put the rabbit back where you found it because the mother put it there herself. She scatters them in different places so predators (like my dog) will only get one instead of the whole litter. She avoids the babies at all times until it is time for her to feed them. She does this so she won’t attract predators herself. 

 
Treasures in Tennessee

Treasures in Tennessee

A week ago we went to Tennessee. It was so much fun! We stayed with some friends who live just outside of Nashville. They live on a hill so we had to back the R.V. up the hill. While my dad was driving and my mom and River were directing him, I got to sit inside watching.

We wound up sleeping inside their house (for four nights) because it was freezing outside in the R.V. The majority of the things we did in Tennessee was at their house. First we went panning for gold in the creek they have in the back woods, and found a lot!

Then we went metal detecting with our friend who goes a lot. We got someone’s permission to go on their property but only my mom and I went. We found lots of Civil War relics! We found two bullets one was fired and one was not (I was the first person to touch them in 150 years!!), a square bolt from a wagon wheel or a cannon wheel, a lead poker chip which is just a melted and flattened bullet, a nail, a wire hook (it was used to hold the wire on a fence in place on the so the livestock wouldn’t escape), a clip to hold a soldiers sleeping bag in place, and a piece of a camp tool. We also saw rocks that were arranged in a circle and we were told that they used to be camp fires. They were all from the Civil War!!

The next day we went in the back woods to explore. We saw three caves and I went in two of them. One of them was a coyote den! We knew because there was coyote scat everywhere! In that one there was also stalactites in it! I was a little bit scared to go in it and I kept saying can we get out now? Our friend told us that the caves were used for the early settlers to hide from the Indians. 

I liked Tennessee a lot. It sort of reminded me of Maine in the Fall. 

Food plus Fun equals New Orleans!

Food plus Fun equals New Orleans!

On January 14 we went to New Orleans. It was awesome! We did lots of cool stuff. First when we got there after finally finding somewhere to park for the day, we went in some cool little shops on the way to a cafe in the French Quarter for beignets, (pronounced ben-yays.) They were so delicious! We ordered four orders of three, which was to many to eat because they were huge! So we ate the other ones for dessert that night.

When we left the cafe we took a street car to the Garden District. The street car was fun. It was sort of like a trolly but it ran on a track like a train, and was attached to a wire that powered it. The Garden District is an area with all really old houses and some of them are said to be haunted, which really freaked me out. We saw the house Anne Rice’s family lived in. It was really big and creepy but cool at the same time.

Then we went to the Lafayette Cemetery which was also in the Garden District. In one of the burial chambers that a family was buried in had someone buried in the late 1800s and the last person was buried in 2010.

After the cemetery we took the street car back to the French Quarter for lunch\dinner . On the way back we saw four guys break-dancing and doing really cool tricks. They were amazing and funny, (I thought they were going to badly injure themselves!) After that we went into the French Market. There were lots of souvenirs and tee-shirts at little shops. On the other side of the French Market there were small little stands where you could get food at. We all split a muffuletta (muff-uh-lot-uh) and a po-boy. The muffuletta is a huge round sandwich that has salami, ham, cheese, and an olive salad. The po-boy is more like a sub. They were both good but I liked the muffuletta a little bit better.

As we were eating at the park a big parade came by. At first we didn’t no what it was for but then we realized it was a wedding. The streets were all blocked off so no cars or people could walk on the street until the parade was done.

After we had our lunch we went over to see the Mississippi River. Did you know that during Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the Mississippi River flooded most of Louisiana but didn’t hit the French Quarter that bad because it was built higher than the river. Then finally after all the fun we had, it was back to the car. On the way to the car, I decided I wanted to look for a tee-shirt so we once again went back to the French Market. Most of them were all adult size but then we found a store that had kids too. I didn’t like any of the kids, I only liked the adults. So then we went to the car again and went back to the campground we were currently staying at.