.All Trips / California / North America / Southwestern USA

The Living Desert Wildlife and Botanical Park

desert

Unless you’ve driven across them, it’s hard to comprehend how vast the deserts of the American Southwest are.  While at first glance the region seems nearly lifeless, it’s rich in a diverse variety of hardy plant and animal life.  An excellent way to see this assortment of desert life is to stop everywhere and explore.  A much easier and more convenient way is to visit a botanical garden which, while not a perfect experience, is highly educational.  A place I’d recommend is the Living Desert, located in Palm Desert, California (very near Palm Springs), which provides a one-stop chance to explore the flora and fauna of America’s deserts –with an African sampler to boot!

Giraffes, Living Desert Museum

The Living Desert occupies …

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“Pic of the Week”, March 4, 2017: Seal Bay, Kangaroo Island

058 Kangaroo Island, Seal Bay

One of the most interesting days we had on our visit to Kangaroo Island included a stop at Seal Bay, now a Conservation Park.  The Bay is home to a colony of up to 1,000 Australian Sea Lions, one of the rarest types of sea lions.  Less than 15,000 of them exist and this Bay is home to one of the largest colonies.

When we visited, there were no other people on the Bay, or for that matter, any of the beaches we stopped at on the island.  It seemed a little odd at the time to be on a miles long stretch of beautiful sandy beach and not have any other people about.  But we took advantage of the opportunity …

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.All Trips / Africa / Botswana

“Pic of the Week”, July 28, 2016: African Elephants

10-Elephants

Elephants have fascinated me since I was a child.  You can enjoy them at the circus, in documentaries and zoos, but to really appreciate elephants you need to observe them in the wild.  They are majestic and entertaining, and will capture your full attention.   Their cute little ones will steal your heart.

African elephants are the largest land animals currently living on our planet.  They have massive ears shaped like the continent on which they live (and which are larger than the auricular appendages of their Asian cousins).  Because of their size, they consume a lot of food, about 300 pounds (136 kilograms) a day.  They are social creatures, with females and the young roaming in herds, but bulls tending to …

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“Pic of the Week”, July 8, 2016: Guanacos, Patagonia

El Chalten 2014 (6c) Guanacos

I’d the impression guanacos were not that common an animal in South America.  Yes, they were there, but like the Andean Condor you’d have to be lucky to see one.  After visiting Argentina and Chile I learned this impression was totally wrong.  They’re as common as corn in the fields of Iowa on a summer day,   As common as mosquitoes on the Canadian tundra after the spring thaw.  They’re everywhere!  These guanacos were standing beside the road and didn’t move when our tour van stopped for these photos, unconcerned about our presence.

Guanacos are related to camels and between 1 and 1.2 meters (3 – 4 ft) tall  at the shoulder, weighing a surprising 90 kg (200 lb).   Their color is very bland compared to their cousins, …

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.All Trips / Alberta / Central Canada / North America

The Banff Park Museum National Historic Site.

06b Banff Museum 08-2015

Today we’re going to visit Western Canada’s oldest Natural History Museum, the quirky yet fascinating Banff Park Museum National Historic Site.   I first visited this museum as a boy decades ago and it’s one of the few things around that hasn’t changed over the years.

Situated at a prime location in Banff, beside the Bow River at the corner of Buffalo St  and Banff Ave, there’s a large building constructed of logs, the Banff Park Museum.   It’s been declared a national historic site because the museum’s original exhibits are still on display, a collection reflecting an early (some might even say “primitive”) approach to the interpretation of Western Canada’s natural history.  Also, the architectural style and detailing of …

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“Pic of the Week”. December 5, 2015: Bobcats, Living Desert Museum, Tucson, Arizona

Picture 243

Bobcats are fairly common and I’ve seen them everywhere from Southern California to the Yukon; in fact, they’re the most abundant wildcat in North America, with a wide range.  But they’re shy and rarely pose for photos, so I was glad to see them at the Living Desert Museum in Tucson.

They’re about a meter long and weigh up to 14 kg (30 lbs) — about twice the size of a big house-cat.   Most bobcats are brown or brownish red with a short, black-tipped tail (from which the cat derives its name as the tail appears to be cut or “bobbed”).

They’re great hunters and usually eat small game like rabbits, birds and squirrels.

(Click on thumbnail to enlarge)

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“Pic of the Week”, November 13, 2015: Gator wrestling, Florida

05 Gator wresting

Alligators are fascinating animals.  Large, primitive, with alert eyes that, like any good predator’s, follow you wherever you go.  I must admit that when they fix their unblinking eyes on me, the hair stands up on my neck.  They are six inches long when they’re born, but as fully grown adults can reach a length of almost 20 ft (more than 6 meters).  Once a threatened species, they’ve recovered and you’ll find them in freshwater swamps and lakes of the southeast.

I recently visited Orlando with my father and one day was spent at the fun old-fashioned amusement park, Gatorland.  There are several shows at this venue, including one featuring alligator wrestling.  This is not a violent sport …

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.All Trips / Australia

Rottnest Island, Western Australia

006 Western Australia,Quokka,  Rottnest Island

Australia is a remarkable place to visit, with some of the most interesting flora and fauna anywhere.  From flocks of colorful parrots to troops of kangaroos bouncing around, if you love nature and the out-of-doors, Australia needs to be on your travel bucket-list.

My wife and I were visiting Perth in Western Australia some years ago, a city we really enjoyed.  Not far from Perth is the small port of Freemantle where many prisoner ships from England landed centuries ago and disembarked the ancestors of today’s Aussies.  From here you can catch a ferry (or if you have more cash, a seaplane) to Rottnest Island, home to the charming Quokka.  It makes for a perfect day-trip, but …

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