Monday, March 30, 2009

Utah ROCKS !!!

Hey there! Hope your week is off to a great start.

When I last left you, we were driving from Provo down to Zion National Park here in southern Utah. And I fully intended to blog from there but … the WiFi connection was so s.....l.....o.....w!

The drive south on I-15 was enjoyable & so scenic, with mountain views the whole time. As we approached Zion NP in Springdale, we could see that the geology was changing, getting more dramatic, and that we were entering a really special place. How to describe it? I can’t in just one word, but I’ll narrow it down to a few … breathtaking, jaw-dropping, awe-inspiring, majestic. Spectacular views at every turn, each one more fantastic than the last, it’s almost unbelievable!

I’ve heard southern Utah described as a “geologic fairyland”. I can already see why! And we’re only on park # 2 of 5.

Let me preface my Utah parks blogging with what has perhaps already become obvious … that I LOVE geology, so this is a dream trip for me! I’ve collected rocks and studied earth science on my own since I was a young kid (and I was thrilled to finally study it “for real” when I minored in geology in college). My Mom would take me to rock shops, where I’d spend advances on my allowance that I’m sure I never paid back (and yes, I still have all those rocks!). Seeing the roadside rock shops here brings back really fond memories! And when I was 10 years old or so, I wrote a poem (Sal calls it "The Poem") combining my love of geology and the beach:

I thank all rocks.
Rocks break down into sand, and the sand forms beaches.
If it were not for rocks, Florida would not have any beaches!

(Of course, now I know better ... that Florida would indeed have beaches without rocks because some of its sand is coral-derived, but hey, I was just a kid!) So this little blog detour was just to provide some background about why I’m SO nuts about the geology here in southern Utah.

Now, back to our trip. Rather than a traditional hotel, we opted to stay in a cabin at Zion Lodge, which is located deep inside the park. It’s smack in the middle of all the geologic grandeur, and was perfect. No TV. No cell phone signals. Why be tethered to electronics when there’s all this nature waiting to be discovered? Anyway, here’s our cute little cabin, which even had a fireplace (a novelty for us Floridians):

and the view of our “temporary backyard” from the porch:

We started hiking almost immediately after arriving, we couldn’t wait! We began with the Emerald Pools Trail, which leads to a series of 3 waterfalls (lower, middle & upper) cascading from the sandstone walls and into pools tinted green by algae. Some of the scenes along the way …
...this is a portion of the trail (a little rocky!) ...
... but the reward at the Upper Pool is a beautiful waterfall within the canyon walls:We continued Sunday in Zion doing more hikes, sprinkled in with some other favorite things I love to do at national parks, namely, stopping at the Visitor Center to chat with a Park Ranger (what a great job they have, right?) and watching the park’s orientation film. And, lucky for me, they just happened to be having a Ranger lecture on Sunday afternoon about Zion geology! WOO HOO It was held in an outdoor “classroom”, surrounded by what else? the gorgeous Zion canyon walls.
Another great hike was on Weeping Rock Trail. It was steep, but short, and led to a giant rock formation that was indeed “weeping”, that is, spring water was seeping through areas of the rock that had been eroded away.
The most spectacular hike in Zion is the Angel’s Landing Trail, which is a strenuous hike that includes a lot of switchbacks up a steep cliff. But, even with my moderate fear of heights and being out-of-shape, I DID IT! Sal has dubbed me “Switchback Susie”. {sweet} The trail took us into a narrow canyon, the notch of the “V” of this formation that's way up behind us:

looking down on some of the switchbacks:
I'm happy, but hanging on tight to that rock! (perhaps one of my favorite things about Zion was that you could walk up and "touch" the geology, it's not just for viewing at a distance):By late Sunday afternoon, the weather was beginning to turn a little stormy, so instead of another hike, we toured the eastern portion of Zion by car, driving the Zion-Mt Carmel Highway. It’s a winding road into an entirely different geology, filled with thinly-layered rock formations that “swirl” (reminds me of an orange-creamsicle) and “tilt” in every direction. This was in stark contrast to the chunky, blocky cliffs elsewhere in the park. Here are a few of my favorite scenes from the drive:
One of the most unique geologic features in this area of Zion is Checkerboard Mesa, an eroded sandstone cliff with a face that has jointing and cross-bedding in, you guessed it, a checkerboard pattern:
a close-up of the cliff face:
More of my fave scenes from our time in Zion …
wildlife too! ... mule deer ...
and there are wild turkeys in Zion (one turkey came right up to our car ... it's mating season, yikes!):
So I’ll catch you back here soon with details and pics of our continued journey through geologic heaven. Tonight we arrived at Bryce Canyon National Park, and will begin exploring it on Tuesday. Plus, I’ll include the story and photos of a VERY special place that we visited in-between Zion and Bryce Canyon (hints: it’s in Kanab, Utah and it’s not park-related).

By the way, Utah’s state slogan (brand) is “Life Elevated”. Well said.

{{{{HUGS}}}} to Buddy & Aruba!

Bye for now,
Switchback Susie

Sunday, March 29, 2009

it's Heince's special day!

Happy birthday today to my brother-in-law, Heince! He lives in Clearwater, Florida.

We wish you a day of fun and smiles! :-)

Susan, Sal, Buddy & Aruba

Friday, March 27, 2009

a great day in Provo!

Hello from Provo, Utah!

The drive here from Salt Lake City was so pretty, there were views of the snow-capped Wasatch Mountains in every direction, for the entire trip. And as we entered Provo, we could see that the city is nestled at the base of the mountains; it's so gorgeous here. See what I mean?

(Incidentally, our hotel has Bath & Body Works toiletries in my favorite scent, coconut lime verbena ... what a nice surprise! ... if you're in B&BW, give that scent a whiff, you might just love it too!)

Sal and I were apart all day today, each doing our own thing, but we each had a fulfilling day. Sal spent the day at BYU, discussing his research with the Chemistry faculty, and then giving a seminar this afternoon. As always, it was well-received. Tonight, 2 of the professors took him to dinner, and were so kind to invite me along (faculty are generally very gracious hosts!). One of the profs was Sal's PhD advisor, so it was great to catch up with him again. We had a nice time, chatting and enjoying a delicious meal of Indian food together.

My day wasn't exactly so academically intensive. Here I am in Utah, the scrapbooking capital of the world, and I had a free day, so you can guess what I did ... yep, another "shop hop"! I did my part to $timulate the Provo economy! *wink* In total, I was able to visit 5, yes FIVE!, more stores here and I had an absolute blast! That's in addition to the 4 stores that I went to in SLC ... so, that's 9 total (so far?)! Lots of scrapbooking goodness. And I've learned that sb'ing is such a part of the culture here in Utah that even in a small town, don't be surprised to see a sb store with a huge inventory!

OK, so at this point, I know that my fellow scrappers are wondering which stores I visited in/near Provo, so here goes ... (1) Archiver's in Orem. I started there because it's 2 minutes down the road from my hotel, and they don't have any stores in Florida so I wanted to be sure to get there. Like all Archiver's stores, it was huge, full of goodies, and had a friendly staff. Me & my Archiver's loot:
(2) For Every Scrapbook in Lindon ... they have some nice page kits (and they even advertise it out front!):

(3) Scrapbook Central in Payson ... they have LOTS of 2-page kits! (4) Wild Ivy Memories in Spanish Fork ... not the greatest selection, I would skip this one. (5) Roberts in Provo, which is a general craft supplies store, and is "the Utah-based version of Michaels". They have a very large selection of sb'ing supplies, and are better than M's in that regard because they carry all the big sb'ing brand names that you'd normally only find in a sb store ... Scenic Route, Bo Bunny, Doodlebug, American Crafts, Prima, etc. And today Roberts happened to have a 50% coupon in the newspaper, how lucky was that?

On Saturday morning, we'll bid farewell to Provo and drive to southern Utah where we plan to spend all of next week visiting the national parks there. We'll begin in the southwestern part of the state, at Zion National Park, and will work our way east. I absolutely can't wait to see all of that incredible geology in person!

Some of the parks are quite remote, so a WiFi signal may not always exist, and I may not be able to blog as often as I'd like next week. But I will blog whenever possible, so please stop by to continue exploring Utah with us! :-)

XOXO to Buddy & Aruba!

Enjoy the weekend,

Thursday, March 26, 2009

saying good-bye to SLC

Whew, it's Thursday already! Where In The World have I been since Monday? Too exhausted to blog in the evenings! Sorry...

Plus I hit the Panic Button earlier this week when I dropped my camera, oh no Susan! But, all seems well with it and the memory card. {relief}

It has been a busy week for us here in Salt Lake City.

On Tuesday, Sal gave a presentation about some of his research during a technical session at the ACS conference. Here's a summary of his talk, although it's gibberish to those of us who aren't organic chemists! It went very well, and he was given 2 timeslots since the speaker scheduled after him had to cancel. So, he was able to go into more detail and have additional time for Q&A.

I was able to sneak in a visit to another scrapbook store, Heartfelt Creations. It's in Sandy, a suburb of southern SLC, but was totally worth the 20 minute drive from downtown. The store has an almost overwhelmingly HUGE selection, it took me a while to get through it! And if you're into scrapbook page kits, this store is so for you! They have about 50 two-page kits displayed on the wall. So, fellow scrappers, if you're in SLC, be sure to add this store to your must-visit list.

And for some adventure ... we had planned to go skiing today, but since a storm was forecast to move in Utah on Wednesday night, we went on Wednesday instead. We got up early and drove to Alta ski area, which is in beautiful Little Cottonwood Canyon, only about an hour from SLC. Actually, we drove to the Park 'N Ride at the base of the canyon and took a ski bus up to Alta ... there's no way that our little rental car (a Corolla) could make that steep, snow-covered drive! And actually, laws require that you have snow tires and/or chains in the Canyon anyway.

I just couldn't plan a trip to Utah during prime powder season without scheduling in some time for us to give skiing a try. After all, Utah touts that they have "the greatest snow on earth". We're total novices, so we took some lessons, a class called "First Time on Skis", where you learn how to stop, turn, glide, etc. There was only one other person in the class with us, so it was almost like a private lesson. But I couldn't even make it through the class, the weather was just too BRUTAL for me! Holy cow! It was 22 degrees on the mountain, and the wind was really blowing too ... I don't even want to know what the wind chill temp was ... (think snow blowing horizontally). I was miserable, so I went inside and had some hot tea instead. I know, I'm a weather whimp! But in my defense, even the ski instructors were saying it was a rough weather day. Sal finished the lesson though, and enjoyed it. I guess he has more "arctic stamina" than I do. Notice the wintery conditions in our photos (which were hastily taken because it was so *bleeping* cold!):
here's me before gleefully returning my ski gear to the rental desk:
this shot better shows the snow whipping around (yep, my smile is for photo purposes only, I felt like a popsicle):
and here's Sal, frozen but a real trooper for finishing the lessons:

Since I'm not a cold-weather girl, I kind of already knew that snow skiing wasn't going to become my new lifelong passion, but wanted to try it nonetheless. And as I anticipated ... thanks, but no thanks. Like anything else that requires being out in the cold, I don't see the need. *wink* But I'm glad that I tried, and I learned a few things about skiing: (1) that it's more difficult than it looks; (2) that ski boots are really uncomfortable (!!!); (3) that the snow feels really "slippery" underneath the skis as you glide along. At first, you feel totally out of control; and (4) that it's easy to trip over your own poles. {chuckle}

So today, we're departing SLC and heading south to Provo, Utah. It's about an hour away, and is the home of Brigham Young University (and more scrapbook stores, tee hee). Sal was invited to give a seminar to the Chemistry Department there, and will be hosted by his PhD advisor, who left Purdue and is now a professor at BYU. So Sal will be spending all day Friday on campus with the BYU Chemistry faculty, discussing research.

I don't think I've mentioned that SLC is a friendly, clean city that's ringed by beautiful mountains. We enjoyed our stay here. Although it's the capital and the population center of Utah, it's not a huge city ... only 180,000 people. So, it's got that small-town feel (and no traffic jams!). Not what we expected. To me, that's the beauty of travel ... first-hand discovery about a place, I love it!

Oh, and one more thing ... I'm often asked where Buddy & Aruba stay while we travel? With my parents! Thanks Mom & Dad! We love knowing that B&A are in a safe, loving place and they sure have fun with "Grandma & Grandpa". My Dad snapped this photo of Aruba waking up from a nap on the sofa yesterday, she's so content, our sweet angel:

I'll see you back here from Provo!

Monday, March 23, 2009

SLC: snow, scrapbooking & a red iguana

Hi there! Hope your week's off to a great start.

Today was our 2nd full day here in Salt Lake City, and it was great. We woke up to snow! And it continued snowing all day, pretty. And I wore my parka, brrr. We haven't seen The White Stuff since we visited Prince Edward Island, Canada back in winter 2006. I had forgotten how serene the silence of snowfall is.

Sal had a busy day at the conference, starting off with an early AM recruiting session/breakfast. It was a chance for him to promote FAU and to attract new chemistry graduate students to his department. He also attended a luncheon for Purdue University Chemistry Alumni, and got to catch up on what's happening at his Alma Mater (he got his PhD there). After some other meetings and technical sessions, he called it a day.

Meanwhile, I was doing what any scrapbooker who's visiting SLC would do ... a scrapbook store "shop hop". Oh, what FUN! This is the sb'ing capital of the world, after all! I visited 3 fab stores today, and had a blast! Each shop had a great selection and some creative projects on display. I love visiting sb stores when I travel, it's not only a chance to see different products and ideas, but is a nice way to interact with locals. The employees often love to chat about their hometown, and they ask about Florida, too. So, if you're a scrapbooker and find yourself in SLC, be sure to stop by Heartland Paper (they have 2 stores ... I went to their Bountiful, UT location), Paper Creations (HUGE selection!), and Mom & Me Scrapbooking (they have some great page kits).

We ended our day with a Mexican dinner. I've noticed that there are tons of Mexican restaurants here in SLC, who knew? But apparently THE place for Mexican here is The Red Iguana, so we ate there. No regrets, it was terrific! Great atmosphere, service, food, and reasonably priced. I had perhaps the best vegetarian fajita ever! I splurged and had a (non-alcoholic) mango margarita and it was delish! :-) When we left the restaurant, the line to get a table was out the door and down the sidewalk! Now I know why.

Getting tired now, I'm off to bed.

Good night! :-)

Sunday, March 22, 2009

arrival in SLC

Hello from out west!

We got into Salt Lake City on Saturday night after a smooth flight ... no delays, no lost luggage ... and that's always good, I say! Just one glitch: the 2 bratty kids that sat behind us on the plane, who insisted on screaming and kicking our seats! UGH! Finally, after I gathered that the parents weren't going to do anything about it (despite numerous dirty looks) and deciding that I was NOT willing to tolerate it for the entire 5-hour flight, I turned around and loudly scolded the kids. They and their parents were stunned, and the kids settled down. Why are parents so oblivious to this obnoxious behavior?

But I digress. On to the fun stuff...

As we flew into SLC, I caught a glimpse of snow-capped mountains, shrouded in misty clouds, and all while the sun was setting, so I grabbed my camera:

I'm happy to be in Utah, and we began exploring SLC first thing this morning. We got up early to attend the live weekly broadcast of the world-renowned Mormon Tabernacle Choir, it's called Music and the Spoken Word. It was REALLY nice.

As the name implies, the beautiful singing is combined with some spoken reflections; today's message was that happiness is contagious, and we should share it. The broadcast is only 30 minutes long, but the choir members --- and all 11,623 pipes of the giant Tabernacle Organ! --- sounded great together. The Tabernacle is nestled in among several buildings that comprise Temple Square, in the heart of downtown SLC. The acoustics are fantastic, and you can really hear all 360 choir members singing, wow! Today was their 4,149th broadcast ... they've been performing every Sunday morning since 1929. And the broadcast is sent out live to thousands of radio and TV stations worldwide.

The centerpiece of Temple Square is Salt Lake Temple, a gorgeous 6-spired structure constructed of local granite. The Temple is the iconic symbol of SLC. No tours of the Temple are given, but since the sun happened to start shining, I snapped some photos of the grand exterior:
(oops, the above photo's a little dark, but I hope you can see Sal in the foreground)

Here I tried to use a bit of what I learned in my recent travel photography seminar, that is, to capture a unique perspective:
So, after our walking tour of Temple Square (which we braved with temps in the low 40s, and the wind really whipping!), I dropped Sal off at the convention center. The American Chemical Society's National Meeting began today, it's a conference that draws about 15,000 chemists ... yes, that's an incredible attendance! This afternoon, Sal was the Chair (moderator) of one of the technical sessions. He was invited by ACS to do this, and it's a big honor.

While Sal's busy with conference stuff this week, I'll spend some time checking out the numerous scrapbooking stores here. I opened the phone book and voila! there's a whole category devoted to them in the Yellow Pages, and let me tell you there are A LOT of them in the SLC area! Utah is a scrapbooking mecca, it's where the sb'ing hobby/industry was born. Scrapbooking has a real history here, with Mormons using it as a way to detail their genealogy. Family history is central to their beliefs. So, I'm in scrapbooking heaven here! *wink*

Even as I write this, it's getting colder and more windy here, and snow showers are in the forecast for tonight and Monday. This Florida gal is glad she brought a parka!

So thanks for stopping by! I hope you'll come along with me for a journey through Utah over the next couple of weeks. See you back here soon! :-)

Friday, March 20, 2009

give food some thought

I have a special request on this Friday ...

Today is the Worldwide MeatOut. What is that? Similar in concept to the annual SmokeOut where people quit smoking for a day (and hopefully longer), the MeatOut is a day designated for considering a meat-free diet. And it's always on the first day of Spring ... representing a fresh start. So, won't you give it a try, just for a day? No beef, no pork, no poultry, no fish. Why consider adopting a vegetarian diet? Among the many reasons ... animal compassion (every vegetarian human saves at least 100 animal lives per year!), the environment, better health ...

My story: I've been a vegetarian for 14 years. One day during graduate school, as I filled out a Save The Manatee Club membership form, I was suddenly stunned by the stark contradictions in my life. I was anti-fur, I was the "parent" of an adoptive manatee, I promoted shelter adoptions ... so how could I justify eating a ham sandwich for lunch? Why was I trying to protect some vulnerable animals, but not others? AN EPIPHANY! Ever since, I've been working to protect ALL animal life, and examining the impacts of my lifestyle on theirs. My vegetarian diet helps to liberate factory farm animals from a life of horrific living conditions, and a death that is painful and terrifying. I invite you to join me, if only for today ...

How to begin? Request a free vegetarian starter kit (note that you can download it, if you prefer). And, if you're thinking that it's not easy to be a vegetarian in our meat-centered society, you're so right! But with a little effort, it is possible to enjoy delicious, healthy food. One source of yummy and convenient soy foods is Morningstar Farms, right in your grocer's freezer section. And there are spectacular vegetarian cookbooks galore. Asian fusion restaurants offer absolutely delicious tofu dishes (try one!). And on and on ...

As an extension of this compassionate lifestyle, won't you consider eliminating leather & fur products from your wardrobe? Yes, it's tough! Perhaps donate those leather loafers to Goodwill and start fresh with a new pair made from synthetic materials (both Payless Shoes and Chadwick's have a great selection, for example). Again, it's not easy in a society where accessories are so often leather. But my closet is a leather- and fur-free zone!

On behalf of all animals, thank you. They are often the most neglected and forgotten creatures among us. We are their voice.

P.S. ~ I'm often asked if my dogs, Buddy & Aruba, are vegetarian? You bet! There are several varieties of vegetarian dog foods and treats available both in pet supply stores and online. Like for human vegetarians, it takes just a little more effort.

I'm off to Utah tomorrow, so I'll catch you back here ... from there! Hope you'll join me on our tour around that beautiful state.

Enjoy the weekend,

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

going green

Happy St. Patrick's Day, especially to my Irish friends!

In honor of the holiday, I thought I'd share just a few scenes from our trip to Ireland in July 2007. Sal attended a chemistry conference in Dublin, and then we spent a couple of weeks exploring the country. And we loved it! So memorable.

I'd love to share a glimpse of The Emerald Isle with you ... enjoy!

Sal & I in Killarney National Park (southwest Ireland):EVERYTHING is green in Ireland (including our passport stamps), even their mailboxes!

We took a boat out to Inishmore, one of the Aran Islands in Galway Bay, off the west coast of Ireland. We toured the island with Thomas, an island local. Sal enjoyed trying to speak Gaelic (he had studied a little before we went); this is the part of Ireland where the language is still spoken: One of our favorite things to do during our visit was listening to live music in the Irish pubs, the sound is intoxicating (no pun intended!). Some of the best traditional musicians were in the small town of Dingle, on the southwest coast:Although I totally disagree with their fate, I loved seeing sheep grazing peacefully at every turn in the Irish countryside, and hearing their gentle "baahhs" in the distance ... they're such sweet creatures:

Here's what we toured the country in, a tiny Nissan Micra ... Sal loved the whole driving-on-the-left thing, and he did a great job! (btw, gas was the equivalent of about $5 a gallon there at the time, plus add 40% for the USD-euro exchange rate! ... hence the high-mileage cars):

Have a LUCKY day! :-)

Monday, March 16, 2009

a great weekend

Hello and happy Monday ... I hope you enjoyed the weekend. Mine was busy, but great!

The fun started Friday night, Sal and I attended a performance by KODO, a group of Japanese taiko drummers. Wow, some of those drums are HUGE, and the intense sound penetrated the whole auditorium! And it was obvious that a ton of endurance is required to play them (and ladies ... there weren't only men on stage, there were some gals playing too and they were amazing!) The largest one, The Great Drum called o-daiko, is about 800 pounds and 4 feet in diameter (pictured below), and is carved from a single, massive tree trunk:And these giant drums aren't played with typical little drumsticks, no way ... they're pounding on them with baseball bat-sized sticks of wood! The drums were accompanied by cymbals, a flute, and a banjo-type instrument, and a bit of Japanese song and dance; all of it enhanced the percussion sounds so nicely. The group put on an awesome show ... here's a sample video clip. They're on tour around North America right now, and will be touring in Europe (starting in Italy) in May. Check out their show schedule.

On Saturday I drove over to St. Petersburg, had a quick visit with my parents, and then attended my long-awaited National Geographic Traveler travel photography seminar all day Sunday. It was called "A Passion For Travel: Photos That Tell The Story" and I've been signed-up for months. I couldn't wait to attend, and it didn't disappoint! The 2 travel photo journalists who taught were very experienced NGT contributors, and shared their knowledge well. I also loved mingling during lunch and the breaks, chatting with others who love to travel too. It was an enriching day, and I'll have a chance to put the concepts into practice real soon ... in Utah! ... quite a photogenic place!

I got home late (and tired) on Sunday night, but it was worth it! :-)

Have a great week ahead,

Saturday, March 14, 2009

it's Angie's special day!

Happy 13th birthday today to our niece, Angie! She lives in Gulfport, Florida.

Wow, this is a big occasion --- you're a teenager now, Angie!

Have a FUN & FABULOUS day! :-)

Aunt Susan, Uncle Sal, Buddy & Aruba

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

oh, Canada!

Please, help me!

I'm terrified. It's that time of year again.

I live in Canada on the ice and at the end of March, some people with clubs will come here and brutally beat me and my baby harp seal friends. Most of us are too young to move quickly enough to get away from these attackers, there's no escape. They take advantage of us. Some of us will even be skinned alive right here on the ice! Yes, that's what happens!

Every year they do this to nearly 300,000 of us, all because our fur is soft and pretty and humans want it for coats and other things.

I'm so scared! Like every living thing, I don't want to die a cruel and painful death. Won't you please take action to speak up for me? I cannot defend myself. I only can hope that one day the Canadian government will put an end to the suffering that this industry causes.

Thank you,

the baby harp seals

Monday, March 9, 2009

exotic beauty

Hey there ... hope your weekend was terrific, even though it was an hour shorter.

We spent Sunday out with friends ... first a visit to the American Orchid Society Gardens here in Delray Beach, and then we enjoyed a relaxing dinner at LemonGrass, an Asian bistro ... love their red curry dish, made with coconut milk, bamboo shoots & peppers, YUM! But before that, we walked the lush, 3.5-acre gardens and toured the 4,000 sq.ft. greenhouse at the AOS, all the while amazed at the exotic beauty of wild orchids. They're such incredibly complex and intricate flowers!

Ordinarily, I would give you a glimpse of it in photographs here, but ... when I tried to upload the photos from my camera's digi memory card to my laptop, it didn't work. Thumbnails of the photos flashed on the screen, and then it went blank. {gulp} I tried again ... nothing. Tried using Sal's laptop ... again, nothing. UGH !!! My photos are gone? Oh no! I'll try again at a photo store, but I'm not holding my breath. I also had photos on there of Buddy from last week, so cute ... we have a tradition: I bring home groceries, put the bags on the kitchen floor, and he runs over and investigates what I bought (beagles LOVE food). He has such fun with it! I guess I'll have to do another photo shoot with Buddy the next time I get groceries, but if I can ever recover my MIA orchid photos, I'll post them here. They were so pretty too! So, a gentle reminder --- if you have photos sitting on your camera's memory card, upload them soon ... and back 'em up!

It was our first time visiting the orchid gardens, and unfortunately it'll probably be our last. :-( I recently read in the newspaper that they'll be closing in May due to, what else?, the economy. Oh what a shame! I had always meant for us to visit, but never got around to it, so we decided that we'd better hurry and enjoy it before it's no longer open to the public. They claim that they'll be maintaining the gardens (with the help of volunteers), and they hope to re-open when the economy improves, but who knows?

Have a great week ahead,