Sunday, May 18, 2014

Mana Pools National Park

Mana Pools National Park

Mana Pools National Park

Posted: 18 May 2014 10:23 AM PDT

The elephants at Mana Pools National Park in Zimbabwe have a reputation of being exceptionally relaxed around humans. I took these pictures at Ruckomechi Camp. The elephants are attracted to the camp by the seed pods dropped by the trees. They walk right through the camp in search of the pods. At night the elephants come close enough to rub up against the tent (We even had a baby elephant in our outdoor shower during the night!)
Not surprisingly the camp boardwalk needs to be repaired frequently!

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Bavarian Festival

Posted: 18 May 2014 07:58 AM PDT

I visited this festival in Passau, Germany in April 2012. While Bavaria is renowned for its Oktoberfest festival in Munich, it is usually impossible to find seats in the tents or receive service. Fortunately, most cities and towns in Bavaria offer their own festivals throughout the summer, which are much less crowded and more enjoyable. These towns conveniently host their festivals during different weeks, making it possible for a determined traveler to hop from festival to festival throughout the entire summer season.

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Yalta, Crimea. May 17. 2014.

Posted: 18 May 2014 12:08 AM PDT

Yalta, Crimea in the evening. May 17 2014. This is how life look like on "occupied" territory. Just a glance without any particular purpose. No troops, happy people, peace and quite. Plenty of tourists. And it's not a tourist season yet.

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Becoming an Evacuee

Posted: 17 May 2014 10:10 PM PDT

I've always wondered what I'd take if an emergency took place and it all came true on Wednesday. At about 10:40 am, I turned on the local news to watch another part of the county that is known to be in a fire zone. And suddenly I see a live stream of trees and brush on fire that is just two blocks from my house. So quickly I called my husband at work and decided to pack up my twin preschoolers and 18 month old baby and go somewhere. Somewhere unknown. I told my girls that we were going to lunch-- NOW- and they had to get their clothes and shoes on ASAP. I spent the next 10 minutes gathering photos and mementos, computers, and documents. Having never done this before, it was all a guess as to what is really important. I learned later that my husband really didn't care that I saved his military medals and uniform but wanted his harddrive backup system.

We headed to Starbucks; with its free wifi and free refills for loyalty card holders. We were located near a sandwich shop and a Walmart, which seemed strategic if we needed to buy supplies.

During our wait at Starbucks, my girls went through at least 4 refills of iced tea and were very happy when the senior barista brought over paper, stickers, and markers to create artwork.

We sat for hours and watched people stream in from all over North County, sharing their stories. One family was watching the news as their condo on Ambrosia Lane went up in flames. They were calm, composed, and didn't seem upset, almost as if they weren't thinking about the emotional loss but just what were the immediate steps ahead.

We met other families with children clutching their teddy bears and blankets, as they ran around outside with a nervous energy that just didn't seem to stop.

At 6:30 pm, my husband met us and we headed over to a local shelter. Surprisingly, it was almost completely devoid of evacuees. There were just 3-4 families there, happy to munch on fresh dinners brought by local restaurants and wondering what is next.

By 8:30 we decided to take up a friend's offer to stay at her house. And we hoped to stop by our own house to pick up a change of clothes and toothbrushes.

We checked and and drove through the eerily empty streets and hatched a plan to get into our neighborhood via a side street, in the event that there were still street closures in effect. Surprisingly, all streets were open, and we drove by neighbors who were quietly placing their trash cans in the street for routine pick-up the next morning. We arrived home and gratefully to an untouched house and happy to lay our heads in our own bed.
Thank God that we were evacuated for less than a day. I pray for those families who are still waiting to learn if their home is still there and still waiting to get clean changes of clothes and the everyday essentials. I am thankful to the Red Cross who organized a safe place to be, along with food and medical care. We are thankful for the small teddy bears that my girls were given which will forever memorialize our experience away from home.

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Lewis and Clark Heritage Days- ST Charles MO 2014

Posted: 17 May 2014 08:50 PM PDT

Lewis and Clark Heritage Days held at Historic Saint Charles, Missouri. The reenactment includes a grand parade, military encampment, food and more. Enjoy few pictures from this year event.

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Air drop Over Camp Pendleton Fire

Posted: 17 May 2014 03:14 PM PDT

This fire (Tomahawk fire) at Camp Pendleton developed as we watched from our deck. Long time for air support to come…but finally arrived.

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Fires burn above and around San Marcos

Posted: 17 May 2014 01:41 PM PDT

I was on my way to check on parents in San Marcos where I am also a long time resident. I noticed they were evacuating the University to I went to higher ground behind the the campus to see if I could capture some shots. As evening closed in I went around to the front of the CSUSM Campus. Here's what I got.

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King's Cross Station

Posted: 17 May 2014 01:18 PM PDT

King's Cross (also spelled Kings Cross) is a famous train station in London which is busy night and day. Many people these days come just to visit the special Platform 9 3/4 which was made famous in the Harry Potter films. If you want, you can wait in line and take a photo with a luggage cart that is half embeded in the wall. There is also a Harry Potter shop selling all kinds of products related to the boy wizard. But mainly this is a working class station with people coming and going to all parts of England (mostly stops in the north). It has recently been given a bit of a makeover and looks better than ever now, although it can never match its wealthier next-door neighbour St Pancras International Station in terms of prestige.

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