Sunday, March 6, 2011

The benefits of membership at the LA Zoo

The Los Angeles Zoo is located on the north side of Los Angeles, about 20 miles from Downey. If you get an annual membership, you get free entrance to the zoo for a year, plus a lot of other perks. One of the perks is early entrance to the zoo on select days during the year. Today was one of those days.

Aside from avoiding the crowds, the main advantage to entering early is that the animals are still eating breakfast and feeling frisky. Many of them are still enjoying their enrichment activities.

Lion and lioness
Both the lion and the lioness are quite old. The lion suffers from arthritis, which showed when he finally got up. Not only did he move stiffly, but he also acted like a grumpy old man as he chased the lioness away from her place in the sun.



TigerTiger drinking

One of the female gorillas enjoyed her branch and leaf breakfast in the sun. There's only one male in a group of gorillas.

Young giraffe eating Giraffe necks
For giraffes, enrichment means a series of especially tasty leaves scattered on the rocks that surround their enclosure. This particular young female giraffe will be the next breeding female at the zoo. The gestation period for a giraffe is 15 months.

The all-new Asian elephant exhibit is a little disappointing to me. The elephant enclosure is huge, as it should be. But even though you walk all the way around it as you view the other zoo exhibits, there are only a few viewing areas for the elephants.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Mission San Juan Bautista

Mission San Juan Bautista, founded in 1797, was the first of several missions my friends and I visited on a "mission trip" up the California coast in March. It is the largest of the twenty-one missions in California.

The first thing that struck me upon walking inside was the multitude and intensity of the colors, and second, how nicely the colors all blended together.

Mission San Juan Bautista interior

The main altar at the front of the church holds statues of six saints, with patron saint San Juan Bautista (John the Baptist) in the center.

The colors, arches, and columns combined to make beautiful patterns.

I always love the glow of the candles in the dim light.

We spent a lot of time wandering through the mission museum, with its exhibits and re-created rooms. Imagine copying books and books of music by hand! The lines were incredibly straight.

Mission San Juan Bautista music

The mission museum displays included music books, maps, tools, and vestments.

Outside was a small graveyard, with a view of the backside of the bell tower.

Mission San Juan Bautista bell tower

The mission and parts of the bell tower were used in the 1958 Hitchcock film Vertigo.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

The Columbia Memorial Space Center

Today, my daughter and I visited the Columbia Memorial Space Center in Downey. We had a great time with the interactive exhibits.

Columbia Memorial Space Center
I love these collage pictures made up of individual photos. The photo below shows the detail area of the shuttle rudder. I think they've cheated in some places by changing the picture coloration instead of finding photos that actually change from light to dark.

Columbia Memorial Space Center

At this exhibit, you could launch paper airplanes. The goal was to fly the plane through a hoop about 10 feet away.

Columbia Memorial Space Center

Columbia Memorial Space Center

Columbia Memorial Space CenterHere, you could see how much you would weigh on other planets.
Mercury — good! Jupiter — bad!

Columbia Memorial Space CenterHere, you could land the space shuttle. It was not pretty! :-(

Columbia Memorial Space CenterAt this exhibit, you could use the yoke, the rudder, and the throttle to take off, turn, and land this plane.

Monday, May 10, 2010

St. Steven's


St. Steven's is a Serbian Orthodox Cathedral located in Monterey Park. We found it by accident, so when we visited it was not open. It was sad not to see inside, but I was impressed by the beauty of the exterior. Built in 1946, the building is a work of art.

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