Saturday, January 2, 2010

2009 New Year's Sojourn (12/31/2009-1/2/2010)

Thursday, December 31, 2009
Took a quick trip to Largo to visit Mike & Donna (and the Corgi, Lily). On the way we stopped at Busch Gardens, Tampa Bay. Brynne has been here, but not her parents.
We are now used to Christmas decorations in balmy weather.
Busch Gardens Entrance:
Busch Gardens is like a zoo with roller coasters (6). This one is Montu,
with 7 inversions, one of the tallest and longest inverted coasters in the world. It is named for the ancient Egyptian god of war.
We visited the edge of Africa, with its Aldabrachelys gigantea/Aldabra Tortoises (you could use one as a coffee table),
and view of the Serengeti Plain with a Photo Safari truck driving past,
and Phoenicopterus roseus/Greater Flamingos in the foreground. Saw several acacia trees, but no giraffes to eat them up.
The Gyps africanus/White-backed Vultures were nesting.
Suricata suricatta/Meerkat stood on guard
as the little ones gamboled.
We found the white tiger straight down in the moat, pacing, pacing in the water.
Here a Panthera leo/lioness takes a drink.
Wow, an underwater view of the Hippopotamus amphibius/Hippopotamus!
This is what it looked like above the hippo pool.
Some flower photo ops:
Albizia julibrissin/Mimosa:
Orange Bougainvillea:
Took the Skyride
- last chance before construction closes it in June!
Can't you tell how excited they are?!
Floral sculpture of a tiger...
The SheiKra Roller Coaster, the one with the 90-degree drop.
It is named for a sub-Saharan bird of prey, so you drop as if diving for lunch. This ride also has an Immelmann loop, an inversion where you go into a loop, then do a half twist. At the end, it manages to splash and get all the spectators wet!
One of the denizens of the Land of the Dragon:
the Varanus salvadorii/Crocodile Monitor.
Near the Bird Garden, the Phoenicopterus minor/Lesser Flamingos were a nervous lot.
A peacock sneaked into this photo of orchids and bromeliads (he's top middle, with his tail towards you).
See, he "snuck" into this picture, too!
What is this, a begonia tree?
As the sun sets, a floral sculpture of a butterfly...

Friday, January 1, 2010
On New Year's Day, we visited Lance & Trista, and met Donna's first grandson - Jackson.
This big boy is a few days shy of 4-months old!
Great-Auntie Tamiko put him to sleep!

Saturday, January 2, 2010
Free second day at Busch Gardens! Today we headed to Nairobi. Up close and personal with the Aonyx capensis/African Clawless Otters:
Went on the Rhino Rally, which promised to be a wild jeep ride. We were disappointed when our driver was an old lady, but she knew the spiel.
Oryx dammah/Scimitar-horned Oryx:
If we didn't have to keep our arms and legs in the vehicle, we could have touched this Taurotragus oryx/Common Eland!
Connochaetes taurinus/Blue Wildebeest:
Took advantage of a free meal voucher at the Crown Colony House,
 before driving home.