The Trip to Arizona

Okay, since I’m still working on my photos and formulating my blog posts, I’ll talk about the trip out to Arizona. The trip out there always sucks. I really hate flying and dealing with rental car places. But it is so worth it once we’re there. So this is a rant, but the rest of my AZ posts will get better!

We had just boarded the plane around 4:15 PM EST and snapped into our seatbelts when a woman in the seat behind us started making a fuss. She asked one of the flight attendants if there was going to be any turbulence. The fool told her “yes, for the entire trip.” She freaked. out. so. bad. The flight attendant tried to calm her down. She took a valium. She took another valium. Her husband and daughter tried to calm her down. I thought everything was going to be okay, except the plane sat there for too long. All of a sudden she got up and said “I can’t do this!! I need to get off!” Now mind you, the plane was set to leave, but she went up to the front anyway. They got the pilot out. They tried to tell her it was going to be okay. She wouldn’t have any of it. They actually opened up the plane again and let her off and her husband and daughter were left to go to AZ by themselves. In her drug induced state, I wondered how she got home. Hmm, I wonder how many airlines would put up with this woman’s crap. Southwest airlines did though.

The funny thing is it was only turbulent for about 20 minutes and it was mild. It’s like being on a bumpy road, that’s it. Personally even though I was getting pissed she was holding us up, I was glad she got off so we didn’t have to deal with a screaming meamie the whole time.

Next, the car rental. I hate this. AZ has different insurance requirements than the rest of the world. Every year I call my insurance agent and they assure me I am fully insured for everything, but when I get to the car rental, the be-och says I am not covered in case the car breaks down or something and that I would be responsible for paying for any unrentable time it is being fixed. And then I use my debit/credit card which, in my state, is recognized as a credit card wherever I shop. She tells me that it is not a credit card and since it is a debit card she do a credit check because it is unsecured. I flipped out. A freakin’ credit check for $400? Mind you, I’ve got great credit, so I am really pissed off. I told the be-och that a regular credit card isn’t a secure credit card. She tries to give me a list a rules for debit cards which I threw back at her and told her to save the environment by not throwing extra paper with stupid rules at me. Mind you, this was after a 5.5 hr plane trip, waiting for luggage, riding to the car rental place, so it is, ummm, 12:00 PM EST. I’m pretty be-ochy at this point myself. I declined paying for her extra freakin’ insurance and took my chances on their stupid vehicle. Needless to say, I will be using another rental car company next year.

We had to find the motel (we stayed somewhere different this year) and then Whole Foods before it closes (I am sooo not used to grocery stores that close) for breakfast food, mmmmm. Now it’s 1:30 AM EST and I’m am really getting tired. By the time we got back and settled it was 3 AM EST. Or 12 AM AZ time.

I have no photos from the airplane because we fly at around 39K miles and all I basically see is the cloudy blanket that covers the earth. But I’ll leave you with this photo of some bark that I really like from a tree taken in Boyce Thompson Arboretum:

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I’m Baaaaack!!!

I just got back from a great trip to Arizona! Let’s see, I took 702 videos / photos so as you can imagine, I have been spending quite a bit of time fooling with them and haven’t even had a chance to formulate any blog posts yet! For now I’ll leave you with a bird we all see quite often and which I saw both in the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix and Boyce Thompson Arboretum in Superior – a female cardinal. This photo was taken in the Desert Botanical Garden.  It was soooooo nice to see leaves on trees, let me tell you!

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I do have one complaint to make though. There are some *very* obnoxious people with cameras with those long lenses who, when they saw I was about to snap a bird in a tree or sitting somewhere, either came very noisily over and scared the bird away or said “WHATCHA GOT THERE?” and scared the bird away. This happened quite a few times in different places to the point where I was getting really pissed off. Okay, that’s off my chest. All in all, birders are very nice people and I’m not going to let a few rude ones turn me off to my casual birding enjoyment!

I did intend to leave you with a daily post while I was gone, but with the move of my blog the future posts turned into drafts so they never got posted. Sorry about that! They were good, too!! I’ll have to post them at a later date.

Oh, and by the way, I’m trying to get caught up on everyone’s blogs. I’m not purposely ignoring you!

“The Tax Man Cometh,” Castor Bean Plant

Blech! I always hate to waste my time doing my taxes. And that’s exactly what I’ve done today. I love Turbo-Tax because it walks me through everything and explains anything I ask it to, but still, it’s a royal pain the rear-end. But, it’s done. For the most part. I just have to finish the e-filing process. Woo Hoo!

Susan was asking about one of the plants I posted yesterday, here’s another photo of the Castor Bean (Ricinus communis) plant in the background:

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along with another close-up of the leaves:

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and it’s pretty red stems and fruit.  Red is is a good warning to us humans to “stop” because the seeds are poisonous to us along with animals and insects, due to the protein ricin.  If you want very detailed information on ricin, click here.

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These photos were taken on one of my visits to Cornell Plantations on August 12, 2006.

It’s All About The Green!!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day to all of my Irish friends! This day puts me in mind of Tipperary Hill in Syracuse’s west side where Irish people mainly from County Tipperary, Ireland settled. These Irish were the chief laborers in building the Erie Canal. There are two very special things about Tipperary Hill (that I know about, I’m sure there’s more). First, the traffic light at the intersection of Tompkins Street and Milton Avenue. Unfortunately I don’t have my own photo (yet) so I borrowed this photo from this website: Notice the green at the top!!

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The second thing I like about Tipperary Hill is Coleman’s Authentic Irish Pub. When I used to eat meat, they had the best Corned Beef and Cabbage dinner – if you could get a table! Talk about wall-to-wall people! This *is* the place to be on and around St. Patty’s Day. You can take a tour of the Pub on their website. It’s really beautiful on the inside! If you don’t want to take the tour, at least look at this first photo of the leprechaun door!

And for my non-Irish friends, I leave you with a few green photos:

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I hope everyone has a happy day, whether you’re Irish or not!

Irondequoit Bay Marine Park – Video

Here’s one of the videos I took the other day. Not the best one, but I love the swan movement and the honking in the background. The constant wind from the lake, on the other hand, is kind of annoying to hear in the video, although I’m not going to knock this lake breeze because that’s what keeps me somewhat cooler here in the summer.

Irondequoit Bay Marine Park – Birds Birds and more Birds!

Today it’s all about the birds!! The other day my last stop was at Irondequoit Bay Marine Park, which is on the west side of Irondequoit Bay. It’s just a couple of minutes from where I live when the bridge is crossable, when they move the bridge in the summer so the boats can get out of the bay to the lake, then it will take me about 20 minutes to get there because I have to go all the way around the bay.
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I was walking down to the water’s edge when someone stopped me in their car and asked me if I was a birder. Hmmm, do I *look* like a birder? What does a birder look like? I don’t know. I told him I do it for fun, why? And he pointed out these two cute little American Coots to me!

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Lifer! Doing the lifer happy dance! I’ve been wanting to see Coots since I first saw them on hmmm, somebody’s blog, I think it was Mon@rch. The sun was blasting in my eyeballs, so it was *very* hard for me to see the birds and to capture decent photos. Don’t you wonder how those birds carry those huge feet around? I’d fall on my face for sure. I mean look at them! Here’s a shot with one foot picked up, look at that thing dangle. It’s got to take a lot of energy just to walk! 2007-03-13 085_crop

I spied more coots among all of the birds. Here’s a bigger coot: 2007-03-13 094_crop

And the same coot showing us its butt/legs/feet:

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Here’s another coot – a good shot of its feet:

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Here’s a sampling of the large group of birds that were hanging out there: 2007-03-13 099

However, I did stay focused on the coots:

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Argh! See, I’m focused on the coots and totally missed the banded swan in the back! Actually, the sun was so bright, I didn’t know there was a banded swan until I downloaded the photos. I found I had a really bad photo of the entire bird in one of my group shots:

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And in case you think I’m being too coot focused, here’s a photo of a Mallard pair with a pigeon in the background:

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Hope to post video tomorrow now that I’ve moved my blog!

Much Better Day! Charlotte-Genesee Lighthouse, Lake Ontario at Durand Eastman Park

So I played with my blog by upgrading it to 2.1.2 and added sidebar widgets for a while (update: which I have since had to stay up to midnight Tuesday night to remove them and downgrade to WordPress 2.0.7 because 2.1.2 isn’t working properly and now I have to fix all of my links), and then headed out to 1000 Acre Swamp and encountered the sign “Parking Lot Closed For the Winter.” I drove back in there anyway. The driveway was full of snow, ice, mud and water:

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And swamps on either side of me:

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And the parking lot was still snowed in: Shoot.

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Hey, I’m declaring winter is gone, let’s get that snow plowed out of there! I was ready with my hiking boots to slog through some deep water if I had to, just to find birds and skunk cabbage and other things. No place to park without getting towed. Okay, change of plans.

I went out to the Charlotte-Genesee Lighthouse on Lake Ontario which was built in 1822. The keeper’s house was built in 1863.

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The following information is from the detailed sign:

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A Heritage Harbor – The outlet of the Genesee River has always been an important location for commerce. Native Americans camped here, the first white settlers chose this site to build a cabin, and the bluff was also recognized as the best location for the beacon that marked the entrance to a growing lakeport.

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A Strategic Location – Charlotte was once a bustling commercial shipping port, the destination of sidewheelers and sailing vessels unloading supplies for a growing city and loading products from the region. Today the harbor is still an unimportant hub, but now it is used primarily by recreational boaters.

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Timeline (some dates were hard to read, so they may be off by ten or twenty years).

1781 First Light on the Great Lakes at Mouth of the Niagara River

1789 Lighthouses Become Federal Responsibility

1792 Hincher Cabin Built

1822 Lighthouse and Original Keeper’s Dwelling Built

1829 First Piers Built

1838 Pier Light Built

1856 New Lantern and Fresnel Lens Added

1863 Present Keeper’s House Built

1881 Light Remove from Service. Lantern Moved to Pier

1905 Lighthouse Saved from Demolition. Primarily by Efforts of Charlotte High School Students.

1984 Initial Restoration Begun

Daffodils in front of the Keeper’s House – another sure sign of spring – woo hoo!

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My next destination was Irondequoit Bay, but first I stopped along the Lake Ontario shoreline at Durand Eastman Park (which is a place for exploration for another day or two or three or . . .). Here’s the pier with the light mentioned above:

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Same gulls I’ve seen a million times now, but that’s okay, I like it when they spread their wings:

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The beach is a mixture of sand and ice-snow – it felt really nice to walk on sand again:

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Since this post is getting really long, I’ll save my blogging about Irondequoit Bay for next time! I got at least one new lifer there! Yay!

However, I will say this morning I woke up to the rusty gate sound of Grackles. Yay! The Grackles are back. Also the crows (thanks Susan). When I got home a crow was doing its thing in my yard:

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I’ll eventually get to the spring flower of the day. . .

Let’s not talk about my day, because most everyone was in extreme rude mode today. Including the shithead that decided to turn a straight lane into a turn lane and blew her rice-burner horn* which gets to my very last nerve because *she* almost rear-ended me as I was turning from the turn lane and then she flips me the bird and weaves in among traffic like a chicken so I couldn’t return the favor. I didn’t know she was going to do this, otherwise I would have let her in. Or not. Must be the time change. One of my rules is if I am in a vehicle smaller than other vehicles around me, I do not get in their way. I stay far away. I’m scared of them, because I could die while they drive over me saying “hmmm, I wonder if I just hit something.”

And what is up with the *horns on those foreign cars – they make one of the most obnoxious sounds in the world. I know. I had a Mazda truck while in college for a little while (freebie from my Dad, I wasn’t going to turn it down!), and I refused to blow the horn on that thing. Freakin’ embarassing to say the least! Give me a Ford Explorer horn anyday. Now that’s a horn!! Yes, and I am such a geek about my vehicle that when my Dad is riding with me I’ll turn off the radio as I accelerate and say “listen to that engine, mmmm.” I love the sound of a Ford Explorer engine. (And no, this particular Explorer is not a gas guzzler because it’s a stick).

I had to wait in line at my local healthy food store (no, still no Whole Foods, I’m still waiting for them to come to my city – they’re in Canada and the U.K., but they won’t come to Upstate New York, that is really ticking me off) after dealing with everyone’s kids hogging up complete aisles and rude old coots who ran me down to beat me in line, I picked up the magazine Body + Soul (I can’t just stand there wasting time). I read about “Green Entrepreneur Josh Dorfman” who has a blog called Lazy Environmentalist and a website with Vivavi called Modern Green Living. Cool, I’ll be looking at these tonight.

I worked all day yesterday so I could play today after my errands today, but after the antics of people today, I just wanted to get home. So maybe tomorrow. . . .

For now, I leave you with some Trillium, taken on May 17, 2005, another woodland wildflower I can’t wait to see soon!

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Flickr is loading so freakin’ slow today. I’m done. I’ll be quiet now. At least on this blog post.

Dreaming of Spring Flowers. . .

While it seems like all of my blogging friends are displaying their spring flowers, I’m still dreaming of them appearing here. Soon, they’ll be here, soon. Here’s one of my many favorite woodland spring flowers. Actually I can’t think of a spring flower that isn’t my favorite! Trout Lily (Erythronium americanum)

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Hey! I didn’t realize Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom was on again!  I remember watching it every Sunday night when I was a kid! How awesome is this!

Cell Phones – Do You Ever Do This?

So my friend, who lives with his brother, called me yesterday on his way to work (he works second shift) telling me he felt like he had already put in a full day and he only got four hours of sleep. His brother woke him up telling him he couldn’t get his car started and he needed to get to work.

Of course I asked where he had to go to help his brother. The answer?

The driveway. I burst out laughing so hard! I couldn’t believe it.

His brother was calling from the driveway. The driveway. How lazy is that to call from the driveway? My friend told me they do that to each other all of the time. Once when my friend was working on his own truck and he needed a screwdriver he called his brother on the cell to bring it out to him.

I told my friend that if he was working on my vehicle in my driveway and he called me from the cell phone, that would be a sure way to get my attention in a very negative way. If a person is too lazy to walk over to the window or door to talk to me but instead called me from their cellphone, I’m afraid that phone would end up in the lake (bionic power would take over in my arm to be able to hurl it that far).

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Canandaigua Lake (for Mon@rch, to show you a bit of what you’re missing today).

Now, I will admit, I have called someone from outside the house, once. I visited my parents in the summertime and their screen door was locked. I have keys for all of their doors, but I didn’t have the key for that. So I used the cell phone to let them know I was there.

How about you, have you, or would you ever call someone inside a house from their driveway? Or do you have some other similar cellphone story?

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