Otterly Adorable Elephant Squee-ls: Cute Animal Special!

I like cute fluffy things. I get a bit overexcited when I see cute fluffy things. I also suffer from cute aggression which is totally a real thing (maybe)… So M was very brave to take me to San Diego Zoo and Monterey Aquarium and to see the elephant seals in San Simeon.

*CUTENESS ALERT!!!*

We saw so many things at the zoo, I can’t list them all, or indeed remember them all! But here’s three of my favourite photos from the visit. There are tonnes more and they’re all so adorable so I’ll try to share some more in the near future.

Huggy Giraffes!

Huggy Giraffes!

Elephant :)

Elephant πŸ™‚

Roly-Poly Polar Bear

Roly-Poly Polar Bear

There’s this place called San Simeon that M has been to twice. This trip, we actually stayed there one night. The town is fairly… how can I put this nicely? ‘Sleepy’. But it’s famous for elephant seals! I don’t know why and there was no one to ask, but these gorgeous, blubbery, big-nosed squish-piles of fat and whiskers flock to one section of the coast. They don’t do much, just lie there soaking up the sun and occasionally gathering the energy to move a metre or two before resting again. They’re like the sloths of the sea.

Look how many there are piled into one small area! This isn't even all of them!

Look how many there are piled into one small area! This isn’t even all of them!

Close-up of Sir Blubber McFlubberson, Sr.

Close-up of Sir Blubber McFlubberson, Sr.

And… For the grand cute overload finale… SEA OTTERS!

Monterey has five female sea otters that earn their keep by adopting bubelah (that’s baby, for the uninitiated) otters that have been abandoned or rejected by their real mummies, or little orphan otters 😦 We saw four of them, because the fifth was in the back looking after her newest ward.

I took an awesome video of them playing (if I do say so myself):

Watch til the end for Surprise Otter!

Hope you enjoyed the animal special and didn’t explode from the cuteness πŸ™‚

Bonus penguin:

Dim-witted penguin...

Dim-witted penguin…

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San Francisco

I frickin’ LOVE this city. The architecture is beautiful, the bay is stunning, the people are really nice (shop assistants don’t seem to want to murder you like they do in New York) and… Oh. I just love this place so much even though we only spent 3 days here.

The views, the views, the views!

The views, the views, the views!

And (BONUS!) San Fran is the setting for the best film of all time, and a close runner up.

Princess Diaries

Princess Diaries

Mrs Doubtfire

Mrs Doubtfire

So, what did we do with our three days?!

We went to Pier 39 which was really fun. A bit Disneyesque in terms of kitschness (ey, two made-up words in one sentence!) but cool. We bought a few souvenirs and I hugged a big seal because it asked nicely to wear my hat.

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We did quite a lot of shopping and I ate too much chocolate ice cream and felt a bit sick afterwards but it was worth it. We also visited M’s friend at his office. Not only do they have sofas, Lego, and an old phone box, but there are SWINGS in the office. It’s like a playground. I love it. I wonder if I can find a law firm with a slide in it… Actually there was a law office right on the bay, address Pier 9. Now that would be a cool place to work. One can dream, as they say!

We spent a morning being big kids at the Exploratorium, which is a big science museum with all interactive exhibits. It was really fun and interesting until I got shrunk whilst sitting on a totally normal sized chair. Then I was turned into a giant next to a totally normal sized bridge.
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I ate at my first Cheesecake Factory but there was so much food I didn’t have room for cheesecake. American portion sizes are reeeeeedonkulous!

The only thing we didn’t do that we had planned was to cycle over the Golden Gate Bridge. My knee is healing beautifully but the accident (sustained when I fell off a bike) knocked my confidence a lot more than I realised, and the fear of falling off again and having to go again to three A&E’s/health centres sadly was more powerful than my desire to do the activity. Oh well; gotta leave something for next time!

 

First Leg in Pics: New York

First, we went to an electronics superstore and M discovered heaven-on-earth

B&H = Bliss & Headphones, clearly

B&H = Bliss & Headphones, clearly

From there, we went to Central Park to play chess, which was an odd activity choice considering I can’t actually play! But M is a good teacher and my ‘Chess Faces’ are something to behold:

We saw the Rockefeller in the flesh AND in Lego! (Guess which one I preferred)

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So many stunning views!

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Manhattan skyline from 100th floor of new WTC building; Chrysler Building (my fave in the whole city, if not the world) from the street

Manhattan skyline from 100th floor of new WTC building; Chrysler Building (my fave in the whole city, if not the world) from the street

I was (quite literally) star-struck at MOMA by Van Gogh’s Starry Night, but M wasn’t so impressed: “I don’t think much of the cafe here,” he says, pointing to a single wax apple inexplicably placed on a glass podium in the Yoko Ono gallery…

It's so beautiful, especially up close

It’s so beautiful, especially up close

We also played with Lego on the Highline, went to the Blue Note (a world-famous jazz club)…

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… and I rode the subway, with just a few bags.

*muffled speech*

*muffled speech*

Next stop, San Francisco, California!

Ground Zero

We visited the 9/11 memorial on Saturday. It was… difficult.

On holiday in Israel aged 16, my parents took me to Yad Vashem, a holocaust memorial museum. I didn’t want to go. I walked through the centre speedily and avoided all the exhibits. I am educated; I know what happened during WW2. But somehow, I cannot deal with the sadness, the tragedy, the grief and anger that makes me feel violently sick, at these memorials. I’m just not mentally equipped to deal with it.

At that visit, I caught sight of one thing only. A still, monochrome, grainy image on a small screen. I won’t say what it depicted, but it was harrowing.

I can see it crystal clear right now. I always can. It comes to mind often and never deliberately. Thinking about it creates a painful knot in my chest. That image will stay with me forever and ever. Imagine if I had seen the entire museum…

The new WTC building

The new WTC building

The above wasn’t totally off-point. As I said before, I am educated. I know as well as anyone what occurred on 9/11, 2001. It terrifies and horrifies and saddens me. I am always mindful to avoid another Yad Vashem incident, but I’m 22 – an adult! – and in New York. I wanted to see the memorial and the new World Trade Centre towers.

It was… difficult.

Paved and planted with green-leafed trees, signs directing visitors, kiosks with advisors and hundreds of tourists in shorts and sun hats, it could be any plaza anywhere in the world. A green oasis surrounded by gleaming skyscrapers in one of the world’s busiest cities. But it’s not, sadly.

Where each twin tower stood, there is a ‘pool’. Let me try to describe them to you in the way I immediately saw them.

A vast square, carved deep into the ground and in the middle, a smaller square that goes far deeper: the antithesis of the huge skyscrapers that once stood there.
Around the edge, carved into black stone in large lettering, the name of every victim.

Of course, they are called pools because of the water they contain. From below the wall that displays the names, individual shoots of water flow vertically down the walls of the outer square. They are separate entities until they tumble all at once into a shallow pool and thence into the central square. From a visitor’s view, this pool is bottomless. It is a dark, gaping cavern that never ends. The water, once so defined, falls and falls in an unidentifiable mass into the depths of the ghost of the twin towers, never to be seen again. Gone to a dark, unknown, terrifying place no one else can go.

The individual strands of water are the victims.
One person, one jet.
Bursting forth with innocent gusto to just-another-day.
But the people are falling with no escape route. There is no way other than down. Down. Down. Down.
Suddenly the people, these unique individuals with lives as vivid as yours or mine, become nameless in the great mass.
There is only way to go from there. Just as water is governed by gravity, people are governed by fate.
So in they go, falling twisted together into an unavoidable death: the central, smaller pool.
Into the darkness and the unknown ‘Other Side’.
And as suddenly as it started, the people are gone. The water vanishes from view. There is nothing for us to do but stare powerlessly into the abyss.

Watching the water and reading the names simultaneously was powerful. In sharp contrast to my last harrowing experience, I was fixated! I didn’t want to look away!

It’s a beautiful and emotional and poignant and hugely symbolic (to me at least) memorial of the tragedy of 9/11.

And I’d go back again to stare at it all day and take moments for everyone who lost their lives in tragedy in a heartbeat.

NYC NY USA E*

The plane ride to New York isn’t that long, but having had a total of 7 hours’ sleep in the 48 hours before, on-and-off napping during the flight and odd food at odd times, I had no concept of time when we arrived. But, we’re young and supposedly full of energy so went from the hotel to Macy’s, then to a bar with Mark’s brother, then to dinner in Times Square… And then to bed!!!

Some of you may know about the ‘gash’ on my left knee that has been described as gory, gruesome, disgusting, and (my favourite): “Oooooaaarrrrreurghputitawayeeee!!!” (Daddy Ross, 2015). Walking around with an open wound is not fun. I wanted it to scab over in the heat but ended up checking it for microscopic specks of dust every millisecond. And then it got wet in the rain and started oozing again. ICK.

So, wounds and jetlag aside, New York has been great so far, and the next day it got soooo much better…

Read on! πŸ™‚

*Earth

Mother Knows Best!

I’ve been thinking about this blog a lot lately, and how I totally abandoned it after the culmination of the Thyme-Travelling Chef. I genuinely blame it on uni commitments; a three-years-crammed-into-one law degree is MUCH more demanding than a geography degree (warning: make a dumb-ass colouring in joke and I punish you). I gave up a lot of hobbies temporarily but now it’s summer and I have time again…

My point? Well, this wasn’t my idea, as can be guessed by the post title. Mummy Ross suggests that while I slowly get back into writing stories, I use this blog to journal my holiday in America with Boyfriend. So I will. And will aim to make it funny and actually interesting. And maybe I’ll even post a few short stories if anything springs to mind (but no promises).

Yeeee-haaaw! Watch this space 😎 πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ