UCSC Arboretum: Unusual Flowers

Female Anna’s Hummingbird at Bridal Heath

Pink Poker Grevillea

Clusters of White Eucalyptus Flowers

Common Pagoda

Grevillea Robyn Gordon

Rose Coneflower

Bishop Tutu Protea

Allens Hummingbird on Protea Bud

The diversity of plants at the University of California Santa Cruz Arboretum is amazing!  There are unusual flower shapes that you could never imagine.  The hummingbirds are especially abundant too – it is a photographer’s playground.  It is well worth a visit.  More info is at:  https://www.santacruz.org/a-stroll-through-the-arboretum/

Gorgeous Banksias!

Strawberry Banksia

California Quail on Showy Banksia

Anna’s Hummingbird by Silver Banksia

Golden Acorn Banksia

Teddy Bear Banksia

Candlestick Banksia

Popcorn Banksia

Popcorn Banksia Seedpod

“Hairy” Banksia Man Seedpod

Naughty Banksia Men Illustration in Australian Children’s Book by May Gibbs

Carved Popcorn Banksia Seedpod Vase

The banksias at the University of California Santa Cruz Arboretum are gorgeous!  These Australian native wildflowers attract wildlife, and the woody seedpods are carved into vases and other gifts.  Popcorn banksias smell exactly like buttered popcorn!  Banksias range in size from shrubs to full grown trees.  More info is at:  https://arboretum.ucsc.edu/visit/garden/australia/index.html

Monterey Bay Aquarium is Great!

Striped Pyjama Squid

Scrawled Filefish

Sea Gooseberry

Orange Sea Nettles

Baja Tropical Reef Tank

Orange Garibaldi

Sea Otters Sleeping on Beach Nearby at Moss Landing

Sea Otters Returning to Water

Sea Otter and Sea Gull

Raft of Sea Otters

The Monterey Bay Aquarium is a wonderful place to visit – it is one of the top aquariums in the country!  It is located on the beautiful California coast south of San Francisco.  Up to 2,000 gallons per minute of fresh sea water constantly flows through the exhibits.  

We especially enjoyed seeing a recent display featuring the striped pyjama squid.  These shy cuttlefish have never been shown in the United States before now.  More info is at:  https://montereybayaquarium.tumblr.com/post/138692614238/were-geeking-out-over-the-newest-addition-to-our

Animators from Pixar Studios visited the aquarium before animation began on the movie “Finding Dory”.  They studied octopus, sea otters, and shorebirds in detail.  That attention to detail shines through in the film, and hopefully inspires a new generation of children to love the ocean too!

California: Spectacular Filoli Gardens!

Birdbath with Pink Camellia Flowers

Layered Delicate Pink Camellia Flower

White Camellia Flower with Yellow Center

Hot Pink Camellia Flower with Yellow Center

Red and White Camellia Flower

Bench by Yellow Daffodils and Red Camellia Tree

Yellow and White Daffodil Pair

Orange and White Daffodil

Field of Yellow Daffodils

Pink Tulip Magnolia Tree and Bench

Pink Tulip Magnolia Tree Flower

Branch of White Magnolia Flowers

White Magnolia Flower Pair

Bunny Statue by Flowering Tulips and Hyacinths

Filoli Gardens (south of San Francisco, California) is spectacular in spring!  The blooming flowers put on a beautiful show.  It is one of the top gardens in the United States and a must-see.  These pictures were taken in February just a week after it opened for the season.  In full bloom already were camellias, daffodils, and magnolia trees.  More info is at:  http://filoli.org/

California Hummingbirds

Male Anna’s Hummingbird’s Spectacular Pink Gorget Feathers

Female Anna’s Hummingbird on Nest

Two Tiny Eggs in Nest

Anna’s Hummingbird at Grevillea Flower

Costa’s Hummingbird’s Purple Gorget

On a recent trip to California we got lucky and saw some spectacular hummingbirds.  They are a favorite!  Hummingbirds are incredibly beautiful and full of personality.  In flight their wings beat at least 50 times per second, which sounds like a buzz when they zoom past you in the garden.  Forward flight speed reaches 30 mph, and dive speeds reach 60 mph! 

Hummingbird nests are constructed of plant material bound together with sticky, stretchy spider webs.  Lichens are attached to the outside of the nest for camouflage.  Mother hummingbirds lay two eggs.  Although each egg is less than ½ inch long and smaller than a jellybean, they represent as much as 10% of her body weight.  These little flying jewels are precious!  More fun facts about hummingbirds are at:  https://www.thespruce.com/fun-facts-about-hummingbirds-387106   A live cam on Bella’s current active hummingbird nest is at: http://explore.org/live-cams/player/bella-hummingbird-nest

Monterey Bay Aquarium: Wild Baby Sea Otter Born in Outdoor Tidepool

Holiday e-Card by Monterey Bay Aquarium

Holiday e-Card by Monterey Bay Aquarium

A wild baby sea otter was born in the outdoor tidepool at Monterey Bay Aquarium, California, on December 20, 2015.  The cutest present to the Aquarium ever!  The mother and pup have direct access to the ocean and are free to come and go as they please.  Links and adorable pictures are at:

http://montereybayaquarium.tumblr.com/post/135606363553/the-squee-heard-round-the-world

http://montereybayaquarium.tumblr.com/post/135726438723/wild-otter-mom-and-pup-update

The picture above was posted online by the Aquarium on Christmas Day:  http://montereybayaquarium.tumblr.com/post/135916080178/may-your-holiday-season-be-warm-and-bright-thank

UPDATE March 5, 2016:  Another wild mother sea otter gave birth in the Monterey Bay Aquarium tidepool!  Read about it and watch video at:  https://montereybayaquarium.tumblr.com/post/140578637168/welcome-to-the-world-little-otter

Charles M. Schulz Museum: Snoopy, Charlie Brown, and Peanuts

Charlie Brown at Entrance to Schulz Museum

Charlie Brown at Entrance to Schulz Museum

Drawing Studio of Charles “Sparky” Schulz

Drawing Studio of Charles “Sparky” Schulz

Charles Schulz Nursery Wall for Daughter in 1951

Charles Schulz Nursery Wall for Daughter in 1951

Close-up of Charlie Brown and Snoopy on Nursery Wall

Close-up of Charlie Brown and Snoopy on Nursery Wall

Close-up of Tiger on Nursery Wall

Close-up of Tiger on Nursery Wall

22-Foot-Tall Peanuts Tile Mural Composed of Individual Comic Strips

22-Foot-Tall Peanuts Tile Mural Composed of Individual Comic Strips

Close-Up of Mural

Close-Up of Mural

Snoopy Comic about Nature Time

My Favorite: Snoopy Imitations

Snoopy Comic about Space Program

Snoopy as Safety Mascot for NASA

Snoopy as Safety Mascot for NASA

Snoopy as First Beagle on the Moon

Snoopy as First Beagle on the Moon

Snoopy at Kennedy Space Center

Snoopy at Kennedy Space Center

Snoopy Project Apollo Recovery Team Patch

Snoopy Project Apollo Recovery Team Patch

Snoopy and Woodstock Bench

Snoopy and Woodstock Bench

Snoopy Ice Cream and Cookies Sign

Snoopy Ice Cream and Cookies Sign

Stained Glass Featuring Snoopy

Stained Glass Featuring Snoopy

Poster Featuring Evolution of Snoopy and Charlie Brown

Poster Featuring Evolution of Snoopy and Charlie Brown

Snoopy Dog Lips Painting

Snoopy Dog Lips Painting

Lucy as Mona Lisa Painting

Lucy as Mona Lisa Painting

U.S. Postal Service Peanuts Commemorative Stamps

U.S. Postal Service Peanuts Commemorative Stamps

Snoopy with Authors Pam and Richard Digitized into Peanuts Characters

Snoopy with Authors Pam and Richard Digitized into Peanuts Characters

The Charles M. Schulz Museum is located in Santa Rosa, California (north of San Francisco).  It is dedicated to preserving and celebrating the art of Charles Schulz and the characters of Peanuts.  Displays at the museum include Schulz’ drawing studio, nursery wall, tile mural, and comic strip art (click on pictures for more details – especially the nursery wall and tile mural).  Our favorite Peanuts characters are Snoopy, Charlie Brown, and Lucy.  Snoopy is so popular that NASA has used him as a safety mascot since 1969.  The Apollo 10 lunar module was named Snoopy, and the command module was named Charlie Brown.

Every December we watch “A Charlie Brown Christmas” television special.  It first aired on December 9, 1965, and half of the country tuned in to watch. The U.S. Postal Service recently issued stamps to celebrate the show’s 50th anniversary.  On current exhibit at the museum is a display about the new “Peanuts Movie” that debuted in November 2015.  In conjunction with the movie was a website that allowed you to digitize yourself into Peanuts characters.

A wooden sign at the museum sums up our feelings nicely:  “The characters of Peanuts are magically real to us all.  We are captivated by the familiar quirks of their distinct personalities.  As we come to know them, the comics come alive, and we are forever fans.”  More info about the Schulz Museum is at:  http://schulzmuseum.org/

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