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Monday, July 29, 2013

This is the best bus that I've ever been on!

 Camel visit amusment.

~ Lauren Ross July 24, 2013

Last week, we took a staycation. I'll be sharing some of the fun things that we did right in our backyard, but for the funnest thing by far we had to venture a little further out of state and into Ohio.

 Over yonder.

The Wilds is the one of the largest wildlife conservation centers in the world. It's located In The Middle of Nowhere, Ohio (Okay, actually Cumberland, Ohio). They took some 10,000 surface mined acres of land, revitalized it, and plopped some 31 endangered species of animals in the middle of it (See the teeny tiny mama rhino and baby? More on those in a bit).

Searching the distance.

It's pretty darn amazing.

On safari!

The best part, of course, is you get to go on an actual safari to see (and smell) the animals up close and personal.We took the 2 1/2 hour open air tour, but you can also take an air condition bus tour, like the one pictured above.

Jurassic Park?

If you're thinking it must be just like Jurassic Park...

Believe it.'re darn tootin' it is.


We kicked off the tour with some Bactrian Camels. At first they just stood there looking at us.

 Getting to know you.

But then they decided to get friendly.

 Hey now.

Maybe a little too friendly.

 Watching the camels getting friendly.

After awhile, they got bored and decided to harass the bus behind us.

Looking yonder.

Time to see what else we can spot!

 Wide open spaces.

There's mama and her baby!

Przewalski’s Wild Horses.

These are called Przewalski’s Wild Horses.

 Horse watching.

Checking out the horses as they check out the bus.


We took a rest stop at the lake the Trumpeter Swans call home.

Trumpeter Swan.

They were used to getting fed.

Sichuan Takin.

Now here's something that you don't see everyday. This guy is called a Sichuan Takin.


Of course, you're at the mercy of the animals in terms of what you do and don't see, like these zebra. We also saw ostrich, several species of deer, bison, cheetahs and African Wild Dogs, but they were too far in the distance to get good photos. There are also giraffe at the center, but we didn't spot them at all. No matter - we purchased a membership so we plan on having more adventures at The Wilds during the next year. Hmm...maybe I should invest in a zoom lens....

Thursday, July 25, 2013

It's just like a funeral, only fun.

Follow the leader.

Last Saturday was the International Car Show at the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix. Once again, we met up with the Pitt Stop Mini Club. This year, the meet up site was much closer to our destination, Schenley Park. So while a parking lot in the South Side wasn't as scenic as the West End Overlook, it was certainly more convenient. Lauren was having fun with her friends at a sleepover, so she didn't attend with us this year.

Although it's pained me in the past, I've been trying to take more photos with my phone so that I can get more everyday moments. I took these using Hipsamatic (a camera app). I thought the look matched the mood of the day, and it's terribly fun and easy to use.

Waiting to motor.

There were approximately 160+ MINIs hanging out waiting to motor.


As we wandered around the parking lot, we met this 9 month Pembroke Welsh Corgi. I've wanted a Corgi for years, but somehow, we always end up with other breeds. I guess Corgis aren't down on their luck like the pups we take in.

Mama, Papa and baby.

Mama, Papa and baby mini.

Getting ready to motor.

We're finally ready to go!

Objects in the mirror.

This year, the Club arranged for a police escort. The ride was so much nicer than two years ago. We got there in about 15 minutes. No sitting in the baking sun for 1+ hour, and no fighting with ticked off non-MINI drivers. The title of this post refers to the instructions that we were given before we departed - keep your headlights and hazard lights on and run all the stop signs and red lights (just like a funeral!).

Me and mine.

This year, we took the MINI that I drive - our Clubman.


There's my name on the placard!

Under the shade tree.

 MINI meet-up.

 Blu Brit.

Some scenes from the park.


Instead a vintage MINI.


The things I make Mark do...


Around the bend.

Practicing for the races...


Then it was time to wander. Our neighbors were the VW club. Look, there's Herbie the Love Bug again!

VW party bus.

How awesome is this?

Get on the bus.

If I had one, it would be this color.

Me and the giant Turkey Hill cow.

Then we wandered a little further and found a giant cow.

Oscar Meyer Wienermobile.

And a giant hot dog.

I'm already looking forward to next year's event, when the marque of the year will be MINI!

Monday, July 22, 2013

I'd like to linger...

Mm, mm, I’d like to linger
Mm, mm, a little longer
Mm, mm, a little longer here with you
Mm, mm, its such a perfect night
Mm, mm, it doesn’t seem quite right
Mm, mm, that it should be my last with you
Mm, mm, and come December

Mm, mm, I will remember
Mm, mm, our campfire bright and friendships true
Mm, mm, and as the years go by
Mm, mm, I’ll think you you and sigh
Mm, mm, this is goodnight and not goodbye

I uploaded my camp photos to Flickr, and then I forgot to blog them. I am doing better this year though. Last year, we went to camp in June, but I didn't get around to blogging about it until August!  So given only two weeks have past, this is a definite improvement.

Sit a spell.

This year's camp experience was quite different than last year's. We attended camp at Camp Skymeadow, which is located in Avonmore, PA. We've been to Avonmore several times over the years to visit Mark's grandmother, but never knew that there was a Girl Scout camp nearby. Instead of only a few of us going, we got about half of our troop to attend, and since this was the first camp experience for most of the girls, we opted for a one night trip rather than two.

Now that I knew what to expect, it wasn't the same transcendental experience, but nonetheless, it was still amazing. I cannot emphasize enough how lucky I am that I get to do this every year, and I will morn it when the time comes for Lauren to hang up her sash. At one point, I was actually leading the girls in song as they marched behind me to our next activity, just like Maria from The Sound of Music. Hard to imagine, I know, but for that moment, I was the quintessential Girl Scout leader.

The Milky Way

We were spared once again the platform tents and instead were assigned to one of the large lodges. This miniature version of the Milky Way (Miniature of course, in comparison to the actual Milky Way.) was on display in our lodge. I slept right underneath it, so I guess you could say that I slept under the stars. We slept on mats instead of bunks, and I have to say that I rather missed them. On the other hand, the relatively new, indoor bathroom facilities were luxurious compared to the outdoor, bug infested latrines at Camp Redwing.

Tie dye.

As we got settled in the lodge, we made our first and only craft, but it was a good one. One thing that I did miss this time around was all the crafting that we did last year, although given we were there a limited amount of time, it was understandable.

Flagpole games.

Then it was time to get our camp on. Although the names were different (Yummy, Bambi, Pinky Pie, Banana, and Grits to name a few), the counselors had the same non-stop energy and enthusiasm. They immediately engaged the entire camp in crazy songs and games around the flag pole. Then, the girls from our troop (including Lauren) got to be the honor guard for the closing day flag ceremony. I was super proud. I wish I could have taken photos, but I didn't feel it was appropriate since it's a kind of a solemn event.

Camp food.

By this point, we were starving, so thankfully, it was dinner time.

Boat house.

As for activities, we were originally supposed to go canoeing, fishing, hiking and on a hay ride. For some reason, they changed the program and instead of canoeing and fishing, we swam and did archery. This was great in one way because the girls loved swimming and archery. But the hay ride and the hike were just okay (Me and the other moms agreed that we are definitely not a hiking kind of troop). If we could have done the canoeing and fishing with the swimming and archery, it would have been perfect.

Channelling her inner Katniss.

I was so excited that girls got to do archery because I LOVE archery. Okay, I haven't shot a bow and arrow since high school, but I have very fond memories of it. At Camp Redwing, you have to be going into fourth grade to do it, so we didn't get to participate last year. However, Camp Skymeadow has counselors trained to teach younger girls. Also, ever since seeing The Hunger Games, Lauren has been hoping that Santa will leave her very own bow under the Christmas tree.

After archery, it was dusk, so we ended the night singing songs and making s'mores around the campfire. There's no better way to end a summer night.


After a restless night (With the windows closed, it was too stuffy in the lodge to sleep.), it was time to start the day again. I sneaked this photo of Lauren and her friend sharing a sweet moment together in the morning. Okay, they are actually playing an app on my iPhone. Did you really think they could make it through the weekend unplugged in this day and age?

Happy camper.

After our hay ride and hike, we ended on a high note with a trip to the camp trading post. Now there's a happy camper!


Counting the days until next year...

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

52 Weeks of Cookie: Week 27

52 Weeks of Cookie: Week 27

We're moving on up! Check out my plush new bed. My New Ma keeps calling it my "Princess and the Pea" bed. She keeps putting pieces of kibble under it. How can I not notice that?



Monday, July 8, 2013

52 Weeks of Cookie: Week 26

52 Weeks of Cookie:  Week 26

Even a small pup like me appreciates the finer things in life. Take our garden. It's filled with all kinds of exotic smells. Yep, this pup's little sniffer never had it so good!



Also For Our Daily Challenge:  Exotic

And with this photo, I've finally made it half way through the year! A little late, yes, but the important thing is that I'm sticking with it! Actually, I have another installment to post later in the week, plus photos of our annual trip to Girl Scout camp which occurred this past weekend. Finally the blog is seeing some action again!