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BOHEMIAN adventures



\Bo*he"mi*an\: * A nonconformist writer or artist who lives an unconventional life. * Bohemia is a district ... bordered on the north by cold, on the west by hunger, on the south by love, and on the east by hope. * Bohemians express themselves without r



Last Build Date: Wed, 01 Nov 2017 11:19:11 +0000

 



Choose Joy - t-shirts to raise funds for adoption!

Sat, 25 Feb 2017 14:47:00 +0000

I have not fallen off the planet, despite me seeming to have, given the serious lack of attention to my blog here! I want to start blogging again but then life gets so busy. So here I am! And I have a few announcements to make, but let me make them day by day...First, the most wonderful news is that I have adopted a beautiful 11-year old Batwa girl who was a "double orphan" (both parents gone) from the village where I have worked in Southwest Uganda the past few years. She has lived with me for more than a year and we finalized the adoption in Uganda (but not yet in the US) in November last year. So blessed! However, to offset the costs of lawyer fees, visas, and an upcoming trip to America (her first of course), I'm raising funds. I have a T-shirt fundraiser that will run for just 13 more days.Below are a few pics of the colors and styles available, and let me say, they are gorgeous!! My bio daughter Savannah designed the logo - she is so talented (she also had designed our RedemptionSongFoundation.org logo). I had the idea for the dandelion and using the Choose Joy saying which of course is part of my daughter's name - Joyce - plus a hat tip to Joy, a Batwa lady from my village who recently joined the angels in heaven.Shipping is only $4.97 no matter HOW many you order! And these below are just SOME of the items. "Joyce Adoption Fundraiser" on Bonfire.comWomen's cutWomen's flowy tankWomen's flowy tank in Coral Unisex V-neck in Espresso Hoodie in greenYouth TWomen's cut in neon greenYouth T in purpleMany more -- please buy by March 8th! https://www.bonfire.com/joyce-adoption-fundraising-with-t-s/SaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSave[...]



Help the Batwa Pygmies of SW Uganda - Go Fund Me

Fri, 03 Jul 2015 06:59:00 +0000

The Batwa forest pygmy tribe were evicted from their forest home so recently -- just in 1991 when Bwindi Impenetrable and Mgahinga National Parks were established in SW Uganda, Africa. They were given no land or money in compensation and have struggled to thrive ever since. While many churches and charities have helped, they are facing an uphill battle to gain some dignity and a better way of life. I visited the region in January 2014 as a journalist (wendeenicole.com) and was so moved by the poverty and their plight that I sold my house in the U.S., and moved to Uganda to start a nonprofit charity/ministry to help the Batwa help themselves (redemptionsongfoundation.org). The Kalehe Batwa were the "forgotten" village that no one felt could be helped. They drank too much, they said. They were lazy, they said. They won't work together, they said. They also face discrimination and abuse at the hands of locals, at times. The women are raped because some locals believe raping a Batwa (Mutwa) woman cures HIV (or backache). HIV rates here are higher than average, there is prostitution, single motherhood, child and spousal abuse, kids dropping from school by 1st or 3rd grade. We've begun to turn their world around in just 10 months and need your help to keep going. I'm raising funds for the Dignity Project: getting the people of Kalehe (and after that, neighboring Batwa settlements) the basic necessities of life - food, clothing, healthcare, and the self-sustaining income-generating of basket weaving. When I arrived they were sleeping on dirt floors with rats running over them at night without mosquito nets and risk death from a preventable disease, malaria; eating from banana leaves because they have no dishes; drinking unboiled river water that contains feces and parasites; and kids were wearing their only t-shirt with no underwear or pants for months at a time. We've provided clothing, got them enrolled in health care programs (including HIV treatment and Alcoholics Anonymous meetings), created an artisan co-op that sells their baskets in the U.S., and facilitated the community to build their own bedframes so they're off the dirt, and to build drying racks for their pots they cook in so they don't dry on the ground. We just spent our last funds on Lifewater drinking water kits so they have clean water, and on mattresses with waterproof pads and sheets for each family. We need more help to keep going. Help me raise the money to buy more mattresses, sheets, dishes and utensils, washing basins, "jerry cans" to keep clean water in from our Lifewater kits, and other basic items. But more importantly, our work - which I believe is inspired by the calling of Jesus Christ on my life and to serve here - is truly helping the community help themselves. Despite the community's reputation (and continued problems), they have come together to do these development projects. To get mattresses, they all had to improve their homes with "mud" as well as help at least one other family. They all helped build a new home for a single mom with HIV. They built a bridge across the River Munyaga so the kids wouldn't risk drowning. And they have put themselves into certain healthcare programs, but our work is far from finished. Some women here struggle with escaping prostitution, excess drinking, spousal abuse, child abuse, and daily struggles of life caring for children when there's not enough food to go around. Just out of the forest 2 decades ago, they are only newly learning agriculture. The Karehe Batwa have become my family. Let's improve lives and spread God's love. "For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in. I needed clothes and you clothed me." -Matthew 25:35-36[...]



Artisan Co-op photo album online!

Sat, 14 Feb 2015 04:38:00 +0000

The Redemption Song Foundation started two artisan co-oops benefitting the impoverished communities surrounding Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. One co-op serves Karehe village, home to 11 families of Batwa or Twa "pygmies", an indigenous people who were evicted from their forest where they lived from time immemorial as hunter-gatherers when Bwindi Natl Park was established in 1991. Another includes non-Batwa women in Buhoma, Nkwenda and Rugando villages.

Net proceeds from artisan sales are pooled & the basket weaving artisans decide how to spend it, with the caveat the money goes to better the community. In Karehe, we are discussing "kits" for each family that will have some basic supplies they cant afford, like basins for washing, new plates and cups and utensils, towels for drying off, or drilling a well or connecting the community's water supply closer so they don't have to get their water from a river that people urinate and defecate and wash in. The village decides! That is the core of the Redemption Song Foundation philosophy! In fact, from the first round of sales for Batwa, they decided to build a bridge across Munyaga river so they don't have to wade which is a serious danger for kids in the rainy season. Comment on the item you want to order, plus message me here your shipping address so I can estimate shipping (US addresses only, or Uganda addresses). If you cant comment, message me or email me at redemptionsongfoundation@gmail.com Even if you're not on Facebook this should be viewable, without the need to join FB!




Redemption Song Foundation hard at work!

Tue, 03 Feb 2015 17:15:00 +0000

Selfie of myself and Moses, a Twa child, on the way to his first day at boarding school with his best friends! I have been remiss about blogging but busy in Uganda getting the Redemption Song Foundation (RSF) off the ground. Things are going great, but there's only one of me, and so much to do! Please check out the RSF Facebook page, for ongoing photos and stories of our work on the ground, with the Batwa (Twa) "forest pygmy" population around Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and other marginalized and impoverished communities. We are now officially approved as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, so any donations are tax deductible. Join us in Giving Hope by Building Healthy Communities and Sustainable Ecosystems! We have a women's artisan co-op -- you can order products via commenting on the Facebook page and they'll be shipped to you after payment is received! Check below for all the people-clothing, hungry child-feeding, getting kids in school-doing, hope-giving, basket-weaving, income-generating, latrine-digging in preparation for house-building and classroom-building we are doing with the photos below (or on the Facebook page). Mutwa (Mutwa is the singular of Batwa or Twa) child Beckham, who I adore! You will recognize him as the "face" of the Redemption Song Foundation on the website, and RSF Facebook page, and one of the 2 kids who really inspired my move to Uganda. Beckham and his brother Shivan -- such cutie pies! My latest two articles: The WASH Approach: Fighting Waterborne Disease in Emergency Situations. To report this story, Wendee Nicole visited two refugee settlements in Northern Uganda, Arua District’s Rhino Camp and the settlements of Adjumani District. She celebrated Global Handwashing Day 2014 with dozens of young children at Rhino Camp. Environmental Health Perspectives Jan 2015 plus many of my images! PDF version here Is the Human Cost of Saving Gorillas Too High? Forest dwellers known as Pygmies were evicted when their homes became national parks a generation ago. Now they're fighting back. My feature published at Take Part on Nov 25 2014 plus a photo gallery of my images: Up Close & Personal with Endangered Gorillas.At the Redemption Song Foundation, I have been busy... Giving boys and girls a safe and fun place to play (my yard!). Building the 5th grade (primary 5) classroom at the Rugando Parents School, starting a "classroom sponsorship" program & giving hygiene packs for girls who menstruate so they don't drop out of school. Giving kids' shoes for school, and... clothing for boys and girls (dress here and many others donated by Made with Love). Feeding hungry kids, Including some who were left alone, who were way too young to be left alone...(and playing with my two sweet kitties, Amashemererwe and Rokundo)Washing kids (with warm water!) or giving them a place to clean (in the shower here), if older. And trimming toenails and fingernails to help prevent "jigger" infestations. Starting a women's artisan coop which pays women directly a fair price and raises additional money to be spent as the coop decides. Getting kids in school, including these three wonderful Batwa ("pygmy") boys, who I am so proud of. They started Bishop's boarding school yesterday, and had dropped from school altogether before this. Helping parents enroll their families in health insurance, and getting kids to the hospital for care, like sweet Beckham...   who has an unusually large belly, full of worms. And we had him treated for malnourishment a few months back. This is him on the way, they stopped to bathe in the river (I know, I know... old habits die slowly) And facilitating the Batwa men and community to build a pit latrine,  and covering it so kids don't fall in, So this young boy Moses (far left) and his mom don't have to live in a stick teepee, hopefully by the time the rainy season comes in March. Join us, we welcome donations and need volunteers who are good at ... updating websites, sta[...]



Visiting Refugees from South Sudan

Mon, 17 Nov 2014 19:19:00 +0000

Recently I visited two refugee settlements in Northern Uganda to report a story - Adjumani and Arua's Rhino Camp. This shot is from Adjumani's Ayilo settlement camp in North Uganda. Hundreds of thousands of refugees fled from South Sudan -- the world's youngest nation (formed in July 2011) -- after violence erupted in Dec 2013 and early 2014. Around 60,000 live in the Adjumani settlement which is unlike a traditional refugee camp in that they live on land donated by nationals (Ugandans) and have land to grow crops and build temporary homes. All photos Copyright (c) 2014 Wendee Nicole Young girls from the Ayilo settlement. Big smile! Love this shot of this young refugee boy. I turned around as we were walking and a line of boys were following! Boys will be boys! Getting water from a tap stand. The yellow plastic jugs are called "jerry cans" and they are what everyone in Uganda uses to collect water for drinking, cooking and cleaning.Me and some of the sweet refugee children at Adjumani. A "tippy tap" is a contraption made for making it easier for people to wash their hands! The Baratuku settlement camp is in a beautiful spot. A colorful lizard on the rocksThe River Nile from Baratuku This boy was perched on a boat on the River Nile, which we crossed by ferry going from Arua's Rhino Camp (pics below) to Adjumani. After he jumped in! The sunset was beautiful over the Nile. When I arrived, the first place we visited was actually "Rhino Camp" near Arua. There are no rhinos anymore, they all went extinct! Here they were celebrating Global Handwashing Day at one of the "child friendly spaces" with songs, dance, and a march. Girls performing a song about the importance of washing hands to change their lives for the better. Kids checking out the posters. Kids watching the performance. Breastfeeding is encouraged in women for healthy children! The boys seemed more "worldly" than the kids in my area of Uganda. They all made hand signs when I'd photograph them. I got them singing songs in their local language for me right away! It was fun. I got some cool videos. More of the refugee kids making signs for the pictures. This woman is so picturesque! She and the boys played drums. It was a really wonderful week, and Oxfam, the United Nations High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR) & the Uganda Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) have done a lot for these refugees since the chaotic beginning early this year. It hasn't received a lot of media attention in the U.S. but it was a major humanitarian crisis, which still hasn't stemmed in South Sudan. [...]



Rugando Parent's School - empower these girls!

Wed, 22 Oct 2014 14:01:00 +0000

allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/t1o3HwH0NZg" width="560">

Three young girls attending Rugando Parents school in Uganda in primary level 3 sing a song they wrote themselves when I visited. Joan, the tallest is one of the brightest in her class, according to the Director David Matsiko. Her family cannot afford a uniform, which isn't required to attend, but the Redemption Song Foundation purchased her a uniform as a one-time gift to support her, because of the initiative she showed in singing the song for me, as an unexpected visitor. 




Getting settled in Uganda...

Thu, 02 Oct 2014 11:22:00 +0000

"Stubborn gladness doesn't come out of nowhere; you fight for it. You push back against despair. I look hard for miracle and beauty and joy every day.” - Liz GilbertSome updates from my life in Uganda so far... These are from emails I've sent to friends and family. To give some background in case you are new, I visited Uganda in Jan/Feb, and felt God calling me here to serve and love the people, I don't know completely why or how, but I know I felt His strong call, and so here I am. I raised 2 amazing young people, my Sam and Savannah, who are now in college, and am here starting a nonprofit, the Redemption Song Foundation (which is officially now registered as a 501(c)(3) [pending status] charitable organization - and all donations will be tax deductible!). I arrived in the country mid-Sep and stayed in Kampala/Entebbe a few days getting supplies, and then came to Buhoma Village, near Bwindi Impenetrable National Park (home to half the world's remaining mountain gorillas!) where I've rented a house that will be my home and RSF office. My vet friend Ben came to help me get set up, and would work with us but is going to Israel for further studies very soon. But he's helping so much! David is another local friend who is helping. Please "like" our Redemption Song Foundation (RSF) page on Facebook or follow us on Twitter (we are slower to get the Tweets coming, but soon!) In fact, if anyone wants to volunteer and do some social media, accounting, legal work, t-shirt/graphic design, or anything else let me know! Sep 24... I went running this morning - very different at elevation compared to at sea level!! My chest is still heaving, hours later I have a massive headache today too that wont go away.The Redemption Song Foundation met with local leaders today at my house/RSF office and it was great to meet them! Work is proceeding on the hot water system despite the random stray goats in the house (!) and yard yesterday (only in Africa!) and them stepping on the concrete LOL.The family living out back, I gave the kids each new t-shirts and brought the mom/dad hot tea, and then a bit later the dad went around and got the avocados from way up high in the avocado trees and I now have 10 gigantic avocados! :) They also clean up around the yard. I took some photos of them and me holding the baby/toddler girl today, and will send sometime. They are so sweet. The two boys have a weird fungus one all over his scalp and I am going to get them to the hospital so they can get care. Ben leaves tomorrow and it will be so much harder just me and Charity, though it will be nice to be in my house and able to settle in and get some work done planning and getting my house settled. I ordered a large table & chars to be made, a desk and a countertop/pantry. I am getting the toilets fixed and the hot water and the leaking roof fixed. Within 3 days I should have hot water – God willing!! Pray for that LOL! I have it here at the monkey house I stay at but have to leave here Friday. Sep 25… Today I went shopping in the local market :) It is about 10 stalls with lots of veggies. I learned how to ask "how much is it” but I already forgot – I think it is nazengahi? Something like that. I went a bit overboard and bought a bunch of Irish potatoes, sweet potatoes, a cabbage, several tomatoes, 4 eggplant, lemons, a pineapple, a huge bunch of matoke (green non-sweet bananas that when cooked taste like potatoes - there are a lot of carbs in their diet!), and a Ginormous jackfruit (the size of a watermelonŠ -- we ate half and I gave away a bunch and there¹s still a whole half left! They taste like Starbursts!). Charity made lunch for me, David, and Ben today which was a cabbage dish with Irish potatoes (they call regular potatoes Irish potatoes) and it was really good; however, I discovered the "margarine" I thought I bought was actually lard. :/ Oops. I bought some other random [...]



Hawaii, Ecotopia, Mongabay, Africa!

Mon, 30 Jun 2014 19:38:00 +0000

Pololu Point Lookout, Hawaii (the Big Island). Copyright (c) 2014 Wendee Nicole Hello pumpkins! Soon I will post more photos and update about my week in Hawaii, where I visited my long time friend Elissa (who is a pilot for Mokulele airlines!) and traveled around Oahu and the Big Island (loved Volcanoes National Park!). The house I've lived in for the past decade, where I've raised my sweet children, goes on the market in a couple of days, and when my son goes off to University of Texas this fall, I am moving also, to .... AFRICA!! I am excited and nervous and melancholic all swirled into a bundle. But for the past several weeks, I have been prepping my house, landscaping, painting, fixing stuff (with the help of a dear guy friend - thank God for him!) and now the time has come. Houses are selling like hotcakes here, and I hope and pray it sells quickly and for what I am asking, as some of that money will be used to fund the nonprofit I've founded with a friend from Africa! Check out our new website, which I designed, for the Redemption Song Foundation, and please "like" us on Facebook too! Our vision is "empowering youth through education, poverty alleviation, spiritual development and song" and we are accepting donations via the link on our website (or by check, but you have to send to me for now... I'm in the process of registering the "dba" and the other info for us before I move). We are providing school fees and basic necessities like food, clothing and hygiene /medical care information. We have plans for other exciting projects, like income-generating activities for older youth. One of the problems in the area is that the most impoverished girls and women can't afford menstrual pads, and they use leaves, dirty rags, etc, and we want to provide pads to these to girls, and create an income stream to those working on the pad project, making them using a cool machine made by an Indian entrepreneur (profiled on the BBC and in the new documentary, Menstrual Man). They often drop out of school when they start their periods. Some organizations provide hygiene packs to girls, but not everywhere - there is a big need. We will be starting an Indiegogo campaign to raise money for this soon. I have had two more feature articles come out under my Mongabay Special Reporting Initiative Grant! Check them out: Tipping the scale: How a political economist could save the world’s forests “[T]here’s a five-letter word I’d like to repeat and repeat and repeat: Trust.” Thus spoke Elinor Ostrom in her 2009 Stockholm lecture, when at age 77 she became the first woman to receive the Nobel Prize in Economics. She’d spent a lifetime traveling the world and observing everyday citizens cooperating against all odds. Ostrom frequently encountered groups of people managing commonly shared resources, creating systems based on trust, such as peasant farmers in Nepal cooperatively managing simple irrigation systems, and people working to solve human-wildlife conflict with forest elephants in Kenya. Such collective behavior flew in the face of the longstanding theory of the day, which said that people will selfishly take whatever they can, ultimately causing a “tragedy of the commons.” Ecotopia emerging: Sustainable forests and healthy livelihoods go hand in hand Callenbach's 1975 utopian novel Ecotopia became wildly popular among environmental-leaning folks, hippies, and progressive thinkers of the day. The rebels who founded Ecotopia believed human health and livelihoods can coexist with nature, and built their nation For a book that has fallen mostly off the radar, outside of a smattering of college classes and small-scale environmental movements, certain aspects of Ecotopian society fall remarkably in line with research by Economics Nobel Laureate Elinor Ostrom, and more recently the work of Arun Agrawal, a scholar who studied under O[...]



I interviewed Jane Goodall - a hero of mine!

Mon, 21 Apr 2014 17:45:00 +0000

(image) A young chimpanzee in the trees at the Budongo Forest in Uganda. Who is watching whom? 


Articles under the Mongabay Prize for Environmental Reporting grant I received have started coming out! This is a 6-month grant to report on tropical forest conservation that allowed me to travel to Uganda to report on some initiatives and projects there. Several more articles will be coming out, but here's a start!


If you have been following any sort of wildlife or science news, you may have seen that the legendary Dr. Jane Goodall turned 80 on April 3rd. On the Sunday before her birthday, I interviewed her by phone for Animal Planet's 80 Years of Jane online content. She was in Montreal about to fly to California, and it was so neat to hear her voice over the phone lines. Although mountain gorillas and not chimpanzees are my favorite animal, in high school I watched many a Jane Goodall National Geographic documentary, as well, and read her book In the Shadow of Man. I have the coolest job!


Here's a link to my Dr Jane Goodall Q&A for Animal Planet! I also did this longer piece for Animal Planet: 10 Reasons Why Everyone Should Love Jane Goodall! (If you scroll to the bottom of the first page there, you can click "show all on one page" so you don't have to click through one by one.)


But my favorite articles so far is published on CBS Smart Planet: How Jane Goodall’s legacy is alleviating poverty. This is about the Sustainable Livelihoods Project that I visited near Hoima, Uganda. Not long after I arrived in Uganda, I drove from Kampala to Budongo Forest Reserve with Peter Apell of the Jane Goodall Institute-Uganda, and got all those great quotes on that trip - he is a great interview. I spent a couple of days tracking chimps and such at Budongo, and then drove to the project in the field with JGI's Tomas Acidri, and interviewed one of the community villagers, Joram Basiima, whose photo appears in the article. I was impressed with the project and their approach. More articles from Uganda, and from the Mongabay grant, will be coming soon! Stay tuned!




I've been productive!

Thu, 27 Mar 2014 04:07:00 +0000

(image)  
The Habinyanja family group of mountain gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable Park, Uganda. Notice the green lips! I guess mountain gorillas like their lipstick green. :) 
Photo Copyright (c) 2014 Wendee Nicole

Check out my first Mongabay blog post Reporter's Journal: The Forests of Uganda, posted today! I have pieces coming soon at Animal Planet Online, CBS Smartplanet.com, and Environmental Health Perspectives from my Uganda Adventures, but in the meantime several other articles on other topics have come out: (image)

  • Pig Poop Power: Scaling up waste-to-energy technology could transform the hog farming industry. Discover Magazine, Mar 2014. (the full article will not be online until May).

  • BMW's Big Bet on Carbon Fiber. How carbon-fiber technology is transforming the auto industry, starting with the uber-cool BMW i-3! Solutions Journal (Rocky Mountain Institute). Spring 2014.

  • A Question for Women's Health. Chemicals in Feminine Hygiene Products and Personal Lubricants (may not be safe...). Environmental Health Perspectives. PDF version. Mar 2014.




African safari wildlife

Wed, 05 Feb 2014 09:28:00 +0000

Took a day in Queen Elizabeth National Park on the way back to Entebbe from Bwindi, and saw many of the typical African wildlife and wanted to post a few photos! [...]



Postcards from Uganda

Sun, 02 Feb 2014 21:42:00 +0000

I've been in Uganda more than a week and just wanted to post some of my favorite photos. I will give more information about each later, but... chimpanzees, mountain gorillas, the incredible Batwa (forest pygmy) Experience, and the sad state of their children at their homes, now, 20 some years after being evicted from Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. [...]



Christmas all over again :)

Wed, 22 Jan 2014 08:09:00 +0000

I love these two most precious humans!!! This is my new favorite picture of my kiddos. It is now my desktop on my laptop and tablet and phone! These photos are taken by and copyright by my daughter Savannah, check out her blog! As I'm leaving for Uganda shortly I don't have time for captions but… this was Christmas! It was great! Just a little too much pie :)You can tell Skip is a real cat person :)[...]



Oregon Thanksgiving memories

Tue, 17 Dec 2013 19:40:00 +0000

My dad's "leaning outhouse of Pisa." I have to admit I worry a little bit about it falling over while I'm in it! Copyright © 2013 Wendee NicoleRight now I'm on the MIT campus in a 3-day Knight Science Journalism Energy & Climate Boot Camp I was accepted into. There have been some fascinating lectures, not to mention fascinating journalists doing cool work. I'm in the process of planning travel to Uganda, and hopefully to the Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis in Indiana which Elinor Ostrom and her husband founded, both as part of the Mongabay Special Reporting Initiative which I am now working on. But first, I wanted to share my photos from Thanksgiving at my dad's in Oregon. But before THAT, I have to share my latest articles! Meeting the Needs of the People: Fish Consumption Rates in the Pacific Northwest. (or non-pdf version here. I'm proud of this piece, and it got a lot of positive attention. Native Americans have lived amidst the Pacific Northwest’s pristine rivers and estuaries for millennia, relying on bountiful catches of local fish and shellfish for their sustenance. Because Pacific Northwest tribal populations typically consume much more fish and shellfish than other people in the region,1 they are exposed to higher levels of toxic chemicals that bioaccumulate in aquatic life—polychlorinated biphenyls, metals, dioxins, and dozens of other toxics found in factory effluent, urban wastewater, and runoff from agriculture and cities.2,3 As a result, they—along with other groups that eat a lot of fish—face higher risks of developing cancer and other diseases attributable to these chemicals. PFOA and Cancer in a Highly Exposed Community: New Findings from the C8 Science Panel. PFOA is the stuff that lines Teflon pans, popcorn bags, and waterproof jackets. This is a news piece that followed another I did last year: Pregnancy-Induced Hypertension “Probably Linked” to PFOA Contamination I have a cool piece on a sustainable hog farm in North Carolina coming out in Discover Magazine's Notes from Earth department in AprilAnd in no particular order…here are some images from my dad's place and my trip to Oregon. I didn't take any at Thanksgiving dinner - I was so busy eating the yummy food!Before I went to dad's cabin for Thanksgiving, I spent a few days with my 7th grade BFF Kelli in Portland, and we went to her mom's cabin in Welches, OR and her family's restaurant, Skyway Bar & Grill - yum! I hadn't seen her mom since 7th grade!! Kelli and I. She thinks she looks like a vampire here - haha! Kelli and I at Skyway Bar & Grill. Her cousin gave us these cool tshirts from there! During the trip, I got together with my two nieces, Kira (who was driving down to see my brother - her dad - with my mom and stepdad), and Mehz and her fiancé Jordan. Mehz is my brother's oldest daughter who was adopted through an open adoption 24 years ago.Kira and I. She's growing up so fast! Mehz and her fiance Jordan.  The frame of my dad's cabin This ferny paradise looks so primeval! This is just down the driveway, before turning onto the rock road my dad's cabin is off of.This was the forest of my youth. This fuzzy tree is just down the road from my dad's property. Love these huge mossy trees. My brother and I used to think we were so strong by pushing over old/dead still-standing trees. :)  A view of the cabin from the side. The front part is a greenhouse with plants.The woodbox for the wood stove.   Ferns in the forest on my walk. A view of the garden with the cabin in the distance Another shot of the garden Dad and Bev love to garden and I got to enjoy its bounty, both at Thanksgiving and in the stuff I got to take home.Mi[...]



A visit to our nation's capital city!

Fri, 13 Dec 2013 00:40:00 +0000

A cool elephant sculpture at the Smithsonian National Zoo in Washington. DC. Copyright © 2013 Wendee NicoleSo at the end of October, I took a trip to DC to visit my friend Joe. The first thing we did was go see animals at the zoo! There were like a dozen otters running back and forth in their territory and it was the coolest thing ever! It was my second visit to the National Zoo. The first one was after taking my daughter to DC with her school class in 2006 (I blogged here)! I'd taken a separate flight and had extra time so went there to explore. There's a pic of the giant panda on that blog post, but they weren't on display this trip.Loved this wall of panda stuffies in the gift shop!!The main reason for my trip waste attend the Center for American Progress' 10-year anniversary conference, which included keynotes by Al Gore and John Kerry. I sat in the back of the room & this is an iPhone pic, but it's something! Seriously, Al Gore was on fire! He gave a dynamite speech!! I love this picture of Joe & I at the Spy Museum! The museum was really cool. Joe in a Russian hat at the Spy Museum gift store. We both have Russian/Jewish ancestors! My grandfather was a Russian Jew. Like the Russian hat? Hahaha I LOVED MAD Magazine as a kid! This brought back memories. We went for a walk to an awesome Korean restaurant Mandu for dinner with my friend Heidi and her guy Randy. This pic didn't turn out great but the sunset over the bridge was really nice. It was a lot of fun![...]



Mongabay Prize for Environmental Reporting!

Sun, 01 Dec 2013 18:31:00 +0000

Ferns in Oregon. Copyright © 2013 Wendee NicoleI'm thrilled to announce that I was awarded the first Mongabay Prize for Environmental Reporting! You can read the announcement here: Prize exploring the next big idea in rainforest conservation announced The prize sought proposals to explore the question of "What's the next big idea in tropical biodiversity conservation?". After a two-month application window and a month of deliberations, this week an independent panel of journalists, conservation practitioners, and tropical forest specialists selected environmental journalist Wendee Nicole as the first recipient of the Mongabay Prize for Environmental Reporting.  Nicole's reporting will examine the wider topic of innovation in tropical biology conservation, with focus on polycentric governance in Uganda and Peru. Her work will center around the late Nobel Prize-winning economist Elinor Ostrom's theories of polycentric governance and decentralization: putting power in the hands of locals. Nicole will spend time in both countries, interviewing on-the-ground actors and looking at the struggle to combat poverty while preserving shared resources like forests and biodiversity. In the process, Nicole will produce a series of articles on what's working and what's not in the world of forest conservation. The 6-month, $20,000 grant will allow me to travel to Uganda and Peru to report on projects that exemplify polycentric governance. Though that's a mouthful, it is a very important and exciting concept. Ever heard of the "tragedy of the commons" where people are thought to always act selfishly and therefore deplete a common patch of land, such as the classic example of livestock overgrazing? Ostrom reviewed myriad real-life scenarios as well as conducting her own behavioral research and found that sharing a commons does not always end a tragedy. Rather than taking power away from local people and putting it in the hands of a national government, she found that giving local people a say and allowing them to have an influence on rules related to managing a forest, grassland, a fishery, or public health will allow sustainable management of that common good. It's cool stuff, and as my last post on "Mini miracles in Chattanooga" mentioned, I felt like I knew a trip to Uganda to see mountain gorillas and report on the amazing work of Conservation Through Public Health (CTPH) was destined after I ran into Dr Gladys (CTPH founder) at the Society of Environmental Journalists conference. Here's a link to my bio and project info on the Mongabay Special Reporting Initiative Fellows page. I can't tell you how thrilled I am that I will be traveling to Uganda to be face to face with mountain gorillas within a few months!! I have been rereading George Schaller's Year of the Gorilla and need to get another copy of Dian Fossey's Gorillas in the Mist because mine is falling apart. I just returned from a week in Oregon, and will post some photos from my trip soon. First I still have a post from a visit I made to DC in October. I'm getting behind on my blog! [...]



Mini Miracles in Chattanooga, Tennessee

Mon, 21 Oct 2013 02:36:00 +0000

The Tellico River in Tennessee. We visited, snorkeled, and waded through the river as part of the 2013 Society of Environmental Journalists Conference Copyright (c) 2013 Wendee Nicole. I got back from the Society of Environmental Journalists Conference in Chattanooga, Tennessee a couple weeks ago and, as usual, had a fantabulous time. SEJ conferences are the absolute best writers' conferences in the world! They have the right mix of craft sessions and topical sessions, which I get a lot of great story ideas from. I love the Thursday Tours they have every year, where you go in the field along with a smaller group of SEJers, as well as biologists, business folk, politicians, or other people who tell us about whatever the tour topic is. I went on a "Biodiversity" Tour which involved snorkeling! We were supposed to go to one place in a National Forest but had to change it due to the federal government being shut down. Ahem. The conference seemed very small this year, probably because of the absence of federal government employees! That meant that several panel members for various sessions were missing in action, and it definitely affected the conference experience. I called this post Mini Miracles because the most amazing thing happened! Well, a couple miracles - which will play themselves out in time - but the first one is so stupendous that my jaw still drops to the floor when I think of it. So the week of the conference, Monday and Tuesday respectively, I turned in my application for two grants -- the brand-new Mongabay Special Reporting Initiative (on the topic of tropical forest conservation) and the Alicia Patterson Fellowship. The focus of my grants was polycentric governance, a concept so revolutionary it won Elinor Ostrom the Nobel Prize in Economics. I won't get into the details here but to say, it essentially presents rules for how commonly shared resources -- forests, fisheries, air, water -- can be managed in a way to avoid the infamous "Tragedy of the Commons." Ostrom turned the idea of the tragedy of the commons on its ear. So in my grant proposals, I chose several examples of polycentric governance in action, including the crown jewel of the application in my mind, which was this amazing project in Uganda called Conservation Through Public Health. Ugandan Vet Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka started this nonprofit to help improve the lives, health, and well-being of the people living immediately outside Bwindi Impenetrable Park, home to half the world's remaining mountain gorillas (and, my favorite animal!). The people living outside the park live in abject poverty, and because gorillas and people are so closely related they can and do pass diseases back and forth. Tourism to see gorillas in Uganda has picked up since the 1990s, meaning the gorillas are now more habituated to humans and they leave the park more than they used to because they don't see people as a threat. That has led to gorillas getting human diseases like scabies mites and tuberculosis, and gorillas are a critically endangered species. CTPH has helped empower the local people to take charge of their health, family planning, and well-being. That involves not just education but also teaching local individuals to become leaders in their own right, passing these messages of human health, family planning and about gorilla conservation and attitudes, to others especially people living in remote areas. CTPH also created a network whereby local healers report possible cases of tuberculosis and other diseases to health clinics for better monitoring of these health ailments. It's pretty cool stuff. I first found out about CTPH th[...]



And then they grow up... & off to college

Sat, 21 Sep 2013 05:44:00 +0000

"It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to." - JRR Tolkien, the Fellowship of the Ring Babies grow up so darn fast. I put together these random silly photos when my girl went away to college and I was looking through all the photos from over the years, and these ones just made me smile. The ridiculous onesie pajama outfit I was wearing while pregnant in my apartment in Pasadena, and the way baby Savannah is smiling so sweetly at her mama and then sweet 5 or so year old Savannah in the car... boy those were wonderful (and sometimes tough) times but so beautiful! I cant believe my girl is all grown up.This is Savannah's high school graduation card. She made it herself! She is standing in front of a building on the UT-Dallas campus called The Mermaid building (Engineering Research Lab). It is really cool looking! She is on a full-ride 4-year scholarship as a National Merit Scholar at UT-Dallas in neuroscience.I stole this photo from Savi's Instagram because I thought it was so cool! She posted this the day before leaving for college - it is an awesome quote from the Fellowship of the Ring. "It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to."Earlier this summer I took a trip to Dallas to visit my mom, and we stopped by UT-Dallas where Savannah is going. I had not been to the campus so it was cool to see it! My mom and I on the UT-D campus with California poppies in the background (& one behind my ear...). A cool design element outside the Student Center building. Underneath it is a huge fan that students can cool off under.Back in Houston... The last night I saw Savannah before she went off to college, we went to The Cheesecake Factory in The Woodlands. It brought back some fun memories of going to the one in San Fran on top of this tall building with Paige and her family. Fun times!Sam and Savi goofing around at dinner.Sam and Savannah at the Cheesecake Factory. What a couple of gorgeous kids, if I don't say so myself! :) So proud of these two! Savannah and I :)So on Memorial day weekend I went to visit Savi at college after her first week there. I got to see her dorm room, meet one of her roommates, and hang out for the day. Yay! This is a collage on Savannah's dorm wall I thought was cool, especially the photos on the right wit the orange and yellow background. They were taken at the Houston Center for Photography that we visited last year, and I took the photo of Savi looking at her phone against the backdrop of the exhibit sign that says something about Teenagers and then "A Portrait of Identity and Expression" which is funny because of the pic of both her and Sam doing their teenage thing -- Sam hiding his face and Savi on the phone. She took the one of Sam and I took the one of her. I love that she put them together and framed them on her wall!"Your mom" is a popular teenage expression, of course, and I love that she put this pic on her wall too! It was taken on our trip to California a couple years back and Sam drew Your Mom on the sand and she took this photo of Sam and I with the sand scribble. I'd never seen it before.  I have some pics of Savi in her dorm room and with her roommate but I won't them for her privacy!Savannah took this pic of me in the car on the way to the Dallas World Aquarium. A pigmy marmoset at the Aquarium. I have to say, this is the best aquarium I have ever been to! They had so many ani[...]



summer love!

Fri, 16 Aug 2013 04:33:00 +0000

The sunny blue summer sky ... shot while laying out in my backyard. Copyright (c) 2013 Wendee Nicole "Step out in faith despite vibrating from fear. Don't go to the grave with cool visions shriveling up and dying inside of you." - HybelsIf you follow me on Twitter or Instagram you may have seen most of these pictures but since I'm sure most people don't just sit around stalking me all day, I thought I'd share some photos from my summer of love... it has been a great summer so far! I am feeling so grateful in my heart for so many things, and even in the wake of one of the saddest losses and disappointments of my life, I have found a deep sense of peace and contentment (ok, I'll give some props to medication)... but seriously, I really have been so happy for the little things.I'm hopeful and excited - and quite a bit scared at the same time (hence the Hybels quote) - about my future, but it's fun to study for the GRE and think and dream and plan, and the fact that moving out of Texas is a reality in the next year is exhilarating! I've waited far too long! It's funny because as it gets closer, and I'm doing small things to improve my house, I really am starting to appreciate my house so much.  I have so much space here, and this lovely yard, and I've started to plant flowers in my front flower beds and a hibiscus in my back yard, and I love it! I am having so much fun with it. It's funny, my favorite DJ on the radio - Brant Hansen ("a nerd who loves God") on Air 1 (a national station - check it out!) talked about how if you look at every item in your life like it was the only remaining item after a shipwreck, how much wonder and excitement and appreciation we'd have over that one item... I started to look at some things in that way and it's really kind of cool. So I thought I'd share some photos, in batches. First up are the photos of the flowers I've planted in my yard. Some haven't fared so well but it's fun to try and experiment!This was from the first batch of flowers I bought: purple coneflower (Echinacea) and Gaillardia. The Gaillardia have died... and the coneflower plants are doing well but they're not flowering anymore. But they're perennial so hopefully they'll root and do even better next spring and summer. I love them and they do really well in the Texas heat.I love this pic! We've had quite a bit of rain, and a little mushroom fest grew up in the midst of my side flowerbed. The orange cosmos (my absolute favorite so far) are doing fabulous! The white flowers are cool - they only bloom until about mid-day.This is Sam watering after we first planted the coneflowers and Gaillardia. We had to weed this whole bed out. I'm not a big fan of azaleas, but they've done great for many years so I kept them in the bed.I am a big fan of the wildflower look and these Cosmos are great. They're annuals, but apparently seed easily so hopefully they'll come back next year. Or I'll just buy more!I used to have a giant hibiscus in my backyard and it croaked after a hard freeze we had several yers back. I planted a new one, a small one, in the same spot and it's thriving! It has blooms all the time, and I love it!One day it had three blooms. Lovely!I bought this cute little Welcome sign too. Those yellow flowers there? They croaked.This is a shot of the yellower flowers that croaked. Ha. I bought these ones ate Walmart - figures - and they were blooming like mad but quickly died. I thought they were Brown-eyed Susans but I think they were Zinnias because they didn't tolerate the heat and sun at all. My latest batch of flowers fro[...]



Finca Rosa Blanca: a shade-grown, organic coffee farm & inn

Thu, 08 Aug 2013 19:16:00 +0000

A view of the central lodge building of Finca Rosa Blanca inn on a hill, set amidst the tropical forest. In this shot, clouds are coming in... a storm is brewing! It's absolutely gorgeous - both the setting and the buildings!!!! (Images Copyright (c) 2013 Wendee Nicole)I'm finally getting the last photos from my trip to Costa Rica up on my blog. I can't believe it has been 4 months - wow! Where has the time gone? How is it August already? I have spent a month studying for the GRE (Graduate Record Exam) because I'm applying to a Ph.D. program at Stanford. Although I am technically a Ph.D. candidate at Rice University, I took a leave of absence in 2005, while going through my divorce. I couldn't finish due to finances and just the stress of raising young kids and being in grad school as a single mom. For a long time, I actually didn't think I would ever go back to grad school but I started systematically researching the three options I had for after the kids are both off to college (which were: go to Africa for 6 months to a year, buy a cheap RV and pimp it out and drive around the US for a year figuring out where to live, or grad school) and came upon the EIPER program at Stanford and it just clicked. I sort of knew in my soul I was meant to be there. There is a story behind that too, which I'll tell soon, but I don't want to distract from the Costa Rica images! At any rate, I took a practice GRE and did great in verbal but am still needing to get much faster at the math... you only have like 1.5 minutes average per question.  I picked up the math itself pretty quickly (nothing like cramming 12 years of primary math ed into 1-2 months of review...) but just need to improve on the speed. I will probably take it at the end of the month. Anyway I have no idea if I will get into this program but I am really hoping and praying I do. It is perfect for me and my interests and what I want to do with the next phase of my life, which is returning to conservation work and combining that with poverty alleviation which I feel increasingly drawn to due to my faith. If you are so inclined, I would be grateful for your prayers for my GRE and grad school application! I also may apply to the law school there for a joint PhD/JD program... I am still debating on that one in my mind. I really want to, but it depends on how I do on the LSAT - ha!A solar panel provides electricity to power the lodge. The sky was cloudy so the shot isn't great, but you can see a bit more of the main lodge architecture here. I absolutely love white stucco and this type of building and the decor inside. Finca Rosa Blanca is run by American expatriates Glenn and Teri Jampol, who are the nicest people! They both attended Berkeley so it was fun talking to them about that place, and the Bay Area. /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// (err, that would be my kitty Pippin attempting to communicate in human... she is apparently better at speaking than written English, apparently... hear her say "hello" here).This is the foyer inside the main lodge (the white building in the images above). I absolutely adore the white stucco and the wood flooring. Everything is decorated in such a beautiful style. I love it! When myself, Elizabeth and Paula stayed here 2 years ago after the Planet, People, Peace Conference we arrived late so it was after dark and had to leave at 4am to catch a 6am flight so we never got to see it during daylight or tour the coffee plantation so I was excited to come back and see it in its full glor[...]



We're not broken, just bent

Sat, 06 Jul 2013 05:47:00 +0000

Lake McKenzie, Fraser Island, Australia (c) Wendee Nicole 2008 I let you see the parts of meThat weren't all that prettyAnd with every touch you fixed them...Just give me a reasonJust a little bit's enoughJust a second we're not broken just bentAnd we can learn to love againIt's in the starsIt's been written in the scars on our heartsWe're not broken just bentAnd we can learn to love again- Pink, Just Give Me a Reason The 4th of July - Independence Day - used to be my favorite holiday. I've blogged before about this, but as a kid, I always spent summers with my dad, and on the 4th he'd usually go to a party in town where we'd watch fireworks on the Columbia river. When I was really little fireworks scared me, and I'd bury my head in his strong loving arms. But as I got older I loved the fireworks and the Oregon summer air and being together with my brother (who I didn't live with except in the summer) and my dad. It was like my family was together only during these summertimes. Now, holidays alone are hard for me. Yesterday was tough. Independence day just reminds me that I am "independent" ie single. Most of the time I am perfectly fine with that, and enjoy my solitude, and hanging with friends and doing my work, but on holidays when my close friends leave town to spend time with their families and I'm left alone it can be tough. And as I near the empty nest when both my kids will be gone from under my roof (only my son is there now), the prospect of facing life alone for the rest of my days can feel daunting. (It is also a factor in why I have decided to apply for grad school - I want to challenge myself and reinvent my career and do more for people who might be suffering or struggling in the world than I feel I can do through my writing alone). At any rate, yesterday I felt really alone and reached out to someone who did not respond quite as I had hoped. At first the lack of response was ok for me, but it turned to a bit of a downer today when I got a more abrupt message. My heart felt saddened, and after a cry and a nice hot bath, I decided that this was a job for mama-love! I really have healed my relationship with my mom tremendously over the past year, mostly because I now have a teenager and it made me appreciate the hell I put my mom through and all the ways that I held a silly grudge over things she did her best on, and I truly forgave things from my childhood from my heart. I had meant to blog about this before, but didn't get to it... so here it is. And my mom isn't that old, but you just never know when a parent might go, and I absolutely would and will be heartbroken. Because of our healing, I feel a new closeness to my mom, and wish she was even closer so we could spend more time together. So here I am, in Dallas visiting for a bit, and on the drive up this evening I felt that I needed to listen to the final CD of the audio-book of The Shack (an amazing book!) for the third time, and it was exactly what I needed to hear! This is a fictional story of a guy named Mackenzie (Mac) whose young daughter Missy is kidnapped and brutally murdered. He eventually goes to the "shack" where she was killed and there, ends up spending several days with three characters: Papa (God) who is a black woman, Sarayu (the Holy Spirit) represented as an ethereal sparkly Asian woman, and Jesus. At the end of the story, it turns out he was in a coma from a car accident, but the time spent with the trinity was genuine because he was able to locate Missy's body from what he had learned over the c[...]



Sustainable farming in Costa Rica - bananas!

Tue, 02 Jul 2013 02:41:00 +0000

(image)
EARTH bananas on the shelves at Whole Foods in Houston. 
Copyright (c) 2013 Wendee Nicole


“The most effective way of alleviating poverty is to give opportunities to kids who come from poor areas. Education is the greatest tool we have.” - José Zaglul, President of EARTH University




My latest article came out today! I researched this piece when I went to Costa Rica in April. The pub even used several of (image) my images in the article (including the one above). The 2013 trip was actually my second time to EARTH University, and in fact the first time I went -- to report on the Planet, People, Peace conference on sustainable ecotourism - I was so impressed I decided I wanted to write an article about the university itself. And delving into the history and operations of the university during my article research I became that much more impressed with the place. They have an "upside down education" model that helps students who may not have had as much education as those from say the U.S., and they put them in the field right away, learning practical techniques. They give them money to run a business for 2 years, and then they have classwork. Nearly everyone has financial aid, and more than half get their full tuition paid for. Everyone I met was so passionate about their work there.

The article is....
Food from EARTH: Sustainable Farming in Action in Environmental Health Perspectives July issue.

Or, you can also view the PDF version here, which has a magazine-style layout, which I prefer!

Let me know what you think if you read it! I really enjoyed reporting this piece. Leave comments! Anonymously if you want :)

I just finished another piece on Costa Rica's efforts towards carbon-neutrality, and my next project is to study for the GRE for my grad school application. I'm seriously considering applying to a JD/PhD program at Stanford -- just because I don't want a life for the next 4 years!! Right?! You with me? Wish me luck...




Two songs from my heart

Wed, 19 Jun 2013 05:42:00 +0000

God's motive toward us—not only in every moment of our lives but also in death—is love. Love is His very nature, His character, His temperament, His reason for all action. It is out of His love that He creates us and plans our lives. It is by His love that He fulfills each person's purpose and reason for being. - Zig Ziglar, Confessions of a Grieving Christian These two songs reflect what is on my heart right now. The first one is an old song by Watermark, one of my all-time favorite bands (Christy Nockels, lead singer). This song, Glory Baby, I heard while running the other day and I almost buckled under the weight of it. I had to turn to a different song. But now I can listen, in the comfort of my home, and cry and let it out and say goodbye. My heart goes out to all of you who have lost babies and those who have lost love before it seemed time. It helps me to personify love as a baby, and to grieve and let go. Just like the lyrics in the song, I can see the baby being held in heaven, taken care of, loved, cherished, until perfection rights all things that should have been but weren't allowed to be on this earth. Goodbye love. allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/8Hxc_ANJptk" width="420">Glory baby you slipped away as fast as we could say baby…baby..You were growing, what happened dear?You disappeared on us baby…baby..Heaven will hold you before we doHeaven will keep you safe until we’re home with you…Until we’re home with you…Miss you everydayMiss you in every wayBut we know there’s aday when we will hold youWe will hold youYou’ll kiss our tears awayWhen we’re home to stayCan’t wait for the day when we will see youWe will see youBut baby let sweet Jesus hold you‘till mom and dad can hold you…You’ll just have heaven before we doYou’ll just have heaven before we doSweet little babies, it’s hard tounderstand it ‘cause we’re hurtingWe are hurtingBut there is healingAnd we know we’re stronger people through the growingAnd in knowing-That all things work together for our goodAnd God works His purposes just like He said He would…Just like He said He would…BRIDGE:I can’t imagine heaven’s lullabiesand what they must sound likeBut I will rest in knowing, heaven is your homeAnd it’s all you’ll ever know…all you’ll ever know… allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/4Ec7ofMOqVM" width="420"> This next song is recent. It took a while for it to grow on me, but now I absolutely adore it. I think it's actually my favorite song right now. My kids and I saw the artist, LeCrae, along with Jamie Grace at the KSBJ Booming by the Bay concert series in Kemah a couple years ago. I blogged about it! This song really makes me realize how much literally every single good thing in my life is of God and is a gift from God. It's so easy to succumb to this selfish notion that we "deserve" happiness, or love or this that and the other thing. We don't. I see God as, well, undefinable, but in part He is the good in the world. He IS love. He IS the hug from my sweet daughter when she hasn't wanted to hug me for a year. He IS the tastiness of delicious food. He is life itself. He is the smile from a stranger. He is the hope that I carry even when times got the darkest. And so all of these blessings, all of the friends that are here today, or have been in my life, were a gift from God. And yet some experiences and e[...]



I love me some elephant seals!

Sat, 08 Jun 2013 00:25:00 +0000

Northern elephant seals (Mirounga angustirostris) at the Piedras Blancas rookery in San Simeon, California. Copyright (c) 2013 Wendee Nicole I downloaded the images of the elephant seals I took at Piedras Blancas rookery last week and wanted to post them because they are just So Darn Cute! They are all or mostly subadults, I believe, but you could tell the males are just super cantankerous and like to get all up in eachother's grills. They must be instinctively fighting and standing up for their rights (to parrrrtttttyyy!! Just kidding - Beastie Boys took over for a few minutes), because when one would slither by - moving very much like an inchworm - another would challenge it. I could have watched them for hours. There was one fairly big guy in the water fighting with whoever would go out there, but most of the seals were on the beach just chillaxing. Once they would fight for a while, they would lie down like old friends. Funny dudes! These are just randomly placed on the blog, without captions. Enjoy! And if you really want to see them, Friends of the Elephant Seal has a live webcam! [...]



Big Sur Coast, California

Tue, 04 Jun 2013 21:35:00 +0000

 Dogpile!! Elephant seals at Piedra Blancas Elephant Seal rookery, CA. Copyright (c) 2013 Wendee Nicole Sunday we drove to Big Sur for a couple of days of camping. First, we went to Piedras Blancas to see the elephant seals! This is a rookery where they mate and give birth, and later return to molt, so you can see the seals almost year-round. This is the time of year when subadults and females return to molt. This shot looks amazingly similar to Sonoma Coast State Beach where I camped with Paige and all of our kids a couple years back!There were only 1 or 2 big daddy-o's (maybe none?) but there were some cantankerous guys who would rear up at one another and get in eachother's faces. It was quite entertaining to watch. I suspect they were subadult males "practicing" their fighting. allowFullScreen='true' webkitallowfullscreen='true' mozallowfullscreen='true' width='320' height='266' src='https://www.blogger.com/video.g?token=AD6v5dxlKfo6PZCWSH09Jta_oca6XomOJKb27WxW1GV04gW77gp5yN1xBUIcCDu1pu4myCJaSUU4DLP2kXM' class='b-hbp-video b-uploaded' FRAMEBORDER='0' />A video of the elephant seals. They made the funniest noises! I don't think the video actually captured the sounds they make, though... I have to say, I think the elephant seals were much cuter than I thought they would be! I have seen photos of them and always thought they were rather hideous, but had never seen elephant seals in the wild before. They have those big funky noses, but they are actually super cute! I had a permagrin and could have watched for hours. When we first arrived, I looked over the cliff edge, and these ones were really close. This one in front was adorbs! Something about her just tickled me. The seals were in various stages of molting. We stayed about an hour and watched. I could have stayed for hours!! Wendee feels happy and peaceful  by the sea!! (And, she likes to talk about herself in third person) This is a shot of the ocean from a random roadside stop. It was really gorgeous and dramatic. The ocean was incredibly blue, also.A shot of the cliffside from a roadside turnout. By the way, all these are iPhone photos... I have a ton more on my Canon camera that I haven't even downloaded, but I'll upload the best ones when I get a chance. The view from the Nepenthe restaurant. We ate dinner here, a restaurant overlooking the Big Sur cliffside and ocean. From their website: "In Greek, Nepenthe means "isle of no care," a place to find surcease from sorrow. So it continues to be for travelers today. A place to stop, to dream, to lift a cup to kindness." Miranda and I at Nepenthe. I love this photo! Bob and Miranda at Nepenthe. I took this photo at Nepenthe of the ocean. There was a darker blue line on the horizon that made the sea look surreal. Then I instagrammed it, making it even more artsy! We camped at the Riverside Big Sur campground (all the state parks around were already booked by the time we made our reservation). This is the cute little tent that I brought with me... it was a "Scout" tent and thought it "fits two" it actually was a bit too short for me - ha ha. But I managed. We had a site right next to the Big Sur River. It was very peaceful to hear the gurgling sounds of the gentle creek as I fell asleep. On Monday, all three of us went to look for condors where we thought they may be hanging out. We stopped at Pfeiffer Beach, which was gorge[...]