Sunday, April 24, 2016

Butterflies and Flowers at Meijer Gardens

While I have many visits to Meijer Gardens under my belt -- including at Christmas-time and in the summer more than once and fall, this was my first experience with the hugely popular butterfly exhibit. It snowed the day we visited, which led to scenes like this with vibrant spring flowers inside, and large snowflakes outside...
and this, from the warm and humid conservatory where the butterflies live...
Once inside the conservatory, it was easy to forget the bone-chilling temperatures outside as colorful butterflies of various sizes flitted about the bright greenery and lovely flowers, enchanting young and old alike.
Enjoying rotting fruit. These butterflies had bright blue interior wings -- but were impossible to photograph while flying.
If you look closely, you can see a bit of the blue!

Upon exiting the exhibit, we had to spin around in front of an employee to ensure that no butterfly was trying to hitch a ride out on us!

We spent some time in the other conservatories, as well.
No idea what this is -- but it's so cool!
Checking out the caterpillars -- not so easy to spot!
An explosion of colors and scents!
My new favorite flower - so intricate, so beautiful!
These goofballs also enjoyed our Meijer Gardens visit!

Thursday, April 21, 2016

A Wintry Spring Visit to Michigan

This winter's most exciting event was the arrival of my fourth niece. I planned an early April trip to Grand Rapids-- hoping that winter would be over with by then. Once that date arrived, however, I found myself stuffing thick sweaters into my suitcase, as my hopes had been dashed and the forecast was calling for cold, snow, wind - and more cold. I sat at the Baltimore airport sweating and feeling overdressed in the warm muggy Maryland temperatures, but landing in Michigan reminded me why wool sweaters and down coats are so useful. Nonetheless, it was a great visit during which I was able to experience two Michigan firsts -- seeing the butterfly exhibit at Meijer Gardens, and visting the state's "Little Bavaria" - Frankenmuth, about which I will write separate posts.

Naturally, my time with the family included lots of cuddles...
Back in DC my time is once again monopolized by working and commuting, but I'm hoping to find time for an outing or two in the coming months. In the meantime -- I hope you're enjoying your spring, and stay tuned for a couple of posts about the Michigan adventures!

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Visiting the National Zoo

The National Zoo is a part of the Smithsonian Institution, and as such charges no admission fee. Due to that fact, plus its relatively convenient location near the Woodley Park Metro stop, and its hugely popular pandas, the Zoo is on many tourists' lists as a place that should be visited. On a recent chilly spring Saturday, a friend convinced me to join hordes of tourists for a visit to the Zoo. Because - after all - who can resist the promise of cute animals?

The Zoo's most famous inhabitants are located near the entrance of the zoo, and attract huge crowds. While we did not spot baby Bei Bei, who was born in August 2015, we were treated to the sight of two of the other three pandas spending time outside.
Pandas spend much of their day eating, as they typically consume between twenty and forty pounds of bamboo every day!

Afterward, we stopped and said hello to the elephants.

Then, searching for warmer temperatures, we explored the Small Mammal House, which is actually quite fascinating as one is quite close to the animals, plus many of these creatures are not that well-known. Many of the animals were enjoying a lazy Saturday...
And then my camera's battery died. Love it when that happens! By this time the zoo was overrun by tourists, plus it was time to find lunch....