Friday, May 29, 2009
The sanctuary is also home to a hospital. A number of animals from the bush fires this last February were brought to here. Wounded or sick animals from the area are also brought to the hospital. We were able to watch an autopsy of a kangaroo being performed by one of the veterinarians. I was so impressed with my Colorado students – they stuck it out longer than I did in the room with the kangaroo.
Our final stop of the day was the Birds of Prey show. It was so impressive seeing these animals up close and personal. I’ve seen similar shows back home and it was fun to see similar birds from a different continent. For me, the highlights of the show were watching the students duck out of the way as an owl or eagle came swooping in above them.
The sanctuary will actually be celebrating their 75th Anniversary this coming weekend. And we learned that there was a group of school children from Colorado who sent letters and cards to the sanctuary this winter, right after the bush fires. We were hoping to learn the name of the school.
Well, in the morning we will be hoping on a plane. We are leaving the rainy and cool climate of Melbourne and will be headed to the center of Australia…into the outback. We will be out of range for any cell service starting tomorrow as we begin our bus ride out of Alice Springs. We will be staying in the Bush Camp Saturday before making our way into Uluru. Our Tweets and blogs will be silent until we reach our hotel in the Outback on Sunday evening. (It will give all of you an opportunity to catch your breath.) We look forward to catching you all up then!
Thursday, May 28, 2009
With an early morning start we headed along the Great Ocean Road. The twists and turn were just a little too much for Carol Ann…we think the TimTams we ate during our first pit stop may have also contributed to the car sickness as well.
We had the opportunity to see some amazing coastline and even a few koalas in the gum trees along side the road.
After about three hours on the bus we arrived at Otway Fly. Our first order of business after lunch was to plant Mountain Ash and Mrytle Beech trees. This took me back to my 4-H wildlife days and planting sticks, aka trees, in the habitat areas. The trees we planted today actually had leaves!!
As for the Mountain Ash, it is either the tallest or second tallest tree on earth – depends if you talk to an Australian or a Californian – but either way it grows up to 150 meters tall!
We then make our way into the temperate rain forest (and in the rain) to see the amazing vegetation. We went up the fly structure, 47 meters in the sky, where we had a great birds-eye view of the forest below. They created all of the walkways 5 years ago and replanted the areas that were disturbed during construction – it looks incredible! The students enjoyed learning about the vegetation and how the early Aborigines people used various plant combinations to improve their tools.
After our time at the Flyway we made our way back to Melbourne through some beautiful countryside. Dinner was at the Observation Deck, high about the night skyline…spectacular views all around.
Well, I’m ready to move off the bathroom floor so I can get these posts and photos uploaded. We are headed to Healsville Sanctuary tomorrow and looking forward to another wonderful day down under!
After exchanging some cash, we were on our way to the Moonlit Animal Sanctuary. This was going to be our first opportunity to get up close and personal with some of Australia’s amazing creatures.
In route to the sanctuary, we got a quick tour of the city of Melbourne. They have some amazing architecture and art. Some of the large art pieces reminded me of the ones back in Denver.
We had a warm welcome at the sanctuary from both people and animals. Rita, the resident wombat, had made a mess of her enclosure and we had to help fix it up…out came the shovels and gloves. Holes were filled in and branches were gathered…soon Rita’s cage looked like new and the students were proud of their hard work.
During and after the work in Rita’s cage, we managed to interact with a few wallabies. These little guys are smaller than kangaroos and look very similar. We all had the opportunity to feed them and get up close and personal.
We moved on to checking the squirrel gliders…looking for those females that might be pregnant. Our final activity for the day was supposed to be looking at some of the weeds on the grounds and actually pulling a few. Unfortunately the light rain we had been dealing with most of the day picked up a bit and sent us into the sanctuary’s kitchen where they prepare meals for the animals. And this is where the adventure really began! The meal worms were pulled out for everyone to see and they soon found their way into the mouths of all Colorado students and teacher. (Some of us even ate two!) Not something I had planned to do, but I couldn’t let my students show me up. Needless to say, they didn’t taste like chicken. On our way back to the main building, we were greeted by several kangaroos…very curious creatures.
Later in the evening we had a visitor share information about the various frogs that inhabit Australia and how they are working to restore many of the endangered breeds. Once again, bugs came into play…this time Ashlee decided she needed to eat a cockroach. This was something I knew I wasn’t about to eat.
Finally, we moved back outside for an evening walk. We encountered several more animals and capped off a wonderful first day in Australia.
Well, the day finally arrived. As we neared DIA I began to worry with all of the storm clouds in the area. We had the good fortune of meeting up with Stacey, from Discovery Student Adventures, at the airport. She had the opportunity to meet all of the parents and help us get checked in. After hugs, kisses and some group photos we were off to our gate.
Stacey treated us to ice cream as we waited for the plane. After one gate change and about an hour delay we were airborne. In the back of my mind, I was hoping that we were going to make the flight in LAX. (Our original layover was just under two hours.)
The DSA team was amazing!! As soon as we hit the ground in LA they had a representative there and waiting to whisk us off. The kids were equally amazing! They stepped it up, tied up their shoe laces and began the sprint across LAX. They passed us off to various DSA team members as we made our way to the international terminal, through check-in at the Qantas counter, and then passed us off to the Qantas folks who led us through security and straight to our gate. Fortunately, there were some other folks from New York who were in the same boat as us and the plane ended up taking off about 30 minutes late. We were headed to Australia!!
And what a plane – an Airbus 380…amazing!! Of course we weren’t in the section with suites, but it was a great ride. You have to take a few minutes to visit the Qantas site and check this thing out! Thanks to an Australian gentlemen sitting next to me who informed me of the Sky Cam…a camera mounted on the tail of the plane! It was pretty cool watching both our take-off and then the landing. (Today’s photos are the sunrise a few hours out from Melbourne and then us coming into the city.) The crew took good care of us and we had plenty of drinks, snacks, movies, and games during our 15 hour flight.
After touching down in Australia, we learned that even though we made the flight, our luggage did not. The kids were troopers and Qantas gave us a little goody bag with a shirt, shorts and toiletries.
Sunday, May 24, 2009
Well, the clouds began building this afternoon. The storm was north of us so I didn't pay to close of attention. I would peek out the window every now and then - watching the wild looking clouds. I had just taken a couple of wide-angled shots, getting most all of the storm in the frame.
I then noticed an interested looking cloud and continued to watch it a little more closely. Within about 5 minutes, I could tell it was circulating. The funnel cloud never became a tornado, but it sure was interesting to watch.
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
As I type this, I have 6 days, 22 minutes, and 14 seconds until my students and I leave for Australia on our Discovery Education Student Adventure (http://www.discoverystudentadventures.com/). Needless to say, we are all VERY excited!!
We may be trekking through rainforests, sleeping under the stars in the outback and snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef, but we will always have our technology by our sides! Included in our gear: computers, iTouches, MP3 players, digital cameras, HD video cameras, cell phones, GPS units, converters, and of course...LOTS of cords and batteries.
All of this equipment will help us keep in touch will all of you...via Blogger, Twitter, YouTube, and Picassa. Ultimately, you should be able to access all of these by visiting our main blog at: http://dsaaustralia.blogspot.com/
Now, you DON'T have to have a Twitter account to follow us. All you have to do is visit my URL: http://twitter.com/JJensenDSA This will allow you to see all of my Tweets. You can then check out what my students, along with the other teachers and students, have to say by simply clicking on the "following" link to the right.
So bookmark the blog and Twitter account and follow us on this amazing journey. We look forward to hearing from you all while on our trip. Now remember...there is a BIG time difference between here and Australia. All you have to do is subtract 8 hours and add one day. So if it's 8:00PM Monday in Colorado, it's 12:00PM Tuesday in on the East Coast of Australia.
Sunday, May 17, 2009
Well, I was hopeful that this week I could tell everyone to run out and purchase the June issue of ISLANDS Magazine and turn to a certain page...unfortunately that's not the case.
I learned back in February that I won Honorable Mention, for a second year in a row, in the ISLANDS Magazine 20th Annual Photo Contest. (I was able to "formally" announce anything until the magazine came out.)
My winning photo was of a sting ray laying on the sand. I took the photo while on a liveaboard in Turks & Caicos. We were just about ready to head back up to the boat and there were two rays gliding across the sand. They are amazing creatures and are so fun to watch.
There were only half of the photos that made it in the magazine, but you can see them all, including my stingray, by visiting the the ISLANDS web site and clicking on "Photo Gallery": http://www.islands.com/article.jsp?ID=1000071546
Saturday, May 9, 2009
For the past several years we have had two different pairs of tree swallows nesting at our house...one in the backyard (using a purchased box) and a pair in the front (tucked up under the edge of the roof).
Today was the first day I saw swallows flying around. This little one was cleaning himself (or herself) on the deck railing.
We were slated for a big spring storm. It began snowing early Friday AM, but not enough to cancel school. One of the squirrels (we have a pair that regular the feeders) was munching on some black oil sunflower seeds. Made my way to work only to have the district call it half-way through the day.