Review of ‘Wild’

I’ve always been into wilderness adventure books, but what I loved about this one was the raw detail that the author uses to describe her journey. Wild is a true story, more of a memoir, written by Cheryl Strayed about her summer hiking the Pacific Crest Trail in an effort to rediscover herself and come back from a dark place in her life.

Following the early death of her mother and the subsequent dissolve of her family, Cheryl’s life went into a downward spiral of drugs and devious sexual behavior. Then she found a guide book about the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) that started the snowball affect towards her healing.

She spares no dirty detail of her trip hiking the trail alone, though she meets some nice people along the way. You feel as though you are right there with her on the trail. You cry with her, you laugh at the funny anecdotes, and you feel like maybe you are growing and changing too. This books is inspirational to those who may have hit rockbottom and need to find a way out. It’s an inspiration to people like me who have an adventuresome spirit but may chicken out of some of the big challenges.

I read the first half of this book before hitting the road to California and listened to the rest as an audio book while driving. I definitely couldn’t put it down or stop listening. It’s so well written. I have deep respect for Cheryl doing what she did and then having the guts to write all about it without sugar coating. I definitely recommend this book.

Check out Cheryl’s site for more information: http://www.cherylstrayed.com/wild_108676.htm

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=Ks_QnNQ__OM]

Weird Wildlife Wednesday: Dumbo Octopus

It was hard to write this week’s Weird Wildlife Wednesday because we have just moved and our internet isn’t set up yet. Luckily, there is a Starbucks with wifi next door to us and our internet will be set up by the end of the day!

Anyway, this week’s bizarre animal is the Dumbo Octopus (Grimpoteuthis). This guy sure is a cutey. They live in the extreme depths of the ocean and hover right above the sea floor. The Dumbo Octopus isn’t just one species, it is a group of species ranging in size from 8 inches to over 6 feet long. They pounce down onto their prey which consists of isopods, bristle worms, etc. They have unusual reproduction characteristics and it is thought that the female can store sperm and continuously lay eggs with no specific breeding season. They use little mantle fins, which look like dumbo ears, to move around in the deep dark highly pressurized ocean. They have been found many places throughout the world but because they live so deep and are rarely seen, there isn’t a lot of information about their population status.

Source: http://www.aquariumofpacific.org/onlinelearningcenter/species/dumbo_octopus

Cross Country Move Part 2: Missouri to California

We managed to arrive in Sunnyvale yesterday before the leasing office closed so we could stay in our own apartment last night. Nebraska was the windiest and most boring state to drive through ever. Wyoming, Utah, and Nevada were much prettier and scenic, though the stopping points were few and far between. I had hoped to find things like “the world’s largest…” but there were none. There were barely towns with hotels to stay in at night. We stayed the first night of the drive at our friends house in Kansas City, KS, the second night in Cheyenne, WY, and the last night in Elko, NV.

When we passed through Salt Lake City, Utah and saw the Great Salt Lake, we were both shocked. I’d never seen a lake that big! It looked like an ocean! And of course in my amazement, I missed the scenic view turnoff so the best I could get was a picture through the window of my moving car.

After that, there was miles and miles of open desolate salty looking desert. It looked as though a lot of people had stopped along the road at some point to make notes with stones on the white dry ground.

I love Wyoming, I knew it would be lovely. I went to Yellowstone and Grand Teton last summer with my family and didn’t want to leave. Nevada was also a good scenic drive with rolling hills and some mountains in the distance.

When we crossed into California, that was the most beautiful part of the drive going through the mountains. There were some flurries falling against our windshields at the higher elevations (6,000 feet at one point) but as we descended the flurries turned to rain. We both were in love with the breathtaking views. I can’t believe this is the state we live in now. Gorgeous. I can’t wait to explore all of the wilderness this state has to offer.

I got pictures of most of the state line signs for the states we went through between Missouri and California. I also took some pictures of some of the scenery. Pretty much all of my pictures are taken on my phone from my moving car.

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Blackfish: A film about the largest orca in captivity and what drove him to kill

I can’t wait to see this documentary. It played at the Sarasota Film Festival while I was living there but I wasn’t able to attend. This film is about Tilikum, the largest killer whale in captivity, who has attacked and killed more than once. Tilikum lives in Sea World Orlando along with multiple other killer whales. I read somewhere that over half of the killer whales in captivity have Tilikum’s genes because of his extensive use in breeding and artificial insemination.

He, along with two other orcas, was captured from the wild in the waters of iceland back in the early ’80s. That this happened is so sad. He was only 2 or 3 years old and torn from his mother’s side. It is no wonder that he apparently has great anxiety and aggression. He is psychologically disturbed. Whales, and all cetaceans, are some of the most intelligent species on earth. There are some animals that shouldn’t be in captivity, especially those that would reside in a much larger habitat in the wild than can be provided in a park. Orcas travel the world’s oceans, live in family pods, dive deep, and have social relationships. To take such massive and sentient animals and essentially put them in a swimming pool is, not surprisingly, very controversial. The Shamu show is what draws in the big crowds to Sea World, but it is not in the best interest of the animals.

In my opinion (which you do not have to agree with), Sea World and any other place like that should not be allowed to breed cetaceans. The animals they currently own have lived in captivity so long that they cannot be released, they wouldn’t survive. But no more animals should be born into this life. It is one thing if an animal is rescued for rehabilitation and then is deemed unreleasable because of injuries or illness that wouldn’t allow it to survive in the wild. It is a completely different thing thing to intentionally kidnap them from the wild and then use them to breed even more in captivity. This is not conservation. Those animals aren’t being breed to ultimately be released and help the wild populations grow. They are being breed to be trained for a show.

I highly recommend that everyone see this film. Here is a link to showings and theaters.

Check out the trailer for Blackfish here:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G93beiYiE74]

Weird Wildlife Wednesday: Aye-Aye

This week for Weird Wildlife Wednesday, I’m going to tell you all about the Aye-Aye (Daubentonia madagascariensis). These little oddballs are only found in Madagascar and you may find it surprising that they are actually primates. At first glance, their face may look similar to a bat, and they actually are the only primate that utilizes echolocation like bats. Nocturnal omnivores, they spend most of their life in the trees of the rainforest, building their nests their and finding food their.

Aye-aye’s are endangered, largely because of overhunting. You see, in Madagascar, the native people consider aye-aye’s to be a bad omen and kill them immediately when they see them. Habitat loss, like with most endangered species, is another major factor in their downfall.

Source: http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/mammals/aye-aye/

Cross Country Move Part 1: Florida to Missouri

We made it to St. Louis! The first leg of our trip (Florida to Missouri) was pretty uneventful. The movers got to our apartment an hour late on Friday morning and we didn’t end up hitting the road until 3 hours after I originally planned so we kind of had to just drive all the way through to make up time. We got about half way by 11p Friday and stayed in Marietta, GA and then drove the rest of the way yesterday. Like I said, fairly uneventful. We will be visiting our families for a few days before the Missouri to California portion of the drive. I think that will be more eventful and scenic. I hope to get a picture of each state sign as we cross into them and I hope to find fun sites along the way to stop at! We will have quite a distance to cover in just three and a half days. Screen Shot 2013-06-16 at 12.40.18 PM