Playing with Blue Whales~

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Okay so we’re not at The Holler, but we’re not on a trip either…… not exactly. We’re just heading up to NoCal to rendezvoux with the kids. A family visit, not a trip. But, since we were driving…..we stopped at Channel Islands National Park to play with the Blue Whales, and dolphins and humpbacks. I kid you not. Next time you feel like going to Sea World to see some marine mammals. Don’t. Save money and save animals. Go see ‘em in a protected national park, in their natural habitat. Here they play with you……by choice!
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I have never been so up close and personal with blue whales. They were all over the Santa Barbara Channel today. Swimming upside down under our boat and spraying us with spouts. I’ll post more pics soon, and tomorrow we head out again to a different island!
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You may have heard blue whales are big. The biggest creatures on the planet with tongues the size of African Elephants. But who knew they liked to play with people? The humpbacks were playing too, several of them. What a major thrill! This makes Sea World look like what it is, a bunch of concrete, chlorinated swimming pools full of captive cognizant cetaceans.
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We also saw sleeping pods of sea lions.
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And drowsy, daydreaming Pelicans. There were so many more incredible critters!
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We spent all day on Anacapa Island, one of the five islands in Channel Islands National Park.
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Anacapa is composed of three interconnected islets.
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The islands are similar to the Galapgos in that evolution has proceeded independently of the continental US. As an odd aside, today we saw both Brown and Blue Footed Boobies, birds most frequently seen in the Galapagos and not normally present here. There are 145 plant and animal species found only on the Channel Islands and nowhere else in the world. Tomorrow we go in search of the Channel Island Foxes so please stay tuned. We have seen them before. They are small, one of a kind in the world, and very, very friendly. They have no human enemies. Imagine that!
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The Channel Islands have painted caves, named by the colorful sea algae that make them look like Gauguin painted them!
Cheers to you from the very happy and very FREE sea life around Anacapa Island~

Holler Homecoming Hoedown~

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The wild critters seem happy we are back at The Holler. They staged quite the homecoming! Even Wiley E. came out in broad daylight, sashayed by, and winked at me and I have the pic to prove it!
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Look how fat and healthy he is! I don’t even want to think about what he’s been eating. He’s not too shy is he?
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And what big teeth you have Mr. Coyote! This is a different Wiley. Possibly a Willette. We have lots and lots of Wileys and Willettes at The Holler.
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Beep Beep is always content snooping around us. He is a hobbyist human watcher. He doesn’t even pay attention to Wiley E….. Smart Beeper.
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The shy little woodpecker even dropped by to say hello!
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After six years I have finally learned to make a credible hawk call. I called, they came. Or maybe they were just flying by. But I think they respond to my call and it confuses the ravens too. They keep looking for the hawk on the ground!
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And of course The Holler Hummers. I miss them so much when I am away.
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Europe is incredible but they don’t have Wileys or Beeps or Hummers. Wild animals just make the very best neighbors. I like having them on my HOA!
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And The Holler? Well it is rural, rustic, and in a horrible drought, but even so, it is awful purty.
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Cheers to you from all the happy Holler critters~

Soulful Sweden~

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Goteborg is a Swedish gem.
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Goteborg’s West Coast Islands are starkly stunning,
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especially when tall ships sail by!
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Of course there are beautiful churches.
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The Swedish love flowers and they are everywhere, like here in the square, in the small, friendly, town of Nynashamn.
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Nynashamn is a charming fishing town with the Church built to protect the town.
Cheers to you from soulful and scenic Sweden~

Oslo Radhus~

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Oslo’s radhus or town hall is covered with phenomenal artwork and murals.
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The artwork decorating the inside and outside of the radhus depict scenes from Norwegian legends and history.
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The murals were painted by Henrik Sorensons.
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The hall is famous for hosting the annual Nobel Prize ceremony each December 10.
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In addition to the murals, there are wood-carvings, ceramic art, and quilts.
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Quilt detail.
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The hall also has mosaics and gorgeous marble.
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One of the many painted, carved-wood pieces waving and sending you cheers from Oslo’s glorious radhus~.

Finding Finland!

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It took us awhile to meander over to Finland.
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All I can say is, we should have found Finland sooner!
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Finland is scenically stunning.
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There is wonderful Hanseatic, Classical and Orthodox architecture.
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There were a lot of street artists and musicians in Helsinki. This musician made beautiful music with his wine bottles!
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Like most of Europe, there are beautiful cathedrals.
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If you have the chance, I definitely recommend you find Finland too!
Cheers to you from The Holler~

Life’s A Beach in Germany!

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Go to Germany to relax at the beach? Why not when the town’s as beautiful as Warnemunde. It is how we decided to close out our vacation.
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There are miles of unspoiled beach!
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There are sand art competitions.
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These two pieces have an early explorers theme, but there was so much more amazing sand art!
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There are wonderful restaurants.
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Street musicians are around every corner!
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Quaint streets with very old buildings are just waiting for you to browse and explore.
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Lovely shops are everywhere!
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And of course, fabulous German food! What more could anyone one want? It’s a perfect and relaxing way to end our trip!
Auf Wiedersehen and cheers to you from Wonderful Warnemunde~

“Lake Leman Lies by Chillon’s Walls”

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Lord Byron and Percy Bysshe Shelley visited Montreux Switzerland in 1816 and sailed on Lake Geneva, then called Lake Leman. Byron toured Chillon Castle which stands on the lake, and wrote his poem, “The Prisoner of Chillon,” about Francois Bonivard who was imprisoned in Chillon’s dungeons from 1532 -1536.
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“There are seven pillars of gothic mould,
in Chillon’s dungeons deep and cold.”
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“There are seven columns, mossy and grey,
Dim with a dull imprisoned ray”
(The dungeon is below.)
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“They chained us each to column stone,
And we were three, yet each alone”
You can see the columns and just make out the iron loops for the chains towards the bottom of the closest one. A class of bored school children were listening to their teacher. She droned on way too long. If one just read the more gruesome lines of Byron’s poem and let the kids explore the dungeon, I bet they’d be hooked on poetry for life! I speak terrible French, but I swear I heard the teacher, say, “Listen Johann, you will be tested on this!” Laughing, there was nothing that would have made me listen less, but I digress…..
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Chillon castle was home to the counts of Savoy from the mid 12th century.
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The oldest bedroom in the castle has 14th century medieval murals.
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Montreux and Lake Geneva are beautiful. There is an old city center that is fun to explore and lots of wonderful restaurants. We bid farewell to Switzerland now, as we head back to Germany.
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Cheers to you from Sweet Suise!
Quotations from “The Prisoner of Chillon,” Lord Byron 1816.
For more on Bonivard check out: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fran%C3%A7ois_Bonivard