Saturday, July 10, 2010

Virginia Beach Aquarium responds to Gulf Oil Crisis

The Virginia Beach Aquarium sent two key members of their Stranding Response Team to the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas for 10 days to assist with saving and rehabilitating sea turtles sick from the gulf oil spill.

Mark Swingle (the aquarium's director of research and conservation) along with Christina Trapani (assistant stranding response coordinator)  flew to New Orleans on June 29th and embarked on a 10 day mission to provide relief and assistance to the Audubon staff who has been working tirelessly to save hundreds of turtles affected by the spill.

The Audubon Aquarium of the Americas is working in conjunction with the Louisiana Marine Mammal and Sea Turtle Rescue Program and is the primary responder for the rescue, rehabilitation, and release of all marine mammals (dolphins, whales and manatees) and sea turtles along the Louisiana coast.

Hundreds upon hundreds of sea turtles are expected to become stranded in the area and in need of help. The largest challenge facing these environmentalists is being able to house them long-term because as of right now, they cannot be released back into their native habitat.

Swingle and Traponi are just two of many volunteers joining the effort to assist in the gulf. Their focus will be assisting veterinarians with feeding, administering medications, treating injuries and keeping tanks clean.

The Virginia Beach Aquarium Stranding Response Team has responded to over 1500 marine animal strandings and more than 2200 sea turtles. The Stranding Response Program is supported by donations from the community, corporations and grant-making organizations. You can get involved and help by making a tax-deductible gift to the Virginia Aquarium.

If you're looking for things to do in Virginia Beach, remember the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center! Your admission price helps support the important research and conservation programs that the aquarium participates in.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Virginia Zoo

One of my earliest memories was standing with my face pressed up to the fence of the Lafayette Zoo and having a deer come up and kiss me. I was super tiny. Maybe just 3 or 4 years old. That deer just made my day. That sweet kiss might have very well been the start of my childhood fantasies of living a Dr. Doolittle lifestyle surrounded by bunnies, horses, lions, tigers and whatever creature the good Lord wanted to throw my way.

I was lucky enough to own a small pet shop and surrounded myself with beautiful tropical fish, small parrots, adorable newts, silly frogs, mean hamsters and even I even had a snake that I was afraid of. I've been bitten by the best: hamsters, parrots, a Rottweiler and even my crazy cat, Mo.

I love going to zoos, aquariums, wildlife refuges, etc. I am a true tourist at heart and love to travel and take pictures.

My friend Jan and I have several attractions websites: Virginia Beach Attractions, Myrtle Beach Kids Stuff, Florida Tourist Attractions and Charleston Things To Do. I jump at every chance I get to build pages on cool places like the Virginia Beach Aquarium, the Virginia Zoo and the Myrtle Beach Aquarium. Visiting all the great area tourist attractions gives me the opportunity to indulge myself in everything I am passionate about: animals and their environment, travel and tourism, web-design, videography and photography.

Most recently, I took my nephews, Jack and Sam, too the Virginia Zoo. They are adorable and completely photogenic- so lots of pictures and video clips were taken by their doting aunt. The video below was the icing on the cake for the Virginia Zoological Park page.

I miss my little nephews so much and have watched this video more than 20 times.

While there isn't a Virginia Beach Zoo, this tourist attaction definitely made it on our Virginia Beach Attractions website because of its close proximity to Virginia Beach.

I hope you enjoy it the video and hope that you get a chance to visit the Virgina Zoo sometime in the near future. They have made a lot of improvements over the last 5-10 years, so if you haven't been in a while it's definitely time for a visit.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Forces of Nature vs. Mit Tressler

Forces of Nature 15
Mit Tressler 0

Seems like nothing is going my way and the trip to Philadelphia is jinxed. Either that, or I have a hex on me...

I got up Friday morning at 8am and we finished packing the U-haul at 5:00pm. We rolled out for the 14 hour drive to Philadelphia at 5:30.  Yep- that's PM. Jimboo and I were in the Bug, Dave and Alex followed behind in the U-haul.

The drive wasn't bad. Sometime around 4am we were near Washington DC and made a quick detour into the city to show Dave and Alex the White House. My GPS went insane and had us driving in circles forever. We did pass the Jefferson Memorial and the Washington Monument.

It was dark out and we had the big truck, so we didn't stop. We just drove around in circles for a while.

We grabbed breakfast, then lunch, secured our storage and got to the hotel around 4:30pm. 36 hours with no sleep and counting.

The hotel was impressive at first, or maybe it was just being in the big city. Super tall, big lobby, cool views. In addition to the $160.00 a night base rate we were paying, there was a 20.00 a day surcharge for parking and another 20.00 surcharge for the internet.  Surprise. Welcome to Philadelphia.

OK- it is what it is. It was around 5pm before we got checked in. The carpet in the room was covered in nasty stains, and Jimboo was interested in quite a few of them.

We were hungry and decided to hit the streets to find a Philly Cheesesteak sandwich. UTTER FAIL. We walked forever and got a lot of great shots of the city, but I swear there was no food to be found. A couple people seemed friendly and gave us directions. Little did we know they were evil little minions sent to aggravate us and give us directions that led to nowhere. Somehow we ended up in a sketchy part of town, but finally got to eat the Cheesesteak that had eluded us for hours. You would think it would have been wonderful because we were starving and delirious from lack of sleep...

Um, no. Overcooked, dry, bland. Sad Sad Sad. Bummer.

We made it back to the hotel and I wanted to go to sleep, but Dave's daughter, Alex was begging for the pool so we decided to go for a swim before turning in. There was a stack of towels by the door and so we jumped right in. By the time we were done swimming a truckload of kids stormed the pool area and swiped all the towels before we could grab one. Darn.

We were freezing and dripping wet with no towels. I called the front desk and they said they would bring some right away.

We waited. And waited. And waited. I called again and waited some more. They never came. We called a third time. We trekked through the hallways dripping wet.

Maybe it was the lack of sleep, maybe the 40.00 a day they were nickle and diming us for internet and parking, maybe it was the towels... but my patience was shot and I could go to a much less expensive hotel and be treated like crap. I called the front desk at about 9p and told them we were out of here. Little did I know I was cutting off my nose to spite my face but it felt good to say goodbye to this hotel.

Do you know we drove for HOURS trying to find a pet friendly hotel with availability? Ultimately we found a great place and I finally got some sleep about 42 hours after my day began. The hotel was called Element and is right over the PA line in Ewing, NJ. The comforters were white and plush, the pillows and bed were wonderful and my sweet little Jimboo even got his own bed (which he turned his nose up at and climbed under my covers to go to sleep.)

If your looking for Philadelphia hotels and don't mind a bit of commute, I highly recommend the Element. And the complimentary breakfast? Not a dry bagel or stale muffin in site. I had a warm egg and cheese croissant along with granola cereal with blueberries and cherries.

The Element was my light at the end of the tunnel.

The story goes on and on with spilled drinks, broken sunglasses, a GPS on drugs, slow refunds, but I 'll wrap it up for now and end on a high note of some cool city shots of Philadelphia.

Starting a new day in a new town.
There it is! Philadelphia! Woo Hoo!
View from our hotel.
Not sure what I think of rooftop tennis...
Tooling around town.
The city is awesome and overwhelming.

Some areas are skeeeery...

We finally found a sub shop on this street.

Heading to Chinatown.
Entrance to Chinatown.
I didn't really find anything cool to buy. Just ate an almond cookie.
A charming little street hidden in the middle of the city.

So this beach girl is a little out of sorts in this big city. Roof top tennis? I guess you gotta do what you gotta do.

I would like to have some sand between my toes- maybe I will go buy a bag at Lowe's and pour it on the ground outside of my hotel room. 

Speaking of beaches! I was in Virginia Beach several weeks ago and got to visit my wonderful, brilliant, highly photogenic nephews, Jack and Sam. With the Virginia Beach Attractions website well underway, I am always looking for things to do in Virginia Beach! As always, we were pressed for time, so Dave and I decided to take Jack and Sam to the Virginia Zoo. It's right down the street from my brother's house and I totally love going to the zoo. Any zoo. Okay- so it's not in Virginia Beach, but is only about 20 minutes away- so close enough for Rock and Roll. More on that trip in my next blog!