Sunday, November 30, 2008

Travel Town

When we arrived at "Travel Town", every other person there seemed to be a kid, including a bunch of kids in strollers. We even met my co-worker's daughter (and her parents). LA's a small town.

Travel Town is great place for kids, and who hasn't heard of Thomas Train? This train below doesn't have a "face", but with a little imagination, you can almost see it smile.

Hikaru was looking forward to riding the choo-choo train. In the photo below, Mommy and Hikaru wave "hi" as the train chugs by...

As you can see, though, it's not a full-size train, but it rides just like the real thing!

Below is a historical photograph in the "Museum". The photo caption reads, "There would be no railroads without them..." And it gave mention to the Chinese and Mexican track workers in Southern California.

Hikaru, the great-grandson of an immigrant Santa Fe Railroad worker, walks the rails to re-connect with his ancestral roots...

By the way, is this real or fake snow? Are these real penguins? In Los Angeles, one can guess that it could be...

Finally, here's what you've been waiting for -- Thomas Train! Unfortunately, he was being "fixed" by several of the Travel Town locomotive mechanics.

There's something wonderful about steam locomotives. Unlike computers where you can't "see" all the inner "working" parts -- with trains, there's no mystery to the motion of mechanical rods, pistons, and wheels that turn...

Kids like trains. But it doesn't mean that Travel Town is "only" a place for kids. I had fun there too.

Amir's Garden

We took a short hike at Griffith Park in Los Angeles. We parked the car, and walked up the trail. It went up and up and up, and we weren't quite sure where it was going. Hikaru enjoyed the view...

We passed a big water tank, and after an unexpected turn on the trail, we came across a nice garden with benches. For Hikaru, whenever he sees benches, it means that we're going to sit down and have a "snack", so he was very happy.

And then, we discovered that this particular garden has a name -- and it's called "Amir's Garden". Amir's picture, the guy who created this garden, is below...

Here's what the text says...

Amir Dialameh 1932-2003

After a fire in 1971, which left this hilltop scorched and blackened, Amir Dialameh climbed to the top of this hill, carrying by hand, most of the plants and trees we enjoy in the garden today. Over the years, some of those trees Amir hauled up over his shoulder, have grown to a height of sixty feet.

An immigrant, who loved America and nature, Amir often said:

"In the land of the free, plant a tree."

Setting a lasting example for us all, Amir indeed planted trees over and over and over again, together with volunteers, creating this magnificent garden for us all to enjoy and care for.

We thank you, Amir...
Over, and over, and over again.

Hikaru enjoyed eating his snack here at this garden, and we took a little stroll around it.

So on this Friday after Thanksgiving, rather than going shopping at the malls for Christmas gifts, we say "Thanks, Amir!"

Moon, Venus, and Jupiter

There was an beautiful alignment of three bright planets this evening -- the crescent Moon, Venus, and Jupiter. This photo was taken on this Sunday evening at around 5pm Pacific Standard Time.

It was a wonderful way to end the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. If you click on the images, you can see a slightly larger view.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Pond Life

Sometimes it's easy to walk by a pond and not notice all the lifeforms lurking just under the surface. A couple photos taken yesterday... If you click on them, you can get a slightly larger image.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

LA is a Zoo

As everyone knows, Los Angeles is a zoo. There are more people than animals here. Hikaru was talking about wanting to go "see and touch the animals", so he got is wish. We met other friends at the zoo for a parent outing.

We haven't seen "Space Chimps", but we know that chimps were the first hominids to go into outer space. They are some of the residents here.

In the photo below, Hikaru gets his wish to "touch" the animals -- the sheep and the goats. We had to wash our hand first, though.

He brushes the goat with a comb, and they seem to be falling asleep.

Did you know flamingos get their red color from beta carotene? Have you seen these birds before on someone's lawn?

The hippopotamus below was chomping on a big pumpkin.

This chimp is asking Hikaru in sign language if he is three years old. Hikaru didn't know what to say.

The whole chimp family is hanging out and relaxing on the rocks.

Hikaru was impressed with the giraffe's "long" neck, and he still talks about it. The giraffe was checking us out when I snapped this photo with one hand -- and the other hand carrying Hikaru.

We visited the orangutans. As you can see, their hands are bigger than Hikaru's, and they are expert climbers.

Hikaru also wanted to climb up onto the roof of the building with Mr. Orangutan, but unfortunately we were fenced inside.

It was getting close to Hikaru's nap time, and he was tired, so we didn't get to see all the zoo animals, but we'll be back again.