Birding at Reynolda

We had a very good day birding at the beautiful Reynolda Gardens today. It is part of the Wake Forest University grounds, all of which was donated by the JR Reynolds (tobacco) family. We saw 34 species but I only managed a few half-way decent shots.

The first one was easy, because the bird box doesn’t fly away the moment I compose the picture and try to focus.

This next one was easy, too, because the subject is so just damn photogenic! 😉

Our looks on most of the birds were brief in this dense foliage, and some of the birds were just too small and far away for good pics. But this Scarlett Tanager is okay.

This Yellow-crowned Night-Heron was the most cooperative, peacefully fishing along a little stream.

Taking pictures of good looking birds can be difficult, unless they pose nicely for me like this:

That was the bird of the day! 😀

Our Anheuser-Busch Brewery Tour

A must-do activity if you ever visit St. Louis, MO is a tour of the Anheuser-Busch Brewery! Even if you don’t have a beer belly, I’m fairly sure you would enjoy it. There is a lot of history here, and it is always fun to learn how a local company managed to become a household name around the world. This is the original brewery. There are now 12 others in the US and 18 more scattered around the globe. It was interesting hearing about how they maintain quality and consistency throughout all the facilities.

Just imagine how many beers they had to manufacture, ship and sell to afford just a single 2012 Super Bowl ad. Companies paid an average of $3.5 million for a 30-second spot! Wow!

So here we go. First of all, the tour was quite affordable. It’s free! 😀

We met up in a large, comfortable waiting area and browsed the cool souvenir shop until the next tour started. We learned about the origins of the company in 1860. Then we were led around the complex, into several buildings, up and down many flights of steps, to check out the various parts of the brewing process.

I couldn’t capture the coolness of this part of the brewery, which is where they bottle the final product. The machines fill 1,300 bottles per minute and 1,900 cans per minute! A cap is placed on the bottle within 0.2 seconds of its filling.

But Gail and I both agree that the best part of the brewery tour was seeing the famous Budweiser clydesdales up close! How cool is that!!! 😀

Again, the picture does not do justice to these magnificent horses. They are gigantic! You can really sense how powerful they must be! And hasn’t everyone on the planet enjoyed the many winter scenes, or the horses playing football on Super Bowl commercials?

Here is Princess Gail inside the stable by one of the many wagons that have been pulled by these beautiful clydesdales.

Though I think she looks better behind one of these:

And at the end of this spectacular free tour, we were taken into a room where we could drink two tall complementary glasses of the brewery’s finest. We had a choice of several beers, including your basic Bud Light and a sexy Blueberry Lager! 😀

So, ladies, remember… Where there’s Life… there’s Bud!

And guys… This Bud’s for you! 😀



Princess Gail Packs a Gun!

Christmas came early at our house. 😀 Gail and I exchanged presents back in November, and I’m glad we did, because we got to enjoy them a little before she broke her hip.

I told Gail in September that I would take care of our Christmas this year, that I would get the presents for both of us. I got the idea when we went to the horse ranch this past summer and had fun shooting guns.

Not surprisingly, she was an excellent shot! She’s very mechanically gifted, and follows instructions to a T. These cowboys were a fun crowd and they took Gail under their wings, showing her how to shoot a handgun and a rifle. Gail had no trouble with the .22 caliber target guns.

The other thing you have to know is that Gail and I are huge Law and Order fans, especially the SVU shows. We also enjoyed Life during it’s brief run, and currently watch Prime Suspect with Maria Bello. We love Fringe, including the character Olivia Dunham. We get enough of a kick from these shows that Gail sometimes dresses up as “Detective Crotte.” And that’s all I’ll say about that! 😉

So considering our interests,  I took a little risk and started us off on a new hobby. It was a little bit crazy, but I bought us his and hers .38 Specials: Smith & Wesson snub nose revolvers! 😀

Aren’t they beautiful!?

It made Gail very nervous to actually own guns and have them in the house. But I had decided on a particular day for the gift-giving because I had enrolled us in a class the following morning, an Introduction to Firearms safety class. It was particularly cool because Wanda Starke, who is part of the news team for local Fox channel WXII, was attending. She was doing a piece on women using guns for self defense, so the cameras were there, and Gail got to be on the evening news!

We literally had a blast carefully trying out our new guns. Much more on this later, but for now, here is a picture of Princess Gail tightly grouping her shots at the center of the target. Awesome!