Shadow Cliffs

A few weeks ago we participated in a group walk at Shadow Cliffs Regional Recreation Area in Pleasanton. It was a wonderful opportunity to see all sorts of birds including rookeries for the Double-crested Cormorant and Great Blue Heron, and a soaring osprey on the hunt for food.  During our walk we spotted Canada Geese, Mallards, White-tailed Kites, a Red-shouldered Hawk, American Coot, Black Phoebe, Tree Swallow, and Great-tailed Grackle.  We also saw a group of turtles sunning themselves on a log.  The walk was also peppered with interesting historical facts about Shadow Cliffs, a former gravel quarry and brick-making operation site.  You can check out our pictures below!

Sycamore Grove

Three weeks ago we went to Sycamore Grove Park in Livermore, CA, and we hope to return again next week for our second visit because it is a lovely place.  The park is located on 775 acres and home to lots of wildlife.  When we were out there, we were mainly bird watching, but we also ran into a hive of wild bees on one of the hiking trails, and managed to get some pictures without being stung!  You can check out our pictures below!

Yappy Hour

On Sunday, February 23, we took the doggies to Blackhawk Plaza in Danville to attend a Yappy Hour.  This doggy social event included live music, food and coffee for the humans along with treats for the dogs, raffles, and an artist to draw your furry friends, and gift bags full of treats and toys to take home.  Below is a picture of Carolyn with Oliver and Turtle enjoying Yappy Hour.

SAM_1668

Prize Winners of the East Bay

Since entering sweepstakes is a solitary hobby, many sweepers have started to join sweepstakes clubs.  At these clubs, sweepers get together to motivate and encourage each other, compare their latest wins, trade entry forms, help each other strategize, and more.  This sounded like great fun to me, but I noticed my local area did not have a sweepstakes club so I decided to create one!  I recently started the Prize Winners of the East Bay, a free club for sweepers to get together for all of the above plus some fun and friendship, prize exchanges, and more.  The first meeting is this coming Sunday, February 16 at 2PM and the details can be found on our official website here.  We also have a yahoo group which can be found here.  If you know anyone in the east bay area of California that likes to enter sweepstakes and contests or is interested in learning more about it, please tell them about the Prize Winners of the East Bay!

Monterey Bay Aquarium

I am quite late on getting this blog post up but on Saturday, January 25th, we belatedly celebrated Carolyn’s 40th birthday with a trip to the Monterey Bay Aquarium.  One of the highlights of the day was looking out into the bay from the observation deck surrounding the aquarium where we were able to see animals in their natural habitat, including otters, bids and seals.  Check out some of our pictures below that include an otter mother with a baby on her belly, a seal surprising a couple of kayakers, and sea birds perched on rocks.  Inside the aquarium, we loved the baby otter on exhibit which was learning what to do in the wild from an adult otter that had taken it under its tutelage.  We were also amazed at the beautiful jellyfish, the octopus, and the bioluminescent creatures of the deep sea.  We hope you enjoy our pictures!

Bay Area Pet Expo and Wyrick Chamber Players

We attended the 2014 Bay Area Pet Expo at the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds on Saturday for a day of fun that had literally gone to the dogs!  Well, mostly to the dogs.  There were other pets as well including rats, chinchillas, miniatures horses, and birds, but dogs were definitely the stars of the day.  Many people attending the event brought their dogs and many were dressed up in sweaters or costumes.  Some even had their fur died.  We opted to leave Oliver and Turtle at home as they tend to get nervous and overstimulated in loud and crowded situations.  But we were sure to bring them back lots of goodies!

The event itself was set up with lots to see and do.  There was an indoor agility course for dogs to try, and there was an outdoor flyball course for trained fly dogs (see one of our pictures below).  There was an adoption area, pet foundations and charities, vendors and exhibitors, and a host of presenters on the entertainment stage.  The main attraction of the day was Shorty Rossi and Hercules from the Animal Planet Show Pit Boss who took the stage to both welcome attendees to the expo and again in the afternoon to give a talk on how to educate and be an animal activist.  But we also saw speakers on what to do in a pet emergency before you can get to the vet, watched a pet/owner musical chair competition, listened to a renowned animal behaviorist answer questions on animal training, and caught the tail end of the presentation about breed discrimination and the law.

A big part of the fun, though was all the freebies being given out!  Many tables had wheels you could spin to win a prize such as free dog food samples or small prizes.  We came home with lots of nice things including a new leash, dog food, a jar opener, and some smaller things.  There were also lots of raffles going on, so we put our names in a bunch of drawings.  Perhaps we will be the lucky winners of more goodies for Turtle and Oliver!

On Sunday we went to see some music at the Firehouse Arts Center Theater.  Carolyn had entered her name into a contest and was selected as the TV30 Lucky Fan Winner of two tickets to see the Wyrick Chamber Players, San Francisco Symphony Family Quartet.  The concert included the works of Beethoven’s string quintet in A Major and Schubert’s epic quintet in C Major.  The concert is not something we ordinarily would have attended, so we were very happy to have the opportunity to check it out as we enjoyed it.

The Year in Review

As 2013 comes to a close, we are happy to have had another happy and successful year together.  As we look back at this year’s events, accomplishments and milestones, the highlights that stand out for us are as follows:

In April we moved from Sacramento to a cute little house in a safe community in the East Bay.  In May, we celebrated Dan’s 40th birthday.   Carolyn also made a May trip to Virginia to visit her family.  In June we celebrated our one-year wedding anniversary.  In September Carolyn joined the Tri-Valley Branch of the California Writers Club. And by the year’s end, Carolyn completed the final draft of her first fiction novel, which will be available soon.  Then there is all the time in between when we were out having fun adventures and posting about them on this blog!

Unfortunately, we also suffered a difficult loss this year, when our dear shih tzu Muffin passed.  It has not been the same around our house without her.  But we are grateful for the companionship of our other wonderful dog Oliver, for whom Carolyn has recently taken up the hobby of baking home-made dog biscuits! And we happily added another doggy, Turtle, to our family in the past few days who is fitting in very nicely and bringing us a lot of smiles.

As we look ahead to 2014 here are some of our new year’s resolutions:

For Carolyn- Work on a second novel, Join a writing critique group, Start an exercise routine

For Dan- Incorporate exercise, especially biking, into daily life, Get into better health

For Both- We have recently started to volunteer with a new area nonprofit called Paws In Need, and we hope to continue helping out as we can.

Happy New Year!

SAM_1508

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