Sunday, January 30, 2011

52 Floors

Standing tall among the Dallas skyline at 720 feet, Fountain Place is a downtown landmark designed by award-winning and internationally acclaimed, I.M. Pei & Partners (I.M. Pei is the same man that designed the pyramid at the Louvre). 

Photo taken from

The building is the fifth-tallest in Dallas, the 15th-tallest in Texas, and also just so happens to be where I spent my Saturday morning.

I had mentioned in an earlier post that my cousin and I had decided to participate in the Big D Climb, a 52 floor stair climb up the steps of Fountain Place to raise money for blood cancer research.

I’m happy to say we didn’t chicken out. J

We had been given a start time of 11:19am but were told we might start early so when Saturday arrived we decided to get there a little ahead of time .

Sure enough, we ended up starting early and as luck would have it we actually ended around 11:19am.

"The Bad Astronauts" at the top of Fountain Place!

Our two person team back at the bottom of Fountain Place with certificates of completion in hand...WOOT!

We weren’t the fastest climbers as we took 3 short water breaks but we were still able to finish in about 30 minutes … 

The time to beat was a man who participated with an earlier start time and finished all 52 floors in six minutes flat!

Maybe next year, haha.

As a reward to ourselves, we decided to hit The Dallas World Aquarium after the climb.

The aquarium was pretty neat!

Our indoor adventure began on the upper level in the Orinoco-Secrets of the River rainforest exhibit. The exhibit showcased a mixed array of birds that flew freely throughout the exhibit, as well as many other animals ranging in size from small vampire bats and lizards to large manatees.

We got to see them up-close, but you can click here to watch the manatee cam!

We couldn’t manage to get a photo of him as he was too high up, but one of my favorite creatures they had was a two-toed sloth that was allowed to roam freely about the exhibit.

He was taking a nap when we came by but still very cute!

…If anyone questions the cuteness of sloths I think you need to take a look at this video: 

When we entered the Aquarium portion of The Dallas World Aquarium we saw marine species from around the world including many sharks and my favorite salamander of the sea, the Axolotl!

Photo taken from

Like most aquariums we had to exit through the gift shop, but never fear!

On top of being filled with aquarium goodies they had a viewing area for their penguin exhibit.

We found out as we were leaving that before The Dallas World Aquarium was opened to the public in 1992, it had been an abandoned warehouse that once belonged to the Mohawk Rubber Company and Pioneer Steel Rule and Die.

The warehouse was built in 1924 so it took lots of renovations before it was ready for its current flippered residents.

I think they did a pretty good job!

The next time I'm in Dallas I'd like to check out the Sixth Floor Museum, the Dallas Arboretum, a few of their art museums, and the Dallas Zoo but there was only so much I could see in a short trip.

Just the same, I hope it won't be too long until I visit Dallas again. :-)

Now what to do today...

Monday, January 24, 2011

Warm Water Weather

My husband and I had a great weekend jam-packed with time out with friends and a few bike rides in Conroe, TX but as wimpy as it may sound I wish it could have been a little warmer out…

Today is another chilly day, and perhaps it’s the rainy skies outside putting water on my mind but I’m totally craving some warm water weather.

Every July 4th we try and make it up to Oklahoma to spend time with my hubbies family.
Our Flag Day festivities normally include lots of swimming, water skiing, and a killer party with the family as we watch fireworks on the lake.

Cycling is always one of my favorites but I’m getting pretty antsy for summer time and some aqua themed fun. J

I hope it warms up a little soon! 

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Big D Climb

On a whim, my cousin and I decided to sign up for the Big D Climb, a 52 flight stair climb up the steps of Fountain Place in Downtown Dallas to help raise funds for blood cancer research.

If you’d like more information on the climb you can go to or visit our team fundraising website for The Bad Astronauts… My cousin came up with the name.  :-)

I’ve not been to the gym as often as I should to prepare for this, so, in an effort to continue working off the excess holiday junk food I was consuming last month and to get ready for the Big D Climb I've started going regularly to my local gym.  

Never one to shy away from new experiences, to keep me motivated I picked a new activity and signed up for a few yoga classes.

I tried yoga once in college but couldn’t keep up, hurt my wrist, got frustrated, and never went back…

Although my first attempt at yoga didn’t go so well, a lot of time has passed since then and I’m sure I’m much more coordinated now… or at least I hope I am. :-)

There are tons of different styles and levels of yoga so I’m certain after a few classes I’ll find a style that I enjoy.

I’d love to be able to do acrobatic yoga like these awesome people but unfortunately they don’t offer this class at the YMCA, haha.

Maybe I’ll just have to throw in a few of my own tricks…

... AND for those of you that don't think yoga can help with going up and down stairs I beg to differ...

Wish me luck!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Bishop's Palace

I have been to Galveston oodles of times but I haven’t ever really taken the time to check out its historic architecture. Realizing this, last week my buddy Sarah and I took a drive over to Galveston Island with the hope of visiting Moody Mansion and Bishops Palace.

It was pretty cold outside (I think a high of 43 on the island) so there were not many other tourist once we got down there.

Unfortunately, due to the lack of tourism, Moody Mansion had decided to close for the day for cleaning (Booooo).

We were worried the long drive down to Galveston had been in vain, but luckily for us Bishops Palace was still up and running!

Bishop’s Palace was built by lawyer Colonel Walter Gresham and designed by Nicholas Clayton (Galveston’s premier Victorian architect).

Recently, it was cited by the American Institute of Architects as one of the 100 most important buildings in America and it was easy to see why once we stepped inside.

The home was filled with ornate colored stone, intricately carved rare woods, stained glass windows, and many lavish materials and furnishings that were original to the home. Pretty impressive when you consider the house has been through both the 1900 storm and 2008’s Hurricane Ike.

A photo of Bishop's Palace from National Geographic after the 1900 storm.

A photo of Bishop's palace as we know it today, taken from Virtual Tourist.

Our tour was only of the first two floors and took about an hour. 
There are tours of the entire home one Saturday a month so I’m hoping to go back sometime soon to see the rest.

While searching for the next date of the whole house tour I found this crazy video on

Apparently, in 2007, became the first tourism-bureau website to feature its destination in the virtual reality world of Second Life. The project captured a Stevie Award for best multimedia.

Since Galveston is so close I’d rather see the island, and the rest of Bishop’s Palace in person, but who knows… maybe if I can’t make it back there I’ll check it out on Second Life. J

Friday, January 14, 2011

Stop-Motion Walk Across America

I came across this awesome video today on PetaPixel and thought I should share.
I'm always planning trips abroad but videos like this always help to remind me that there is plenty to see in my own backyard. 

Have a fantastic Friday!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Dive Photos!

When the Cayman Islands were first sighted by European explorers lead by Christopher Columbus on May 10, 1503 it is said that the waters around the islands were so full of turtles that they “looked like little rocks.”  Due to the Cayman’s ample supply of resident turtles the islands were called Las Tortugas.

Eventually the islands were given the Spanish name Lagartos, meaning lizards, but by 1530 the name the islands were most commonly referred to as was Caymanas. Caymanas was derived from the Carib Indian word for marine crocodiles, which at one time were very abundant in the islands. The name stuck and today we use its variant, Caymans or Grand Caymans.

Another thing the islands still retain today is an abundant supply of marine life.

Divers from all over the world flock to the Cayman Islands with the hope of getting up close and personal with the local sea life.

While on our New Year’s cruise, my husband and I were among that group of divers hoping to enjoy the Cayman's magnificent water clarity and sea life.

When we disembarked the ship in Grand Cayman we took a short tender to our meeting spot where we met the small group of divers that would be exploring the waters with us.
Our group was pretty neat and included a former U.S. Marine as well as two marine biologists.

We chatted amongst ourselves until the shuttle for our dive site arrived and transported us to Don Fosters Dive Cayman.

Honestly, Don Fosters Dive Cayman was so close to our meeting point that I have no idea why they sent a shuttle instead of having us walk down the street, but I can’t really complain because after the dive we all took ample time to explore Grand Cayman and walk back to the port.

I’ve been waiting eagerly for our photos from the dive to be processed and they are finally done! Yay!!!

During my wait the former U.S. Marine from our dive, was kind enough to send us all a few of the photos that he took during the dive.

His photos are really great!

I’m posting all of the pics up here but to make sure he gets credit for the photos he took, our photos have a black border, and his photos have no border.

We unfortunately didn’t get to see much in the way of Turtles (or Crocodiles, yikes!) but we did see a lot of amazing fish and had lots of time to explore the beautiful coral reef.
(The reef looks very blue in these photos but it was much more colorful than that.)

I’d really love to go back and dive for longer. Hopefully on my next trip I’ll have a few turtle photos to share upon my return. J

Many thanks to for the history of the Cayman Islands