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September 16, 2005

Ecce Weasel

Vandra traveled to France and Italy with Weasel Keeper Kelli. Here she admires the gardens at Versailles.

Kelli and Vandra at the gardens of Versailles.

Vandra and Mr. Monkey on the red carpet leading up to the Cannes Film Festival building. Vandra said she could still detect the faint scent of Annika, who visited this locale several months ago.

Your eyes do not deceive you - that's Vandra outside the Leaning Tower in Pisa!

This dome is another part of the Leaning Tower complex.

Vandra poses in front of the Colosseum on a lovely sunny Roman day.

We know Vandra will come back to Rome sometime... she threw a Euro or two into the Trevi Fountain.

Vandra needed a break from all the climbing up Mt. Etna (pictured in background), so she chose to rest in this striking, vast field of volcanic ash.

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Posted by dmd at 6:26 PM

September 11, 2005

Tokyo: Weasel Town

Anka visited Tokyo last winter as well, with Weasel Keeper Dianna Tong and friends.

Anka among friends outside of Kiddyland, the most famous toy store in Tokyo

Along Takeshita-dori, following our noses towards...

Crepes! A favorite snack in Tokyo, at the moment.

The Japanese do not eat while walking, so here we (Dianna, Anka, and Daphne) pause for a moment.

Anka enjoying her snack

Anka meeting a neko who frankly looks taken aback by the forwardness of this Swedish-American weasel.

Tokyo does still have its fair share of earthquakes today, even if they're on the whole quite small.

Harajuku, in Omotesando, is certainly one of the most popular shopping districts - second only to Ginza. Standing here, outside of the Gap.

Next, we headed off to Hakone. Although not the shinkansen, this train moves quite fast!

Anka at the train station in Hakone.

We begin our travels - looking down at the homes along the slope.

We stopped at the Open Air Museum, Gora, and the Hot Springs (although Anka wasn't keen on having her fur wet.)

Viva Hakone!

The view from our hotel room, looking down at the garden.

Traveling by bus...

... by cable car...

up to the (admittedly stinky) Owakudani Valley.

And now, back again, by gondola...

...and ship, to cross Lake Ashi.

The ship is a vibrant green copy of a Spanish galleon taken over by pirates. Anka, with a modern pirate...right.

Hakone Checkpoint, the first stop on the road from Edo to the west of Japan.

In the Gobansho, Anka comforts a lady while being searched. Samurai wives and daughters were rarely allowed to travel away from the Tokugawa capital.

A museum showcasing life in Hakone during the Edo period, having little, in fact to do with actual materials.

In the Imperial Gift Hakone-koen Park, overlooking the lake.

Here stood a summer villa built for the Emperor Mejii, although a modern building now is at the site.

A map of the region (I believe. Anka can't read Japanese either.)

And, after a long trip, a worthy dinner at my favorite tempura restaurant, back in Tokyo.

Anka and friend, at the famous Tsukiji Fish Market.

Some of the most delicious sushi in the world can be found in the tiny stores right beside the market. Anka here sits outside the store we chose, beneath its noren

Down the busy avenue leading to the Sensoji in Asukusa, Anka pauses for a quick shot.

Outside the temple - a busy time of year, being just before the New Year.

Weasel - and sake! It's a traditional gift to the temple.

And, of course you can't have a visit to Tokyo without a trip to the pachinko parlour - especially with her (minor) gambling addiction.

Posted by dmd at 4:19 PM

September 8, 2005

Caped Weasel

Leka meets a stuffed bear at the Cape May, NJ zoo.

The meeting goes badly.

Leka: vicious animal?

Leka with a zebra. (She refused to pose with non-herbivores after the bear.)

Victorian houses in Cape May.

Leka successfully stares down a river otter...

but loses the staring contest with a Cape May lighthouse.

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Posted by dmd at 12:05 AM

September 7, 2005

Corny Weasel

Freja visits the Corn Palace, in Mitchell, South Dakota - and heartily approves. Each year, the building is recoated with a newly designed mural consisting of thousands of bushels of oats, corns, and other grains.

The theme is different each year - well, as different as different gets in South Dakota. This year, the theme is "Life on the Farm", apparently.

Freja tries her hand at being a condiment.

With Jake and Elwood Blues at the "Sundaes and More" restaurant across the street from the Corn Palace.

Posted by dmd at 10:45 PM

September 3, 2005

Badlands Kitsch

If you've ever driven I-90 through South Dakota, you know that there isn't that much to see. Lots of corn fields, lots of highways, and that's about it.

Except for the Wall Drug signs. Every few hundred yards as you drive west on I-90 in SD you'll see a billboard on the side of the road advertising Wall Drug. Examples of Wall Drug's signs:

There are literally hundreds of these signs along the highway in South Dakota. Rumor has it there are lots more in other states. I've seen them as far away as central Minnesota to the East and Western Idaho to the West. So any plans you had of driving past exit 110 off I-90 without stopping at Wall Drug are damn near nonexistent.

That being said, here are Freja's adventures at this ultimate in tourist stops.

Wall Drug actually does have a drug store, along with a leather store, a book store, a cafe, a huge gift shop (naturally), a video arcade, a small church/spiritual rest stop, a candy/fudge shop, and lots and lots of South Dakota souvenirs. You can pick up Mount Rushmore stuff here, Sturgis Motorcycle Rally stuff, Badlands dinosaurs souvenirs, stuffed jackelopes, and t-shirts of every size and shape.

Wall Drug is the largest employer in Wall, which has a population I'd have to guess of being around 1,000. A lot of the workers there are Eastern European; they seem to fly in young people from Bulgaria, Czech Republic, etc. and put them to work for the summer. "See America"?, I suspect, is the lure. But most of them seem to be good spirited, so I doubt there's much indentured servitude going on.

One of the highlights is their "backyard"?, where you can see stuffed animals (both real and fictional), exhibits of the Wild Wild West, and of course the giant animatronic T-Rex. This is where Freja spent most of her time.

&mdash Kevin of Beans Around the World, Freja's Keeper Extraordinaire

Freja in front of the store.

An old timer

Buffalo Bill

We were just trying to get closer to this scantily dressed figurine. And Freja promised that she kept her eyes above the neckline.

Freja tries her paws at bull riding.

Freja and the animatronic T-Rex. Every 12 minutes he comes to life, spewing smoke and roaring at the crowd.

Joining a "friendly" game of cards. The white haired guy is supposed to be Doc Holliday, pulling his Colt .45 on a card cheater.

In the mouth of a T-Rex, hoping for the best.

Posted by dmd at 6:48 PM