2016 Indianapolis Prize

The Indianapolis Prize is the world’s largest individual monetary award given for animal conservation and is one of the ways the Indianapolis Zoological Society, Inc. empowers people and communities, both locally and globally, to advance animal conversation. With my love of animals, I was thrilled to be invited to this event. Mom warned me not to take any animals home and don’t even think about a job change. I grew up wanting to swim with Orca whales. My parents never fostered that idea and Mom continues to remind me of all the lovely things I have in my life because of what my job has afforded me. I get it. But I still want to swim with THEM! I’ll just have to charter my own boat!

We were welcomed by beautiful banners showcasing the finalists and their missions.

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This was my first visit to the main JW Marriott ballroom. I was intrigued to see how the show would be produced. Of course, Markey’s delivers with a light show on the ceiling!

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Bring on my entree!

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These awards are every 2 years which makes sense when you think about the dedication it takes to save an animal species. This year’s Jane Alexander Global Wildlife Ambassador was Sigourney Weaver. As they were announcing her name, I was expecting a video to pop up on the big screen. Nope. She was here. Really in person. Holy shit. That is cool!

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This year’s winner was Carl Jones. On the island of Mauritius, he brought the total population of the rarest bird on the planet, the kestrel, from only four individuals to nearly 400 over the course of a decade.

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It was a spectacular event and a wonderful reminder that we share this planet not just with humans but with animals. They deserve for us humans to do our best to make their home great too. I know this crew will do our part!

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Zoo Brew

Mom’s been talking about this event for years but it sells out literally 3 minutes after tickets go on sale. She made some networking calls and finally we had 2 tickets to the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo fundraiser called Zoo Brew!

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I can’t even remember the last time I was here, but I do remember my first job working with the ponies and horse rides. That lasted one summer due to my hay allergy. But it did give me a great memory of one car ride home with my Mom… I was 14 and couldn’t drive yet so she carted me and my lunch there every day. This was back in the day of the hard Igloo coolers. A rabbit had built a nest in the middle of the pony ring. Once the babies were ready to flee, my fellow co-workers were trying to catch them. Once you touch them, the mom won’t take care of them anymore. Dad and I had raised bunnies in our neighborhood quite a few times. So I thought, I’ll just bring them home. I put some grass in my cooler and in went 2 bunnies. Mom picks me up and asks

Why do you have grass coming out of your cooler?

I have 2 bunnies in there.

Natalee, you can’t steal animals from the zoo!

Duh! Back to present time… She got us VIP so we could get access to all the food and drink an hour before the general public. Very good choice as the lines got ridiculous as the night progressed. The zoo is laid out by continents so we headed to Africa first.

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Each continent had about a dozen food vendors and a dozen drink tastings. I was happy with my Mo’s tacos, but the caprese salad looked great.

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Bourbon tasting? Yes please!

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But we were really there to see the animals. A lot of the cats were sleeping.

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Hyena

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Zebras on the veldt.

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As we watched this monkey, he started to relieve himself from all ends. We hightailed it out of there. No poop thrown at us please!

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As we headed to North America, we hear the classic train horn. Mom got giddy like a little kid! She wanted to ride the train. I walked over to the empty station and asked the worker if it was open to the guests. It was so waited for it’s return… it had 4 people on it. 4. We were the only ones in line, everyone else was scarfing down food and booze. Alright Mom, let’s ride the train.

Alone. Seriously hilarious that we were the only ones. This is not a small train.

After our ride we headed to Austrailia.

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They turned the old bat exhibit into an interactive sting ray pool.

Roos hanging around the walkabout.

The huge aquarium is still a favorite of ours.

Puffer!

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Penguins weren’t very active in heat.

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I was excited to see the Lion drinking fountain was still functional!

Great day & memories with Mom! Thanks Momma!

Family Day in Nappanee

Since last summer, I’ve been threatening to take my parents some where in Nappanee Indiana they will never believe. Today, I made good on my promise. Introducing the Nappanee Horse Track!

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We parked in the shade, popped the hatch and waited for the race to begin!

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We were in turn 4. There were people lining the fence in turn 2 around the finish line where the grand stands were then down to us. Still had 5 more cars add to our turn after a few races.

A red El Camino would pull up to the finish line with these huge gates on the sides. The drivers and ponys would do a big walk down and back to get in line behind the car.

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Drive around to turn 2, then the El Camino takes off, folds up his gates, and off they go!

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Go ponies!

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It was so crazy! These guys get some major speed. We even saw one guy wreck and had to watch in agony for a few minutes to see if the pony could get up. After 7 races, they take a break and it’s practice time. We counted at least 30 ponies out there at one time. There were 19 races tonight! We had our fix after about 10. Carole needed chicken.

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Afterward, we headed into town to dine with some of Mom’s new friends at the Mexican restaurant. Someone’s getting a bonnet for Christmas.

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Afterward, I had one more stop on our visit. My friend’s parents help Nappanee create quilt gardens each year. I’ve only heard of these so I was ready to see one. It was gorgeous! With the State’s bicentennial this year, they are State themed.

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What city is next?!

A little video of the ponies. After a few races, Dad and I really enjoyed watching the El Camino try to pull off the track after the start. Comin’ in hot! Not a lot of room there! On lap 2, this was the race a pony went down. Hard to watch, but remember he did walk off the track on his own. Oh, and the driver was fine too.

Our Beach Return

Previously.

We. Made. It.

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Herbie @ the beach! 4 weeks prior to this, I wasn’t sure it would happen. Fears of playing Aunt Edna kept entering my mind.

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Our first stop was for some big chair time.

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Get this man some food!

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After a few days at the beach, the Indiana girls needed a shopping fix. And I needed to see if CS fit into this contraption.

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And we thought this was funny.

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CS was craving a po’boy the whole trip! With the help of some locals, we did find a few new eateries to try.

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Dad witnessed a Blue Angels fly-by over the beach, hopped on the internet, and we made plans to watch a public practice over in Peniscola. Bucket List! Mom, pack the Triscuits.

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My 2 favorite men in the whole wide world.

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They had an old Fat Albert plane you could tour. Might as well!

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I love this photo of my Dad. He’s walking by, “Herb, stop right there. I need a pic.” Payback for all the pics as a kid I had to pose for. Parenting your parents is fun!

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The cloud cover kept the practice to just a few stunts, but still impressive.

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Video will be coming soon.

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Then ole’ Fat Albert took the stage.

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After the show, we visited the massive National Naval Aviation Museum.

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I was very impressed with the history of planes and equipment this place had. Imagine this R2D2 cage was your job for months or years.

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Front row seat!

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You can’t see shit out of this thing. Radio contact must have been crucial.

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We tried to figure out if we could put his on the pontoon and race some boats at the lake.

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Finally time for my repeat bucket item… Lemur play time. I was armed with more interactive video this time.

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COME PLAY WITH ME!

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Carole was all about it.

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Chad found a new lover. In, this guy loved to lick is sun burnt forehead clean.

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I was in heaven. When I go back, I will likely do this every day we are there. Every day.

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Next animal encounter? Sloth! I sent this image to a friend. His response, “Nice stuffed animal statue.”

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Nope, he moves!

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There were 2 slothes in the cage. Let’s feed one.

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The sloth-y, as we will call him, would creepily move around the ropes.

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And I figured he was doing yoga moves.

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Photo ops with a sloth. And again, video will be coming soon.

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Another encounter was Kangaroos, but they put them in this pouch and you hold the pouch. Pass.

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CS had fun getting this guy agitated.

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Amidst all our fun, I found a little time for self improvement. Excellent Read. Highly recommend it.

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To my new favorite US beach spot… until next time.

My First Kid

I don’t know when this obsession began. I love the claw machine. Maybe I’m a reincarnated alien from Toy Story. The Claaaaaaaaaaw. The “Claw” will somehow choose one of them to “go on to a better place.” My generations Calgon, I guess. During a recent spring cleaning effort I found Bessie.

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Bessie was, at one time, the largest stuffed animal I had ever gotten from The Claw. She was special. With CS’ help, he said “Take a picture then walk away.”

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Fine. Good bye my sweet friend. Sorry I had to choose to keep this over you.

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Over-sized hot pink punching glove 1 – Bessie 0.

Touch My Monkey

Previously.

During our trip to L’uleville, we heard about this fundraiser for Wildlife in Need. They were raising funds and awareness for the animal rescue re-housing program. The owner of Wildlife in Need was very adamant about not using the term “rescue”. He has over 150 exotic animals he’s building new cages for. Including these 3 guys. Baby tiger coming in hot!

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Up close and personal.

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Look at that face!

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This guy was only 8 weeks old!

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Sorry Muppet, CS has a new best friend. This baby would not leave his lap. Stayed with us for 10 minutes. I started feeling bad for the other 40 people in the room. Felt like we were hogging the tiger, but we were told to let them roam as they pleased.

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Since this was my 2nd time doing this, I tried not to be greedy. Then when the tigers kept passing by me I started getting annoyed. Come here!

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We had a great time!

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To keep the crowd occupied, they would bring out other animals to share. Meet my monkey!

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Close’er Up

It was time to check on the Minion and close up the cottage. Kevin had survived the weather and was shining bright at night. His brother lost an eye. We’ll have to re-engineer that part next summer.

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Biggest task each year is getting the boat out. With my party pontoon it’s a lot easier to clean it up and store it away. This year was my first year to officially take over this task. Dad’s done it for 50 years. He deserves a break. Which meant, I had to find a new boat captain and learn how to maneuver a 32 foot trailer. CS needed to practice his driving skills as I would be waiting at the ramp with the truck and trailer.

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As always with the lake, you see some fancy toys. On our final lap around the lake, I see this guy. Wakeboarding. Sans a boat.

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Closer look showed a hand powered gas steering throttle. WTF.

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We thought we needed jet skis and a paddleboard. Man, now there is another one to add to the list.

Herbie supervised the boat retrieval and we set back off to the house. As Mom comes out, I’ll driving the rig with CS and Dad just riding along. She about fell over in laughter. She forgets I’m a boy sometimes.

We tried to recreate the close of 2013 with our new buddy the Muppet!

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But we couldn’t get the birds to come. Thanks Muppet. He doesn’t leave CS’s side. It was love at first site.

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Gawd I’ll miss this.

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Sad face…

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As we were leaving, I spied Dad’s shoes. I sent him this picture and a note: I know I can never fill your shoes, but I’ll try damn hard. Love you Dad!

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Out With The Old

Since my golf game has rust, cob webs, and every thing else that says it’s been awhile, I figured maybe a new bag would bring some good mojo for my upcoming golf outing! Out with the old,

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In with the new!

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Turned out, another girl in our 4 some had borrow clubs from the clubhouse. They gave her the exact same bag! Good taste! Too bad, it didn’t end up helping my game. I blame the 1 inch gash on my index finger I got 2 weeks ago hitting balls. The ground was so hard I snapped a tee in half and it punctured my finger badly. I was 50/50 for the day.

We were playing in a scramble with about 100 other people and ended up behind the slowest 4-some of my life. It was painful. They never asked if we wanted to play through, so I made up games to pass the time. “Hey, if you can hit the squirrel with a golf ball, I’ll give you $5.” We all tried and the squirrel was un-phased as about 9 golf balls whizzed by, inches from his face.

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My golf partner tried to be sneaky and have me sit on his name tag without knowing. You can’t pull too many fast ones on me. I saw it but obliged to get a laugh from the rest of our group.

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We didn’t fare so well from a team score perspective, but we all scored in the free swag arena! Everyone at our table won door prizes!

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EDITOR NOTE: Literally 1 week later, I am playing Sagamore with CS. On my tee shot for #2, I hit a line drive ball at the green. It nailed a squirrel. In the butt. Squirrel leaped 2 feet in the air and shot himself and my ball into the woods. CS, can I get a witness?! Wish he would have been trying to secretly record me like he does almost daily. I apologized to all remaining squirrels I saw that day.

Die

Air conditioner stopped working on Monday. Tested everything we could think of. Time for the professionals. After he runs a few tests, he says “Have you had a mouse problem before?” Yes, years ago I had a tiny mouse friend for a day. I was sitting on my couch and watched something scurry from the furnance room to the laundry room. WTF. Quickly figured out he got in through the air conditioner housing and stuffed both ends of it with steel wool. Problem solved. Until now. I figured I’d do the same thing again and seal it up better. Until I got the bill… $225 to rewire outside. Son of a rat. Plan changed.

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Lake Time Celebrations

She learned from the best and nabbed this guy!

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Mom, me, and PS were out on the paddle boat. With a small nudge, PS is on the front of the boat stretching out and BAMM turtle in hand! As always, it’s a catch and release program. Some of these guys, just don’t have direction?!

Father’s Day brought out Big Jenga! We are always reinventing ourselves at the lake.

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Once the bugs kicked in, we headed for the house. What do you guys want to play? Headbanz won. We look amazing.

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Sweet 16 party came next! Who doesn’t want to celebrate on the water?!

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Where are you taking them?! Good thing I trust these people.

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Now comes the 4th of July jet boots. Man I want to try these so bad.

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I randomly found a 5k race at Lake Syracuse over the holiday. Sure, let’s do this.

Fwd: Flotilla run

Holy hell it smelt like pig shit for 2 miles. No amount of t-shirt holding over the face was working. We finished and got the hell out. It was time to celebrate the holiday with nails and metallic press on tats. Never wanted a tat. Still don’t. These were fun!

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And for the real fun! T-shirt cannon time. We needed something to do with the flotilla going by. Mom take aim!

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JM, Chef de Jour, hooked us up. Even had a Sous chef at the ready to assist. Dinner was devine!

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With the holiday schedule, we had a delightful time taking in the scenes at Shipshe.

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Happy 4th of July beeches and babies!

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Best people in the world!

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