Saturday, April 11, 2009
A Zebra Finch at the Florida Museum of Natural History.
Sunday, March 15 was the last morning of our Space Coast birding orgy. We had birded nonstop from Thursday at 1 pm on (with lengthy breaks only for dinner and sleep.) I never though I could spend enough time birding, but weirdly enough, it felt like time to do something else.
So instead of getting up at 4:30 to catch birds as the sun rose, we slept until the decadent hour of 7:30, ate the (mediocre) Continental breakfast included in our hotel tariff (which we'd had to miss on the first days of our trip because of our pre-dawn commitments elsewhere such as this and this ), and went to a nearby air show featuring various vintage military aircraft. Appropriately enough, the show was partially sponsored by the Warbird Museum in Titusville. So it was (sort of) bird related: it involved flying objects whose origins and taxonomy are sometimes still up for debate.
Around noon, we began our two-and-a-half hour drive back to Gainesville. Just before the two hour mark, we began seeing odd hand-written signs by the side of the road: WHOOPIE PIES: 3 MILES.
"What's a whoopie pie?" Glenn asked.
"I'm not sure."
"I think it has marshmallow cream in it."
I thought about this. I'd heard the term "whoopie pie" before, and I remembered that it didn't refer to an actual pie, but some sort of cookie/pastry thing. Definitely a sandwich cookie of some sort. Maybe that's where the marshmallow cream came in.
We continued on. Three miles passed.
"Hey, no whoopie pies!" Glenn said.
We continued. Then up ahead was a complex of shops for vacationing fishermen and boaters: a tackle shop, a restaurant, and a general store. And a big marquee sign: WHOOPIE PIES.
Glenn pulled a hard right into the parking lot.
"Wait, you actually want one of those things?" I said.
"Well, I thought this would be a good place to rest."
"But we don't even know what they are!"
In the little general store, we found that whoopie pies were, just as we suspected, big soft sandwich cookies. They were like large cupcake tops glued together with icing. Glenn got one with chocolate cookies and vanilla icing; I got one with chocolate cookies and cherry icing. Meh. Okay, but nothing special. But it was almost 2:30 and we hadn't had lunch, so this would have to do.
We munched on them as we continued our drive north. We both decided they'd be more interesting with marshmallow filling. And then we marveled at the fact that we actually went out of our way to eat them. For lunch, no less.
And only a week later, I found this article in the New York Times: Whoopie pies are officially the new frozen yogurt/ cupcake/ whatever trendy dessert you can think of!
I've noticed this before: whenever Glenn and I get into something, about three months later the Los Angeles Times or the New York Times puts out an article about how trendy it is. First it was kayaking. Then birdwatching. Now whoopie pies.
We eat whoopie pies on Sunday, and the New York Times declares it a trend by Wednesday. Are we awesome or what?
We got back to Gainesville about an hour later, and I realized my spring break was over: Monday would bring 4 hours of lecture (which I'd already prepared). But there was still time for one more outing.
The Butterfly House at the Florida Museum of Natural History is known locally as one of those places where one goes only with out-of-town guests. But it's still pretty cool: an enclosed, climate-controlled area filled with tropical birds and butterflies, all within arm's length. Photographers love it, so I knew I had to take Glenn there.
Here are a few of his shots. The butterflies in the enclosure come from all over the world (so not all are native to Florida). The big green one is a Green Morpho:
I'm not sure what this one is; but I loved its colors: it reminded me of mint-chocolate-chip ice cream. Mmm.
And thus ended my spring break. Tomorrow I'd be back to the grind—but at least Glenn would still be in town, and would have his adventures to tell me about when I got home.