Cool quick photo of Tristan trying to maneuver the drinking fountain about 10 minutes after entry. It was already getting warm.
The first big set of flowers we saw was down this big, long path with tons of different stuff and lots of bees and bugs checking things out. We weren't hardly there a few minutes when my dad and I both spotted this crazy looking thing...
Is it a hummingbird? Is it a bug? What the hell is it? It looks like some kinda made-up thing. I took a few pictures. It's kinda furry lookin'. Got antennae. An abdomen. Must be a bug. Found an employee down the way a bit who said it was a moth ("looks like a hummingbird? yeah, that's a moth"). I had to look it up, and lo and behold... it's called a Hummingbird Moth! Naturally. Technically, it's a Hummingbird Clearwing moth, Hemaris thysbe. Righteous. This is actually a pretty good picture, you can see it's proboscis and everything, it's totally probing that flower.
There were tons of these big, fuzzy, huge bumblebees around. I have a macro setting on my camera that I just discovered a year or so ago, and it doesn't work tremendously well, but I wanted to try and work on my technique a bit... so I took a ton of the bees. A couple were ok, none were great. A little too grainy.
Not bad though, right? Bees work hard.
We had to stop and chill for a bit on some benches at the end of the big flower bed. Mom loves having her picture taken. Steph is smart and avoiding eye contact. I took another picture almost identical to this, except my mom had turned her whole body towards Steph (but Steph had not moved an inch). If you look at them in quick succession, it appears as though my mother is animated. I find it hilarious. I've tried to recreate that experience... click here.
Across the way, dad and Tristan are obviously deep in philosophical discussion.
There are a lot of cool fountains there, and this is the Italian version. Very nice, indeed.
There are a bunch of large greenhouses with tons and tons of stuff in them...
And right outside there are these massive lily pads... are they real?! Hell yes. Crazy fake-looking. They look like they could hold a two-ton frog. I almost jumped on one. I had to touch them... very leathery. The underwater root/stem system is colossal. Impressive all around. Steph was flabbergasted.
This is another set of fountains as they are about to begin their "Fountain Show", set to music. Very incredibly unnderwhelming.
The Topiary! Is that a dog? Slightly freaky. Mom loved it.
From a distance, that's Mom, Tristan, Steph, Dad.
Queen Bee Steph and Tristan in the children's garden.
So I took a zillion shots of flowers, up close and personal, with my camera on the macro mode (mentioned above) and taking inspiration from my pal Erin, who takes a-MAZE-ing photographs of super-close flowers and mushrooms (two samples of many). Granted she's got vats more skills than I, and a healthier camera, but I got a couple of good ones. Most of them were just ok.
I like this one. No idea what flower it is.
This one was not one of the better ones, but I dig the bug.
A rose, ho hum. But not a bad picture.
This is by far the best one. With a bee, to boot! Great color, great composition. I think.
And since I don't want to put full-size versions of all of the rest, I made a nice little collage... maybe a couple of them are worthy of fullness, but not right now.