Saturday, December 11, 2004

Lufkin, Texas—Houston, Texas—Day 315

I headed back to the Ellen Trout Zoo this morning for a second chance to get some more pictures of the hippos. I arrived and had five minutes to kill before the zoo opened. With the weather finally getting on the colder side, I sat on a bench by the entrance absolutely freezing. The zoo finally opened (a.k.a. the woman at the desk told me could now go in) and I headed back to find the enclosure.

To my luck, the hippos weren’t out yet which was a good sign. This meant that I could photograph them as they walked down into the pool. Sure enough, just a few minutes passed until the big heavy door to the inside enclosure opened and there appeared a hippo head.

It was Pancho so I waited while he made his way out to see Mara and Nakili. Specifically I wanted pictures of Nakili. So I waited while Mara decided to stand in Nakili’s way—preventing her from leaving. Despite the keeper’s shouts of “move out! Get out!” that she was obviously shouting to at Mara, Mara stood her ground. Eventually though I think that Nakili got the best of her and moved Mara out of the way due to sheer force.

The door behind them closed and I snapped away.

They did their thing as hippos do—stopping, standing, (posing!) and I was happy to get some pictures of Nakili but unhappy about the sun’s reflection. There was no really way to go about it—the direction that I had to take their pictures in was the exact spot that the sun was rising. But I didn’t let a few rays and glare get in my way.

Despite the sun, the weather was still cold. I waited until the three hippos immersed themselves in the water (Pancho, then Nakili, then Mara) and then stood in front of the underwater viewing glass where I watched Pancho and Mara show off for the camera. Seriously, they were both floating along and would stop and press their noses RIGHT up against the glass. It was extremely cute—especially of course with Mara—and I was delighted. I left the zoo a little earlier than yesterday but with much better photos.

I spent the rest of the morning driving back down to the Houston area. I stopped for some cold medicine at a drug store and proceeded to have a funny conversation with a girl who knew that I “obviously wasn’t from here” after I asked her where the post office was. She gave me directions but wanted to know more importantly WHY I was in Lufkin “of all places.” I told her that I was working as a photographer right now and she just looked at me dumbfounded. “Well what the heck do you have to photograph HERE?”

I left with directions for the post office which I never succeeded in finding. Never mind—since it was Saturday it was probably closed anyway. I made it Houston just after lunchtime and found a hotel near the Bush Airport where I would be flying out of early in the morning. After checking in I went straight tot eh FedEx store and shipped some things to my boss. The woman working at the counter was most impressed with my job—but not in any sense that she REALLY cared as to what I was doing. She was more interested in the fact that I was a photographer because I could buy this really nifty PHOTO CALENDAR and make one for all of my family for Christmas! Or, since I told her my boss loves hippos, she exclaimed, “Well, you could make him a T-SHIRT with your photos on it! Here’s a brochure!”

This went on for a few minutes. She even wouldn’t let me leave without taking with me a full on catalogue that showed just about everything that I could print, scan and ship to my loved ones for Christmas.


Tomorrow its off to San Antonio which I am excited about since a friend of mine from college is from there. While he won’t be there, I have heard enough about it to want to know for myself what it is like. Until then.