Tag Archives: san diego zoo

Meal time is for the birds!

San Diego Zoo logo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I love to watch wildlife eat.

I don’t always have a great appreciation for some of the things they eat, but I love watching just the same.

Here is a video of meal time for the African Openbilled Storks (Anastomus lamelligerus) at the San Diego Zoo:

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I’m wondering if you can guess the native habitat of the African Openbilled Stork…………LOL

As you can see from the video, they eat snails, mollusks, and—gulp—mice. I liked the way several of the birds picked up a mouse, walked over to the water, and proceeded to wash their food before they ate it….

Although not endangered globally, they are threatened in South Africa by habitat loss, entanglement in fishing lines, and pesticides added to water to control mosquitoes.

img_2264 african openbilled stork zoo stamp

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Music on Mondays (3-30-15)—Hear me roar (or see me sleep)

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

There are many babies at the San Diego Zoo and the Safari Park right now, including a baby hippo born a week ago, a baby lowland gorilla, and a baby jaguar.

This is not a baby:

African lion at the San Diego Zoo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

That is a big cat, an African Lion, the King of the Jungle. Doesn’t look all that ferocious to me. In fact, he looks suspiciously like another cat I know:

Zoey the Cool Cat

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I have never seen the African Lions at the Zoo looking ferocious, only Zoey the Cool Cat:

Zoey the Cool Cat

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Every time I see lions sleeping, I think of Robert John and his 1972 hit, “The Lion Sleeps Tonight.”

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Robert John peaked at #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. It’s the version I grew up with; I was a junior in high school.

The song itself, though, is actually quite a bit older, having originally been recorded in 1939 as “Mbube” by the South African Zulu group Solomon Linda & The Evening Birds. Mbube is Zulu for lion.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Whenever I think of Zulu and Africa, I think first of Ladysmith Black Mambazo, best known for singing with Paul Simon on his #1 album “Graceland” from 1986. Sure enough, Ladysmith Black Mambazo did a version of “The Lion Sleeps Tonight.”

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

(YouTube and Wikipedia by far are my favorite Internet sites but they do cause me not to visit libraries as often as I should…….)

The Weavers had a #14 hit in 1952.

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I found The Weavers themselves to be rather interesting because one of their members was the incomparable Pete Seeger (1919-2014). Seeger was a prolific songwriter, having written “Where Have All The Flowers Gone?”, recorded by dozens of groups throughout music history and listed by New Statesman as one of the Top 20 political songs of all time. I am most familiar with the version by Peter, Paul & Mary:

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Seeger also wrote “If I Had A Hammer,” a #10 hit for Peter, Paul & Mary in late 1962, as well as a #3 hit for Trini Lopez in the summer of 1963.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

“Turn! Turn! Turn!” by The Byrds also was written by Seeger and was a #1 hit for them in late 1965. The Byrds were one of three groups performing at the first rock concert I ever went to, that concert being at The Yellow Rose of Texas dance hall in Corpus Christi in 1972. (Chicago & Dr. John were the other two groups.)

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

With that little side journey out of the way, let’s get back to “The Lion Sleeps Tonight.”

The Tokens’ version arguably is the best known, having spent three weeks at #1 in 1961.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I say arguably because younger readers probably know best the version by Timon and Pumbaa used in the Disney movie “The Lion King.”

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I feel like I just played a musical version of Six Degrees of Separation.

And with that, I return you to your regularly scheduled Monday programming.

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My six favorite San Diego vista points

Out & About

The following are my six favorite places from which to view San Diego:

San Diego Sky Tours

San Diego Sky Tours takes you on a 20-minute flight over downtown San Diego, Petco Park (home of the San Diego Padres), Qualcomm Stadium (home of the San Diego Chargers), Sports Arena (home of the Los Angeles Clippers when they were the San Diego Clippers), SeaWorld, Coronado Bridge, Hotel Del Coronado, beaches, San Diego River, and more! Take a ride in a biplane, a tour aircraft, or a helicopter. Nothing quite like it. Rates start at $124.

Remember, too, that if you fly into San Diego, sit on the left side of the airplane. The view of downtown San Diego as you are coming in for the landing is not to be missed!

Downtown San Diego from San Diego Sky Tours

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Mount Soledad

A very popular tourist vista because it’s just minutes north of downtown San Diego, and downtown La Jolla, one of the area’s best tourist venues, is on the north side.

Mount Soledad rises about 823 feet above the coastline. There is a huge cross and Veterans Memorial at the top. On a clear day you can see Tijuana, Los Angeles, and probably Tokyo!

View from Mount Soledad

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Mount Helix

The most popular vista point in East San Diego County. Mount Helix rises 1,365 feet above sea level. It’s about 14 miles inland but you can see the ocean on a clear day. There is am amphitheater and large cross at the top. Along with Easter Sunrise Service, there are usually theater presentations during the summer. Right now the only thing I see on the Mount Helix calendar are weddings and Power Yoga.

Mount Helix is my favorite place to see the sun rise.

Sunrise from the top of Mount Helix in La Mesa, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Manchester Grand Hyatt Hotel

In downtown San Diego on the harbor front. Comprising two towers, the older one, at 497 feet tall, has a vista point bar at the top. Unfortunately, it is way too small and crowded all the time. Be sure to visit Seaport Village at the foot of the towers.

Downtown San Diego

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

California Tower

The California Tower is 198 feet tall and located in Balboa Park.  While it is not as tall as the other vistas, the views are spectacular.

After having been closed for eighty years, it opened again on January 1, 2015. If you go, and I highly recommend that you do, make reservations and buy tickets online. They sell out far in advance, and it’s not even Tourist Season yet!

You won’t go to the tippy top because it’s not safe yet, but you won’t be disappointed. Afterwards, enjoy the rest of Balboa Park, including the world-famous San Diego Zoo.

California Tower and San Diego Museum of Man, Balboa Park, San Diego

Gian Panda Gao Gao at the San Diego Zoo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Coronado

A trip to Coronado has to be on everyone’s list of places to visit while in San Diego. You will travel over the very beautiful Coronado Bridge on your way to see the Hotel del Coronado, one of the most famous hotels in the world; Frank Oz’s house where he wrote much of “The Wizard of Oz”; Coronado Beach, one of the best beaches  in the United States according to those who rank such things; and downtown San Diego from across the harbor. If your budget includes splurging at a restaurant, splurge at Peohe’s.

San Diego-Coronado Bay Bridge

Downtown San Diego from Marriott Coronado Island Resort

Hotel del Coronado

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Should we not release our dogs and cats back into the wild?

Opinion

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I freely admit that I support zoos, aquariums, sanctuaries, and even SeaWorld to the max, 100%.

I even support circuses when it is done right, and I’ll define “done right” as using positive reinforcement rather than negative reinforcement.

To me, it’s pretty obvious when animals in our care have been trained with positive reinforcement.

It’s no different from you teaching a dog to roll over, sit, play dead, shake.

It’s done with treats, not whippings.

Perhaps that’s why I don’t like horse racing. I have been to the Del Mar Thoroughbred Races twice with a Photographer All Access pass. A total of twenty hours on two different occasions two years apart. I have yet to see anyone give a horse a treat. Rather, they prod them, poke them, whip them…….. Why are people not protesting that instead of SeaWorld? I don’t understand.

Do animals in our loving care remember those who care for them? I submit that they do:

Here’s another one:

Did zoos, aquariums, SeaWorld, and circuses abuse animals in the past? I believe they did. I believe taking animals out of the wild can, in many circumstances, be considered abuse.

However, I would rather have some of these animals in Zoos to save them than in the wild where they get slaughtered by poachers:

100,000 elephants killed by poachers in 3 years

I would also submit that in today’s world, if you were able to ask these animals if they would prefer to be in the wild struggling to find food each day, fighting for their lives each day…. or in a zoo or aquarium where they get love, attention, food, and medical care…. I believe I know the answer.

Without the leadership of the San Diego Zoo in getting other zoos and sanctuaries to sign on to its California Condor Conservation program, the California Condor would now be extinct. It actually was extinct in the wild as recently as 1987. Through the successful breeding programs of the San Diego and Los Angeles zoos, the California Condor was re-introduced to the wild beginning in 1991 in southern Utah, northern Arizona, central and southern California, and northern Baja California, Mexico. Here are a few of the California Condors at the San Diego Zoo:

Andean condor at the San Diego Zoo

California Condor at the San Diego Zoo

California Condor at the San Diego Zoo

The San Diego Zoo Safari Park has a northern white rhino as a resident. Northern white rhinos are functionally extinct, which means that the seven rhinos that exist in zoos throughout the world are beyond breeding age and that none exist in the wild. When these seven remaining rhinos die, there will be no more unless we can figure out cloning.

Northern white rhinoceros at the San Diego Zoo's Safari Park

Many times each year the Zoo and Safari Park announce the arrival of big babies: orangutans, elephants, giraffes, gazelles, monkeys, and gorillas. If not for the Zoo, I would never have had the opportunity to see orangutans, elephants, giraffes, gazelles, monkeys, and gorillas. And my annual membership supports the Zoo’s conservation and breeding programs, to ensure that the California Condor continues to exist in the wild.

The Zoo also re-introduces wildlife to other parts of the world when possible. Unfortunately, people in other countries don’t have the economy that we have in the United States, so they don’t mind slaughtering animals for food and other products.

I try to go once a week to SeaWorld, the Zoo, and Safari Park because one never knows what’s going on each week and which animals will be photogenic for me.

Without Zoos, many millions of people, including me, would never have had the opportunity to see these beautiful creatures:

Mom and baby gorilla at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Sumatran tiger at Tiger Trail at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Himalayan Monal at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Burmese Python at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Black mangabey at the San Diego Zoo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Camel at the San Diego Zoo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Giraffe at the San Diego Zoo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Elephant at the San Diego Zoo

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Giant Panda at the San Diego Zoo May 2013

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Male lion at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

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Mama koala and her joey at the San Diego Zoo

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Forest buffalo at the San Diego Zoo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Caracal at the San Diego Zoo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Desert bighorn sheep at the San Diego Zoo

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Johnston's crocodiles at the San Diego Zoo

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Fishing cat at the San Diego Zoo

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Zebra at the San Diego Zoo

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Secretary Bird at the San Diego Zoo

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Cheetah at the San Diego Zoo

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Polar Bear at the San Diego Zoo

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Knobbed Hornbill at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Meerkat at the San Diego Zoo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Red kangaroo at the San Diego Zoo

(Got the kangaroo in there for you, Laurie!)

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Flamingos at the San Diego Zoo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Although I can cite no research to support me, I firmly believe that people who have visited a zoo, sanctuary, or aquarium are more likely to contribute to conservation efforts to save these beautiful creatures from extinction in the wild.

For those who want to release all of these creatures back into the wild, that cannot be done with many of them because they are injured and would not be able to survive. The two bald eagles at Safari Park come to mind, both injured in the wild and rescued, and both unable to fly.

Bald eagles

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

If we take this to its logical conclusion, then all dogs and cats should be released back into the wild. After all, both species adapt quite quickly to life in the wild, so why are we keeping them penned up in our homes and teaching them tricks? For our entertainment, pleasure, and companionship….

Spoiled dog

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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SNIPPETS (8-14-14)—It’s so confusing

Snippets

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

snip-pet: a small piece of something

Snippets: mini blog posts

SNIPPET 1

Julian convinced me NOT to publish two posts a day here at my Southern California blog. Instead, daily specials on Photographic Art by Russel Ray Photos at Fine Art America will be announced, more appropriately, at RusselRayPhotos.com. I know, it can get confusing, having a Russel Ray Photos blog at RusselRayPhotos2.com and a separate RusselRayPhotos.com web site. Notwithstanding the web site names, look at the title of the web sites and you’ll see

Russel Ray Photos (here)
Photographic Art by Russel Ray Photos (there)

For the best access to Daily Specials, though, follow us over at Photographic Art by Russel Ray Photos, too.

SNIPPET #2

When I went to the Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden a year ago, I got so many pictures that it’s taken Julian and me this long to catalog everything. There is an outdoor dining area called Peacock Plaza. No one was dining there but I did get a (poor) picture of a peacock at Peacock Plaza.

Peacock Plaza

There is so much wrong with that picture. You know me, though. I never throw anything away. Comes from my wise old grandmother constantly saying, “What comes out of the camera is just the basics to start with.”

Note that the tile mosaic above the peacock has two peacocks in it. That mosaic is what I really wanted a picture of. I had another picture of the mosaic, and I tasked Julian with taking the two pictures and making a great piece of Photographic Art out of them. Here’s what he came up with:

Twin Peacocks

Julian keeps doing things that encourage me to keep him around….

SNIPPET #3

During the winter it will actually snow in the mountains of East San Diego County. Sadly, it only snowed there once this past winter. Global warming or something like that….

Here is another Photographic Art created by Julian of Lake Cuyamaca in the mountains covered with ice and snow:

Lake Cuyamaca

If you come to San Diego, try to make time in your schedule to go to the mountain community of Julian via Interstate 8 and State Highway 79. You will go right by Lake Cuyamaca, and it’s a great stopping point to relax and watch the wildlife—raptors, mountain lions, deer….

Remember to have an apple pie by the Julian Pie Company while you’re there. Best apple pie I have ever had. My favorite—ah who am I kidding? I like them all, but I do like the apple/peach crumb, apple/strawberry crumb, apple/raspberry crumb the best. That reminds me that I was going to make some peach cobbler last weekend…. Task for later today.

Google maps says Julian is about 71 miles from downtown San Diego, but the winding roads mean it will take you two hours to get there.

SNIPPET #4

I always feel so sad when I see fish out of water.

Fish Out Of Water

SNIPPET #5

My favorite tree in the world (not that I’ve seen every tree in the world, or even seen the world!) is the Century Oak at Texas A&M University. It’s now about 130 years old. I lost all of my pictures in the Great Hard Drive Crash of August 2005, but this tree at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park reminds me very much of it:

Beneath The Tree

SNIPPET #6

When you to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, take lots of money with you. They have some really interesting rides but they are expensive. They are worth it, but expensive nonetheless, such as the Balloon Ride:

San Diego zoo Safari Park Balloon Ride

The Balloon Ride takes you up about 400 feet into the wild blue yonder, and from there you can see everything for miles around. The best view, though, is directly below you where you can see lions, tigers, elephants, and giraffes, all looking like little ants from 400 feet up.

SNIPPET #7

Speaking of the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, the new Tiger Trail exhibit opened recently. Financed mostly by Conrad Prebys, one of two of San Diego County’s most generous benefactors (Irwin Jacobs is the other). Tiger Trail is fine, fine, fine, allowing you to get within inches of Malayan Tigers, only a big glass window separating you from them.

Malayan Tiger at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

If you come to San Diego, be sure to contact me. I often have free or discounted tickets to the San Diego Zoo, Safari Park, and SeaWorld, and with enough notice, I can usually play docent for a day.

SNIPPET #8

A couple of different pictures from the Tiger Trail exhibit:

The Way Down Blooming Palm

Remember that the San Diego Zoo and Safari Park both are acclaimed botanical gardens, too, so stop to admire the vegetation while walking from exhibit to exhibit.

SNIPPET #9

This is the San Diego County Administration Center:

San Diego County Administration Center

It has the best view of the waterfront. It’s also where Jim and I got married on October 30, 2008.

SNIPPET #10

My wise old grandmother was a master at re-purposing things, although some of her re-purposing, such as her toilet and bathtub planters, never really appealed to my tastes……..LOL

At the San Diego County Fair back in June, I was pretty sure that my wise old grandmother had come back to life and was happily re-purposing tires for the garden exhibits:

Repurposed

As my wise old grandmother often said: “Don’t throw anything away! There is no away!”

SNIPPET #11

Remember to follow us at Photographic Art by Russel Ray Photos for daily specials on our work at Fine Art America.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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We come in threes

San Diego Zoo logo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Yes, Jim and I made it to opening night for the San Diego Nighttime Zoo yesterday.

In three hours I took 141 pictures and 13 videos.

It was the night of threes, though.

WE COME IN THREES

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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San Diego Nighttime Zoo starts today!

San Diego Zoo logo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Today marks the beginning of the San Diego Nighttime Zoo for 2014. Instead of being open from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m each day., the Zoo will stay open until 9:00 p.m. each and every day through September 1, 2014.

I love the Nighttime Zoo! Yahoooooooooooooooooooooooooooo! (Smile if you think I’m excited!)

Remember that if you come to San Diego on business or vacation, contact me because I often have free tickets to the San Diego Zoo, Safari Park, or SeaWorld. With enough notice, I can usually play docent for a day!

Also, if you fly into San Diego, sit on the left side of the plane. The view of downtown San Diego as you are landing is awesome!

Following are some of my favorite pictures from past visits to the Zoo. Eventually, Photographic Art will be created from these pictures and Julian will upload them to my galleries at Fine Art America for purchase in many different forms (traditional prints, prints on metal or acrylic, posters, cell phone cases, etc.).

Komodo dragon at the San Diego Zoo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Necking flamingos at the San Diego Zoo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Albino burmese python at the San Diego Zoo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Shoebill at the San Diego Zoo's Safari Park

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Ocellated turkey at the San Diego Zoo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Hippopotamuses at the San Diego Zoo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Giant panda at the San Diego Zoo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Bakka, cheetah ambassador of the San Diego Zoo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Peacock at the San Diego Zoo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Koala female and one-year-old joey at the San Diego Zoo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

San Diego Zoo

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Bald eagle in residence at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

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Woma at the San Diego Zoo

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Maned wolves at the San Diego Zoo

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Sudanese striped hyena, San Diego Zoo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

San Diego Zoo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Polar bear at the San Diego Zoo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Flamingo chick at the San Diego Zoo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Cape clawless otter, San Diego Zoo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Malayan tiger at the San Diego Zoo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Hibiscus blooming in November at the San Diego Zoo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Monkey at the San Diego Zoo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Red kangaroo at the San Diego Zoo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Camel at the San Diego Zoo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Red Panda at the San Diego Zoo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Serval at the San Diego Zoo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Desert Bighorn Sheep at the San Diego Zoo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Knobbed Hornbill at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Meerkat at the San Diego Zoo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Female red-cheeked gibbon at the San Diego Zoo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Bornean Sun Bear at the San Diego Zoo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Elephant at the San Diego Zoo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Striped hyena at the San Diego Zoo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

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Consider Photographic Art!photograhic art taking pictures making art

Visit Photographic Art by Russel Ray Photos at Fine Art America.

►►►►◄◄◄◄

Looking for real estate services in San Diego County?
I can highly recommend James Frimmer, Realtor, CDPE
CA BRE #0145857201 HomeSmartDiamondSmall copy 2

02 HomeSmartRWnameOnly2 copy

►►►►◄◄◄◄

If you’re looking for a home inspector,
I recommend Russel Ray — that’s me!

Real Estate Solutions by Russel Ray