Jan. 18th, 2017

twilightpony: Big tree with windows and door, fall foliage (Default)
I'm back! Did you miss me? I think Spike was happy to see us, especially Fluttershy. He told me later that Angel took great pleasure in hiding in the castle and leading him on merry chases through the corridors and staircases, drumming his feet to keep Spike running and guessing where he was hiding. Spike said Owlowiscious wouldn't stop hooting, but I think the owl was trying to be helpful. It's just that Spike doesn't understand him, even at the best of times. So Spike was looking a bit rattled and very tired when we got back this morning. Fluttershy and I, on the other hoof, had a wonderful time.

We started our day yesterday with a trip to the spa, me, Fluttershy and Rarity. We were the first ponies there. We had our manes done, our hooves trimmed and shined, and we had our feathers waxed, with just a touch of glitter on mine. Rarity insisted the glitter would look fabulous with my gown. I think that the more something sparkles, the more Rarity likes it.

After about an hour and a half, I was feeling about as lovely as Fluttershy looked, all soft and shiny with a bit of bounce in our styled manes, and smelling of peppermint and lavender. Before we headed to the train station to catch the Friendship Express to Canterlot, Rarity led us to her boutique. She had a couple of surprises for us that she had picked up in Manehattan, just for this occasion. It was jewelry that she'd picked up in a Saddle Row boutique when she was in Manehattan last week. She had a green wire and gem daisy-chain tiara for Fluttershy and a string of stars choker necklace for me. She reminded us that we had insisted that our ensembles should not include hats, so instead of hats, she wanted us to have these beautiful sparkling accents, and to wear them this evening. How could anypony say no to that? We put them back in their boxes, packed them into our saddle bags, and we were ready to catch our train.

Rarity walked us to the station and on the way she told us that she has been hard at work making copies of our dinner ensembles. They're almost finished and she hopes take them to Canterlot tomorrow herself, to place them on display in her Canterlot Boutique.

We caught our train and arrived in Canterlot in the early afternoon. We went immediately to the Canterlot Carousel boutique to pick up our gowns, boots and cloaks, after which we ambled over to my old Canterlot apartment to get changed. We found Moondancer there, reading. She had gone over to consult some reference books, but, one thing led to another and she was lost in another book. I totally understand. You can loose all track of time while reading a good book.

We chatted with Moondancer for a while until it started to get late. We quickly donned our ensembles and the jewelry Rarity gave us, left our saddlebags and travel wear there for the evening, and rushed off to Canterlot Explorer's Society dinner.

They had us sit at the VIP table. We were the only VIP guests, so I think the chairpony was happy to not be the only pony sitting with the guest speaker at the VIP table. It might have been the subject matter didn't appeal to the crème of Canterlot. Their loss. We also looked stunning, thanks to Rarity, so we didn't look too out of place up there on display at the VIP table.

I didn't give these things much thought because soon after we arrived, the chairpony introduced Dr. Lek DeGraas to the diners and the lecture started.

We learned that in south eastern Equestria, a unique population of cloud hoppers that thrives on fertile waste clouds had established itself in a permanent cloudbank trapped in an eddy in the lower Horseshoe Valley breeze. Located over the Neighver Moor in the Haysead swamps, this cloudbank had been fed by a steady stream of waste clouds and surfing clouds dropped into the lower Horseshoe Valley breeze by the residents of the pegasus town of Weathers. The formally popular pastime of breeze surfing on stratiform clouds has fallen out of fashion in Weathers and the local council had decided to move the town into a windshadow high above the turbulent breeze. Thus, fewer waste clouds were getting dumped into the breeze at an altitude that would have sent them to the Neighver Moor. As a result, waste clouds were no longer getting dispersed over the Haysead swamps and the density of the cloud cover in what had been prime cloud hopper habitat had fallen drastically. Their habitat fragmented and becoming poor in nutrients, the cloud hopper population crashed.

Enter Dr DeGraas. Thanks to a grant from The Equestrian Society for the Preservation of Rare Creatures and support from the Pan Equestria Aeronautics and Aerographical Society and the Canterlot Explorer's Society, DeGraas and his team of masters students, local volunteers and weather specialist consultant ponies, was able to piece together what had caused the cloud hopper habitat to degrade and what steps could be taken to reverse cloud hopper loss of habitat.

Since moving Weathers back to the turbulent area where it had been was not a popular option, Dr Degrass and the weather ponies undertook the task of mapping the flow of the lower Horseshoe valley breeze. They were able to locate other eddies in the Hayseed Swamps area that could be fed waste clouds from Weathers near its present position without moving the town out of the placid windshadow it now enjoys. The council approved the move and since then pegasi have rounded up the remaining cloud hoppers and pushed them, clouds and all, to one of the newly fertile eddies. The animal specialist ponies are hoping that the population will grow to the point that they can move some cloud hoppers to other eddies over the Hayseed swamps and perhaps even downwind from other cloud cities.

After the lecture, small herds of waiters trotted out hot platters and we were soon dining in the company of Dr DeGraas. He and Fluttershy discussed rare creatures, habitat fragmentation, assessment protocols and sanctuary viability. At one point a photographer took some pictures of our table for the society newsletter.

The dinner finished too late to take anything other than an overnight train back, so we stayed the night at my old place. This morning we had breakfast in a Canterlot café and then we caught the early Friendship Express back to Ponyville.

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