At the Zoo – A Story

My sister goes prepared for everything, which meant a picnic lunch, which was great as I was starved about the time they took a break and I got to partake.

Most notably, when we arrived there were a number of school buses and the zoo was filled with teenage giants, which made me wonder if some of these weren’t high school sports teams. They filled the benches at the gorilla house, and H.o.p. took the opportunity to grandstand and do an impromptu routine about a primate reality show. “Welcome to the reality show. Oh, no, the plot is not moving along! Reality shows! It’s a human zoo!” I edged in from the side to move him off the stage with my vaudeville cane and we moved along.

Niece posing for camera – color version
Oct 2010
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2010 Oct 20 Zoo
Posing for the camera
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A Story Goes With This

The first of these three shots is from before our lunch break, and the next two are from immediately after. I didn’t notice the don’t climb on the statue sign until backing away from the gorilla statue upon which everyone was cavorting and thought it funny, but was also puzzled as I had walked over by the statue before lunch and not noticed the sign, and the rest of the statues at the zoo (as far as I’m aware) are for climbing. When I got home I looked up my previous shot and found that I’d not noticed the sign originally as it was down on the ground in the background before lunch. I was talking about this and H.o.p. said that after I’d walked away he had noticed the sign was down and had gone over and tried to put it up, at which point a zoo employee came by and helped him.

“If you knew about the don’t climb sign, why were you climbing on the statue after lunch,” I asked him.

“I wasn’t. I stood next to it.”

And indeed he was not climbing, as can be observed in the photo.

The First Emperor Exhibit

Not only did we hit the King Tut exhibit at the Civic Center last Friday, the Wednesday before we visited The First Emperor, China’s Terracotta Army exhibit at the High. Again, no photos permitted so I’ve none to offer. At the link there are videos which we’ll no doubt spend time watching over the coming couple of weeks, including a 9 part documentary series on the first emperor.

I’ve not really much to say about it other than the figures were impressive but it’s the masses of them that are so remarkable, whereas the two colossal figures bookending the King Tut exhibit had in themselves a sense of presence that hooked one to the floor.

I’d not realized that 100 rivers made of mercury formed a part of Qin Shi Huangdi’s necropolis.


Well, how’s that for uninformative. You could learn that anywhere else on the internet.

If I was a school child and having to submit a report, I’d write:

“I found most interesting the statue of the strong man. It was especially interesting because a really big Chinese man built exactly the same was standing right in front of the big statue of the strong man looking at it. It was like the individual on whom the mold was based had been reincarnated in much the same form, a form he apparently liked, and dropped by for a visit but seemed unaware that this was his portrait that he had been magnetically drawn to across the centuries to finally stand in front of himself in Atlanta, Georgia.”

As soon as I placed my last punctuation mark above, my son started talking about reincarnation.

While I was seated on a bench, looking down the room at the strong man and the large man standing in front of it, I noticed another man nearby and took note of how his jeans hung on his frame and it popped to my mind, “That could be my brother, their jeans hang on each other in much the same way.”

I never think about my brother and his jeans. I wondered, at the time, how this would pop to mind.

He looked in no other way like my brother.

Then I sat and stared at one of the terra cotta horses.

Then about a minute later I looked back at the strong man (people seemed to like the strong man and were drawn to it and would stand in front of it a long time) and there, unexpectedly, was my brother and his wife now walking in that direction, who live in Georgia but don’t live in Atlanta and I’ve never unexpectedly run into them in town. I sprinted over and they said they’d just purchased a membership to the museum, anticipating going there the coming year with visiting Chinese friends (they have several children they’ve adopted from China). My sister-in-law had already been to see the terra cotta army in China and because of this wasn’t greatly impressed. They had been to the King Tut exhibit as well and my sister-in-law had liked that but my brother had preferred his time loitering around the Egyptian section in the British Museum.

I’m not very well traveled outside of wandering the US interstates and some of the back roads. I’ve not been to China. I’ve not even been to the UK so I’ve not been to the British Museum.

I have been to the New York Metro Museum of Art and they have a great Egyptian section in which I could spend weeks, but its virtues are not the same as the King Tut exhibit and I enjoyed them both.

Anyway, I’ve tried my best to think of something interesting to write and all I can think about is all that mercury. And the strong man.

Oh, and the horses. The terra cotta horses were wonderful. Someone ought to make a merry-go-round.

I dreamed all night about going to China. One of those anxiety dreams where you realize you are going somewhere but you aren’t prepared and it just goes downhilll from there. And then when I wasn’t dreaming about getting ready to go to China, I was dreaming about going to the King Tut exhibit again, only it turned out there were two exhibits and this time they sent us to the left, into an exhibit that turned out just to have pictures of the artifacts.

Then we headed home

If the radiance of a thousand suns
were to burst into the sky,
that would be like
the splendor of the Mighty One—
I am become Death, the shatterer of Worlds.


On July 16, 1945, the first test of a nuclear weapon, Trinity, an implosion-design plutonium bomb, the type dropped on Nagasaki, took place in the New Mexico desert southeast of Socorro.

The site is open to the public on the first Saturdays of April and October.

On the first Wednesday of April, traveling highway 380 we passed nearby Trinity late at night on the way to Roswell. There were no lights for miles, so we stopped at a roadside rest area to look at the Milky Way.

I have no photos.

I thought maybe one day H.o.p. will remember that we stopped nearby Trinity so that we could remember that testing and that while there he was able to finally view the Milky Way unobstructed by city lights or lights from the highway, for it was darkness all around on that road with only one car passing by as we stood roadside gazing up, though the boundless is available in every direction.

Earlier in the day we had stopped by The Very Large Array.

I thought maybe one day H.o.p. will remember that we stopped by The Very Large Array and that, in the wind, he stood beneath one of those giant antennaes that collects radio observations of galactic marvels while jackrabbits hopped all around us in the brush.

The next morning we woke up in Roswell and visited the International U.F.O. Museum, which we’d also toured a little over a year ago. Following that trip I did several digital paintings, one of the exterior and several showing the interior, including this one of H.o.p.. The man behind the desk in that painting was still there. I considered stopping and relating I’d done several digital paintings of the museum then decided against it. I returned several times to the lobby, rethinking, wondering if I should mention the paintings.

I didn’t.

I had also done a digital painting based on the interior of the Cover-Up Cafe.

The Cover-Up Cafe is now closed.

“Darn, our favorite restaurant in Roswell is closed,” H.o.p. said.

He asked that we eat at Dennys. Toward the beginning of the trip, at Holbrook, we’d eaten at Dennys but they’d not had any rocket cups.

“Besides, the food is always good,” H.o.p. said, all confidence, having eaten at Dennys only once in his life.

They didn’t have the advertised rocket cups at the Dennys in Roswell either.

Marty ordered the chicken-fried steak. He bit into it. The meat was uncooked, raw all through, which pretty much capped our experience of bad roadside dining throughout the trip. The cook came out and apologized but Marty chose not to order anything else.

I know H.o.p. will remember Roswell because he loves the subject of aliens. For him, Roswell is now a tradition as we’ve visited it twice. He liked it better the first time though when there were alien inflatables and a big glitter UFO in the lobby. He says this time there was instead something about a video game called “Destroy All Humans” (I didn’t get a close look) and he didn’t care for that. The glitter ship with its friendly, welcoming aliens was more to his liking.

He spent 50 cents to mash a penny into a souvenir of the museum. We purchased a bumper sticker that reads, “Buckle up! It makes it harder for the aliens to suck you out of your car.”

The Real Wild Wild West

The last leg of the trip is the return.

East of Phoenix, we passed through mountains filled with monolithic Easter Island rocks into mining territory landscapes of pityless or pitiful Golgothas, I don’t know which, and the surrounding communities look none the richer for it.

For the blog, Arizona  mine, 2008
Open Pit Mine, Miami, Arizona, 2008

Open Pit Mines (Google Earth), Miami, Arizona and vicinity
Google Earth view of Open Pit Mining, Miami, Arizona and Vicinity

Near Blue Bird Mine, Arizona, 2008
Miami, Arizona, 2008

In Google Maps, compare the size of the town to the open pit mining area.

Continue reading The Real Wild Wild West

Day 13, New Orleans, Gulfport, Mobile and Home

H.o.p. went running to it when he saw the Animation Gallery on Rue Royal, but it was closed. Next door was Harouni’s Art Gallery which, as you can see, caught his eye.

Window Gazing at Harouni's
Harouni’s, Royal Street, New Orleans

Jackson Square, New Orleans, Louisiana
Jackson Square, New Orleans

Tis the Season, New Orleans, Louisiana

Shop Window, New  Orleans
New Orleans Shop Window

New Orleans is such a great city.

I’ve already blogged a bit about Gulfport. Have other pictures from there I’m working on and will be getting them up.

A detour for Justice

Justice, Lafayette Courthouse, Louisiana


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I’ve given a bit of thought to why Justice would be depicted without a brain, and decided the artist must have believed in predetermination and the helplessless of humankind in the face of fate.

Went out of our way to find this in Lafayette. Wouldn’t have gone quite so out of our way if the people we talked to at the convenience store had been able to give us directions to their downtown in not-so-very-large Lafayette. The first woman couldn’t at all. The second one gave us wrong directions that ended with “Don’t worry, you’ll find it.” Which we were going to do, find it, because I had read of this statue and was determined to get a photo.

At least she told us it was across the street from the cathedral. So we found the cathedral eventually and the courthouse wasn’t across the street. I told co-adult that it was then probably the next street over and it was.

We drove up. It was somewhere around 10 PM I think, maybe later. If I remember, it had been raining and worrying about drizzle I wasn’t going to get out of the car with the camera. There was a guard standing right there on the steps which were right next to the street.

Me, rolling down window, pointing at Justice: I want to take a photo!

The guard looked really perplexed, like no one ever had driven up at night before, on his beat, to take a photo of Justice. This surprised me. She’s a treasure and I was thinking that this must happen every night, several times.

Me: I want to take a photo!

I felt compelled to ask/announce because he had a gun and with the mood some people have been in about photographers taking pics of public buildings and bridges, I really didn’t want to get into a bunch of shit on my vacation. Y’know?

The guard finally shook his head and stood looking on, not very amused at all, while I took a few snaps. He had no sense of humor.

Justice, Lafayette Courthouse, Louisiana
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From El Paso to San Antonio then San Antonio to Baton Rouge, the 11th and 12th days

I don’t remember anything about the drive from El Paso to San Antonio, if you can believe that. That part of Texas is just a blur.

Co-adult wanted to visit the Alamo, which he had been to years before during a band tour.

Cactus Graffiti, The Alamo, San Antonio
Tourist Inscriptions on Cactus at the Alamo

For the life of me, I don’t understand what the fuss is over the idea that Davy Crockett may have been among those executed rather than dying in battle.

They don’t allow picture taking in the building at the Alamo. None. Not even without flash. Why not? If they did allow it I’d have a pic of Davy Crockett’s purported vest to put up, which was leather and interestingly decorated with Indian woodlands style beading though not very elaborately, just a few simple motifs.

So why can’t you take flashless pics in the Alamo?????

I signed my name in the registration book. I signed my name at the International UFO Museum and Research Center as well. What do places do with these registration books?

I considered signing myself as a Crockett but decided against it.

There was some marvelous jewelry on display that the Catholic priests gave to the Indians who were catholocized. Putting aside for the moment the history of the church as far as assimilation and ethnocide, that jewelry sure was beautiful and distinctive. So when we went to the gift store (of course we are going to the gift store, especially if they don’t charge for you to tour, which they don’t) I asked if they might have reproductions of the jewelry on sale. That’s how interesting the jewelry was, because I’m not even Christian and I still was curious. The clerks at the gift store hadn’t a clue what jewelry I was talking about however, and looking around the QUITE LARGE gift store that was packed with stuff, it was obvious after a while there were no such reproductions.

If I were them I’d put together a line of reproductions.

We dragged ourselves back to the car (we were all pretty tired) which was parked behind a car proudly announcing via bumper stickers that’s owner was a bagpiper. This vacation had several themes going, one being meteors and another being bagpipers. I bet if we’d stood around long enough we might have met up with the owner and been entertained with bagpipes in the parking lot near the Alamo, just as we had been entertained with bagpipes at the Grand Canyon.

Oh, oh, oh, I can’t forget to mention Sparky.

Co-adult insisted I buy a pair of black cowboy boots in Texas. Doesn’t matter to him that they’re made in China, he wanted me to buy some boots in Texas proper as every trip through Texas I’ve made in the past 20 years I’ve talked about buying cowboy boots there but never did it. So he made me get out at a store called Cavender’s Boot City (a chain) to look for some boots. And I did indeed buy some fairly comfortable black Ariats. I probably wouldn’t have though if it hadn’t been for Sparky, the saleswoman. She was so enthusiastic and committed to helping anyone and everyone and you that it was impossible to say no to this woman.

“I’ll devote my complete attention to you as soon as I’m through with this customer,” she said, and she meant it. When she was done she came back and devoted herself purely and totally and offered opinions. I may pass over a salesperson’s opinion but I generally like a salesperson who offers an opinion along with information.

Sparky wrote her name on the back of a card and said if we had any trouble or needed anything to be sure to call (she knew we were from out of state) and it certainly seemed like she meant it, just like she had meant she would devote her complete attention to assist in selecting a pair of boots. Anyway, here’s to Sparky, I thought she deserved a mention in the blog.

The 10th Day and Meteor Crater

The 10th day we began our drive back home.

Nearly 20 years ago we attempted to go to Meteor Crater but it was closed. Finally we saw it but the winds were blowing so ferociously that there were no tours that day. We stepped outside to view it briefly. The winds were the kind that literally blow you off your feet. Several great gusts from out of the blue would nearly knock me over, then the wind would abate long enough to walk a few steps and then again would come this wind and I’d stand and brace myself against it, wait for it to pass, then walk a few steps more. Interestingly enough, it raised no dust that you could see at least. Going back inside I did find myself picking a few bits of sand out of my mouth but there was no abrasive grit sting in the wind.

These were the guides. As we were leaving I asked if I could take a photo. They nicely consented.

Meteor Crater Park Guides

We visited the gift shop. They sell sand from the area there. They also sell little meteorite chips. We bought a couple of the chips.

I took miserable photos at Meteor Crater. Not a single decent one in the bunch. But I played around with a couple. Below is the rim as you approach Meteor Crater.

The Road to Meteor Crater
The Road to Meteor Crater

I took pics of things like trailer homes we passed on the interstate. A couple turned out OK. I’ve always been fascinated by trailer homes you can see from the interstate. They seem fairly vulnerable and exposed. Peel away a layer of aluminum and there’s someone’s life.

I took a lot of pics of signs and places that I think are mundanely wonderful.

Can’t neglect to mention Hobo Joe’s

Somewhere in Arizona, Hobo Joe's
Somewhere in Arizona, Hobo Joe’s
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Forgot to mention that we ate again at Hobo Joe’s. Had breakfast there one day last year as well. They still have great, giant biscuits. And excellent service. No befuddled, neglectful waitrons here.

The picture shows the famous Hobo Joe statue. Mine was a quick capture and I was pleased to see afterwards I’d positioned myself so Hobo Joe appears to be looking straight at me.

The restaurant is two rooms, the first one smoking and the second one not, separated by glass. I was in the non-smoking area taking this photo and the christmas lights in the room are reflected on the window. I also took a pleasant photo of a woman and her little girl that is up at Flickr.

My dad says that since we were there last year a car went through the front of the restaurant, he believed on the smoking side, and that area was rebuilt. There was no enclosed porch area out front last year and now there is. I guess a buffer zone against the next car (though one should hope it doesn’t happen again).

Yes, Marty and I are the kind of people who will drive a couple thousand miles with happy intentions of visiting again cafes we’ve enjoyed. I still remember fondly one in Seattle, Washington that we breakfasted at a couple of times during a stay there.

Somewhere in Arizona, Mother and Child Dining at Hobo Joe's

And this is a photo I took of H.o.p. at Hobo Joe’s last year.

The 9th day, Dead Horse Ranch Park and Sedona

The 9th day we strolled Dead Horse Ranch Park.

And drove to a few look-out points in Sedona that we’d not been to last year.

T Wrecks (alias H.o.p.) finds the rock that will go home
The T Wrecks (alias H.o.p.) takes a break from T Wrecking to meditate upon which rock to take home to his collection
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Continue reading The 9th day, Dead Horse Ranch Park and Sedona

8th day, the Grand Canyon and the chance meeting of two bagpipers

The Grand Canyon and its Tourists - Bagpipers at the Grand Canyon, November 2006
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Here are two men who had some magic going of their own going that day, and we happened up as some of the very few bystanders, unrelated to that magic, who had the pleasure of witnessing it. We drove up and the man on the right was out with his pipe, and the other man had come up and turned out as well to be a bagpiper and played it. When he was done he was asked by the man on the right if he had brought along his own pipes. Indeed, he had and went to his car and and took out his pipes and the men played several songs together.

Continue reading 8th day, the Grand Canyon and the chance meeting of two bagpipers

The 7th day and Montezuma Castle National Monument

Montezuma Castle
Montezuma Castle National Monumet, New Mexico, 2006

Not a very good pic but I’m putting it up here for now.

On the 7th day we went to Montezuma Castle on our way from Phoenix to my mother’s home.

You know how it is when you’re snapping pictures and if people don’t have time to get out of your way then they vaguely try to become invisible by going stock still and looking anywhere else but at you…except for men who are holding their children’s dolls who suddenly feel a bit self-conscious and stare your camera down wondering if maybe you are shooting past them, hopefully.

On this trip there was only one person who saw me with the camera and put on a show for me, a very tattooed guy with his girl friend exiting a convenience store. He looked interesting and I had gotten out of the car under the excuse of taking flicks of H.o.p., hoping to get a pic of the guy and his girl friend when they exited the store. Coming out, he saw me and put on a big smile and dropped to his knee and opened his arms wide. Sadly enough I was using the Kodak and it was night and the pic didn’t work out.

At the Grand Canyon I ended up taking tons of pics of the tourists this time around.

There we met a woman who first struck up a friendly conversation with co-adult and then on our way out in the Visitor’s Center she struck up a friendly conversation with me about touring National Parks and how she used to do it with her kids and showed me the book of National Parks you can get in which you stamp every park you’ve been to. I decided for some reason she must be a school teacher. I asked her what her profession was. She used to teach school.

There’s a casino at the pull-off for Montezuma Castle National Monument. At that casino one of my brothers won on the slots enough money to pay for one of his trips out to Arizona. Another sister of mine, who only time in a casino, promptly won $3000 on the slots. I decided not to try my luck.