Sunday, June 18, 2006

Where've we been lately?

Emily has just completed her 8th day of teaching summer school, and I've managed to complete my 8th day of being a gentleman of leisure. Another summer, right on track.

Before Summer school really got underway, Emily and I spent a couple of weeks traveling. You may have already noticed the entry from Atlanta--that was what I call my "relaxing" vacation. But before we went to Atlanta, we took a real, Griswold-Style vacation to South Dakota. It was an action-packed few days for us, culminating in that once-in-a-lifetime, "Make-a-Wish" type of day where everything magically clicks into place. I'm not really prepared to tell you about my "Make-a-Wish" day yet, but I'll take this chance to fill you in on the other things we did.

We flew into Rapid City and rented a car, and for the rest of the day we drove from tourist site to tourist site, soaking it all in. We started at Bear Country, a drive-through park where you'll

see hundreds of bears, as well as elk, reindeer, bighorn sheep, mountain goats, and mountain lions. The best part of the experience was watching a mountain lion play with her new cubs, who couldn't have been any bigger than my hand. Much more entertaining, might I say, than watching my two grown cats lay around the house holding the carpeting down. We also saw quite a few bear cubs.

Then we headed to the Cosmos mystery area. It's basically a cabin that has been jacked up so that it rests on one corner. Here's a picture:

The weird thing is that when you're inside, the forces of gravity fight with the visual experience of being in a room that's slanted. Here, I get angular inside the cabin:

Even if you know the "secret" of the mystery area, seeing things that should be straight up and down but aren't can upset your equilibrium; I felt a bit queasy, and other people in our group were on the verge of vomiting. And all that for the low, low price of 7 bucks.

We finished our day with a trip to Reptile Gardens, a fabulous reptile park where we got to see dozens of the world's deadliest snakes, like the pair of green mambas pictured here:

We also watched trainers put on a reptile show with crocs and caimans, and gators, and finished the day by hanging out with some giant tortoises from the Galapagos.

I'm planning a trip to Africa for next summer, so it was fun to point out all of the snakes I'll be seeing when I'm there: "Hey look, Emily, it's the black mamba, one of the world's deadliest snakes! I'll see him in Africa!" "Hey look, Emily, it's the puff adder, one of the world's deadliest snakes! I'll see him in Africa!" "Hey look, Emily, it's the boomslang, one of the world's deadliest snakes! I'll see him in Africa!" "Hey look, Alan, it's the double indemnity rider for your life insurance policy. Sign here, initial here, and I'll get it mailed in before you go to Africa!"

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

A good book to read about SD is "Dakota: A Spiritual Geography" by Kathleen Norris. Can't remember why I liked it but just recall that it was very good.