Tuesday, October 14, 2008

"Drive on," I said.

"Yes, Kevin, for our anniversary take clothing. You might be cold or wet or outdoors. We'll see how things develop."

With that, we hopped in the car for our anniversary weekend, pointed it towards Boise, and kept going. Passed exit after exit and at #173--"Take this one" I said. Twin Falls Idaho. Why there? I had a plan.

#1 I wanted to visit the sight of Rulon Keller's death. Remember him sisters? He was our home teacher when I was in my early teens. I loved him because he paid attention to me, not just my parents. He & two other LDS businessman hit a patch of black ice on their way to SLC and flipped their car into the Malad Gorge. Two of them died; the other lost a leg. Rescuers had to rappel into the canyon and one of them nearly lost his life. Afterwards dad's assessment was, "Of all the places on
Interstate 84 to hit black ice! It's just flat old desert for hundreds of miles and they had to go off road there."

I have been curious ever since. On the freeway you cross the gorge in half a blink and can't see a thing. Kevin and I spent several hours in the park, walking the footpaths, reading all the geology signs, and looking down down down into that narrow volcanic canyon where the Malad River is so compressed it roars and cuts the canyon ever deeper. I could not imagine how terrifying that rescue must have been or how they removed the car. Back then LifeFlight had not been invented but no pilot in his right mind would have descended into such a narrow slot anyway.

#2 Hagerman Valley. I tell you, it is one sweet drive from Bliss to Twin through this valley. Again, you can't see it from the freeway, but it is quite the contrast to drop down off the desert into 10,000 Springs, green pastures, trout hatcheries, and
colorful family fruit stands. You wouldn't expect Hagerman to have a chef in town, but they do. He's done game-cooking shows on the food network. I was set on having one of those trout I saw swimming earlier and it plus the wild rice were to die for.

#3 Temple Guess what? The Twin Falls temple does not rent clothing. So onto.....

#4 Herrett Planetarium & museum on the CSI campus. Well, we couldn't get our lazy selves out of the hotel in time for the 2PM star show, so we wandered the museum instead. You just never know where adventure awaits. It featured a Mayan history exhibit and was decked to the teeth like a jungle. (Think Indiana Jones ride @ Disneyland) This included boas and pythons and iguanas and neon poisonous tree frogs. At length I noticed an elderly gentleman opening the frog exhibits and tapping a canning jar coated in dust into the cages. "What for dinner?", I asked. "Wingless fruit flies" It truly did look like dust, but the frogs were hip hopping crazy all of a sudden.

This drew Kevin's attention which led to a conversation with Nick, the frog feeder. He said he was in charge of all the live animals in the exibit and in fact, had another 50 snakes and assorted reptiles in his basement offices. Did we want to see them? Yes we did.

Oh boy. Two hours later, I had seen a lifetime's worth. Turns out Nick was an amateur herpatologist who took snakes on the road for school, library, fair programs. He knew all his snakes by name and petted, cooed and talked to each as you would a beloved puppy. They were caged individually. He loved their colors, textures, and patterns. He knew all there was to know about their native countries. (These were exotic snakes, acquired from local pet owners who grew tired of the upkeep. No venomous snakes though) He detailed which had been abused as evidenced by their behavior when he got them and how it took 6 months to gentle abused snakes before they gave up attacking and biting at each feeding. We heard the story of the python who escaped into the ceiling. Nick, who knew every nook and cranny of the building, crawled up after him with fresh rat scent on his hands. The snake, catching the scent, leaped and coiled tight around Nick's arm, sinking his teeth in a full circle around Nick's wrist. SNakes have the kind of teeth you can't pry off. So Nick scrambled down the ladder to the nearest sink and held it's head under cold water. VIOla! He had a photograph to show us the bite marks and he said snakes don't have dirty mouths like dogs, so no infection.

We also learned by personal experience one thing they don't teach you on Animal Planet. An 80 lb python releases it bowels and bladder when shedding skin and makes a STINK to rival chicken manure! This was magnified by the deliberately close, warm, humid environment in which Nick kept him plus his 30 stinky snakey roommates which Nick insisted on showing/fondling one at a time. Thus proving to us yes, you can eventually become accustomed to one of the 10 worst odors in the world.

#5 We wondered why our hotel breakfasts were crowded with college kids in tight Wranglers, pointy boots, spurs and cowboy hats. CSI was hosting an intercollegiate rodeo with teams from all over Idaho & Utah. I like rodeo and I liked this even better than the Stampede. Smaller arena, up close viewing, rodeo stock every bit a jumpy as at professional rodeos.
I had never seen girl's goat-tying before. I will describe. A timid and trembly little goat is tethered at one end of the arena. bleeeat A girl on horse, charges from the opposite end, leaps from the horse, grabs the poor goat, slams him down on one side, and ties his feet. Well it was no wonder they had needed a fresh goat for each girl. I mean, I sat nose to barrel during the barrel racing and when those girls came tearing down the lane, you had to wonder if you wouldn't end up with horse and rider in your lap. Poor baby goats. I felt their fear.

The announcer was a hoot. Midway he announced the freeway between Burley & Utah was closed down for snow . "So you cowboys who reckoned on drivin' home tonight best git yerself to Walmart and buy a sleepin' bag instead."

So that was our anniversary. Snakes and cowboys. You don't see those on your average Caribbean cruise. (And the hotel served big fat cookies every afternoon.)

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Finally, it pays off

So last night I took the family out for Oreo milkshakes at Jack in the Box. The gal rings up my total, then looks at me sort of funny and asks, "How old are you?" I had to think for a split second. "Hmmm, I believe that would be 55."

"Then you get a senior discount." she replied, subtracting 50 cents off each milkshake.

I fairly flipped cartwheels right there in front of my family. YESSSSS! I love this age.

Meanwhile, Kevin stood shaking his head behind me. He thinks I am being ridiculous. He'll never have this thrill because he won't admit to anything beyond 29.

Note to Aaron and his Christmas wish list. Pssshaw! For you, I'm going off list