Sunday, May 3, 2009

Vacation Day...I don't even know anymore...

I'm so tired and confused. I was going to go see Greg Palast and Mike Farrell today at a green festival in Denver, but I'm too f'ing tired. My eyes are just about swollen shut from allergies and tiredicity. So, we're just going out for lunch and too some thrift stores and hanging. I can't take in any more new information or learn anymore important messages (there WERE some at the sand dunes and the alligator farm...really). Then, yesterday, it all got to be too much. In a good way.

Anyway. Where did I leave you? It was with gibbons, right?

So that was Wednesday.

Thursday we lazed around Jonny's place until he had to go to class. I saw an art show on campus and read his Miranda July book (not for the faint of heart or the prudish of disposition) while he was in class. Then we took off for the "Ores and Mines B&B". It was great. We were a bit late (that will be a theme you'll notice in our vacation). It won "Most Rustic B&B/Inn" at some point. The owners, John and Donna, are great. We were the only guests so they let us upgrade to a sweet suite! Each room has it's own gas or propane powered stove (looks like a wood stove, runs off a thermostat). The suite had one room with a couch, chair, two queen beds, desks, dressers, secretary with china in the other half, and on and one. Then a small room with another queen bed. And ANOTHER room with a table and chairs and off that room was the bathroom (natural stone shower which was cool and scary) and a door out onto a private patio with a view of the lake. We were over 11,000 feet in altitude and I thought I was fine until I tried to walk up a small rise. Oh well.

We had picked up some thai noodle salads and nuts and dried cranberries and desserts at an organic market on the way and had those for dinner in their dining/game room. We listened to the juke box (quarters provided for free) which seemed to play the records at 29 rather than 33 1/3. It helped Jonny mellow out. sort of like time moved more slowly here.

We played shuffle board (we sucked) on their long shuffleboard table along one wall. John and Donna popped in and out to make sure we were OK. I spotted a copy of "amateur wrestling" magazine and thought that someone must have left it there in the past. Nope. It was from April 19, 2009! Turns out John is a fan and one of their boys is a coach! He knew all about the Cael Sanderson debacle and had seen him wrestle in high school.

We headed down stairs for a photography session before bed. Yes, sounds pretty bad, doesn't it? It's not like you think. Jonny has had photo series and individual photos in art shows around the greater Denver area and has won major awards. He was packing TONS of stuff which I didn't really understand since I had come down here for a week with one small backpack which is usually my field pack. I asked "what the hell?" and he said, "well, there's 7 cameras, the bag of wigs, the crocs (for a series he's working on called "croc whore"), and the costumes..."

Ah. I see.

Here is a sample. These are Jonny's so don't copy them or I will personally kick your ass.
From the Ores and Mines:
Note the rusticity! That couch is original! Not restored. has real applique'd deer and scenery. The chair matches. The lamps were just there. Jonny brought the shirts and those are my jammy pants I got at Goodwill a while back (with the original tags still on them so they weren't gross).
After we got up in the morning, John (the B&B guy) served us an amazing breakfast of french toast, eggs, strawberries and other berries and juice and coffee and an apple turnover thingy that he'd just made and I know there was more. We weren't hungry again until about 7pm.
We headed out (after loading Jonny's considerable baggage) and went to the Colorado 'Gator Farm. I'm not kidding. Here is a picture to prove it:

That's me and my jowls holding a 4 year old alligator that someone had kept in a small tank and underfed to keep small then finally admitted that they couldn't handle. So, like 150 other alligators and many lizards, tortoises, snakes, turtles, a caiman and much more at the 'Gator farm, they dumped on the farm. Idiots. The 'Gator bit of the farm is actually an off-shoot of their original purpose as a tilapia farm (a type of tropical fish related to the "oscars" that people keep in their fish tanks at home). They needed some way to get rid of the tilapia carcass waste after fileting out the fish for sale. So they got some alligators to eat it. It worked well, but then the 'gator bit started to grow. I wasn't delighted with the part where some idiot frat boy types paid the extra fee to handle a large alligator. It did seem that the alligator needed to be handled anyway to treat a cut on it's upper tail, but I'm not sure it needed to be man handled by a guy screaming "this is SO COOL" while his idiot friends took pictures and Jonny and I took ironic pictures of the whole thing (ultimately making us as assholey as the aging fratboys but you can't not take a photo of a scene like that). That photo hasn't been processed by Jonny yet and is larger than the blogspot will let me post. Someday.
I also had mixed feelings because this gator farm is not a wealthy place and they probably need the money that letting idiots handle gators brings in to pay for keeping other people's abandoned pets. the over all effect is a bit of the bayou in Colorado. Here are a few things we learned about the place:
it is fed by hotsprings or a hot well really, so the tropical fish and gators are comfortable all winter. The 'gators are allowed to roam about more than in the Denver Zoo and I liked that. The pallets, tires and wire fence enclosing them are not as pretty as the materials used at the zoo, but probably no more toxic. At the 'gator farm there are live fish in the ponds so the 'gators can hunt them or chase them if they want. They are also together with other gators. Cats, peacocks, and other critters run in and out of the pens (judging by the cats' tails...not always fast enough). That HAS to be more interesting than the life of a zoo 'gator.
There were also ostriches and a yak! I don't know the story of the yak. It was a baby and didn't look all that happy. He was in with some emus. The water runs in a stream through each pen so they always have water. There is shade for everyone too.
Water runs through the fish tanks first, only a few of which appear to be open for viewing. These people are trying to run a business! Then, it's pumped up into a hydroponic system over the tanks and cleaned by the roots (which take up many of the fish poop nutrients) and run back into the fish, then out into the streams through the various pens and alligator ponds. Anyway, I think that's how it works. So the water is used a few times before it goes down what they call "two mile creek" and allowed to soak back into the ground. This supposedly puts it back in the aquifer. I'm sure there is evaporation out of the large holding pond and at various other points in the system, but better than many would have done.
This is the only place other than the zoo where all the signs were correctly spelled and the apostrophes used properly. Interesting. Everyone was well educated about the alligators. Some people appear to live onsite in mobile estates not unlike my own.
OK, next we went to the Sand Dunes national monument. Amazing!!
Water carries sand west and it blows back east on monstrous winds and makes huge dunes. Looks like the sahara! The water flows in a "surge flow" which is fascinating. Just google it. It was really cool, but we don't have pictures processed yet. We waded in the water, sank in the sand, and just enjoyed the afternoon there.
Then, on to the La Plaza de los Leones in Walsenburg, Co. Fantastic B&B totally different from the other. There are rooms above and old store front in this small town in southern Colorado. We again ended up with a suite, some of which is visible in the mirror of this photo:
The owner, Marty, is a hoot and has actually been through north Idaho back when she sold advertising.
Breakfast here was fun. There was a note on the coffee maker instructing the first person to pour in the water. A fridge had milk and juice, there was cereal and some store bought muffins. Perfectly satisfactory! It's right downtown and there were many fun trading posts and stores that we had no time to go in. We had supper that night at the Iron Horse. Good Italian food and interesting locals to look at.
That was Friday.

Saturday, yesterday, was overwhelming too. We left Walsenburg, a bit late, and headed to Arriba, Colorado to Grampa Jerry's Clown Museum. Wow! Here is a photo:
It's small but has 10s of thousands of items crammed in there. Blogspot won't let me post any more photos than I've already got in here and I need one for the next thing...
Grampa Jerry is a character, as one might expect, and the museum is amazing in so many ways. And, Jonny will be punished for photographing me from the back.
The Wonder View Tower in Genoa, Colorado. It is a hand constructed tower touted as the highest point between Denver and New York City. It was a tourist spot from the 1930s and is now just STUFFED with things:
Yes, a two headed calf over jars of things like preserved lizards and another double head. Wow.
The owner of this is Jerry Chubbuck, locater of a mammoth (tusks on display in this facility) and one of the main buffalo kill sites in North America. That was 40+ years ago and he didn't talk about it much. There were 20 or 30 rooms, plus the multi story tower which is a stack of rooms, all stuffed with ...stuff.
You pay a dollar to get in and then Jerry will give your dollar back if you correctly guess 10 obscure items in a row. I got cow-stomach magnate, caponizing kit, bloodletting knives, and golfball stamper. Jonny got "quarter pounder" (a quarter and a tiny hammer glued to a block of wood). I guessed "mouse glasses" for something that turned out to be rooster glasses (I'm not kidding!) but Jerry would not give me partial credit. Neither of us got the walrus penis bone. But we were both holding one when we were told what it is. Another Jerry who is a character...
After that we'd pretty well had it. We headed in to Denver and met up with Jonny's friends at a Derby de Mayo party that was pretty much over. They celebrate the Kentucky Derby and Cinco de Mayo all in one. The door prize was a car!!! An old Probe that was being donated to charity. It will still be donated.
Now we may had out to some thrift and lunch, then hopefully meet up with my cousin before I get on the plane and get home at midnight. I won't be worth much at work tomorrow.

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