Tarantula Territory

Warning signs.

Quick Quiz

A sign says, “Please yield for tarantulas on the road.” What do you do?

a) Hightail it out of there and head to civilization or a mini mall?

b) Hike in moon boots or platform shoes?

c) Get super excited and keep your eyes peeled for large creepy-crawlies?

Hon, if you chose C, we’ll be very good friends! Two weeks ago, before a hike in Albuquerque, New Mexico’s Sandia Mountains, I asked a park ranger why tarantulas might be on the road. He said it’s mating season. Cool!

Did “Caution!! Watch for Snakes” catch your eye? Even though two exclamation marks follow “caution,” snakes took a backseat to the hopeful main event–spotting a tarantula. Unfortunately, my childhood friend Cindy and I didn’t spot any. Years before in New Mexico, I did.

While driving 60 mph along a flat highway on the Turquoise Trail, I screamed, “Stop the car!” Hubby wanted to know why, but I didn’t have time to explain.

A tarantula was crossing the highway and I needed to see it up close! It was bigger than my hand!

I tried to record the big, hairy, brown spider, so I grabbed the only thing I could think of–a pencil. I placed (umm, threw) it on the ground next to the enormous arachnid and snapped a picture. I know I’m talking to “seasoned” (read: older) picture takers when I say my camera took film. It wasn’t until I got the film developed that I realized the photo was blurry. Oh well! I’ll always remember that tarantula, who somehow knew he had enough time between cars to cross the highway. Cool!

Fog hanging over the Sandia Mountains.
Chuya cactus.
Selfie of Cindy and me.

Creepy Cowboys and Other Oddities

Giant arrows and teepees outside a shop in between Durango and Mesa Verde, Colorado.
Giant arrows and teepees outside a shop in between Durango and Mesa Verde, Colorado.
Old West store front.
Old West store front.
Propped up and its not even a movie set.
Propped up and its not even a movie set.

Forget online shopping, catalogs, t.v. and newspaper ads.  Nothing says, “Pull your car over RIGHT NOW and SHOP HERE” than giant arrows and teepees!  Hon, Hubby hates to shop but even he was curious about what we’d find inside.

WARNING:  Do Not Proceed Reading This Post if you are an Animal Activist.  It might be the 2000’s, but the West is still wild and animals skins and taxidermic animals are everywhere you look.

In my last post, Window in the Wild West, I mentioned stopping at the Roadkill Cafe and getting the heebie jeebies in the back room.  I don’t know why going to the American Museum of Natural History in Manhattan doesn’t bother me.  Maybe its because the animals have been there so long.  Maybe its because they’re behind glass.  Or maybe because you know what you’re going to see.  Whatever!  Hubby, Tween Daughter and I gaped and gawked…all under the watchful eye of The Sheriff!

 

Buffalo jaw bones.
Buffalo Jaw Bones.

I’m not sure who would buy Buffalo Jaw Bones and what you’d use them for.  The sign says, “The Historical Native American War Clubs.”  Umm, really?  I haven’t read any American history text books that mentioned this but, then again, those text books were probably biased in favor of the Colonists.  So, maybe war clubs were kept out of the mix.

Turtle Shells.
Turtle Shells.

Here’s another head scratcher.  I asked the saleslady what on G-d’s green earth would you use these for and she replied, “Indians used to make rattles out of them.”  That’d be a mighty big rattle for little hands.  Even if they were used for rattles back then, what about now?

Pelts.
Pelts.

Le’s face it, fur is warm (and feathers).  I bet, if you lived in Siberia…or on the North Pole…or in Antarctica…or on some very high mountain in a wooden hut, you’d rather have fur (and a down comforter) than something made of Thermoloft.  Not to knock modern technology (I have many coats made with Thermoloft), but ecology and evolution will outlive and outperform all of us humble humans.

Porcupine.
Porcupine.
Taxidermic wall.
Taxidermic wall.

Consider the next photos sorbet to cleanse your palette.

Not odd.  Pretty rugs and wraps.
Not odd. Pretty woven rugs and wraps.
Beautiful strands of turquoise.
Beautiful strands of turquoise.
Need a lasso?
Need a lasso?

Now for the strangest things we saw. 

Varmint Tails.
Varmint Tails.
Varmint Faces.
Varmint Faces.

I have three questions about the oddities above.  1) What would you do with a Varmint Face?  2)  Unless you’re making a Davy Crockett hat, why would you buy a Tail?  3) Who says “Varmint” besides actors in a shoot-em-up Western movie?

And then there were the Creepy Cowboys.  

The first one sat friendly-like outside a store in Old Town Albuquerque. He was strange but he didn’t scare me silly.

Creepy Cowboy #1.
Creepy Cowboy #1.

Tween Daughter and I came around a corner and realized we were being watched by The Sheriff!

Creepy Cowboy #2.
Creepy Cowboy #2.

I actually said, “Hi.”  When The Sheriff didn’t answer, I figured he was the silent type!

Have you seen strange things in your travels?  I’d love to hear what curiosities and oddities you’ve seen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Albuquerque Cowboys

Rainbow Balloon
Rainbow Balloon ascending at sunset.
Sunset ascension.
Sunset ascension.
Eyes on the sky, NJ.
Eyes on the sky, NJ.
Wicked Balloon
Wicked Balloon
Defy Gravity!
Defy Gravity.

 

 

 

 

 

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The New Jersey Festival of Ballooning is really something to see! Hundreds of hot air balloons fill the evening, summer sky.  The sinking, orange sun chases the baby blue away until indigo dyes the horizon.

The first hot air balloon ascension I ever saw was in New Mexico.  Hubby and I were hiking in Santa Fe when we heard about a Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque.  We’d need to drive an hour or so to get there.  The balloons were to ascend at 6 am.  Our plan was to leave before the crack of dawn.

Right before hitting the road, we stopped at Dunkin’ Donuts.  Caffeine was essential at 4:30 am!  Who did I see but three men sitting at the counter wearing cowboy hats.  Not so unusual for New Mexico.  They were also wearing chaps.  Hmm, seemed like real leather.  And cowboy boots with spurs?  I hadn’t seen anyone wear spurs since my brother was a little kid.

Hon, do you know me at all?  I was itching to introduce myself and ask what the heck those men were doing at Dunkin’ Donuts in chaps and spurs at 4:30 am!  I was practically jumping out of my seat and I hadn’t even had half a cup of coffee yet!

You want to know what Hubby said to me?  He said, “You’re crazy!  Don’t bother those men!”  But I kept craning my neck to get a better look at those spurs!

“Fine,” Hubby said.  “Do what you want, but don’t involve me.  In fact, I’m going to pretend I don’t even know you.”

Humph.  

It could be the writer in me, the kid in me, or who-knows-what, but I sauntered over to those three men, hanging over their steaming hot cups.

“Hi,” I said.  “I’m from New Jersey and I’ve never seen anyone in chaps and spurs.  Do you mind telling me where you’re going?”

Those nice men lifted their tired eyes from their coffee and told me how they’d been camping in the desert for several days, how they’d ridden up from Albuquerque, and how their horses were in the parking lot.  Did I want to see their horses just as soon as they’d finished their coffee?  I’d definitely never seen horses in a Dunkin’ Donuts parking lot before. “Yes, I’d like to see them, thank you very much!” and “If I send you a copy, can I take a picture?”

Guess who decided to join our friendly conversation?  Hubby.  We compared the landscape of the Southwest to the Northeast, described what Manhattan looks likes, and talked about lots of other stuff.

I don’t know what thrilled me more.  Meeting those Albuquerque Cowboys or watching hundreds of hot air balloons inflate and rise to the sky.

Cowboys and their horses.  Thanks for the picture, guys!
Cowboys and their horses. Thanks for the picture, guys!

 

 

 

 

 

Antidote to Evil–Faith

A view of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, Israel.
A view of the Dome of the Rock, Jerusalem, Israel.
The Abuhav Synagogue, Tzfat, Israel.
The Abuhav Synagogue, Tzfat, Israel.

As “antidotes to evil,” sweetness and family started Bmore’s week of inspirational words and images.

I hope the places and symbols of faith in this post are a salve for the psychic wounds we all share. I am inspired in many different places of worship.  Sitting in a hallowed hall, I feel faith envelope me.  I concentrate on absorbing the aura of holiness created by the religious symbols, the people and the prayer.  But, I don’t have to be in a place of worship to pray.  The edge of the ocean and the blue sky invite me to look inward and then upward.

Where does faith find you?

Native American Indian, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Native American Indian, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Buddha, Port St. Lucie, Florida
Buddha, Port St. Lucie, Florida
Saint-Chapelle, Paris, France
Saint-Chapelle, Paris, France