Monday, July 16, 2018

Nature Photography


It’s been ages since I’ve written any kind of blog entry. Mostly because, as I mentioned in the last blog post, I’ve been focusing on my photography and my Etsy Shop. And, OC devotee that I am, I really only have time for one obsession at a time.

Which is also because nature photography can be a pain.

Why?

Because the subjects are notorious drama queens and often completely uncooperative.
Take ladybugs for example…you might think this is an easy or fun picture to capture:


And I am kind of proud of it.  But that overlooks the fact that I have waaayyyy more pictures like this in which the Ladybug decides if it can’t see me, then I can’t see it and it scampers to the underside of the flower stalk to hide:



And, seriously, who wants a picture of the bottom of a ladybug? No one, that’s who.

 Or you stalk a gorgeous Tiger Swallowtail all through your lily garden, braving mosquitoes and loudly complaining dogs, to get the perfect shot and the butterfly is so hopped up on pollen, that it basically flings itself head first into the flower like some sort of addict having a fit.



Even worse is the problem that the places you go are often populated by creatures that you weren’t actually wanting to photograph. Like, when you are trying with all your might to get a shot of a monarch butterfly dancing around a button bush and all of a sudden you shout “Holy crap, is that a SNAKE?”




Or—far worst of all—you go someplace called the Osage Forest of Peace only to find that it should be called the Osage Bastion of Bloodsucking Beasts. Or the Horrendous Hideout of Horrifying Hematomaniacs. Or the Pernicious Purview of Pustulating Parasites.

Basically, what I’m saying is that the name should mention the fact that teeming hordes of TICKS roam this allegedly peaceful forest in a decidedly unpeaceful manner.

A fact we sadly became aware of as we were hiking the trails, looking for wildlife to photograph, when out of nowhere Opie said “There’s a tick on my leg.” Which is upsetting in any circumstance but was quickly compounded by the fact that there were multiple ticks on his legs…and his shoes and his shirt. I wanted to be sympathetic but this was impossible because I was very busy brushing ticks off my own clothes with reckless abandon.

“What the heck is going on?” I shouted (in the interest of keeping this blog family friendly, we’ll pretend I actually said heck). “We need to get the heck out of here!”

So we ran for it as best we could over narrow trails and uneven ground…but part of the problem with these insect infestations is that as soon as you notice one on your body, you instantly imagine a teeming horde of the monsters, scampering through your hair, running up and down your back, baring their fangs and clamping on like miniscule pitbulls.

So the running was punctuated by us slapping ourselves hysterically, shaking our arms and legs like we were in some forest-inspired dance ritual, and shouting like maniacs.

It is interesting to note that the Forest of Peace clearly does NOT have security cameras on their trails or we would have been apprehended at the trail head and taken in for psychiatric evaluation.

After we made it out of the forest and drove home, we decided,  in the interest of the continued good health of the ridiculous mongrels that share our home, to get undressed in the washroom and throw our clothes immediately in the washing machine.

“I’ve got one embedded in my leg.” Opie said ruefully.

And I would again have been sympathetic except, at just that moment, I slipped out of my yoga pants and watched 2 humongous, monster-sized tick beasts dart across the front of my underwear.

Let me repeat that for maximum effect:

I HAD TICKS IN MY UNDERWEAR.

I would like to report what happened then but, I’m not going to lie, the next few minutes are a bit of a blur of screams, tears, and hysterical stripping.

And just in case anyone is worried that this story is about to take a weird erotic turn, let me assure you there is NOTHING appealing about a slightly chubby middle aged woman jumping around naked and checking her body for ticks!

Especially when she finds not one, not two, not even three or four, but NINE, that’s right NINE freaking ticks embedded in her body.

Pretty much the WORST HIKE EVER.

So, the long and the short of it is, nature photography is fraught with peril, I can feel Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever coursing through my tick-scarred veins, and the only good shot I got that day was the whipped cream vodka Opie very wisely added to my coffee.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Shot In The Park

As many of you know, I love to take pictures. My parents got me my first camera as a Christmas gift when I was a junior in high school. And I took that thing EVERYWHERE. If you knew me back then, I’m sure you remember me snapping away at dances, in school, at parties etc.

Also, if you knew me back then, you’re probably now nervously wondering if I still have all the party shots I took at places like Phil’s Camp or Andy’s Farm. The answer is yes, of course I do. I’m waiting for one of you to become incredibly famous so I can sell them to the National Enquirer and make a fortune.

I continued this tradition in college and beyond—though I’d like to take this moment to breathe a sigh of relief that Facebook, Instagram, etc. weren’t available then as I’m pretty sure I would have made some poor posting choices. “It’s not inappropriate, it’s funny!” I would have said, completely oblivious to the fact that I was ruining my and my friends' future employment opportunities for the sake of a quick laugh.

Anyway, I finally got my first digital camera around the same time that my first niece was born. I—and her grandparents—took so many pictures of her as a baby that even now she can sense a lens pointed in her direction and can freeze, pose, then continue on without even noticing the interruption.

Seriously, this is her at 12 stopping to pose ON A WATERSLIDE.


A few years after this picture was taken, Opie got me an amazing camera for Christmas. And immediately became my trusty assistant, lugging my camera equipment around the park, up and down mountains, and into the woods while I learned how to get the best shots.


He has since refused to participate in what I call “encouraging the wildlife into activity” and he calls “running through the woods like a lunatic.” But that’s possibly because the one time I did convince him to run through a flock of seagulls on the beach (so I could get one of those cheesy vacation photos of him with birds in the air all around him), the seagulls thought they were in a Seinfeld episode and didn’t move out of his way – except to lunge at him in a threatening manner, hissing and making other angry noises.

I'm not going to lie, it's really put the kibosh on further bird-startling adventures.

Anyway, for years people have asked me “What do you do with all your pictures?”

In the early days, the answer was “Print them out and stick them in a drawer.”  After the digital age dawned, the answer changed to “Post them on Facebook then stick them in a file on my computer.”

But this year the answer is changing in a more interesting manner. For Christmas this year, my parents took some of my pictures and turned them into handmade photo greeting cards – to encourage me to take the initiative to make more of my pics into handmade photo greeting cards.


And, since they are so much smarter now than they were when I was seventeen (weird how that happens!), I have decided to take their advice and try my hand at the handmade greeting card business.  

If you've liked my pictures over the years and would like to check out my online shop, Shot In The Park, I've included the Etsy address below.  If there's a picture I've taken that you like that isn't currently on a card but you'd like on a card, shoot me an email at shotinthepark@gmail.com and I'll see what I can do.

Unless, of course, the picture in question is one of my nieces or nephews and you're not related to me because, let's be honest, that's creepy.

In all seriousness, I'd love it if you'd check out the shop, check out my Facebook page, and tell your friends. I promise I won't bombard you with constant emails and updates or beg you to buy my stuff!

FYI, if you're one of the people now nervously wondering just how crazy you were in the Phil's Camp photos over the years and just how much it would cost you to get those negatives destroyed, you can shoot me an email too and we'll talk. 😝


Etsy Shop:  Shot In The Park
Facebook Page: Shot in the Park on Facebook  




Thursday, January 4, 2018

Undecorating and Unhinged

The first thing you need to know is that Opie's animals don’t listen. I have tried to train them, tried to mitigate the damage from his lackadaisical approach to discipline, have, in short, attempted to rule them with an iron fist.

But I have, thus far, been unsuccessful.

And I might be running out of time because the second thing you need to know is it’s entirely possible that all of us will not be alive when Opie gets home from work tonight.

It’s not because I don’t love these insane creatures as much as he does. It’s not because I wish them any harm. It is simply because I think we might be in one of those them or me type situations.

It all started when I began taking down the Christmas decorations. I went upstairs to get the boxes out of the closet, completely unaware that Bubba and Sassy had  determined that this was some sort of secret code for “I’m hiding treats in the closet.”

I turned around they were both sitting right outside the closet, blocking my exit and jumping around in the world famous "We Want A Treat Right Now!" dance.


I tried to explain that there were no treats in the closet but Bubba flopped down at the top of the stairs and refused to move, sure this was a ploy to see just how steadfast he was in his desire for a treat.

Sassy, on the other hand, decided her best course of action would be to EARN herself a treat by showing me how fast she could run up and down the steps—preferably after giving me a head start so, after I stepped over Bub and struggled down with my arms full of boxes, she could demonstrate both her speed and her ninja like agility, dashing between my legs without a care in the world.


I thought I yelled “Are you trying to kill me, you ridiculous dog?“ but she obviously heard "I love falling down the stairs! Do you think you could help make that happen, you adorable pooch?" Because as soon as I went back in the closet, she put both her and Bubba’s new toys in a place I couldn’t miss them : the middle of the steps.

Then, after my next trip down the stairs during which I stumbled and nearly broke my neck, stood at the top wagging her tail and suggesting a couple treats would go a long way to easing the tension in the room.



Not to be outdone, Prince wandered over a few minutes later and asked if I was at all interested in seeing how good he is at climbing storage shelves.




“No,” I told him. “What I want is for you to get out of the closet and out of my way!”

“I understand,” Prince agreed. “What you’re saying is, climb to the top and start knocking things off the shelves while you scream at me in an encouraging fashion.”
“That is the EXACT OPPOSITE of what I’m saying, you looney cat!” I shouted.

But it was too late. He was already leaping from box to box like Spider-cat, swatting ornament boxes with reckless abandon.


As you can imagine, the subsequent shouting convinced Bubba that this was pretty much the most terrifying thing that had ever happened to any dog ever. "That's it!" He barked, flinging himself in front of my feet every time I tried to take a step. "No one should move an inch until the man gets home! The only thing that would make this worse would be--"

"THE MAILMAN!" Both dogs howled together.

Because, of course, that was the exact second that the unspeakably evil mailman snuck on the porch in his unspeakably evil way and, with malice oozing from every pore, THREW MAIL IN THE HOUSE.

Then both dogs charged over me (this time as I was trying to carry boxes up the stairs) and raced headlong to face the peril.

That's when I lost whatever tiny grip I still had on sanity and began shouting a series of threats at them that were so offensive that even the unspeakably evil mailman might or might not but definitely could report me to the humane society.

Ever aware of my fragile emotional state, I decided to take a break from undecorating and have a soothing cup of tea.

You know what tea doesn't soothe?  The sound of a man’s voice upstairs, yelling something in Spanish.

Let me say that again for maximum effect: I heard a MAN in the upstairs of OUR HOUSE yelling in Spanish.

I’m not going to lie, I about lost control of my bodily functions.  A situation not helped by the fact that the dogs ran back upstairs to investigate, barking hysterically.

“There can’t actually be someone up there,” I said to myself. “It defies reason to think someone scaled the side of the house, broke in and is now cavorting around our bedroom talking to himself.” 

Because of my fabulous ability to immediately imagine the worst possible outcome, it did occur to me that a homeless Hispanic hobo had been hibernating in the eaves of our home, been awakened by the hysterical hullabaloo, and was hopping out to say hello. But, even as beautifully alliterative as that is, I thought it was a long shot.

Besides I was trapped: the dogs were up there, after all, and I couldn’t just leave them to deal with any homeless hobos on their own.

Though, in retrospect, they may have just been going upstairs to see if the homeless hobo had any treats on his person.

In any case, I started up the stairs, phone in one hand with 9 and 1 already punched in, pepper spray in the other hand  yelling “Tengo una pistola!” (because I don’t know how to say pepper spray in Spanish) and “Fuera!” (Which, now that I think of it means go out, not get out but I bet a hobo would have taken my point) and “Estoy llamando la policia!” (Which I’m not at all sure is grammatically correct but again probably got my point across)

And found Opie's miserable ridiculous cat sitting on top of the clock radio, smacking at the buttons.

No, this isn't him on the clock radio -- I couldn't get a picture of that
 because I was busy hyperventilating and screaming every curse word I know


Anyway, I'm not sure why our radio is set to Spanish talk radio (but I’m sure it’s Opie's fault) And I don’t know why or even how Prince decided to turn it on.

But I am sure these animals are trying to kill me.

And it's entirely possible I'll kill them first.

Be afraid.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

It's Christmas Card Time Again!


Here's the thing, if you know me at all, you know that I take our Christmas card waaayyyy too seriously. I dress the animals in ridiculous outfits:  



I even bribe Opie to wear matching outfits or slap him in a Ralphie pink bunny suit a la The Christmas Story.

I think it's full on AWESOME...Opie allows as how he thinks it's a touch over the top.



Anyway, this year was no exception. I loaded up the dogs with treats, fed Opie beer with reckless abandon, and waited until Prince was so woozy from sleeping in the sun that I could toss some antlers on him without too much loud yowling (no fear, animal lovers, they are yowls of pure enthusiasm.  This is a cat who LOVES costumes, I assure you) and got everyone dressed as hilarious reindeer.

Anyway, we got some great pictures and I foolishly thought the hard part was over.

Until I tried to ORDER the cards. 

Here's what happened:

I got online bright and early for the Cyber Monday sale which included about 55% off, 10 free cards and free shipping.

Bam! I ordered 115 cards!

A few minutes later a confirmation email arrived which said I was getting 105 cards and 115 envelopes.

It didn’t mention the 10 free cards, didn't say they were included in the cards—nothing.

Since, as I mentioned, I get a little more emotionally invested in our Christmas cards than the average bear, I immediately freaked out.

Luckily, they have a helpline so I called it, waited forever to get through, got put on hold, got asked if I wanted a callback instead of waiting, get assured by a robot lady that I wouldn’t lose my place on line and heard that my waiting time is approximately 10 minutes. I reluctantly selected this option and waited an hour to actually talk to a real live person.

So, let’s be honest, I started the conversation ever so slightly incensed.

I explained everything that I just explained above and the girl on the other line said “I see you ordered 105 cards...”

Me (trying to be nice) “No. I ordered 115 because I need 115.”

Her (clearly not listening) "If you need to change your order, you can always cancel this one and re-order in the correct amount.“

Me “Actually, I can’t cancel this order. There’s a 30 minute window to cancel the order and I’m way past that because it took over an hour to talk to someone.”

Her “Well, you could always just order 10 more cards....”

Me “No. As I’m sure you know, your company does tiered discounts for cards so ordering just 10 would be a lot more expensive per card. Plus 10 cards wouldn't be eligible for free shipping. So buying 10 more cards now would essentially cost me three times as much as if they were on the original order — which they already should have been BECAUSE I ORDERED 115 CARDS.  There’s been a mistake here and I didn't make it. Something's gone wrong on YOUR END."

Her “I can probably go ahead and cancel that order for you even though it’s past the window.”

At which point I paused and reflected on how sad I am that I don't have one of those old rotary phones like my grandma used to so I could follow her example of slamming the receiver on the table four or five times in frustration and then pretending like I'd just dropped it.

Seriously, my grandma was hilarious.

Anyway, since I have an iPhone that is about as fragile as a wet Kleenex, slamming my phone against the table was out of the question, I settled for making obscene gestures at the screen and silently questioning how hard it would be to find this girl and punch her right in the throat.

Me (summoning a level of patience I didn't even know I had) “That really won't help since, as I said, the problem appears to be on YOUR END with the whole 10 free card promotion thing. So if you cancel it and I try to reorder everything, the same exact thing is going to happen because I'm going to use the exact same promotion."

Her “I can see you ordered 105 cards—“

Me “NO! That’s what I’m trying to explain. I ordered 115 cards. The order clearly says 115 envelopes and 105 cards. Which means there has to be some sort of mistake because it’s actually not possible to order more envelopes than cards.

Her “What’s that?”

Me (using my best patient teacher voice and not at all letting on that I was ready to hunt this girl down like wild game) "It’s not possible to order more envelopes than cards. I know this because I’ve tried. But your company has a completely unwarranted and unrealistic faith in my ability to fill out 115 Christmas cards without making a mistake so they will only send me as many envelopes as cards. Something else is happening here!!”

Her “If you’d like to cancel your order —“

Me: “Look, I’m trying really hard not to get nasty because I know you were not personally responsible for this mistake. I also know this is probably one your busiest days and things are pretty busy. So I'm trying to be nice but to be honest, I’m about three seconds from going 8 kinds of whack job crazy.”

Dramatic pause on her end then she said “Oh yes, here it is. 10 free cards, you’re right. You’re getting 115 cards.”

Unfortunately, I have a suspicious heart. Plus she was using that tone that indicated she thought I'd already gone 5 kinds of whack job crazy and was simply trying to get off the phone before I turned it up 3 more notches.

On a slightly unrelated note, I should probably question the life choices that have made me so familiar with the tone people use when dealing with a lunatic but I'll think about that tomorrow.

Anyway, as I was saying, I have a suspicious heart and she overcame her earlier confusion in a shockingly short time. Plus, I'm no lawyer but I watch A LOT of court TV. Therefore, when she said "Can I help you with anything else?" I responded "Yeah, I just need to get confirmation of that in writing."

And she said "Excuse me?"

Me, now using my best Judge Judy tone and, let's be honest, imagining myself on her show: "I need written confirmation that I'm getting the 115 cards that I ordered because the email I have says only 105 are being shipped. I just need something in writing so if only 105 cards arrive, I have some recourse without going through this whole hullaballoo again."

I think it's a testament to how worked up I was that yes, I actually used the word hullaballoo.

In any case, she said "I don't understand."

And then I did the dramatic pause thing and finally asked "Do you really not understand the words I just said or is it that you don't have the authority to send an email to me?"

The long and the short of it was, she's not involved in all this email-shemail business.

I hung up, considered a variety of violent options, considered alcoholic amelioration of my feelings--spent a brief second pondering how much I love the word ameliorate--and finally did what I should have done all along: got on Twitter.  I sent the company a private message, indicated that as one who is familiar with the power of social media I understand exactly how vocal online complaints can cost a company business, and explained the whole thing again.

I got the email confirmation.

Even better, the 115 cards arrived, I'm getting them addressed, and with luck should have them in the mail tomorrow.

So, it's official -- it's the holiday season and these are the happiest holiday hounds (and cat) around!

 

And don't even get me started on this one, he is clearly chock full of Christmas cheer!


As I've said before, I bet he looks back on all those years he was single and just weeps about how boring his life used to be.

Happy Holidays everyone!

Monday, October 9, 2017

Got Milk?


Here's a fun fact you may or may not have known:

Milk explodes.

I don't, of course, mean all milk. I'm not suggesting that we need to be on the lookout for radioactive cows or that the average American refrigerator is a ticking time bomb of unstable dairy.

I am, however, prepared to definitively state the following:

If, as a loving wife, you buy your husband a plastic bottle of chocolate milk before vacation AND he doesn't drink the milk before the aforementioned vacation AND the milk spoils AND you take it out of the fridge and set it on your counter so he doesn't drink it by mistake AND you leave it there overnight so you can take it out to the recycling the next day AND the bottle gets somewhat hot because the sun apparently shines directly in that spot, your plastic bottle of chocolate milk can ACTUALLY EXPLODE. 


I dare anyone to ask me how I know.

I also just double dog dared Opie to set foot in this house tonight and say anything like "What's that weird smell?'"

And speaking of dogs, you should all pause and try to imagine the reaction of the two craziest dogs in the known universe when they are flopped down, holding the couch in place, and A BOTTLE OF MILK EXPLODES.

Drama does not begin to describe it.  And I can't even blame them because I seriously thought someone had fired a shot in the kitchen. 

In any case, in these situations, I usually take a few moments to advise Opie how best to comfort his wife but today I am too busy cleaning chocolate milk from every surface in the kitchen to be much help...though I did say chocolate is always a good choice but chocolate milk could result in physical violence.

It's entirely possible I will still be cleaning when he gets home. It's also entirely possible that I will never be able to get all the chocolate milk out of the kitchen we will be forced to move.

And don't even get me started on the smell.

Mickey looks like he's been
through the chocolate war.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Blast From the Past



Well, it's almost everyone's favorite time of year: time for Eric and Kimberly's fabulous yet freaky summer vacation! 

For those who are new to this blog, I should mention we’ve gone every summer for the past 17 years now—yes, even after I got married.

Largely because Opie has NO DESIRE to go any of the places we’ve gone.  I tell him where we've decided to go, he stares at me for a long moment in horrified silence then says "Have a good time."

See, Eric and my goal is to go to the wackiest places possible, places no on in their right mind would visit. Which is why we’ve been to  The Lizzie Borden Axe Murder House,  The Waverly Hills Sanotarium, The Villisca Iowa Axe Murder House  (sort of an axe murder theme there for awhile), The Superman Convention in Metropolis, Illinois, Psychic Boot Camp, and  Snake World (which was basically a TRAILER in Arkansas that housed the largest private collection of venomous snakes in North America) and so on…

Let me tell you, it’s been HILARIOUS.

This year we're flying in the face of tradition and returning to one of the places we've already been: The Roswell, New Mexico Annual International UFO Festival.

Why?

Because it's been 15 years and who knows what kind of mindboggling breakthroughs have occurred in the field of xenoarchaeology?

So, when we return, I'll be sure to update everyone on our trip.  But first  I thought I'd share a blast from the past: the official record of our last trip to hunt UFOs 15 years ago...back when we were young, crazy and had a somewhat limited understanding of Government Security Clearance guidelines.




THE TRUTH IS OUT THERE!

Ok, as some of you probably are already aware, Eric and I took our annual vacation over 4th of July weekend and as always, we chose a somewhat unusual vacation spot: Roswell, New Mexico for the annual national UFO convention. It was actually 3 conventions in one as there are 3 different groups who put on rival conventions all over town.

Roswell, for those of you who don’t know, is the place where a UFO supposedly crashed in 1947. The army first released a statement saying it was, in fact, a flying saucer. Later they retracted that statement and said it was a weather balloon. It is now the Mecca of UFO researchers.

We thought it would be fun to go someplace where we are the most normal people around. Most of the people, however, were deceptively ordinary--until, of course, they started discussing their abduction experiences, government conspiracies, and the malevolent alien plot of world domination.
But I get ahead of myself…it was quite a trip and I've included a detailed play by play but  it is ridiculously long so feel free to skim or not read this at all…it was just too funny not to share!

In any case, we began our journey on Wednesday, July 2nd. We actually thought we were off to a good start because we began a mere 40 minutes late…this is over an hour better than our previous record! Unfortunately this fabulous start time was slightly marred by our nearly immediate stop and 10 minute search for the trip journal to record the fabulous start time.

Then any leftover euphoria quickly died when we realized that our planned route was actually 2-3 hours out of our way. Since we were supposed to stay with Eric’s parents, we had no choice but to press on. We did, however, peruse the map and come up with an alternate route home.

The rest of the day’s events are best illustrated in the following timeline:
10:50 -- First fervent wish for alcoholic beverage.
10:51 -- Loud chanting of “We don’t drink and drive, we don’t drink and drive!” Oddly, chanting did not dim desire.
10:54 -- Debate whether or not Kahlua really constitutes alcohol. Surely something that tastes so much like coffee can be considered coffee?
11:00 -- Vote taken on the status of Kahlua. 2 votes for coffee.
11:01 -- Search for Kahlua in backseat of car.
11:05 -- Realization that Kahlua is either still in St. Louis or buried in bag in trunk of car.
11:06 - 11:10 Cursing, finger-pointing and overall disgust concerning undetermined location of Kahlua.
11:15 -- Water chosen as healthier but infinitely less satisfying beverage.
12:36 -- First stop for gas.
12:38 -- Eric inadvertently locks car; panicked search for keys encompasses several minutes as we envision calling a locksmith etc.
12:45 -- Locate keys, enter gas station/convenience store.
12:46 -- Get into argument with clerk about true size of bag of ice. Insist that he is overcharging us for a $1.00 bag of ice as the sign clearly indicates 2 pounds for a dollar and we only have 1 bag.
12:49 -- Feel like idiots when clerk explains for the 3rd time that the bag we are holding is 2 and pounds.
12:50 Assuage each other's embarrassment by marveling how easily we can lug 2 pounds of ice around the parking lot.
1:55 -- Enter Kansas.
2:00 -- 5:30 Endless discussion of how far out of the way this route is. Eric maintains that route is better as more scenic and historical (Actual Santa Fe Trail!). My reply obscene and not included for fear of offending anyone still reading.
6:00 -- 10:00 -- Arrive at Eric’s parents. Have dinner, sit down with Eric’s mother and peruse map for shortest route to Roswell. I make sounds like “north” and “west” as if I understand what they mean. Eric tries not to laugh.
10:01 -- Realize no possible way to get to Roswell in under 10 hours. Plot Eric’s bloody death.
10:30 -- Go to bed so can get early start.

DAY TWO

Driving the second day included more wrong turns and directional struggles but we stopped a few fun places along the way--like the exact mid-point of the United States. This spot is exactly 1561 miles from San Francisco and 1561 miles from New York. We got out of car like big tourist nerds, climbed the hill to take pictures, then I stepped on cockleburr with my bare foot, hopped back to the car and complained loudly for next twenty minutes.

We finally arrived in Roswell around 5:30. Of course, the address that the online reservation service gave me was wrong so, just like last year, we went into the wrong hotel, went up to the front desk and demanded imaginary reservations. Then—sure that I was right and assuming that our room had been given to some other conference attendee with fistfuls of cash—I engaged in a loud, heated discussion with the clerk, insisting that I had booked a room days earlier. I even triumphantly waved my confirmation email in his face.

Which is when the clerk snatched the paper from my hand, pointed at the name of the hotel emblazoned across the top and said “That’s not us.”

I’m not going to lie, it was a little embarrassing.

The conference itself was great! My only suggestion for the organizers is that next year, they should indicate right on the program which presentations are best experienced under the influence of hallucinogenic drugs…for example, we went to one so called laser light show that I could have done with 2 flashlights and some colored cellophane.

Plus, I was astounded to learn that the truth about aliens has not been discovered because of a conspiracy between both the government and organized religion. Apparently, the government doesn’t think we can handle the truth and organized religions don’t want to admit that aliens caused evolution by interfering with our genetic structure millions of years ago.

It is now clear that this blog entry will not only cause me to be interrogated by the FBI, the CIA and other nefarious secret government organizations but I will also, no doubt, be excommunicated.

But I’m getting ahead of myself again!

The first thing we did Friday morning was drive out to the actual crash site. It is about 35 miles outside of town and the road is only marked by a raggedy old sign. We got out of the car, took a few pictures, and another group of people told us that no one is allowed to go to the actual crash site anymore.



“All part of the government conspiracy,” I said.

Two of them nodded along with me but one woman shook her head and said, “No, I think it’s just private property now.”

“Allegedly,” I said.

And the other two nodded even more emphatically.

But you know what?

They were all cowards. 

They weren’t interested in what some people call “trespassing” but Eric and I call “exploring.” So we had to wait for them to leave before we could go ahead with our own search.

Oh sure, it was private property and yes, there might or might not have been but definitely were signs indicating the area was restricted by the government and yes, it was the middle of the desert where it was so hot I thought I might actually burst into flame and admittedly we spent over an hour driving up and down unmarked gravel roads avoiding cows and sheep and various other livestock but we did find the gated off area and managed to wander around a bit until we could identify the ranch house and the area in question.



Then, when we got back to the UFO museum, we saw a sign that informed us one of the reasons that the crash site is off limits is because of the “excessive danger of TARANTULAS and RATTLESNAKES.”


“The question is,” I told Eric, “did the government MAKE UP the tarantulas and rattlesnakes or did they PLANT THEM THERE to further the cover up?”

“We’ll probably never know,” Eric said

In any case, we felt suitably freaked out enough to spend the rest of the day getting freaked out by people giving convincing and somewhat alarming accounts of what really happened 50 years ago in Roswell…did you know that Jerry Marcel, the army guy who was instrumental in the alien cover up, came forward years later and basically said the government was lying, he believed that a UFO had crashed?

Weird.

Later we went out to a presentation at the Roswell fair grounds and it is interesting to note that slamming vodka and Sprite in 105 degree heat can occasionally induce feelings of nausea…this feeling is not noticeably improved by a 20 minute viewing of wobbly home videos of a supposed UFO. Was it a UFO? I have no clue, I thought it looked by a big black dot.

However, I turned my attention to the presenter and was mildly amused to feel a sort of “He’s a long-haired UFO chaser but what a great smile” type of attraction (it is possible that this was due to the vodka as well).

Then, sadly, he spoke.

“I saw me the UFO” he said. “So I went and got me muh videah camra.”

Then he revealed that this is what he does for a living; he sits around his house all day drinking beer, smoking dope (I’m speculating on this last bit) and pointing his “videah camra” at the sky for hours a at time.

I need this guy’s life.

After dinner (the highlight of which was cracking Eric up as he was trying to do a shot and getting vodka sprayed in my face) things were a little disappointing. We went to a presentation called “The Great UFO Mystery” and the biggest mystery was “When are you actually going to stop talking about astronomy and talk about UFOs?”

Eric and I tried to lighten the mood with a few jokes and witty repartee during the presentation but considering the woman right next to us actually got up and MOVED TO ANOTHER SEAT, I think it’s possible that everyone did not appreciate our humor.

Next we drove out to fairgrounds for a fireworks display …which would have been a lot cooler if the fireworks display had actually been scheduled for the fairgrounds and not behind the planetarium on the other side of town.

In any case, the last day more than made up for any disappointment. We met “The Alien Hunter” who makes his living investigating claims of alien abduction and perused his collection of alien implants. Strange as this may sound, this guy was actually NOT a loon. He was articulate, educated and explained to us the scientific methods he uses to investigate these claims.

Honestly, he freaked me out.

On the other hand, there were plenty of loons. For example the guy who said he got involved in UFO studies after a “strange being” entered his bedroom and touched him. Or the woman who was continually possessed by aliens and forced to run around her bedroom over and over again as part of some bizarre athletic experiments. Or the guy who was abducted continually for about 10 years until he found Christ and then he quit his job and moved to Roswell to start The Alien Resistance Organization in order to get the word out. He was even handing out stickers that had an alien head inside a circle with a line through it (like a no smoking sign).



You can’t buy fun like that, not in any store.

I had, of course, come up with an alien abduction story of our own but the only place where people were invited to share their stories was at the Biblical Studies of UFOs. Considering that one of their books blamed homosexuality on aliens and further considering I was already getting dirty looks for daring to wear a tank top to the presentation, I didn’t think we should tempt fate any further.
So we left, drove all night to get home and are now considering giving up our careers as teachers and becoming UFO researchers…


I'm not going to lie, this is going to be a hard trip to beat -- but we're leaving Friday and I'll let you know how we do!