Thursday, June 30, 2011

Westward, Ho! Day 2

A dinosaur from Nowhere in Particular.

June 27

The night was over all too soon, and the open road called again. We managed to ignore the call for another hour, but finally had to drag our weary carcasses out, eat our picnic breakfast, and roll on.

When lunchtime arrived, Bozeman conveniently came into view. Now, I’m not going to tell you what we did next. I don’t want the children to know that we went to the Museum of the Rockies without them. I’m definitely not going to tell them that we went to the giant frog and toad exhibit without them. So keep it to yourself, will you?

It is pure coincidence that I have a weird frog fact to share. Guess I must have learned it somewhere, no place in particular. So the African Milk Frog has an odd method of reproducing. The male finds a quiet little pool, and sits there calling for a female. When one comes along, she lays her eggs and then leaves. The male fertilizes the eggs, and stays to watch over them. Later on, he calls another female with the same hypnotic little song, and she lays eggs for him, too. But after she leaves, instead of fertilizing the second clutch, he feeds them to the first batch. Pretty harsh.

Jack and I ate a cozy, intimate picnic lunch in an anonymous park. If it looks like the museum grounds, that is most likely coincidence. The sandwiches Jack made were delicious—I felt so spoiled! Keen-eyed magpies kept a cautious distance, watching to see if we might drop a few crumbs. Had Jack been a CRUEL and UNKIND person, he might have dropped one of his spicy chips to see how the magpies liked it. But I think we all know what sort of person he is. Speaking only hypothetically, if someone were to throw a spicy chip on the ground, and if a medium-sized bird like, say, a magpie was to pick it up, I think it would probably spit it out disgustedly and wipe its beak on the ground. Of course I don’t know for sure; that’s just my own opinion.

As we got farther and farther south, the temperature rose to amazing levels, cresting at 94F. I don’t remember for sure when I last felt a heat wave like that, but I would guess last August, September at the latest. I asked Jack to let me have my turn driving while it was nice and early, but he wouldn’t let me. Nothing left to do but take a nap, so when he got tired at bedtime, I might have the strength to drive a little longer.

“YAAAAAHAAAAAAHAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!” A piercing finger stabbed into my ribs as an even more piercing scream shattered my poor little nap. I frowned fiercely at Jack, and made quite an impression, judging by the unseemly cackling. Muttering to myself, I settled back in and closed my eyes, only to have the whole scenario repeat as soon as I drifted off. After the fourth time, I gave up trying to sleep.

You guessed it. At 10:30 pm, Jack decided to ‘let’ me have a turn. Deadpan, I told him that I wouldn’t last very long, since I had irresponsibly failed to take a nap that afternoon. “It was poor planning on my part, I admit it.” I kept most of the bitter irony out of my tone. “Yes,” Jack agreed solemnly. “You really should have scheduled that a little better.”

I took a firm grip on the steering wheel—or was that his windpipe?—and decided to shoot for Battle Mountain, NV. But when we came into Battle Mountain (I may have mentioned before how I always laugh at the giant initials emblazoned on their hillside), Jack wanted to stop at the next rest area, instead. “There was a sign that said the next rest area was in 42 miles, and that was almost 40 miles ago.”

Famous last words.

After what seemed like forever, I asked him if the sign had perhaps said 142 miles. It sure felt like it, and my bladder thought so, too. Just in time to save us from disaster, we made it. It turned out to be the very rest area that had attacked me 5 years or so ago. On that unforgettable visit, I wedged into the teensy stall, When I went to flush, the toilet exploded. A geyser to rival Old Faithful shot up into the air, splashing me as I scrabbled vainly to escape. The experience scarred me to the point that, even today, if I use a public restroom I never, ever flush till I have the door open. Maybe the other ladies look at me strangely when I rocket out of the stall only 2.7 nanoseconds after flushing, but I don’t care. I did my time in the Splash Zone.

I am happy to report that the Nevada Road Department had done their job well, and all the toilets seemed to be operating normally.

Dryly yours,
Noni Beth

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