Wednesday, April 1, 2009

A cactus, the Thing, and a near death experience

Traveling by car is such a wonderful experience. You can stop to go to the bathroom, get something to eat, let the kids run around screaming, and see all the beautiful sights that make up this great country. The icing on the cake is all the really strange, yet cool roadside attractions. You know what I'm talking about, right? Like the World's Largest Ball of String? That kind of thing. I'm guessing other countries don't do weird stuff like that. Too bad. I think they're great. On the way out to California, I saw signs for all sorts of neat things, but since we were on a mission to just get there, I didn't stop. I did however, write down each interesting thing & where it was located, in the hopes that I could convince Daddy to stop on the way back. And though we drove across Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California, turns out that Arizona is the most interesting.
All across the state of Arizona are these giant billboards enticing us to stop and see "the Thing". Interesting, no? Could it be a hideous monster? Something left behind by aliens? A fabulous gem formation? That was my personal guess after visiting the gift shop & seeing lots of those pretty purple crystally thingies. So when we arrived there again, we ate dinner at Dairy Queen & savored a yummy ice cream dessert (see pics) then took our frozen delights with us to enjoy while we found out what the Thing really was. Imagine our surprise after following footsteps that looked like they might belong to Bigfoot, to find that "the Thing" was actually a collections of "things". Like the motorized tractor that was "the Thing" for replacing older forms of tractors. Funny, yet slightly disappointing. They did have a lot of interesting things & quite a lot for what was probably a private collection. At any rate, it was a good chance to get out of the car and walk around for awhile.
Did you see the picture of our tiny little kids in front of that giagantic cactus? That thing was huge. It was the biggest one we had seen, and it was conviently located at the gas station across the street from the gas station where I took the kids picture with the buffalo statue. Cacti are very interesting. Gross yet fascinating all at the same time. They just start to show up & then there are thousands of them everywhere, and then none again. Lots of them looked they were rotted out at the base, but I wasn't sure why. At any rate, they were very cool to look at.
Also at the same place as the buffalo & giant cactus, there was an ostrich farm just down the road. An ostrich farm!! Ha ha! I had to stop there! It's not every day you get to meet an ostrich. Their sign was funny: "Kids 6-106 $5.00 per person. Kids 5 & under Free. Kids over 106 - Free w/ Valid ID."
They actually had several kinds of animals to feed, and the first was the Lorikeets. (they're little rainbow colored birds). I hate birds. I really do, but I tried to be brave and feed them their nectar first to set a good example for the children (Daddy had Boo Boo). As soon as I moved the chains about 50 of them attacked me. It was all I could do to keep from running and screaming in terror. Daddy had to literally smack a couple that would not get out of my hair. That was my first brush with death. After that Bug & Pinks were pretty much done looking at the birds and had no desire to feed them. But Lil' C is apparently a bird whisperer. She bravely stepped into their house, (they did NOT attack) and fed them all of our nectar cups. They were very calm with her & she thought it was great fun. Go figure.
Then they fed the baby donkeys. For donkeys they were pretty cute. They did not attack, but were quick to gobble up all the food. My donkeys feeding their donkeys! Tee hee! Then we moved on to the ostriches. There weren't many by the fence because the truck with the food was headed toward the middle of the field. However, we brought them running with the sound of food rattling in cups. There are 3 ways to feed the ostrich. Through a funnel that goes through the fence, in a little tray on pier with no fence, or straight out of your hand. I'm not sure if you can see the sign in the picture, but it clearly states that ostrich bite. They have no teeth, but apparently are unaware of that fact. The kids poured some food through the funnels, and I have never seen anyone or anything attack the food in the manner with which they did. It was like something from a horror movie. Their long necks diving at mach speed for a piddly amount of crunchy niblets. It was insane.
Of course, the sound brought more ostrich our way, and we bravely(?) went up onto the pier. It was a great way to get a closer look at them. I had absolutely no intention of feeding them by hand, but thought to just put some in the little tray. Here comes the near death experience. As I was putting the cup out in front of me to dump some in, this devil in ostrich disguise threw his ridiculously long neck forward, opened his beak, and clamped down over my hand and the cup, ripping the cup out of my hand and dumping the food everywhere. Thank you Lord that ostrich do not have teeth, otherwise I would be typing this left-handed because he would have ripped the entire right one completely off. Needless to say, we were very quick to vacate the pier. Crazy ostrich!!!!
Luckily, the last stop was sweet, gentle deer. Most of them babies. Even Pinks was willing to feed them, if you call throwing the food on top of them feeding. And apparently a few of my marbles fell out along with the ostrich food, because I let those cute little deer eat out of my hand. We washed throughly, several times, then bought each of the kids an ostrich shaped pen, and were on our way. You've got to love roadside tourist traps that offer THAT kind of experience!

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