Columbus Wuz Here Columbus Lighthouse, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

There is controversy whether this is a lighthouse and whether Columbus’s bones are really inside the not so small ornate iron box in the center of this ornate display.

Columbus found this island on the first of his four voyages to the New World. Interestingly enough, he never set foot on America’s soil but set up his family  comfortably in the Dominican Republic to give them a good life and claim to  lands he discovered for the King of Spain.

He was a visionary, as well as a businessman, and having audience with Kings and Queens is no easy task because, being important people, their time is worth more than ours. Mounting an expedition that was going to the ends of the world was a dangerous  enterprise.

This memorial is not really a lighthouse, and,not attractive. I’m guessing the great man would have rather remained in the Cathedral in Parque Colon, but, he had no choice. His bones couldn’t stand up and speak up for him.

The big things I learn today are that, when walking, things you see are much further to get to than they look. Whenever you get lost, call a taxi and pay a few bucks to get where you want to go so you don’t  spend your entire trip walking in  circles.

It seems odd to celebrate a man who discovered America, and odd I’m standing here taking a photo of what we are told is the explorer’s final resting place?

He and his beloved Santa Maria , right now, are most likely somewhere north, northeast of Mars navigating under celestial lights on dark dark seas with only a compass and telescope. He is doing in the next world what he did in this one.

His bones might be here, but he doesn’t need them for his new discoveries.

 

 

Love Machine Squeeze the Handle

 

In the lobby of the County Line Barbecue, there is a special love machine for testing your love potentials.The machine is right inside the restaurant’s front door, and, as you wait for your table to open up, is hard to ignore.

This ” Love Machine ” costs a quarter for its diagnosis, and, for your quarter, you can see how you measure up on the love chart by putting your hand firmly around a special handle, squeezing firmly, and waiting for your diagnosis to shoot off like firecrackers, fireworks, or duds.

We humans like to measure. We hook up our cars to diagnostic apparatus, we use dip sticks to check oil and transmission fluids, we use IQ tests to measure intellectual ability, we use polls to decide who to elect to be our next President.

Whether this ‘Love” test is really accurate ,or scientific, is a different test.

Most of our science isn’t as true as we think it is, and, even when it is true, we often don’t believe what it tells us .Humans tend to be more superstitious than scientific. Wearing lucky socks when you watch your favorite team’s basketball game, for a championship, isn’t very rational.

Most of the stuff we should be measuring, we don’t have the instruments to measure anyway.

For those in love, people don’t need a machine to tell them how they feel.

A better sign of whether you are in love, or not, is to look at your credit card statement.

Be Happy – Stay Happy.

 

Lucky Chair Horseshoes for luck

Under the ” Home of the Big Rib ” rib, as you walk towards one of several back dining rooms at the County Line Barbecue, is a lucky chair.

We all have our favorite chairs. Yours might be an old recliner that you found on the sidewalk with a ‘ Take Me ” sign pinned to it like a donkey’s tail. It might be an ancient folding chair you drag out of your garage and open up on your front porch like folks did in the old days. Your favorite chair might have a hard back, torn cushions, scratched legs where your dog or cat wanted to get your attention.

My favorite “LUCKY’ chair, this evening, is made from horseshoes. I sit down in it to improve my luck as I listen to the ” Radiators ” slip into a blues tune in the bar.

Some artisan has collected these worn horseshoes and has welded them into a quirky,quite comfortable chair, and, as I sit ,and tap my right toe to the music, I feel my luck coming back in spades.

Barbecue, horseshoes, cattle, branding irons and the Old West go hand in hand and those old time cowboys sure didn’t live on just jerky, pitching horseshoes and playing poker.

You can’t tell me they didn’t fix themselves an occasional barbecue dinner in the middle of a long cattle drive across wild and hostile Indian country and blame Indians for the lost steer.

On reflection, if my new luck starts to weaken, me and this chair are going to have another therapy session.

When I come back next time, I’m going to try this chair again for a luck recharge, eat all the ribs I can, and ask for a sarsaparilla root beer.

Luck, these days, is hard to come by, and the Sandia Indian Pueblo Casino is just down the street.

 

Albuquerque’s E scooters Albuquerque's newest transportation

Albuquerque has just introduced E-Scooters to the Downtown Civic Plaza, Nob Hill, Old Town, and, eventually, other well frequented locations in the city. These scooters are lined up across from the Albuquerque Museum of Art, chatting up a storm and telling scooter jokes.

Two ladies, I talk too, say the scooters are fun to ride but you need an App on your phone to use them. There are about 750 of them, to start, and a private company, Zagster, has exclusive rights to promote in our city.

The scooters are available from seven in the morning till seven in the evening, have tracking devices installed, go 15 miles per hour, and cost the operator fifty cents a minute, when riding. The rationale is to address climate change, provide other modes of transport the younger generation will like (18 and older), and encourage people to get out and eliminate traffic in high traffic areas.

One of the big concerns of the Albuquerque Police Department is people driving these scooters while intoxicated, something that has already happened.

One of my issues is grasping how large American bodies are going to balance on these small running boards while going fifteen miles per hour with hand brakes?

If the city was serious about climate change they would just make us walk in a transportation free zone.

Riding at your own risk, these days, has to be in all of our plans of the day.

 

Heckle and Jeckle Talking over the watercooler

 

These two questionable birds remind me of cartoon characters us kids watched on black and white television in the 1950’s, most often perched on a tree limb talking about crazy humans. They were, as they appear here, angular, opinionated, and had New York voices that were like a piece of coarse sandpaper rubbed over my cheek, and not gently.

Perched on a tiny end table in front of the Madrid, New Mexico Mine Shaft Museum, they, for the moment, aren’t gossiping loud enough that I can hear who they are roasting.

The Madrid mining museum is full of old rusted mining implements piled into one large open room, under a tin roof. Through an open doorway, I see old corroded machines that kept town mines operating in the 1800’s when lots of young men and painted women came out west to make their fortunes moving lots of dirt.

The curator of the museum, a gray haired volunteer woman standing by a manual cash register, talks in a mellifluous voice and explains, to an equally old couple listening attentively, how the town prospered in its heyday.

Not interested in paying to go inside the museum, I peek through the door for free, and hear Heckle and Jeckle laughing again.

For some odd reason, I want to buy the fountain and the two metal birds and place them all on a little table on my back porch in Albuquerque.

These two could really tell me funny, but true, stories about mining in Madrid, Mew Mexico, before the hippies came.

Watching humans all day must be about as funny as it gets.

Mineshaft Tavern Local Watering Hole

State Road 14 takes you to Madrid,New Mexico, and to Cerrillos,New Mexico, if you stay on it.

All the way to Madrid we are passed by overweight motorcycle riders wearing pony tails and Bandito Leather jackets. Madrid is an old New Mexico mining town that busted a long time ago and left old mining shacks that were snapped up by 1960’s alternative lifestyle people. Today, most of these shacks have become watering holes, eateries, jewelry shops, art galleries, antique stores, botiques for unusual clothes, cramped homes for  bearded and balding hippies who have outlived their generation.

At eleven thirty in the morning, the Mineshaft Tavern, a local institution, is still not open and bikers stand outside with their women and take pictures on their cell phones to post on Facebook. After a long ride to Madrid, from Albuquerque, it makes a nice afternoon to have a few beers and tell biker stories before going home. On Monday, most of them will be wearing suits at a desk in City Hall or designing weapons to make a more peaceful world at Sandia Labs.

The mural painted on a wall outside the tavern sums the town up.

There are two dogs for each resident, horses and cowboys are allowed, and no one has to dress up or put on airs.

If I were a dog, I would want to live here too where there are no leashes, plenty of shade, free snacks from tourists and not a lot of traffic.

 

 

 

 

Lone some George – Galapagos Tortoise Sculpture donated to Fountain Hills Park

Lonesome George is a famous tortoise from the Galapagos Islands in the Pacific, many hundreds of miles off the Ecuador coast. He was the last of his species and died in 2012 at the ripe old age of 100, one of many species of living things to become extinct throughout the history of this planet Earth.

According to a recent television documentary, dedicated to George,there were efforts to find him a mate to continue his species, but it was a losing effort. Either George was too old, liked his own company too much, or just had those problems men get past the age of fifty.

How is it to live to a hundred years and be the last of your kind alive?

If George had had a video camera he would have been able to show his changing world. In his younger days, there would have been men in wood boats rowing to the island to collect his relatives for the soup pot. In later years there would have been processions of scientists with recording instruments taping wires on his back to follow his movements and record his vitals. These last days there were mostly noisy tourists with cameras and sunscreen, sunglasses and notebooks packed with observations..

George passed in 2012, and, in this local park, a local artist has donated a sculpture to his memory.

Lonesome George lived long enough to outlast his entire generation.

Whether he was really lonesome is something he never talked much about.

 

 

Frisbee Golf- Video Fountain Hills Park, Fountain Hills, Arizona

Golf, as invented in the Scottish countryside, used sticks and a ball.

Those old guys hit for a distant hole dug in the ground and added traps and water and hazards to make the game even harder than it is.They created a rule book and came up with tournaments and prizes to keep competition interesting and playing the game seem more noble than it actually is. Hitting a small ball with a stick with a club head, and getting it to go where you want it to, is a devilishly difficult skill.

Frisbee golf, as invented in our time, has recently become popular. There is a frisbee golf course around this Fountain Hills Lake and it features eighteen designated holes, some par three, par four, and par five. There are no traps but the goal is the same – get the ball around the course in the fewest amount of strokes, or throws.

These guys are practicing this morning for a Sunday tournament, and, by empty picnic benches, competitors are stretching, taking their frisbees out of Wal Mart tote bags and wiping them down with a clean rag.These two contestants tell me there are different sized frisbees for the different shots they have to make in a round. They  let me try my hand and toss one of their frisbees at a close by basket they are using to practice for their ten o clock tournament.

I give the frisbee a toss and manage to land it inside the little upright basket.

There is room in this world for ” frisbee golf. ”

After a round of ” frisbee golf ” I expect everyone  will easily be found at their ” nineteenth hole. ”

Drinking predates golf by thousands of years, and explaining why your score was so high is easier with a cold beer, chips and dip.

Whether it is real golf, or frisbee golf, GOLF is still a four letter word.

 

 

 

” The Fountain ” – Video Fountain Hills, Arizona

 

This morning, the Fountain goes off at nine sharp, when all the local businesses open. Ducks cruise past it like little feathered boats as a steady geyser of water is propelled several hundred feet into the air. 

I film the eruption from several directions and barely get it all into my camera viewfinder..

It is, as Chadd described it, ” very cool. ”

I’m not sure I would come to Fountain Hills just to see this fountain, but, being here, it is icing on the Fountain Hills cake.

I splash water on the my face to make sure this isn’t a mirage.

In the desert, you see lots of things that don’t seem to fit.

 

 

 

 

Camel Talk Smoking room, Santo Domingo Airport

Smoking has taken a beating in the United States.

Most smoking in America has been banned from public buildings. All tobacco packaging has to contain scientific warnings that tobacco products are not good for your health. Tobacco is taxed at an exorbitant rate. Television advertising of tobacco products has been curtailed drastically. Multi-million dollar lawsuits have awarded money to smoking victims in large class action health related lawsuits. Doctors advise all their clients to quit. Smoking in movies and on television by actors and actresses has trickled to a few puffs each season.

Camel cigarettes are one of the last surviving brands from the 1950’s.

As kids, we thought it funny to see the Camels on cigarette packs and wondered who would smoke them instead of Philip Morris, Lucky Strikes or Marlboro’s. The fifties were a smoking heyday with millions of vets acquiring the habit in the war and continuing when they got home. Our Dad smoked, but quit, once we were born, by eating tons of lifesavers he kept on a closet shelf where we couldn’t reach them. The Camels always made us think of the French Foreign Legion, men wearing funny hats fighting other men wearing funny hats.

In this Santo Domingo airport, on my way home, I find a plastic Camel lounging in a smoking room. It is a cool place to hang out while waiting for my plane to board and there are only a few people here this morning, a cleaning woman and a smoking man looking out the lounge window puffing intently on his Camel cigarette, the smoke making clouds in room thick enough to walk on.

Camels, might truly be cool, but I hear, from people who have lived with them, that they are nasty, have body order, and spit at people they don’t like.

Advertising always gets us to ignore product negatives,

I’m in this smoking room, hanging with a camel, and I don’t even smoke.

 

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