I went for a fun roadtrip to Safford last Sunday, inspired by Hot Springs & Hot Pools of the Southwest, a book I had purchased months ago and never used. What a great trip! What a good book! The pools I visited were as-described (except for one spa that was closed) and the directions were nearly perfect. Out of respect for the authors and their right to make a living, I won't give the directions to the less-well-publicized pools here--you have to have at least enough initiative to go to the library to look them up.
Anyway, I started the trip at about 6:45 a.m. with the idea that I would go to Whitewater Draw to check out the birds before it was too hot. I arrived there around 7:30 or so and I hadn't beat the heat, but along with a bunch of killdeer and red-winged blackbirds all over the place, there was a great horned owl in the barn. It was beautiful and it was not very shy. And it had deposited a good number of castings in the straw below, which I gathered up and took to the car.
In case you don't know what an owl casting is, it's a regurgitated pellet of bone, fur, and/or feathers--the non-meat of whatever the owl's been eating. Owls don't have gizzards that grind food up as chickens do; owls have gizzards in which the edible part of the prey animal is more or less dissolved but the other stuff stays undamaged. These pellets, or castings, can be taken apart to find out what the owl has been eating. If this is sort of yucky to you, here's a site where you can do a virtual casting dissection. Ain't life grand??
From beautiful Whitewater Draw, I was off to Highway 10, where I would finally succumb to the siren song of "The Thing."
Nestled in the spectacular Texas Canyon area of Highway 10, The Thing is a roadside attraction/eyesore that is difficult to top for audacity of hype. There must be a dozen billboards across Arizona loudly and obnoxiously touting this display, but the stretch of highway that it sits on wasn't one on which I had ever traveled, being able to avoid it by getting on Highway 10 to Tucson about 30 miles west and getting on the same highway toward Safford about 20 miles east. From where I live, it took a special trip to get to The Thing. I didn't expect it to be much. It wasn't.
Here's how it works. You stop at the store above and give a dollar to the woman behind the counter (the store is a true tourist trap--every inch covered with overpriced Chinese stuff that no one needs and most people wouldn't even want. The woman directs you to a door and tells you to follow the footprints on the sidewalk. These lead through some long buildings that are, ostensibly, a museum. HAHAHAHAHA. To its credit, the museum housed one display that was worth seeing. This display was of poorly handcarved lifesized people being tortured in several different ways. I couldn't stop myself from shaking my head and loudly
squawking "WHY? WHY?"
This display by Ralph Gallagher is a graphic illustration of the sad truth that even an enormous amount of interest and dogged single-minded application will not make up for a total lack of talent.
Continued on July 29. The picture below is entitled "The Things."
Saints o' the Day include Kilian (patron saint of Austria and whitewashers), Coloman, Totnan, Aquila, Prisca, Procopius, Withburga, Adrian III, Grimbald, Sunniva, and Raymond of Toulouse.
Birthdays today include Kevin Bacon, Kim Darby, and Anjelica Houston.