Episode Nine : Both Amazed and Abhorred with the Artistry of Aliens
Destination: New Orleans, Louisiana
Florida is so in the past, man … they be in Naw-lens now. Soon after their arrival, Dan and Greg set out for the French Quarters. However, to be allowed entrance, a rite of passage must be performed in the dreaded Voodoo Garden. First, Voodoo dolls are quickly thrown together by the “gardeners”, dolls that are comedic representations of the travelers, over-exaggerating Greg’s floppy ears and Dan’s flaring nostrils. Secondly, a show must be put on with the dolls such that the audience of the twelve “gardeners” are brought to tears. With that accomplished, D and G are allowed to stay in the garden and feast upon the much anticipated Jambalaya.
Little does Dan know that his fascination with miniature facsimiles of himself will soon be crushed
With food in their bellies and the sting of habanera peppers still on their lips, they head out towards Bourbon Street. Apparently, Mardi Gras is not a single celebration but rather a series of celebrations that last well into the summer. The people are jovial, the beads fly through the air with wings of their own, and Superman has finally made his return.
Dan finally meets his American Idol
But what is New Orleans really about?....jazz. To the Maison Bourbon they go, a brick building that shouts out some good ol’ Dixieland Jazz into the streets. Dan and Greg don’t often feel enough like tourists, so they get their picture taken by the waitress while in front of the crowd with the band jammin’ behind them.
(People laughing at the two goof-balls standing up by the stage not shown)
The night is long, the morning comes too soon, and before they know what is happening, Greg and Dan find themselves traveling through the state where everything is bigger (but not necessarily better).
Destination: Carlsbad, New Mexico
Texas is a huge state, and with the will to push onward towards the caverns in Carlsbad, only two days are spent driving through it. On the evening of the second day, New Mexico’s Carlsbad Cavern National Park is reached. This region offers a slightly different camping option: “There is no where to go, just head out into the desert, find a flat spot, and don’t get bitten by a rattlesnake”. That’s it? Piece of cake. A camping permit is obtained for the dreaded Rattlesnake Canyon, a place where ten foot long snakes with five foot fangs and a mean disposition live. Here Dan shouts his “Rattlesnakes be Ware” cry.
(Shortly after this photo is taken, Dan’s echo nearly scares him to death)
The rattlesnakes hear the cry and decide not to hide, but to come out and play. This photo is taken of the one snake encountered while heading down into the canyon. It is very close to the hikers, and Greg’s Kung-Fu demonstration is sufficient to scare the snake away. Note the scale shown below the picture.
( |----------------| = 18 feet)
The evening is spent sleeping on a reasonably flat area of fist sized rocks, not bad for desert standards. The stars that come out once the sun goes down are spectacular. The milky way is in clear view and satellites have the best view yet while spying on the two travelers.
The following morning abruptly begins when the sun shines just over the canyon ridge and begins to melt the tent away. Up and at em’, a 1.5 mile hike back to the car, and off to the caverns.
The Carlsbad caverns are awesome, namely the Big Room, which is, well, I guess for lack of a better word, big. Here is Greg executing a beautiful pirouette in front of the “Theatre”, a small hole on the cavern wall displaying small stalactite-stalagmite formations.
The “Theatre”, naturally, inspires a dance
Dan, however, does not take well to the breadth of the caverns. Being 750 feet underground frightens him like nothing else. Of course, it doesn’t help that Greg keeps using his ventriloquist abilities to throw his voice and make it sound as if Crazed Cavern Trolls are sneaking up behind Dan at every given moment.
“Hey everyone, it’s that crazy, kooky guy, Severely-Frightened Dan”
Much of the cavern floor is very pliable material, especially for those lucky individuals with psychokinesis (or rather, Jedi Mind powers, for the laymen). Greg and Dan practice these mind powers frequently, usually with bubbles or helium balloons. In the picture below, Greg is using his mind to form these calcium deposits, which under normal conditions take thousands of years to form.
Greg’s Jedi Mind Trick called Stalactite Formation Fastforward
With the caverns having been experienced, Dan and Greg get back into the Civic and head a few hours north towards their last New Mexican destination…
Destination: Roswell, New Mexico
Minor history lesson: Roswell was the location of an alien crash site back in the early 1940’s. The government tried desperately to cover it up, calling it a crashed weather balloon. Now there is a museum that discusses the event, as well as other supernatural phenomenon. Here is Dan investigating the Crop Circle wall. He is either (1) scoffing at the actuality of artistic aliens, (2) upset not to find a picture of his crop circle that he created in the Cal Poly corn field , or (3) giving a high-five to an invisible alien who allegedly followed us out the Carlsbad caverns.
Crop Circles ? …. Ah fooey.
One of the practices of the museum is to display artifacts of the utmost authenticity. In 1980, an actual alien spacecraft was donated by the S.I.S.S.S.H.A.A. (Superior in Intellect but Slightly Smaller in Stature than Humans, Alien Association). Also obtained by the museum was a mummified alien body, before the ban on poaching aliens was imposed in 1949. Here is Greg seen with these rare items.
Greg trying not to touch the weird Stuffed-Alien-on-a-Stick
One service that the museum provides is the actual autopsy of an alien body (they have dozens of them shipped on ice from Russia on a daily basis). The security is pretty tight, however, while watching the autopsy. Dan gets a little into it, probably from watching Men in Black too many times, and actually prevents his cohort, Greg, from getting a good photo of the alien’s exposed inners.
“No photos please! This is a serious alien autopsy! Seriously.”
The alien autopsy viewing leaves Dan and Greg, well, hungry. So off they go to find a decent lunch. Afterwards they get back on the freeway and head north towards Colorado.
Destination: Denver, Colorado
The destination in Denver is specifically the apartment of Abby Bolt, a high school peer of Dan Macy who was recently befriended by Greg while in Minnesota. Abby lives with two others, Nader and Larissa, and the three generously lend a small three square foot space in their storage room for Greg and Dan to sleep at while standing.
The second night is spent in the mountains two hours west of Denver. The evening is a little wet, but with a warm fire, a martini and a smoked pear, nothing can ruin it.
Abby, Greg, Nader, and Dan … feelin’ some nature
The following day, a hike is in store, as a matter of enjoying the Rocky Mountains. After about three miles and a couple thousand feet of vertical, Greg begins to lose sense of his whereabouts. Here is a picture that represents Greg’s delusional thoughts of him and Dan flying over the Continental Divide.
Greg and Dan looking the wrong way and totally missing the view of the Continental Divide
A few more days are spent in Denver, filled with relaxing days, a few movies, and some good home-cooked meals. After some sob-filled good byes, Dan and Greg pack up and organize the car. Once again, they are on the road and heading west towards the beauty of southern Utah.
... stay tuned for the FINAL EPISODE, a journey through the National Park that is Zion, a canyon Grander than Rattlesnake canyon, and homeward bound...
See the intro again.