It’s an annual event in Elkins. There’s a carnival and a parade and a celebration of mountain living. I have not attended in a very long time. I remember it being very cold at that time of year. Nope. Global warming, the leaves are still all green. I don’t remember the rides much. They are $4 a ride now. And there are the ducks. They sit in the water. You turn one over and everyone wins. That was my favorite. I liked to be winner. Nope, I still don’t gamble. And, you gotta love rides that spin your brains.
I walked on the beach. It was a balmy 78 degrees. It’s not what you get in the Red Sea in Jeddah. There, it is 100 and scorching about anytime you stand in the sun. Of course the water is warm and fish are waiting. Not so here, it’s about 70 at its warmest. That is toe dipping water for me. And the beach is typically like the desert. No coral no fish – fish need coral mutually. So, no diving. Surfing is a possibility. For now my dive gear is in storage. I like warm water. I was spoiled by the Red Sea. So I will find other things to photograph. Finally!
Hey! A spider on its web! Big and ugly, did I tell you I don’t like bugs? It was hard to shoot. The darn web was moving in the wind. It was just like underwater where everything is moving too. I’d have tried for better detail but I was not too committed to the shot. After all it’s big and ugly. But, spiders gotta eat too. This web looked functional more than artistic.
Bowden Fish Hatchery. I haven’t been here in a long time. Yes, it’s been decades. I’m surprised it’s still going. They raise trout for release into local streams to stock and replenish. It’s a nice program. People follow the trucks with fishing poles to catch the fish as they are released. I guess trout are good eating too. They grow the fish in large runways filled with juvenile fish. The fish grow until quite large.
As an aside I am the worst fisherman ever. I could drop my hook next to a fish (I have) and fail to catch it. It’s neat to see that some things have not changed from my childhood.
I lived in Elkins, West Virginia more than 50 years ago. Everyone has gone and moved away. The town is so small. I remember it larger. Maybe my legs were shorter. Surprisingly buildings remain and I can remember the people who once lived there.
My third grade school, Elkins First Ward, is now an apartment building. Repurposed and re-tasked, the town has changed so that the number of students has dropped and shifted. The high school nearby is gone too. Third grade to sixth grade. I had a split class in fourth grade. Half were fourth grade students (us) and the other half of the class was fifth grade. We still got educated “good.”
My house – back then – my mom built it. Well, at least she directed the construction. Three bedrooms, we lived there for five years. I lay in the side yard looking up at the clouds and thinking my parents were so old. The summers were endless. Kids in the neighborhood would surround the house and we’d play steal the flag. It’s fifty years later and no tall trees overhang the house. It hasn’t changed too much.
Anne Leyen lived here. She moved to Ohio shortly after I moved back to New York. I tried to reach her. I just wanted to know if she has had a nice life. Her sister eventually replied that Anne does not do reunions and does not do email. Oh boy, I guess she’s older than I thought. Twitter? Her dog Taffy shit in the front yard. We stepped gingerly around her yard.
The Nestors lived here. The youngest daughter painted my brother Eric completely with white house paint. Eric took a bath in turpentine. I can’t imagine it was healthy. The paint eventually came off.
Ricky Solow lived here. He was bigger than me so that put me behind him in the pecking order of kids. Eventually I triumphed – brains over brawn. But the chips you have as a kid you never leave completely behind. We watched Kennedy debate Nixon. I was annoyed because cartoon programming was suspended.
The Trimble house, they lived here a while. It was right across from the school. Colleen invited me to play one day. All I remember is the three speed English racer her brother had in the hallway. Yes, back then it was forward to invite a boy over to play. It’s a nice memory that sat with me more than fifty years. The house changed a lot, but it’s still there. And my memory has mellowed quite a bit too. I rode a Roadmaster Sears one speed. The English racer was so exotic. I ride a Specialized Tricross nowadays. And Colleen remembered that I nearly fell out of the back seat of my father’s car when we were kids. Someone else pulled me back inside and my father drove on without ever checking. No harm, no foul.
I missed the jumping. We wandered into a college competition late. It’s a sport with which I’m unfamiliar. Seriously, there are folks who dress the part and then participate. I’m afraid I’m not sympathetic. Certainly the competitors are serious. I’m struggling to make sense of it myself. Sorry, I suppose there is beauty in training a horse to perform on command. It’s called training and art for the sake of mastery. Oh boy. I’m just poking fun at their expense. Not fair. I was an intruder in a foreign culture. There are purists and elitists out there who will defend the sport. I’m not one. One more pound and you don’t button that last one. Watch out!
Imagine, all these years and I’ve never had any. At this point in life I hardly need a new sin. Kettle corn has not been on my radar. Those in the know recommend it. I’m hooked now. It’s hot and when the popping begins be sure to wear a helmet and gloves for protection. Sugar caramelizes on the bottom of a heated kettle. The coated corn is reminiscent of Cracker Jacks but less cloying. Add a little salt to finish and the product is hard to resist. May I have some more please?
It’s entirely different when you are a patient. Ordinarily I see patients. When I sit in the other chair, suddenly I am not in control. Recently I asked my ophthalmology buddy about a line I was seeing in my right eye visual field. It was on the lens of my eye and moved as I turned my head or my eye. It was stable. It bothered me because it looked like something moving across my field of view. No big deal I had it checked. I got the full exam. I just wanted to know if there was a spot on the lens of my eye. Taking no chances, Rida gave me the whole exam including a retinal scan and optic nerve scan. The ophthalmology guys have some of the neatest toys. I was blind after being dilated. I could not see in the bright light. No problem. It wore off. I’m fine. And yes, it’s way better to give than receive. I passed the tests. My kids won’t believe me. They have said that I’ve been impaired for a while. Hey! I passed and I have the paper to prove it.
Imagine (nightmare) turning your pet loose on the tarmac of the Jeddah airport. At the terminal you are taken by bus and walk the tarmac upstairs to board. I can tell you the process. I know the steps. And at the very last, just before the accept your precious pet, there will be one last paper to file or fill or a stamp you failed to attain. Imagine all of that and trying to get you and your tech out of the country? I was warned and luckily did not try it. Thank goodness!
Here’s what I know. US Customs will accept your pet without quarantine if certain steps are followed. There are forms to be obtained. And there are state forms needed. There is a website and for $15 you can get the forms. Or you can get them direct but you might miss a form. You need a health certificate from a Saudi vet. The pet needs a chip. A rabies vaccine must be administered at least 30 days in advance. The airline requires specific travel crates. The Department of Agriculture must examine and approve the export one week before the flight. You must visit airline cargo one day in advance of travel and be approved. You go to the airport early on the day of the flight and check your pet at the check-in counter. Good luck! There are simply too many moving parts. Anyone, anywhere along the line can foul up the whole process. I’m glad I gave up. I just imagined opening the travel crates on the tarmac and that was enough.
Traumatic!? You bet. I released Casi and Lulu on Thursday afternoon. My flight was at 6AM Friday. I was not about to chase two cats at 2AM before I left for the airport. I nudged Casi at the door and off she went. I never saw her again. She seemed a bit surprised but more than willing to brave the heat of Jeddah. Lulu left me shaking. She was not going. She did not understand. And she fought me tooth and claw. It was one of the saddest things I ever did. I caught her up in a big towel and got her out the door. That evening she peered at me from the bushes but would not come near. The hardest thing was not being able to explain that I was leaving. At least she’s safe in the compound. I hope.