When recently I went browsing through my Gather archives (collected in The Magi Cafe), I was bemused to discover that to date I have posted approximately 160 photo-essays on Gather. These are mostly surreal essays, consisting of some 3,800 images in all. Of this number, about 1,800 photographs depict life as I found it in America. The United States images, to my surprise, easily outnumbered the 1,360 or so photos depicting aspects of living in Western Australia. As to be expected, the number of images focusing on the U.S.A. and those on W.A. were significantly more than those devoted to a third distinct locality: some 18 surreal photo-essays, consisting of 634 images, focused on England and France.
That's in the past! What now? Well, I think it's timely to share two back-to-back North American road trips undertaken during autumn with she who must be obeyed - that is, with she who is better known by the pseudonym of Bob. Why don't you hop in the back of the car and tag along? But do let there be no mistake about it! You are forewarned that these road trips mean accompanying none other than Sergeant-Major NoMercy O'Bess, the former scourge of the Royal Leprechaun Army's special forces boot camp.
As an aside, I note in passing that Bob's recent retirement from the Leprechaunia military brought to an end the boot camp's tough as nails show-and-tell sessions. Hitherto, under the Sergeant-Major's baleful eye, these had been conducted at the nightly humiliation known as Circle Time which, for quaking recruits, were dreaded times indeed. Thankfully, the Sergeant-Major's retirement saw those mortifying sessions consigned to special forces history. A highly classified history - as is Bob's former identity as Sergeant-Major NoMercy O'Bess ... a military secret that we won't share with others. After all, even despised former sergeant-majors deserve the chance for a new life as a born-again civilian ... albeit one fixated on undertaking marching marathons euphemistically termed as healthy exercise.
So it is that although we will mostly call her Bob, at times I will undoubtedly fall back into the unthinking habit of referring to her as the Sergeant-Major - an ambiguity that doesn't break military secrets but does help to explain at times Bob's fanatical obsession with route marching.
Via some of the 360 photographs contained within the 10 essays covering the two road trips we will occasionally record (but not be stupid enough to score) the Sergeant-Major's performance. Bear in mind, though, that each image has been altered, mainly accomplished by using Picasa but sometimes also by using Microsoft Paint as well to manipulate the images. Not a single image is as the eye would ordinarily see it.
But enough of my inane rambling. There are new adventures impatient to be had. These will be added to our growing list of accomplishments such as exploring the Roosevelt Campobello International Park, located on Campobello Island, Canada, just a stone's throw from Lubec - the U.S.A.'s easternmost border town. Many weary miles by car later, we reached the Canadian city of St John; and there we had a quick bo-peep at its reversing falls. We didn't hang about, though. After all, we still had the long miles to travel to almost the very top of the enormous Bay of Fundy. On the way we saw many a strange sight ... something to be expected when journeying with a Leprechaun.
When we finally arrived at our final destination late in the afternoon, we were well and truly whacked. But after a good night's sleep and a big breaky we set off for nearby Hopewell Rocks. There occurs, or so it is claimed, the greatest tidal variation on the planet. Well, we went there at both high and low tides. At low tide we walked on the ocean floor which, at high tide, was some thirty or forty feet under water. It was a blast. That experience was followed by many more long hours and miles on the road. Firstly to visit Prince Edward Island in search of a disturbed girl by name of Anne who spent her time dementedly painting all the gables green; and, secondly, then to drive home all the way to Massachusetts.
Having had a week to recover, we've decided to go visit squadron leader Dr John Beck - formerly a MASH flight surgeon and hot air balloon fighter pilot. Our good friend lives in Wisconsin ... in Door County where the fixated folk spend their earthly hours make all kind of doors - and their unearthly time in the flying saucer mother ship meditating on the philosophy and theology of doors.
But we decided to be transcendental about it all - to go via Niagara Falls, as one does when still punch drunk from a long road trip to Prince Edward Island. Although we looked forward to perhaps seeing Anne of Green Gables going over the falls in a barrel, luck wasn't with us. So we had to be content with looking at a sea of water tumbling into a giant spa at the bottom of the abyss. Alas, if only Anne had fronted up and gone over the falls in a barrel. But she didn't and we hit the long roads again, going westwards across Canada and then down into Michigan ... the back roads there took us to some interesting sights.
However we pressed on, eventually arriving on the shores of Lake Michigan, with Ludington being our jumping off point for crossing over the inland sea. Via a miracle wrought by a smiling face in the clouds, we managed to elude the torpedoes fired at us by the hunting U-boat wolf pack and arrived at the port of Manitowoc, Wisconsin. Whereas most gibbering survivors were led away to the nearby madhouse, we dodged the men in white coats carrying electric cattle prods and set out to explore Wisconsin's quirky fascination with doors.
Well, we didn't get to the bottom of door mania but we did have a wonderful time. With Dr John as our local guide, we explored near and far, experiencing all manner of things. But all good things must end. The time has come to trek all the way back to Massachusetts. So after a last farewell to John and an early night, we are up at dawn, ready to hit the road. Buckle up, and let's go.
They've got to be kidding Watch out for fog? The stuff is all around us as we head off.
Of course, a slippery roller coaster of a bridge, with just one lane each way, is just what we need.
Hopefully, the Holy Spirit wants an outing and will come along with us for the ride.
The crossing into Canada looms - of course, the U.S.A. has to lighten our wallet first.
Naturally, a border crossing without a rearing monster bridge is unthinkable.
Up, up and over - and I haven't got a head for heights.
Good God! A second vertigo-inducing bridge looms directly ahead. Will this agony never end?
We're on terra firma again. The flatter and firmer, the less the terror.
(See Engineering Equations for Young Leprechauns in the Mathematics of Road Terror Supplement at the very end of The Dead Sea Scrolls.)
A long train rumbles out of the unending rain as the hours roll slowly by. But at least the Canadian super highways have tarmac of a quality that the U.S. can only fantasize about, and the traffic is unbelievably light.
Them's the costs of pressing the right foot pedal to the floor.
Multiply this dollar figure by four and you get the cost of petrol per gallon.
An easing of the rain awhile back lulls us into a false sense of security until we see the black clouds ahead. Can we dodge them?
Well, we managed to miss the threatening rainstorm as for the first time we travel on a road needing some minor touching up. Could that be because it's near the border?
A terrifying one-lane-each-way bridge must endured to cross over into the U.S.A. Why do engineers do that to the traveling public? I loathe the buggers!
Followed by yet another high, narrow bridge.
Do not even contemplate doing a road trip in North America if heights are a worry. But if you set off anyway, fervent prayers to sweet Baby Jesus will become an almost daily event.
Here on a highway less traveled in the state of New York, we see many interesting sights not seen from the express highways. The back roads can be fascinating.
This house seen through rose coloured glasses is going cheap, methinks.
This backwoods town has seen much better days. The dwelling is falling into ruin.
This former Masonic hall is now a trading post for passersby. We didn't stop.
But we did stop at this diner for coffee and a snack - and the Sergeant-Major loved chatting with the table of deer head hunters inside.
Anyone interested in a restoration project? I thought not.
And here trots the 19th century down the road. Wisely keeping well to one side.
Yet only a short distance from the dying town we come across this one - it's thriving! Go figure that!
I love it!
Here New York state is bedecked in autumn glory. This would make a grand chocolate box cover.
All roads lead to Rome, and Fort Stanwix is here to keep the barbarians from the gate.
Ah, Rome, in New York State, is playing tricks with my eyes. But this is St Peter's Roman Catholic Church, across the wide field from Fort Stanwix.
Here frozen in time stands Brigadier-General Peter Gansevoort Jr who defended Fort Stanwix against the rampaging English Garden Gnomes.
(See the extensive synopsis of Royal Leprechaun Army Battle Heroes in the War for the New World Appendix in The Dead Sea Scrolls.)
We'd better get closer and check this out.
There you have it, a memorial to the Roman legions that kept America safe.
It's black and white that you're invited to make Rome your home. Do you speak Italian?
Could it be, could it be that after navigating past a lane closed for repairs that we will cross the border into Massachusetts?
Release a thousand doves - we are coming home at last.
Are you alert? Have you been on the road too long? What is wrong with this scene?
Of course, there is always one last bridge to cross - this one spans the upper Hudson.
And there's always one last toll to pay as well - the driving rain doesn't alter that.
Dial 855 for Truth (gender of this personage is unknown) and then dial 336 and ask John for a second opinion.
001 Niagara Falls