|Lion Country Safari, I'm the California-sun bleached-blondie at the back|
Since my father was in the U.S. Navy we've been around the country a bit. Born in Newfoundland we drove to Minnesota when I was only 13 months old. From there it was a few years in Washington state and then a few in California. Lots of places visited there, including trips across the border to Mexico and local attractions from Disneyland to Lion Country Safari which closed in 1984. Here's an infamous news story from 1978:
Bubbles emerged from her watery hideout a few days into her escape, and was greeted with a tranquilizer dart. She crumpled to the ground. Three rangers approached, and one tapped her with a wooden pole."Bubbles roused with a mighty snort," the Orange County Register newspaper reported, "and promptly treed two rangers and sent the third scampering." Bubbles flicked her tail and rumbled back into the pond."
For 19 days, Bubbles wallowed in her pond as news helicopters clattered overhead and highway patrol officers directed traffic on nearby roads. She refused to budge even when rangers baited a huge net with her favorite food, alfalfa. And then, as night fell on her 19th day of freedom, Bubbles pulled herself out of the shallows and wandered up a nearby hill. A ranger approached her in the dark and shot her with two tranquilizer darts. She staggered for a few more steps before her knees gave out and she collapsed.
A veterinarian arrived and gave her a dose of a potent calming drug. The cheering and backslapping of her capture soon turned to disbelief and then tears as the park rangers realized that Bubbles had stopped breathing. One of the rangers reached down and tried to close her eyes, then covered her body with a blanket. The official story from Lion Country Safari has always been that Bubbles fell in an awkward position on the hill, and her heavy internal organs pressed against her lungs, suffocating her. But the lead ranger that night, Steve Clark, has long maintained that it was the veterinarian's drug - administered needlessly and carelessly, he says - that killed Bubbles. A heavy-duty earthmover carried Bubbles back to Lion Country Safari, where an necropsy found she had been pregnant with her second calf.
|The Grand Canyon 1976, check out those shades my mom was wearing!|
But it was the big move from California to Illinois that I remember the most with stops at impressive destinations like the Grand Canyon and Las Vegas. We stayed at Circus Circus where I won prizes at the kiddie games and my mom let me sneakily pull the handle on a slot machine. It was where I also almost drowned in the hotel swimming pool. I was a good swimmer, but exhaustion took hold and I was too tired to even shout as I went under, but someone noticed and dived in to get me.
|Las Vegas 1976|
Of course there were plane trips to Newfoundland, but my travel memories center around those car trips: lying in the back seat and sneaking off the seat belt that I wasn't used to wearing, collecting souvenirs like giant pencils and beaded bags, seeing natural wonders that made me want to know what else was out there and learning so much about people and how it's okay to be different.
|Me and Mom, Niagra Falls 1979 - no sun there!|
And my love of photography? Maybe that sprouted from those early travels as well, where we documented where we went and the fun we had. I got my first camera for an 8th grade graduation present, I think it was a Kodak Instamatic 110 with those little flashcubes. Not very many of those pictures were anything worth keeping, but I remember the excitement while opening the package after they were developed and flipping through them, not knowing what I was going to see and what memory would suddenly be mine to relive.
|My dad, Columbia River|