Thursday, August 4, 2011

July 31, 2011 - A Galaxy Far, Far Away...

So I've made a few trips around the world, most recently all the way to India. While I've been relaxing in my cage after hours, I've started a habit of staring off into the stars of space.  I've wondered about traveling out there and visiting distant galaxies.  When I researched space travel I found a lot of references to epic battles and beautiful worlds of a galaxy far, far away.  The technology of planets and people was so advanced it seemed strange to me that they would be listed as a "long time ago..."
Since my interest was peaked, I bought my ticket on the last flight out on the Atlantis. Once the crew docked at the International Space Station I awaited the arrival of the Intergalatic Tourism Starship.  Most people don't know they exist, in fact, online it was difficult to find a site that I could buy tickets, but I got them. And soon enough I was boarding my galactic tour bus.
The pilot intructed us to remain seated while in the flight and miraculously soon we were passing Mars, Jupiter, and quickly past Pluto. In fact, I had only started to doze when the pilot explained that we would now be entering hyperspace and in just a few hours would be arriving near the planet Alderaan. I gasped as the G-force took us to hyperspeed, or maybe I just gasped from the excitement of it all...
Once we came out of hyperspace, near what the pilot had explained would be the planet Alderaan, we could all tell something was wrong. First of all, we heard a loud explosion and felt the forceful waves push us past what appeared to be a very large spaceship.  The pilot described it as a Death Star.  I accepted that name easily, since it looked to my little self as capable of using a planet as a soccerball. The pilot explained that sadly, the planet Alderaan can no longer be visited and that we would move to the next tourist attraction, Coruscant.
As we traveled in hyperspace, I read the tourist pamphlet about Coruscant. It is a planet covered completely by one city! Wow, I thought New York was huge when I visited it, I wondered how Coruscant will be. I wondered if they called it the Big, Big Apple...
We came out of hyperspace and I looked at the planet.  It truely was just a giant city.  I decided I would love to check out the highlighted touring spots.  First the Jedi Temple, and then over to the Senate Chambers.  It was all so incredible, with ships flying all over the place and somehow never quite hitting each other. The Jedi were very kind and showed me their library.  Wow! I love my library, but I have to say, this library was larger than any I've seen and had the most incredible books! They called them holocrons but for you all to understand, its like and incredible 3D e-book!
The pilot called us back and we took off towards Kashyyyk. 
The planet was home to a tall ape-like, or I'd say bear-like, species called Wookies. The planet was one giant forest with trees as tall as skyscrapers. I loved the trees most of all. I love climbing and I could climb all day and never reach the top.  It was so fun and the Wookies were so kind, although I could never understand what they were saying...
We next took off towards Tatooine. I wasn't sure if I'd like this part of the tour since it just sounded like a deserty, arid land mass. When we landed in the airport I thought, I might never find a more wretched hive of scum and villany than this place. Everyone seemed angry and uptight.  Then I saw these guys stomping around in their white armored suits and I figured they must be the cause.  They looked super intense!

I was surprised to find that on this planet was an incredible experience called Pod Racing. I checked it out and wow, you need to see this if you ever get the chance!  Those pod racers were moving so fast even with my quick reflexes I couldn't even tell where they were most of the time!  It was way fun!
Too quickly our trip took us away again, and although I had to soak in the onboard jacuzzi for awhile because of my poor dried out skin, I did enjoy Tatooine.
Our last stop on the trip was a forest moon of a planet called Endor. I was really intrigued by this place because it was a moon with life on it.  I always think of moons as being like our moon with nothing really on them except maybe that man on the moon... 
Turns out, there is this amazing teddybear-like species on this moon called Ewoks. I couldn't help myself, I wanted to take a bunch of them home with me! The had a big woodland party and I loved the fun and games.  Then it was time for us to go home.  I got on the plane and fell asleep before the pilot was able to say buckle up...
Once I got back to our solar system and docked on the space station, it seemed that I had missed my flight from the station to Earth. I was worried, that was the last ship that would be coming for some time! I panicked until I realized I had bought a souvenier on my trip that might help me.  I put on the oversized white armor suit that said was "spaceworthy" and worked the controls as it guided me down to earth.  That was one awesome trip, and I have possibly the most impressive souvenier that all my reptilean friends will be super jealous of!
Next time I go on an intergalactic trip I soooo need to visit a place I read about that was a planet covered in swamp. It is muggy, wet, full of trees and swamp, and everything I could ever hope for! Gotta remember about Dagobah....

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

July 1, 2011 - Delhi, India

After a successful visit to the Big Apple, I thought I would be a little more adventurous and travel nearly half-way around the world to …India! 
I landed in Delhi in the middle of the night.   The heat and humidity were wonderful (maybe not for you humans, but great for a Chinese Water Dragon).  I thought New York was crowded, but it was nothing compared to Delhi.  I hitched a ride through the airport on a suitcase cart so that I wouldn’t get stepped on.

I took an auto rickshaw to my hotel for the night.   A tip for you if you ever travel on roads in India – hold on tight and close your eyes.  The traffic “rules” seem to be flexible and drivers are aggressive!

The next morning I set off for Agra and the Taj Mahal.  I hitchhiked with some tourists in their air-conditioned tour bus.  It was a long, bumpy, dusty, slow drive. 
When we got to Agra, I snacked on some local delicacies for lunch – some naan bread with tikka masala and vindaloo.   A little too spicy for my taste; I look forward to some nice crunchy crickets when I get back to Kearns.

The Taj Mahal was crowded with tourists from around the world. 
This amazing memorial was built in the 1600’s by Shah Jahan after the death of his wife.  It was a long walk for my short legs from the gate through the gardens and past the reflecting pools to the actual tomb. 
The colorful saris of the women were a bright contrast to the white marble of the Taj Mahal.  Everyone had to take off their shoes before climbing the platform to the main tomb.  The inlay designs were amazing!  Inside the tomb, I climbed up the wall to get a closer look.
After taking in the view across the river, I took an auto rickshaw over to the Agra Fort. 
Just outside the fort there was a snake charmer.  Although snakes are my distant cousins, I gave him a wide berth.   I wanted to make it back to Kearns, not be someone’s dinner.  The fort was amazing.  It was huge!  There was a great view back toward the Taj Mahal from inside the fort.  There were also monkeys inside the fort – a couple got too close for my comfort.  I’m looking forward to getting back to my safe cage back in Utah.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

June 1, 2011 - New York City, New York

First day of the library's Summer Reading Program and the theme is about travel. Just my luck cause you all know how much I love to travel! This time I've decided to go to the biggest city in the United States - New York City!  With over 8,000,000 people I am sure to have an exciting time.  I just hope I don't get stepped on! 

The plane ride was fun, and looking out the window was fascinating.  First there were the Rocky Mountains, then the plains of the Midwest, then the lights of the big Eastern cities filling the sky.  The food wasn't too hot, but I was too excited to eat!

Kennedy Airport was crazy.  Hailing a taxi is NOT easy when you're a small Chinese water dragon.  None of the taxi drivers noticed me, so I ended up waiting for over two hours.  Good thing it was raining or I would have been very dehydrated.  I finally arrived at my nice Times Square hotel, where I finally fell asleep, entertained by the bright lights and hustle and bustle of the busiest spot in New York City.   Can't wait to get out there and explore!

My first day was awesome. I decided to take a ferry out New York Harbor to Liberty Island and see the Statue of Liberty up close and personal.  Lady Liberty was looking pretty spiffy, and I decided to tackle all 354 stairs up to the top of her crown.  Looking out I could see the skyline of New York across the harbor.  What a sight.  My little legs were already complaining but I had a lot more ground to cover, so I hopped back on the ferry and then took subway north to the World Trade Center, where I spent time reflecting on lives lost and on the bravery of so many people.  Next stop was the Empire State Building, where I took the elevator (no stairs this time!) to the top, where sunset gave me the most amazing view of the skyscrapers and beyond.  What a place!  By this time I was ready to go back to my hotel and soak my feet.  Ahhh, the water feels great, but will I ever be able to walk again?

The next day I took in a fun baseball game at Yankee Stadium.  Those Yankees are doing great and are in first place in American League East right now.  They were playing the Red Sox.  I cheered along with everybody else (for both teams - didn't care who won!).  I'm sorry to report that I ate way too much, and the hot dogs, popcorn and peanuts didn't do much for my figure.  Hope I can fit into my cage when I get back!  

Central Park was next on my list, and I spent another day giving my lizard legs a workout.  It was so fun to see all those usually so super-busy New Yorkers relaxing and enjoying themselves.  Families were flying kites, having picnics and playing baseball.  There were lots of great musicians to listen to, but I had to watch my step, as the skateboarders and rollerbladers were all over the place.  I couldn't believe how huge the park is  - 843 acres, or 6 miles around it! 

No way could I see the whole place, but what I saw of it was awesome.  The lakes and ponds were perfect for a cooling swim, and the green lawns made a great place to take a quick nap.  Last day is tomorrow!

Before I left for home, I decided I need to see some great art, so I spent the day at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  With over 2 million works of art in one building I had my work cut out for me.  My favorites?  Impossible to say, as I was equally awed by the Picassos, Rembrandts, Sargents, Rubins, Vermeers, etc. etc.  I think I'll try my hand at painting when I get back home.  I think I'd be pretty good, especially after seeing all the good examples by the masters! 

It is nice to be back home in my cage.  I think I'll check out some books on New York City to relive my good times there.  Good thing my home is in the library!  (Click here to put a great book on hold)Being an armchair traveler sounds pretty good to me, at least until I get my next travel bug. 

Thursday, April 21, 2011

April 24, 2011 - New Orleans, Louisiana

It's getting towards the end of April, and I still keep feeling the cold blow through the doors from all the winter weather here in Kearns. Time for another trip, it's Spring Break! 
I have been just itching to get out of Utah and go see some more great places.  I was browsing online again on my silver laptop. I wanted to go somewhere with lots of water, fun, and enough humidity for my comfort.  What I came up with was Louisiana. Surprised? So was I. It wasn't till I started researching Louisiana that I found out why my search had led me there.  Very humid climate, with one of the largest rivers in the world, and a town known for its fun and parties. New Orleans here I come!

First thing I wanted to try out was the historical and famous boats skimming the surface of the Mississippi river.  Would you believe they still have steamboats running up and down the Mississippi?! It's like right out of Huckleberry Finn!  Being a literary addict, I was thrilled to ride on the helm of the wonderful boat!

After a wonderful afternoon riding the high seas... or rivers in this case, I decided it was time to try out some of that Cajun cooking I'd
read about. Nothing prepared me for the wonderfully spicy food I would taste. 
Now I'm sure you humans reading this may love that spice, but I'll stick to crickets! And what would you know? They have Cajun crickets as well!  I tried 12 before my mouth actually lit on fire from the spice and I had to dunk myself in the water glass of the gentleman beside me. (I never could figure out why he asked the waiter for a different glass after that...)
After the delicious food, I headed out for a night on the New Orleans town. I had no idea what to expect! The music was coming from every restaurant. It was as tasty as the food! The world was a bright as if the sun was still up, and I couldn't help but dance a little myself.

I was having so much fun I didn't realize I had wandered back out onto the river.  The river called out to me and I dove in for a late night swim. As I was swimming, something large paddled toward me in the water.  Terrified, I practically ran across the top of the water to the shore.  Good thing I did. No sooner did I get to land, I ran up a tree and a giant American Alligator chomped at the tree trunk below me! I'd never seen a lizard so huge! He must eat 10,000 crickets a day to get that big! Or maybe it's something in that Cajun cookin'?
 It was time to go home to my safe terrarium where there is no such thing as giant lizards trying to eat me!

I headed home, taking another steamboat ride up the river of course, till I reached St. Louis.  From there, I hitched a flight home and scurried to my safe haven. I got home, took a long nap of course... my little legs were tired after such a scare. Then I logged on my Facbook to check on my friends. 
Next trip, I'm going somewhere where I don't have to run from predators! Travel is fun, but not when you're only covering turf cause someone's gonna eat you if you don't!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

April 2, 2011 - Palm Beach, Florida

April 2, 2011
Being a small reptile who lives in a library, and having the unique reptilian ability to read and surf the internet, I had recently found myself aching to visit some of the wonderful places I had seen and read about. 
I almost lost my wanderlust when we experienced an unusually warm, summer day as April began.  But true to the strange weather of this desert state, the ground was soon covered in a blanket of winter snow. I left as soon as I felt the chill coming down from the north and scurried onto a plane headed for the warmest state that first came to my mind; Florida!

First time I read about Florida, I fell in love. Palm Beach, to be exact, and it seemed just the perfect place for a little guy who loves warm, humid climates with lots of places to sunbathe and play water polo.
Right as I got off the plane, I knew I’d made the right choice.

I had dreamed about staying in the Ritz-Carlton and get a place with my own private balcony, but it turns out the Ritz does not have rooms for scaly critters like myself… that and I had failed to bring money with me.  Not that a lizard would have money, but the cashier was unimpressed with my empty pockets.
I moved on to the one place I’d wanted to visit when I first learned of Palm Beach, the Calypso Bay Waterpark!  I almost jumped in the air when I saw the wonderful waterslides and all around wetness in the park.  After spending most of the day moving from basking in the sun and racing through waterslides, I was a very tired little dragon and needed a place to rest.  I found that place in the Busch Wildlife Sanctuary. 
 I entered the park and was met with the wonderful array of animal sounds that reminded me of my birthplace in Brazil.  As I heard the sound of a large bird of prey, I quickly remembered that in a place like this, a little lizard like me is no longer a tourist and I scurried under a nice warm rock and went straight to sleep.
After enjoying all of the wonderful sights of Palm Beach, I found that it was time to go home. I climbed up into a plane heading back to Salt Lake and fell asleep immediately as the plane took off.  (Those who know me, may know that I am very fond of my sleep)  I arrived in Salt Lake and was met with a burst of cold air.  Oh well, at least my house is perfectly comfortable.  And I hurried back to my comfy habitat and to my computer to catch up on all the FB news that I’d missed while on my trip.