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 ultimately 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 let's be transcendental about all of this - we'll go via Niagara Falls, as one does when still punch drunk from a long road trip to Prince Edward Island. With a bit of luck we'll see Anne of Green Gables going over the falls in a barrel. Now that's something to look forward to - so hop in the car, buckle up and we'll hit the road to eventually find out the quirky fascination with doors.
(For a full explanation of this enigmatic scene, see English Garden Gnome Cohort (in a State) From York in the new abridged version of Roman Army Instructions for Welcoming Disaffected Leprechauns to the Empire as enumerated within Appendix Z, The Dead Sea Scrolls, paper back edition.)
Ask not for whom the bell tolls ... it tolls for thee! Dig deep!
Confronting us is stark evidence of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' adept use of their funky Meccano set to construct this bridge across the upper Hudson River.
It is certain that one onta Exit 25A to Rotterdam is a lonesome journey. Try Exit 26.
It is written that Exit 27 will lead to enigmatic 30 and tulips in Amsterdam.
On each life's journey a little rain will fall. Please just don't let it pour.
But soon enough as we whiz along the highway we duck out from under the threatening black clouds and marvel at the autumn colours flying by.
A spontaneous pit stop acquaints us with the cuisine of chef Mohawk O'Station, an honorary Leprechaun on his mother's side.
Mohawk's name is proudly above the bar, indicating that no English Garden Gnomes are welcome here. All such EGGs, no matter how hard boiled, are soon all aboard the dearly departed express.
An E-zpass for scudding clouds ensures that rain on Niagara will fall.
Approaching drunk Niagara, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' mastery of the Meccano set is proudly displayed.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has recently issued a warning to kids with Meccano sets: Don't try building this at home.
With rose coloured glasses firmly on, any accommodation at Falling Niagara looks as if it has stood for a thousand years and will perhaps stand for one night more.
Weary from countless miles and hours on the road, you too could end up in a hotel with stunning car park views such as this.
And from such an inn, where there is always room, you too could be walking along drenched, deserted streets.
And you too could soon be hallucinating.
And lonesome eateries such as this will tempt you ... to walk quickly by.
And you too will not dare to ask what this is.
But with our rose coloured glasses once more firmly on, this monolith monument to mediocrity almost seems arty. Of course, the same cannot be said for the food hall and over priced stalls inside the building.
Let there be arty farty! The Sergeant-Major marches resolutely into the post-Apocalypse dusk. It doesn't get more arty than that!
Why are they hurrying .... what do they know that we don't?
All are hurrying here to see this arty scene of the turbulent waters leading us to the tumbling falls.
Oh, oh, the abyss looms.
The beast is roaring.
One hell of a spa!
Anyone for a swim?
In the washing machine abyss, toy boats bob in the swirling soap suds.
Those suffering from vertigo are wise to keep away from the edge.
Yes, Lady, don't look to the left - or the beast will grab and devour you.
Taking more toll on the wallet.
Why is there a traffic jam of cars trying to cross the Niagara bridge into the U.S.A. while we're the only bunnies bent on crossing into Canada?
Just across the bridge as elsewhere, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
To bridge the void is an awesome thing.
Here the Sergeant-Major takes one last shot for the road.
Could this be the mysterious scribe of The Dead Sea Scrolls?