We had been on the road for twelve days and Big Red’s odometer reading indicated we had already covered 4,300 miles of road. Some was desert sand, some gravel, some asphalt and some interstate; they’re all taken in stride. Not to say that Edie and I hadn’t been “hoofin’ it” because we definitely had less shoe leather than when we left Shreveport.
So, there we were having some quasi down time after many long hikes out into the desert taking in ruins and canyons, sandstone formations and basaltic cinder cones. Edie has the “what’s over the next hill” fever and so do I. Tired and running only on coffee and adrenaline, we had to give in to our bodies’ need for R&R for a day. “Where to, where to”, Edie was thinking out loud. “Look here, I want to see animals, plants and fish”, she cried. So, the Albuquerque Zoo, Bio-Park and Aquarium was at the end of Red’s glide path and where I set us down a little to my chagrin. Don’t misunderstand, this is one of the nicer facilities of it’s type in the U.S. I find this type of entertainment more mundane than the open road, big sky and endless desert trekking and image capturing. I guess if I don’t have trail mix and habanera spiced jerky stuck in my teeth and I’m not drinking stream water from my little pump purifier, I’m not quite as entertained.
Having zero interest in recording imagery of zoo animals, I started in. “It smells bad here”, I told Edie as we passed by some lions. “Where’s the bathroom”, I quizzed as we walked on. “Edie, these fish are boring “…”I can’t find anything I want to drink here”…”Why can’t the newer parents control their mullets”…”There’s plenty of plants in Shreveport, I don’t see the big deal about these”…Yes, I was about to have a hissy-fit from boredom and I was making it known via great theatrics. Edie totally ignored me and kept on commenting on the lovely this and that and the cuteness of the other.
Butterfly Pavilion, the signage stated. “Oh, this might be something!”, I announced. Edie was already going through the maze of screen doors that are supposed to keep the metamorphose from executing any escape plans. I have to hand it to them. Being a caterpillar seems bad to me; turning yourself into a butterfly instead seems a great, ingenious and upbeat way to complete your metamorphosis. I mean, who wouldn’t rather fly than crawl? Come on! “Good job butterflies”, I thought as I was digging for a big macro lens in my camera back pack and entering stalk mode.
A little tear here or a hurt leg there spells uselessness as far as butterfly imagery is concerned. And, who wants to do all that time consuming post-processing work for a butterfly unless it’s like “Mothra” from the Japanese sci-fi flicks of the early 60’s, not me! But, there was one there that I had never seen before, was beautiful, wasn’t damaged, engaged me with its spirit and that I had simply had to have. Shortly, I had it cornered down in a back-lit, leafy area where it thought it was safe from the grabbing hands of about seventeen screaming mullets. I began to announce loudly that I was giving away free puppies and large cups of espresso. All of thirty seconds passed and the mullets had been promptly collected by their parents and ushered quickly away from me and the target, the subject of my attention, the item that would save the day from zoo drudgery. The shutter clicked several times before the butterfly accelerated away as a boy with a cork pop-gun from the zoos novelty shop did all he could to finish it off right then and there.
The attendant asked me, “Did you get the Paper Kite?” “They’re very rare and are native to Asia minor”, she said. I smiled and so did she. The day had been saved; I had that gorgeous butterfly locked down on a compact flash card and it was headed to eternity via Adobe software. Here, you won’t have to chase “Paper Kite” like I did!
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