Tales of the Bearded Toad

Short stories and the occasional true tidbit devised in the life and times of the Bearded Toad

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Back from the West: The final Chapter

After the fun of camping and being in nature, the Self Evolved and I found our way into more sensory attacks than one could imagine without the aid of television and glossy magazines. Vegas seemed to seep into us through the air as though we were soaking in a rainbow covered acid rain filled pond. The smell, although it's not as bad as that from Bourbon Street (pre-Katrina) on any given night, was quite bothersome, which was only one of the many strange things about the place.

As this was our first venture into the blinding lights, we planned on taking in as much of the so-called attractions as possible. Some of the free sights are the surprisingly amazing and graceful dancing fountains of the Belagio, as well as the soothing canal under the blue sky of the Venetian, which had a wonderful three-piece band providing even more atmosphere. Despite all of this great design and nuance, I could never shake the feeling that I was two words away from all of my money disappear.

This feeling was especially true when approached with really cheap tickets to Zoomanity, a fittingly named show for this blog. Why would someone or a company sell me tickets to this show for $20 each when they are usually $85 or more? Well, because they pegged me for a sucker. We had to sit through this 2.5 hour presentation for a time-share. Once I figured out what they had in store for us, I developed a very toady strategy; I displayed such an air of disinterest that I only had to tell them "no" twice. Other couples apparently had to say no to extremely high pressure repeatedly.

I did at least allow myself to lose some money in a couple of poker tournaments. I played at the MGM Grand in the morning tournaments, hoping that every other person in the tournament would be a hung over tourist too. But, alas, there were a few players who had actually planned on being mentally present. I lost out in both tournaments without winning any of my money back. However, the time at the tables was just about the most fun I had in the town.

Well, this will be the last posting of the "Back from the West" series, so you can finally read about something new next time. That is, if you come back to see how this tadpole site morphs into something worth reading on a regular basis.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Back from the West: Part II

While on the journey up and down canyon walls and through the vulgar seeming hoodoos, we met a man whose invention has creating a slight bit of salivation for me at times. Kettle Chips are a bit more low key in advertising than the lost bet inducing Lay's, but they are quite tasty and much better than regular potato chips. This gourmet addition to the deli chip world was created by Michael Slocum, a chef out of Gaston, Oregon, who is taking an enviable trip on which he will circumnavigate the continental U.S. within a four month period.

The man was a wealth of knowledge and conversation, which helped us to enjoy our time in the campsite at Bryce, which was not where we met him. Our first encounter was trugding up the path to Angel's Landing in Zion, where he kept me company across the narrow ridge to the point. We parted ways here, but he happened upon us again in the parking lot of the visitor's center just as we arrived in Bryce. After our hike, he offered us a beer and to enjoy the full moon as it rose over the canyon to eerily illuminate the formations below. This was a great reminder to me of how interesting it can be to meet new people while traveling; they always seem to be more open and have more experiences to share. To read about and follow his journey, visit http://oregonman.blogspot.com.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Back from the West: Part I

We have returned to "normal" life after having ventured into the realm of sun drenched rocks, steep cliffs, and spectacular views, which was followed by time spent trying not to be ripped off in the haven of habitual hedonism, just in time to make my first post to the Tales of the Bearded Toad. That's me, of course, whom I have now so deemed for lack of cooler nickname. I have long been in want of a good username for things such as this and my webpage. To create this one I, for obvious reasons for those who have seen me in the past couple of years, took from my fiery red beard and from an old name that some used to mock me as a youngster on the cruel playgrounds, horny toad--the horny part coming from the old world spelling of my last name.

The realm to which I refer was Zion National Park and Bryce National Park, which are both in the odd but beautiful state of Utah, one of the four corners states...also the Mormon state. Zion was brutally hot but absolutely amazing in the rock formations carved out over such a nearly incomprehensible period of time. We took a recommended hike up the Angel's Landing trail, which is a winding, switchback riddled 2.5 mile (one-way) paved path up about 1,500 feet from the canyon floor. The path runs along the canyon wall in such a way that anyone who is agoraphobic in the least may get a little woozy when they look down, which was the case with the Self Evolved. She had to grip the wall and not look up or down for a time about half way up. Needless to say, she would not attempt to traverse the narrow ridge guided by a chain to the point of Angel's Landing, so named as it is a heavenly place to take in the beauty of the canyon.

Bryce was far more pleasant than Zion in terms of climate as it was double digits cooler, and it was also dramatic in a much different way. The canyon has a maze of formations called hoodoos that are tall, slender finger-like remnants that make it seem as though you are surrounded by very still, very tall aliens. These provide for very interesting photographs as you can position the camera from different angles creating varying effects. The last picture that I wanted to take, but did not, was of one ridge with a series of bumps and a lone hoodoo that appeared as though the canyon were giving me the finger as I was leaving.