Feb 232009

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more excited little girl than my six year old granddaughter Hailey yesterday, when she had her Dolphin Interaction at Sea World. The program started with a short introduction to the world of dolphins by Sea World’s dolphin trainers, and then Hailey and her fellow adventurers donned wetsuits for their trip into the dolphin pool.

At first Hailey was a bit apprehensive when she met the large dolphin face to face, but that soon melted away and she and her new friend bonded well. Hailey was the youngest person in her group, and the trainer was very careful to make sure she was safe at all times.

Dolphins love to interact and play with human beings. Of course, when you play in their playground, you have to remember that the home team usually wins.

Hailey had fun splashing the dolphin with water, but then she learned a little something about paybacks. A dolphin can put a lot of water into the air very quickly! But it’s all part of the fun.

Once Hailey was back on dry land, we wandered around the park for a while, saw a flock of flamingos on parade, and Terry got several nice pictures. I asked one of their handlers what kind of special training it takes to become a flamingo wrangler, but as it turns out, my brand of humor doesn’t go over well with bird herders. She looked at me like I was a, well, a bird brain.

I’m usually behind the camera, but Tiffany got Miss Terry and me to pose for a picture. I think she was just checking out Dad’s camera, because when she handed my Canon Digital Rebel back to me, she gave hubby Jim one of those smiles all girls are born knowing how to use, and said “Honey, I really need a camera like that.”

By early afternoon we were all tired and ready to begin the long drive home.

We hit the road and began the long climb up the mountains on Interstate 8, then began the descent on the other side, which is several miles of 6% grade. Once we were back on flat land it was a quick run to Yuma.

Along the way, we passed through the Imperial Dunes, a 40 mile long stretch of sand dunes that rise as high as 300 feet above the desert floor. This is a popular area for off road vehicle owners, and on almost any weekend you’ll see literally hundreds of RVs parked throughout the area, with ATVs, 4x4s, and dirt bikes churning up the sand.

We stopped at the Golden Corral in Yuma for dinner, and then gave the grandkids a last hug and kiss, said our goodbyes to Jim and Tiffany, and they resumed their long trip home to Show Low, Arizona. We stopped to fill up the van’s gas tank, and were soon on the road again, arriving back at Tra-Tel about 10:30 p.m. It sure was good to be back home again!

So what’s with the Border Patrol checkpoints? Going to San Diego we had to stop for two different checkpoints along Interstate 8, and two more coming home. All they did was have traffic slow down and waved everybody through at three of them, and at the last one, between Yuma and Gila Bend, they peered into the back of the van and asked what we had under the plywood shelf that holds our kayaks and bikes. We could have been carrying a platoon of illegal aliens, or enough dope to keep a small town stoned for a year in our cargo van.

I grew up with the Border Patrol, and I have a lot of respect for the impossible job they have. But what do they accomplish by having these established checkpoints on the interstate highway? If I were a smuggler, I’d just take one of the hundreds of back roads and trails that cover the desert and bypass the checkpoint. Wouldn’t they catch more bad guys by patrolling out in the field someplace? But I guess some bureaucrat somewhere decided that this visible show of force is better from a public relations standpoint.

Thought For The Day – I like long walks, especially when they are taken by people who annoy me.

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Nick Russell

World-Famous, New York Times Best Selling Author, and All-Around Nice Guy!

  8 Responses to “Dolphins, Flamingos, And The Border Patrol”

  1. Nick,

    RE: Border Patrol – you hit the nail on the head, all those roadside checks are is eyewash for the proletariat, just like the “security” checks at the airport. Just the politicians way of showing us that they are “doing something” about the issue of the day.

  2. As a scuba divers in the Bahamas and the Caribbean, Jim and I have had the opportunity to experience dolphins in the wild. When the boat captain sees dolphins, he stops the boat and tells anyone who wants to get in the water – snorkel gear only. I remember grabbing my mask, fins and snorkel as fast as I could, not wanting to miss the opportunity.

    I needn’t have been in such a hurry! They really did want to play with us as much or more than we wanted to play with them. They were still there when we tired of the game 30-45 minutes later! *Wonderful* creatures!

    Except for JoJo! If you dove in Turks and Caicos, you probably know JoJo. He follows many dive boats. I got in the water with him and reached out to ‘pet’ him. He let me know in no uncertain terms that petting was not allowed. He bit me! His jaws came down on my outreached arm. It was clearly just a warning – a love bite maybe – because it didn’t hurt or break the skin. He was just communicating.

  3. Nick, the Border Patrol stops along the interstates do just what they are designed to do. As you say they encourage the drug runners etc. to take to the back roads and trails where they are a whole lot easier to spot and apprehend. After all, who else would be out there?

  4. Hailey looked great in that wetsuit! And you two really looked relaxed in your picture. Good for you.

  5. Border Patrol
    When we left Mission Texas this year they stopped every vehicle that was northbound and had the dogs give the car a sniff then waved us through , and this was 85 miles north of the border.

  6. I’d bet that if you kept your sunglasses on and greeted the Border Patrol at the checkpoint with “Que pasa?” you would have had a totally different experience. I’ve seen cars pulled over with the BP drug dog giving both the driver and the vehicle a close once-over. Whatever they do, and however they chose which vehicles to wave through and which to examine, I hope they keep doing it.

  7. We’ve been through many BP checkpoints and rarely stopped. The couple of times we were stopped, I think the agent just wanted to chat:-) We also are never checked at the Naval Base or the airport security gates. I guess we just don’t fit the profile as threatening:-) I’m glad:-)

  8. We have the DHS check points in the Adirondacks, too. Everyone has to stop, not just slow down. The checkpoints alternate on a random schedule between stopping the Interstate coming from Montreal and stopping the back roads from the Indian reservations. It appears the transporters of restricted Canadian agriculture have responded by learning to send pilot cars ahead to scout out the terrain.

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