Journey to Ukazoo-Slide 13

King Me

Journey to Ukazoo

Slide 13: King Me

Aware of the crowd expected for the four-day Seventh Annual Checker Tournament in Las Vegas, Nevada, I called in advance to reserve one of the last available rooms.

A 3rd floor room with balcony, gave me a birds eye view of an expansive brick courtyard where the final Adult vs. Adult and Adolescent vs. Adolescent Championship elimination rounds were held outdoors. Once the respective champions were announced, the much anticipated special “Adult Champion vs. Adolescent Champion Face Off” would commence on the final evening of the Tournament..

Last night, returning champ Linus B. Larra, won his final match to become the now seven time undefeated adult champion. Earlier today, against all odds of a family match-up, David, his son became the adolescent champion. Linus has never lost a best of five “Face Off” match”. He also has never lost a checker game to his son.

Game One began. Move after move met with soft ooh’s and aah’s, and occasionally punctuated by the roar of the crowd each time a player shouted “King Me”.

Linus, easily winning the first game, strutted around the courtyard like a rooster, pointing at his custom made “I am the Checker Champ-You’re not” T-shirt, and crowing “Yes, Yes, Yesssssss”

The second game was close but David just managed to win by taking advantage of an overconfident dad. This time a more somber Linus stayed in his seat stewing over his lost, waiting for game three to begin. David, defeating his Dad for the first time, wore a soft smile and a spark of confidence was ignited as he too, waited for game three to begin.

Game Three also started out very close but somehow, Linus, deep in concentration, failed to see his son’s corner set-up move and David was able to sneak a lone checker in for a second “King”. That move tipped the game into David’s favor and he continued on to clinch his second straight win, thus sending Linus into a full fledged tirade.

Down two games to one, Linus won the coin toss for first move of a crucial, must win, Game Four.

I took this picture as David struck with the game’s first “King me”. Linus, already having lost several of his pieces was livid and starting to lose his composure.

David, sensing the “thrill of victory”, made a bold calculated move to the left side, sacrificing his “King”, to strengthen his pieces on the board for an attack on the right side.

It worked, Linus bit at the ruse and didn’t realize his mistake till he lifted his son’s “King” off the board. David, over the next five moves against what little resistance Dad could muster, had called out “King Me” twice, before a stunned adult crowd and an elated audience of kids.

Linus, assured a certain defeat of game and match, rose from his seat and leaving his frustration behind, walked around the table to graciously shake his son’s hand. Linus found himself, with a tear swelling up, extremely proud of his son.

The crowd was ecstatic.

What a wonderful night.

Art notes:

All images and text are copyright Craig L Haupt

Postings of Journey to Ukazoo Slides are every Monday Evening.

Journey to Ukazoo-Slide 12


Four Dancer's

Journey to Ukazoo

Slide 12: Four Dancer’s


My stay in Weidup, Arizona has been rain, Rain, and more RAIN. A slow steady rain with very few pauses. Two events I was interested in attending were canceled. The first, a two day outdoor Arts and Crafts fair on the outskirts of town, canceled due to rain. The other event, a Bluegrass concert some 40 miles North, in Kingman, also canceled due to the lead singer’s unexpected elopement with the lead guitar player.

With a third day of rain, reading, working in the sketch book and aware of a “Twitting the Thumbs” mood creeping in, I made my way down to Ned’s Diner for a late lunch.

Missing the bulk of the lunch crowd, the place was relativity empty except for two behind the counter teenagers, Phil and Rita, as their names tags implied. As they took their lunch brake, once things were slowed down, two of their friends, Nancy and Larry stopped in to join them.

Phil and Rita already caught my attention with their behind-the-counter levity but together the four turned it up a notch. Silly, laughing, goofy, and at times clowning around with their food.

During their display of comedic actions, one of their trays worked it’s way off the table and created quite a mess. I was near enough that I helped them clean it up. A conversation developed and despite a substantial age difference, the mood, talk, and the laughs between us made it relativity easy to become friends.

Rita asked if I would be interested in seeing, this evening, a High School dance recital they were involved in. The “One Night Only” recital was sold out but Nancy’s older sister took off unexpectedly to audition for an opening of lead singer in a now very shorthanded Bluegrass band, so an extra ticket was available.

I couldn’t  imagine what was in store for me based on the type of characters they had already projected in the diner.

During the recital, I was extremely impressed by the set design and chorography, as well as the level of expertise and commitment by all the students involved.

Phil made a singular contribution to a jazz piece and teamed up with Nancy for a 50’s bebop number. Rita and Larry did a beautiful ballroom waltz. Together, these four, as noted in the program conceived, choreographed and presented the finale, a tribute to an early 1900’s composer, Henry Kimball Hadley. They selected parts of three Symphonies he wrote, to form a Music/Dance medley that would involve all four of them both in the title as well as dance.

I took this picture as they performed their interpretation of the first classical piece entitled “Youth and Life”, which was followed by “The Four Seasons” and “North, East, South, West”.

After the recital and getting their well deserved hugs and congratulations they gradually transformed back to the four goof-ball teenagers I had encountered at the diner, the laughs and silliness back in top form. They even managed to make their way over as I was leaving and we shared several words and laughs before parting company.

In a few short hours I had become very good friends with a very special foursome, funny what a rainy day can bring.


Art Notes:

All images and text are copyright Craig L Haupt

Postings of Journey to Ukazoo Slides are every Monday.

Journey to Ukazoo-Slide 11

Journey to Ukazoo


Albuquerque Flower

Slide 11: Albuquerque Flower

 Checked into a Pueblo style Bed & Breakfast in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and spent the following day visiting several Art Galleries. After a late afternoon dinner I returned to the Inn, fixed a cup of tea, snatched up the few remaining cookies set out earlier in the day for guests, and moseyed out to the courtyard to relax and read a book.

Before settling in, I caught sight of the many varieties of cactus and flowering plants scattered throughout the garden area.

The Inn’s host, Archimedes’, or Archie as everyone called him, had also wandered out and seeing my interest, directed me towards a very distinct flower. Said he had no idea where it came from or what type of flower it was, and never had any idea when it might bloom.

Just happened to be one of those “in the right place at the right time” moments. 

Archie went back into the house to start prepping for the next day’s breakfast and I went to get the camera.

As I took this picture of the flower, I couldn’t help but overhear several voices at the far end of the courtyard. Making my way a little closer I became privy to a meeting of several roadrunners. The conversation centered on coordinating a family reunion picnic while they perused several area maps and global satellite imaging printouts to ascertain choice locations that might be relativity safe from a rather persistent coyote. They also were in the process of setting up a computer generated GPS tracking system. Intrigued, I couldn’t help but ask how the need for a tracking system fit into the scheme of things.

With hushed voices and over the wing looks they informed me that they had hacked into the coyote’s email account and found he was due to receive a shipment of PED’s from someplace in Florida, which he used to increase his stamina for extended chases.

They had also, by selling lemonade disguised as Boy Scouts, earned enough money to make a rather large “donation” to the local UPS driver, and just this morning intercepted the package of PED capsules. Quickly inserting a GPS microchip into one of the capsules, which when swallowed would trigger a 24 hour activation period, they would be able to monitor this pesky coyote’s location and movements.

Granted the picnic was contingent on when the Coyote took the tampered capsule, hence,  daily monitoring of it’s activation on the GPS tracking system was imperative and everything, picnic wise, was prepped and made ready for departure at a moments notice.

That was Wednesday, and on Sunday morning, there was a major commotion going on outside the Inn. I rushed out to witness the beginnings of a major roadrunner convoy. Carts, wagons, bikes,  scooters, on foot, everything packed and set in motion as they had sent word that Operation REUNION was activated, the coyote was now being tracked, and a fix on the safest place to picnic was verified.

Later that evening while having a glass of wine and finishing the book, I became aware of one tired but extremely happy group of roadrunners returning from a marvelous day of fun, sun, food, and most importantly coyote free.

 Art notes:

All images and text are copyright Craig L Haupt

Postings of Journey to Ukazoo Slides are every Monday.

Journey to Ukazoo-Slide Ten

Spilled Milk

Slide Ten: Spilled Milk

 I didn’t start driving till late in the evening and after just a few hours, as I neared Roswell, New Mexico by some back roads, I started to feel a heaviness in my eyelids. Rather than risk falling asleep at the wheel I found a small secluded spot and pulled off the road. As I worked to find a comfortable position to catch a little nap I noticed the dim glow of a light up in the distance hills. Curious, I left the van and climbed towards it. As I inched over a small rise I saw, nestled between two stands of rocks, a very unique metal and glass home and just outside the entrance was a family standing around a small camp fire getting ready to make s’mores.

Startled by my presence, they nonetheless extended a warm welcome and an offer to join them for dessert.

Engaged in a “Getting to know one another” conversation while prepping for the s’mores, they recounted how while en route to a vacation destination they noticed the need to find a place for refueling. They had just pulled out of Warp Drive and needed to make a turn as they approached Milky Way which would get them to the next fueling station.

Henri (the husband/dad) insisted that they turn left against everyone’s else’s opinion to turn right and after traveling for several ‘Light hours’ realized they were lost. They ran out of fuel just as they arrived in this area and had no choice but to pull in and park.

That was 66 earth years ago. With no identification and possibly here illegally they decided to set up home in these hills while working to reconfigure their communication system so they might go home. Over all this time their system has produced only static, but as of late they have managed to filter in some classic “60’s” songs.

Their only close encounter with people was when they first arrived. The kids were out flying a rather large balloon they had made and out of nowhere some local farmer shot it down.

They have avoided anyone ever since.

I asked where home was and they quickly responded in unison “France”.

As the parents went to get a photo album to show me some pictures of their earlier travels, a couple of the older kids started to boast about how they could do this levitation thing with their glass of chocolate milk. The younger ones rolled their eyes and dared one of them to do it.

I took this picture just as Mom came back to find a rather audacious but failed levitation attempt.

A not-so-happy Mom proceeded to scold them, not just for the spilled milk but because they should know that the intergalactic law for levitation is “no one under 16 years old is allowed to do it-period”. Besides being sixteen, she reminded them, there are several hands-off training courses and tests required prior to obtaining a license before you can levitate any objects on your own.

She sent them all off to bed without any dessert, but after they were all tucked in, she at least, with a wink, allowed Dad to read them a favorite bedtime story, the universally acclaimed children’s book, “The Little Prince”.

Later, back in the van and on the road, I reflected on the evening of conversation and several dozen album photo’s of star systems, which prompted a passing question. Were they really from France?

Art notes:

All images and text are copyright Craig L Haupt

Postings of Journey to Ukazoo Slides are every Monday.


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