Journey to Ukazoo-Slide 22



Do You Want a Marble

Journey to Ukazoo

Slide 22: Do You Want a Marble


From the moment the first kids ran out the door, laughing and screaming as I made my way in, I knew I was in for an interesting stay at Leighton’s Bed & Breakfast in Sheridan, Wyoming.

The majority of the rooms were rented by three related families here for a reunion. Their children, seven in all, seemed more content to spend most of the next three days in the B&B’s spacious back yard playing rather than engaged in sightseeing with their parents.

Of the two rooms left, I took one and the other room, a suite, was rented to a family with just one son, Nori, who by contrast, was extremely shy and content to spend his time alone with his books.

Spending the first morning after breakfast, relaxing on the back porch with tea and a sketchbook, the kids were engaged in a game I hadn’t seen since my younger days, a long, long, long time ago. Marbles.

Lance, the older of the kids, was the principal marble player and was rather good at it.

During the Inn’s afternoon treats, set out by the Leighton’s, the subject of marbles came up. Nori, who had frequently glanced over his book to watch their marble playing, now quietly inched his way closer to the conversation. Lance brought out his “traveling” marble collection. There were the standards, Cat’s eyes, Clearies, Aggies, Tigers, Oilie’s and various larger Bowlers and Steelies. He also had a small wood box that housed his special “never to be played” marbles. Of those, two glass Bowler’s were very rare.

One was a clear glass German made “Sulphide”, encasing a small hand carved ivory alligator, and the other, made in Ohio in the early 1900’s, had a solid color of deep maroon, speckled with hints of copper, giving it a look and feel of stone. Both beautiful to gaze into.

With Nori, book in tow, now next to us infatuated with the marbles, Lance, looking up, suddenly changed the subject and inquired about the book Nori was reading. Without a word, he held out an advanced math book. Lance, continuing to initiate the conversation, told Nori that Math was his worst subject in school, he just couldn’t find a way to comprehend it.

Lance made Nori a deal, he would show him how to play marbles in return for some pointers on how to figure out the Algebra, Geometry and maybe even a little Trig. Nori, uncomfortable with this sudden social contact, reluctantly agreed.

During the second and third day, Nori slowly became actively engaged in the marble games and at one point shared a laugh much to the delight of the younger kids. In the evenings, he and Lance sat at the dining room table, scrap paper galore, engaged in pouring over math equations and different strategies.

Today, the fourth day, was departure time and with packing of the vehicles in full progress, Lance approached Nori, and opening his marble box took out the maroon/copper glass bowler.

With camera at hand, I took this picture as Lance handed Nori the rare marble as a parting gift, not just, Lance explained, for all his help with the math but for becoming a friend.

Nori, overwhelmed by this rare opportunity at friendship, gave assurances he would always be available by call or email to help with any math issues that may arise or just to chat.

A touching moment to say the least.


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 21



Journey to Ukazoo

Slide 21 Painting the Flower Deity


Arrived in Missoula, Montana to find a wonderful Bed & Breakfast run by Martha and Mitch. The interior of their house was as captivating as the outside except for the living room, which was vacant of all furniture and sealed off with a sheet of plastic.

After unpacking I joined newly arrived guests, Mary and Matthew, along with our hosts, in the dining room to get acquainted and partake in the afternoon refreshments Martha had set out. It didn’t take long for the conversation to drift to the “in progress” living room.

A seemingly testy subject prompted a “lets take a drive” from our hosts, while they would tell us the story of the living room and how it relates to a statue they was taking us to see.

In route, Mitch related the story of an older gentleman named Maurice Montbretia, who had hit the Mega Millions lottery two years ago. The newly acquired wealth, in itself, wasn’t an issue as Maurice spent the better part of his life eking out a living tending other peoples gardens.

Maurice loved flowers, grew flowers, read about flowers, and had managed on his meager earnings to build a small greenhouse. Now, with all this money and no family to speak of , he decided he would purchase a fair size piece of property to build a monument, his ode to flowers. Started a year and a half ago, this lofty project was now nearing completion.

Mitch continued, that three weeks ago just as they were ready to paint their living room a deep shade of Blue, just as their neighbors Margaret and Mark were ready to paint their addition a light Blue, Malinda and Morris about to paint their store front a special mix Violet, and Melvin and his son, Martin, were about to repaint their Barbershop pole, we couldn’t find a can of blue paint in the whole town, nor in several outlining communities.

Puzzled, our quest to find the source of this paint shortage led us to Maurice.

As we neared the turnoff to Mountain Mills Road, and the location of the statue, we found traffic backed up due to deliveries.  Mitch detoured to Murray Marconi’s adjacent farm and with permission, we hiked across the fields. As we approached the construction site we could only look in wonder at the size of the statue.

I took this picture of the work in progress. The final red “puzzle” shaped designs being attached and the blue paint applied by a small workforce manning a scaffolding system that at one point must have reached the clouds. I was equally impressed with the holographic projection system creating a circular receding phase of the statues face, which I was told was particularly effective at night and on overcast days.

Maurice, engaged in the supervising, turned, and seeing us, waved us in. While treating us to a hot dog and soda from “Mean Mike”, an onsite vendor, Maurice, having become aware of this paint storage, used the opportunity to apologize to Martha and Mitch. Becoming self adsorbed, Maurice explained, and succumbing to excesses, encouraged by all this newly acquired money, he lost sight of the effects on friends and community, and this morning placed a special rush order for those paints to be delivered directly to all those in need. He would also pick up the tab for the inconvenience he had caused.

With everyone back in good spirits, I made my way over for another “Mean Mike’s” Hot Dog. They were very good and between you and me, Mike wasn’t mean at all.


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 20



Journey to Ukazoo

Slide 20: Caterpillar


Aware of the direction of my Journey, the Ranger at Cape Disappointment recommended a Nature Observation site deep in the Idaho Panhandle National Forest that specialized in finding rare Arthropods.

Making my way deep into the forest on unimproved roads with only the ranger’s hand drawn map, I arrived at a very modern but environmentally designed series of buildings tucked away in a small stream fed valley. While not an advertised tourist spot, the resident park personnel welcomed the occasional visitor that went out of their way to find this place.

After spending a very full day of extremely informative discussions, walks, and viewing collections of unique and rare species, they expressed a concern about the difficulty navigating the forest roads back to town in the darkness and offered a spare bed to spend the night.

Before turning in, we sat around an evening campfire and they proceeded to tell me a story of having received several hand delivered letters over the past two weeks. The letters, from an unknown source, outlined the chance to receive for observation via a trade, an extremely rare caterpillar that the park personnel have been trying to capture since the first sighting several months ago.

The trade, “Bob” (the name they applied to the unknown letter writer) proposed, consisted of one case of hand lotion, six pairs of leather work gloves for him and a few friends, and assurances that the caterpillar had to be released once he morphed into a butterfly. Release was critical to the pollination of an equally rare flower that served as an important food source to Bob and his friends. The lotion and gloves, the letters stated, were essential to help ease up on blisters, winter’s split skin and the ‘holding rough hands’ complains from their wives.

With assurances of terms confirmed, the last letter they received two days ago, outlined coordinates to a location to construct a blind, to both observe the capture and complete the trade.

We awoke the next morning to find a letter had arrived, informing them to be at the newly constructed blind within two hours, along with the lotion and gloves. Since I was present, they allowed me to tag along.

Within an hour of occupying the blind we became aware of the caterpillar, dropping down to the end of a thorn covered branch by a silken thread. At that moment out of the shadows of the underbrush emerged a manlike creature with a shell body and no legs. Slowly making his way up the same branch using his hands, we also noticed four tentacles unfurl from the top of the shell, one holding a leaf that perked up the caterpillars attention. Another tentacle dropping down behind his back, held a net.

I took this picture a split second before a very hungry caterpillar made a move for the leaf and with one quick motion snatched up in the net. In a second motion, Bob jumped to the ground and handed the net and caterpillar to the rangers and with no words exchanged, accepted the lotion and gloves and quickly disappeared back into the forest.

Upon my preparing to leave this morning, after spending a second night, I was informed another letter from Bob had arrived. This one, they read, contained thanks for the lotion and gloves for the cold winter ahead and, to everyone’s delight, the hint of one day sharing one of those campfires they have watched from a distance.


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 19

Day at the Beach

Journey to Ukazoo

Slide 19: Day at at the Beach

Just inside the border of Washington I stopped in Ilwaco, and found out I was just a stone’s throw from Cape Disappointment State Park that offered camping by the ocean.

Not having camped in years it seemed an interesting change of pace. At a local camping store I bought a small tent at a reasonable price, plus a Coleman stove and a couple of basic cooking utensils. I could still drive back into Ilwaco for some meals if necessary.

Only one other family was set up in the camping area I was assigned to. Efron, his wife Ava, and their four children arrived a few hours before me and noticing my obvious unpreparedness for camping invited me to set up near them and share their camping equipment as well as their company.

The next morning after breakfast, Efron and the kids assembled their cooler, chairs, umbrella, and reading material into their wagon and asked if I wanted to join them on a walk to the beach while Ava drove back into Ilwaco to mail some postcards.

As we neared the ocean they spotted a sign at the waters edge. As they slowly read the list of activities prohibited on the beach, I could only imagine their disappointment at Cape Disappointment. I took this picture as Efron stood in front of the sign as if in a state of shock. I felt extremely bad for the kids, and as they held back a tear or two, hung their heads and slowly walked back to the camp site.

That evening as we sat around the campfire, rather depressed, roasting marshmallows for s’mores, Ava opted to entertain the kids with a ghost story. Being quite the story teller, it wasn’t long before she had the kids on the edge of their seats. Efron and I, also effected, found ourselves glancing around at the darkness of the night surrounding our now insignificant little campfire. As Ava paused for the stories dramatic climax, it seemed the whole forest was holding its breath and listening, and even the distance whisper of the ocean waves became silent.

At that moment deep in the woods we heard the snap of a twig, and jerking our heads up to listen, it was followed by the faint sound of footsteps. As the footsteps slowly approached we huddled around each other, armed with Efron’s small hatchet, Ava and the kids holding marshmallow forks, and me with my pocket combo knife open. Fearing the worst, we imagined a bear, maybe a sasquatch, or even a zombie alligator, ready to have us all for dinner.

As the sound of the footsteps grew closer we noticed what appeared to be a light scanning the ground in the same vicinity as the footsteps. We looked at each other, we didn’t know Zombie’s to carry flashlights. Then came the voice. It didn’t matter what it said, we about jumped out of our skin (feathers), the sound turned out to be “Hello”.

Attached to the footsteps, light, and voice was the Park Ranger, now stepping into the light of the campfire. Apologizing for startling us, he stopped by to inform us that he was just on his way back from the beach where he had to replace an addendum to the sign.

He explained that the added information below all the “NO’s” read “Starting December 1st to February 28th”, and that the original wood attachment fell off last night and washed away at high tide. He was sorry for the day’s inconvenience and offered us a free tour of the parks two lighthouses anytime during our stay.

With the added signage in place, over the next three days, till I left this morning, I joined Efron, Ava, and the kids as they enjoyed some fabulous moments at the beach. I managed fairly well with the camping too!

Art notes:

All images and text are copyright Craig L Haupt

Postings of “Journey to Ukazoo” Slides are every Monday Evening.