I am a law abiding cat, and try hard to stay out of trouble. But it helps to know what the rules are so you don’t break them. I visited the Idaho State House where people make laws for Idaho when I was in Boise. It can be a long and complicated process, but I really enjoyed hearing about laws that might have made sense at one time, but sound silly now. For example, it is against the law for anyone over the age of 88 to ride a motorcycle, and riding a merry-go-round on Sundays is considered a crime. It is against the law to live in a dog house unless you’re a dog. Some cities have their own strange laws. In Pocatello, a person may not be seen in public without a smile on their face. In Tamarack, it is illegal to buy onions after dark without a permit. You also can’t sell chickens after sundown without permission from the Sheriff. Snakes have been banned from biting humans on a Sunday – except when it’s snowing. How do they explain to the snake about human laws? Purrs, Gulliver
I went camping in some of our national parks last summer. In Bryce Canyon, I had a wonderful time listening to the rangers talks about hoodoos – such a scary sounding name for the tall, odd shaped pillars of rock that are caused by erosion. I loved the moonlight night hikes and stargazing in one of the darkest skies in North America. Even without a telescope, I could see over 7,500 stars, according to the ranger. I didn’t try to count them all, just imagined what it would be like to visit another galaxy. Would it look like ours? Purrs, Gulliver
After Colorado, we headed south to Arizona, stopping at Four Corners, which is the only location in the United States where the borders of four states meet at one point. I had to stretch, but I managed to put a paw in each state – Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico and Utah. Arizona has a lot of “ghost towns” which are abandoned towns where people came to mine minerals, then left when the work was finished. There is even a range of mountains called Superstition Mountains – spooky place!
Arizona is the last state to join the union in the “lower 48” connecting United States. It became the 48th state on February 14, 1912, earning the nickname “The Valentine State”. Arizona is also called the Grand Canyon state, and there is a Native American tribe called the Havasupai Indians who actually live inside the Grand Canyon. It is the only place in the country where mail is still delivered by mule. Purrs, Gulliver
Is your teacher a daredevil? In 1901, for her 63rd birthday, Annie Taylor, a teacher, was the first person to ride over Niagara Falls in a barrel. She survived with only a small cut on her head. A housecat was sent over the falls two days before in the same barrel to make sure the barrel worked ok. The cat also had a head injury, but was ok otherwise. After the journey, Annie Taylor told the press: “If it was with my dying breath, I would caution anyone against attempting the feat…. I would sooner walk up to the mouth of a cannon, knowing it was going to blow me to pieces than make another trip over the Fall”. No one asked the cat what it thought of the trip, but I would expect a lot of meows were heard! One fifth of all the fresh water in the world lies in the four Upper Great Lakes-Michigan, Huron, Superior and Erie. All that water empties into the Niagara River and eventually flows over the falls. Purrs, Gulliver
I’m the King of the Mountain! I got to cross the Continental Divide, where rivers on the west flow to the Pacific Ocean, and rivers on the east flow to the Atlantic Ocean. The Blackfeet tribes originally settled Glacier National Park, and still consider this place sacred to this day. They call it “The Backbone of the World”. I took a bus on the Going to the Sun Road to Lake McDonald, and saw glaciers. A glacier forms when more snow falls each winter than melts the next summer. The addition of snow above presses down on the layers below, and makes them into ice. This ice will move down a mountain, making peaks, canyons and valleys. It is a beautiful place!
Ready for a geology lesson? Geology is the study of the earth and how it was formed. Mt. Lassen is an active volcano which was born about 27,000 years ago. Scientists believe that with a lot of eruptions of lava, the volcano rose and reached its current height of over 10,000 feet in just a few years. The most recent eruption was just about 100 years ago starting in May 1914 and lasting until 1921. Because Mt Lassen is unique, it became a national park in 1916. Today visitors go hiking to Bumpass Hell, a stinky, noisy area in the park named after explorer Kendall Bumpass, who severely burned his leg after breaking through a thin crust of earth into a boiling pool. I saw the earth belch mud, steam that smelled of sulfur, and bubbling springs too hot to dip a paw into! Other parts of the park have beautiful forests and sparkling lakes which I enjoyed very much. Purrs, Gulliver
I was visiting Yosemite National Park and heard a legend from a local Native American tribe which explained how parts of Yosemite were created. Here is the story. Many, many years ago, a Native American couple lived in the desert around Mono Lake, California. Learning about the beautiful Valley of Ahwahnee, they decided to go there and make it their home. Along the way, the couple began to argue. The wife wanted to go back, the husband refused. They argued so loudly, the Creator grew angry and turned the two into stone. The husband became North Dome and the wife became Half Dome, two large rocks in what is now Yosemite National Park. The wife felt bad about the quarrel and the rock she became began to cry, creating Mirror Lake. In the local Paiute language she is known as T’ssikakka or Tissayack. Purrs, Gulliver
Sacramento is California’s State Capitol. It became a city in 1850, following a gold rush which brought many people to the area looking for gold. Sacramento was built between two rivers – the Sacramento River and the American River. In 1861 there were floods, and the Governor had to attend his inauguration in a row boat. The flood waters were so bad, the legend says, that when he returned to his house, he had to enter it through the second floor window! Here is a postcard of the State Capitol. Purrs, Gulliver
“Melting pot”: a place (such as a city or country) where different types of people live together and gradually create one community. USA is a land of immigrants, with many cities having a neighborhood or area that reminds immigrants and their families of food , arts and music of the places they left. Think Chinatown, little Italy, and even Solvang, which is an entire city built to look like Denmark did 100 years ago. There are copies of Danish windmills, statues of Hans Christian Andersen and the Little Mermaid, and homes that look like they are from Denmark. In addition, several restaurants and pastry shops serve Danish specialties like Æbleskiver “Pancake Puffs” which are traditional pancakes in a shape of an apple. The name literally means apple slices in Danish, and applesauce or bits of apple may be used in making the pancakes. What traditions, foods or sayings were passed down from your grandparents?
Kip laughed when I asked him what his mother thought of his job as a smokejumper. “She thinks I am crazy… truly nuts and need my head examined.” Kip and his co-workers have a dangerous job jumping out of an airplane to fight fires in remote areas where there are no roads. There are only 450 smokejumpers in the USA who attend special schools like the one in Missoula, Montana which has been around for 75 years. The school trains smokejumpers how to jump out of airplanes and use parachutes, fight the fires by hand, and then carry out equipment that can weigh up to 120 – 140 pounds. This has been a busy year, with 81 fires going on around the Western United States, and I told Kip I admired his dedication to keeping people and property safe. “I love the outdoors” he simply said. Purrs, Gulliver