“I know most cats don’t like to get into water, but you have to try our famous thermal springs. You will feel like you have been to a luxurious spa” said my friend Bas, a purebred Van Kedisi cat. A native of Turkey, he is pure white but has the unusual trait of two different colored eyes. He invited me back to Turkey after we had so much fun on my previous visit. This time we went to southwest part of Turkey to Pamukkale which means Cotton Castle. Legend has it that the limestone formations are solidified cotton that giants left out to dry. Everyone had to go barefoot to prevent damage to the pools; it was a slippery trip to the 17 pools to enjoy the naturally heated water just like Romans did thousands of years ago. The minerals in the pools, formed by underground hot water sources, are said to help with all sorts of illnesses, especially digestive and circulation problems. The ancient city of Hierapolis was a large city built nearby, there plenty of well-preserved ruins we explored including a restored amphitheater. Nearby, there’s also an archaeological museum for those that are interested in the history of the area. Bas was right, soaking in the warm pools felt good after hiking around the ruins. Purrs, Gulliver
For spring break my sister Sasha and I are going to Washington, DC. This is the capital of the United States, so we will have a tour of the White House and the Senate building. There is a lot of history here, so we are going to visit the Washington and Lincoln monuments and the Smithsonian, affectionately known as “the nation’s attic” because it has so many old treasures. There are actually 19 museums, nine research centers and the National Zoo as part of the Smithsonian. They collect everything from dinosaur bones to airplanes. Why keep a hundred year old octopus? So we can use it to compare to what an octopus looks like today and measure changes in size, diet and . It will take me more than one spring break to explore everything in the District of Columbia! Purrs, Gulliver
What a wonderful description, now I want to plan a trip to South Africa to taste the yummy food! Purrs, Gulliver
Up, up and away! I went to the Albuquerque, New Mexico balloon festival and to ride in a balloon! Not the kind you buy at the store, but a giant kind that can hold 4-6 people in the basket. The balloon part is called an envelope, and the basket beneath it is called a gondola. Hot air fills the envelope, and before long we were drifting through the quiet air, looking at the people and scenery below. Most balloons launch in the early morning, when there is little wind so landing is not as bumpy. A chase crew follows the balloon and picks up the people and equipment when the balloon lands. After my ride, there was a balloon fiesta where 600 balloons went sailing through the air at the same time, creating a rainbow of colors in the blue sky. Purrs, Gulliver
After our tour of the State House, there was time for questions. One of the first things I learned was the building is heated by underground hot springs which come from deep in the earth. Idaho is an interesting state with lots of mountains and rivers. We found out that if all the mountains were flattened out, Idaho could be the size of Texas. Idaho is famous for its potatoes, it grows about 20 percent of the nation’s crop, and about 50 percent of McDonald’s french-fries come from Idaho potatoes.
Everyone wanted to know what the word Idaho means. It is actually a made up word! People in Colorado tried the name out first for their territory, but didn’t like it. Then it was used by miners looking for gold in the territory and it stuck. Idaho became a territory in 1863 when Abraham Lincoln signed the bill, then a it became a state in 1890. In 27 years the Idaho Territory had 16 governors, four who never set foot in Idaho! Maybe that was why so many silly laws were passed, because no one was there to say no to the voters. Purrs, Gulliver
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
Today I am visiting Zulus, a tribe of people who live in South Africa along the coast of the Indian Ocean. They are famous for their basket work. By tradition, Zulu baskets made of dried palm fronds and were plain, with no decoration. Now, the baskets are made with recycled wire and each is unique in shape, pattern, color, weave and size. No two baskets are ever the same, even if made by the same person. The patterns, each with their own meaning, vary from pretty bands to triangles, diamonds, zig-zags, and checkerboard styles. Cats always like baskets to sleep in, I think I will get one for my new bed!
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
Last year I wrote about the Cholla, or jumping cactus. Another kind of cactus is the Saguaro cactus, called the “old man of the desert”. The Saguaro cactus is the largest cactus found in the U.S. It can grow as high as a five-story building and live to be 150 to 200 years old. But they also grow very slowly. It can take 10 years for a saguaro cactus to reach 1 inch in height. They grow their first arm at the age of 70. Since they live in the desert where rain and water are scarce, they have one root that goes deep into the ground, and more roots are close to the surface to collect water. They can shrink and expand depending on how much water they are holding. After the saguaro dies its woody ribs can be used to build roofs, fences, and parts of furniture. Native Americans used these cacti as water containers long before the canteen was available. The Saguaro is only found in the Sonoran Desert in Arizona and Sonora Mexico. The flower of the cactus is the state flower of Arizona!