Friday, December 18, 2009

Merry Christmas

Hi everyone

It has been another good year for us here in Arizona. We have done a lot and have been very busy as always. We have arrived at the end of the year happy and healthy and for that we are very thankful.

N celebrated his 5th birthday in February with a very spooky Halloween party. He loves the spooky side of Halloween but not the gory, scary stuff (not yet, anyway). We decorated the house, his friends dressed up and I made a very special haunted house cake. N dressed as an Evil Bleeding Mummy Pirate (who was not Evil and not Bleeding) and everyone had a really good time. Also in February we held our inaugural Australia Day party (I know it strictly should have been in January but sometimes you have to be flexible). I loved putting it all together and it really was a lot of fun. The house was decorated with as many Australian and New Zealand things as we could manage and I set up games for both the children and adults. The children played a kangaroo hop game with special clip-on tails, did an outback safari and coloured in kangaroo pictures. For the adults there was a special Australiana quiz with prizes. Our Canadian friends promised payback (and delivered on May Two Four)! We served barbecued lamb, pavlova and other delicacies and everyone went home with a special Australian or New Zealand present. Planning is already underway for the 2010 event.

In April we spent 3 weeks in Australia, renewing our US visa for another 2 years and visiting family and friends. We couldn’t get a visa appointment in Perth so spent Easter in Sydney waiting for our appointment there. Once that was taken care of we flew to Perth and spent 2 weeks there. My mother flew over from New Zealand so we got a grandmother “two-fer” which was wonderful. We took N to swimming lessons almost every day and he regained a lot of the confidence that he had lost from not having any lessons in Bagdad (there are still no formal lessons for children). When we got back to Arizona we made an effort to take him to the pool at least once a week and he now swims independently with confidence which is just fantastic. Like all good holidays ours went by much too quickly and unfortunately we did not get the chance to visit everyone that we would have liked to catch up with. Our next planned visit will be in 2011 to renew our visas again. P celebrated his birthday while we were in Australia and is creeping ever closer to the big Five-Uh-Oh.

When we got back from Australia I built a no-dig vegetable garden in our backyard. It is built up of layers of straw and manure on top of the ground, all contained by surplus firewood logs from last winter (we bought far more firewood than we actually needed so it’s good to be able to make use of it). The garden was extremely successful and we enjoyed a lot of delicious fresh vegetables from it this summer.

We were very lucky to survive the layoffs that happened last year at the mine just before Christmas (about 25% of the workforce was made redundant). We are very grateful to have kept our jobs and to have the opportunity to stay in the US a bit longer. In February I changed roles at work and became the resource engineer (a resource geologist by a different name). It has been an interesting learning experience for me. In June I was promoted to Senior Mine Engineer which came as a complete surprise (a good one, of course). P is still the Mill Manager here and seems to be still enjoying what he’s doing. In July P was lucky enough to get to visit our company’s mines in South America (two in Chile and one in Peru) for 10 days. This was a great experience although we are still waiting to see the photos…

In late June we had a short visit from my Aunt Christine and her two friends from California. Although they were only here for less than 24 hours it was wonderful that they took the time to see us in Bagdad. In September one of my best friends, Jacqui, and her friend Karen, stayed with us for a couple of days on their way back to New Zealand. It’s so nice to have visitors and it was terrific to catch up again.

N started school at the beginning of August. He is in Kindergarten with Miss Jones this year. N has lots of friends in his class and loves going to school. He is doing really well there. His reading and writing have improved out of sight and he is now starting to write simple sentences. He is well ahead of most of the children in his class and we are very proud. He is still determined to become a marine biologist and loves sharks just as much as ever. I’ve started teaching N the piano. Once a week we have Music Night where we do our piano lesson (usually about 15 minutes) then spend another 15 minutes or so doing another musical activity. The children don’t get any music education at school here so this is the alternative we have come up with. N is getting better at the piano – the hardest thing at 5 years of age is sitting still long enough to have a lesson! The success of Music Night has prompted Math Night, Reading Night (both of which Nathan insisted on), Creative Night, Movie Night and Cooking Night – plus my favourite, Night Off.

P is still doing aikido twice a week and recently passed his 3rd Kyu test – he is very dedicated and enjoys his aikido very much. In July I did my first triathlon with a few people that I work with. I came second-to-last but was in it for the personal challenge, not the competition. It was an incredibly rewarding experience and I definitely want to do it again next year. This summer N played tee ball and liked it so much that he wants to play baseball next year. He is going to play basketball this winter so we will see how he likes it. There are not a lot of organized activities in Bagdad for young children so we try to support them when they are offered.

The week of Thanksgiving (late November, for those of you playing at home) we had a holiday in Las Vegas and San Francisco. In Las Vegas we saw the amazing Cirque du Soleil show “O” and took Nathan to the aquarium at Mandalay Bay. San Francisco was fantastic. Good weather and even better seafood and sourdough bread. Our visit to Alcatraz Island was definitely the highlight. It’s such a fascinating place.

We are spending Christmas this year at the Grand Canyon which will be very special. N wrote to Santa to let him know where we’ll be so that he can leave our gifts at home for us. We have visited the Canyon twice before but not in winter so it will be amazing to see it in the snow. It will also be amazingly cold!

We hope that wherever you are you have a safe and joyful Christmas and send you all our best wishes for a very happy and healthy 2010.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Only in America...

The Book Fair at our local school this week features books with titles such as "Meet the Obamas" and "Presidential Pets".

Friday, September 4, 2009

Pint-size Perspective: Comments on Life from the Youngest Gelfi

[N has been learning about senses at school]

"Mum, did you know that you have taste bugs in your mouth?"

They Start Them Young

Yesterday I took N to McDonald's in Prescott (which was rebuilt earlier this year after it had burned down). There is a brand-new playground with kid-friendly video games for children - or so I thought. N wanted to play the games so I went with him and we had a look at what was on offer. The game that N chose was called Luxor, and is based on the Luxor casino in Las Vegas. In this game, coloured balls move through a maze. You have to push a button to release other coloured balls, with the aim of getting three of the same colour in a row. If you succeed, you get "money" added to your score. The aim is to win as much money as possible before the line of coloured balls reaches the end of the maze. Unbelievable!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

I'm a Big Kid Now

No issues for either Mum or son on the first day of school last Wednesday. As we pulled into the car park at school: "'Bye Mum". All set to go. Once he got there he didn't look back. Lots of friends and not a care in the world.

Amusing Questions We Have Been Asked: Part 8 in an Occasional Series

[This from an elderly member of our church]

"Are you the kids from Australia?"

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Goodbye Preschool Days: Our Boy is Starting School

Tomorrow our young man will start kindergarten. Where did those years go? It will be hard to get used to him not being at daycare all day (although he'll still be there part of the time). He is sooooo excited about school ("Are you, Mum?").

Pint-size Perspective: Comments on Life from the Youngest Gelfi

[Mum] "When you go to school, you'll have to do what you're told, when you're told to do it".

[N] "We already do that at daycare".

[Mum] "It doesn't look like it to me. When I go there you're all doing whatever you want".

[N] "That's the naughty kids, that's not me".

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

My First Triathlon: Or How to Challenge Myself in New and Unusual Ways

At the start of this year I looked at myself in the mirror and decided that I needed to do something about the ever-expanding muffin top and flab that seems to have appeared everywhere - middle-age spread some might say! While I could just trot out that old stand-by that "pregnancy weight is so hard to lose", well, almost 5 1/2 years after N's birth I don't really have that excuse anymore. I started to make some changes in my diet but I really needed to get exercise into my daily routine. I turned the corner one day in March.

A colleague came into the office lunch room with a salad in hand, which immediately caught everyone's attention (with so many convenience and "fast" foods available here, the majority of people do not reach for a salad when considering what to eat for lunch each day). "You're not on a diet, are you?" they all cried to which the coworker replied, "No, I'm training for a triathlon". Well, you could have heard a pin drop (I think I heard some crickets chirping). She had never done a triathlon before but was going to give it a go and that really started to capture my imagination. My job is generally very sedentary and I really needed something to get me off my butt and getting active. More than that, I also need a target, something to focus on to keep me motivated. A triathlon would be perfect.

The triathlon that my coworker was going to do was in Anthem in Phoenix. The swim leg of the race would be in a lake which is an immediate turn-off for me - I can swim but I don't yet have the endurance to be able to do the entire distance without stopping. At least with a pool you can stop at the end before doing the next lap if necessary. My coworker started asking if anyone else wanted to do it and her enthusiasm encouraged me to put my hand up and say "Yes". We talked about it a bit and decided that the idea of swimming in a murky lake full of duck poo where we couldn't touch the bottom was not our idea of a good time, so we started looking around for other triathlons that included a pool swim rather than open water. I found a mini triathlon (150 yard swim, 7 mile bike, 1 mile run) at Chino Valley (about 2 hours from Bagdad) scheduled for mid-May which seemed like the perfect first event for us to try. After a short time about a dozen people were "signed up" (or at least nominated by their peers) to join the triathlon "team" from our department, who would compete at Chino Valley. Searching on the internet yielded an excellent beginner triathlon training program from which seemed to be exactly what we needed: a gradual build-up, lots of details, and written in a very easy-going style. We printed out the program and tried our best to stick to it.

As with so many things, the enthusiasm of many of the "team members" peaked too early and the "team" dwindled from a dozen participants to about 8 to about 6 then eventually the Final Four. The date of the mini triathlon came and went and for a variety of reasons, none of us participated. Rather than give up completely, we decided instead to attempt a Sprint distance triathlon (300 yard swim, 15 mile bike and 3 mile run), also to be held in Chino Valley, on July 12th. We semi-diligently followed our training prescription, juggling the workouts around work schedules, family commitments, real life, the need for sleep and other such inconveniences that often seem to get in the way and threaten to stop us from achieving our goals. There's no doubt about it: it's hard to do it all and not get exhausted or lose your sanity but we gave it a red-hot go and made it work the best we could. As we progressed through the 11-week training program it was clear that we were getting fitter but approaching the end of the program the workouts get a lot longer and there are only a finite number of hours in each day. Not to be discouraged, we did what we could and hoped that the training we had managed to do would be enough to get us through on race day. For my part I was only in it to participate so my goal was just to finish.

I've done some swimming training before so I wasn't too worried about that leg but the bike and run were a different story. I'm definitely no cyclist and usually I am very cautious and don't like to let go of my death grip on the handlebars. Riding my husband's mountain bike (which is configured in such a way that a lot of weight is directed down onto the handlbars) caused me a great deal of numbness in my right hand particularly (the so-called "Handlebar Palsy", caused by compression of the ulnar nerve and apparently not uncommon in cyclists), which I'm told will eventually go away. It took some practice and now I can let go one hand for a few seconds but it will take more confidence and trust in myself (that I'm not going to immediately crash) for me to be able to get my water bottle out and drink from it while riding along. Most of my bike training was done on the local high school running track (with permission from the school district, thank you so much! With the big trucks we get around here, the track is a much safer option than riding on the road). The running training was very sedate. After having surgery in January this year my doctor advised me against running so I stuck to the walking and did what I was told. At the gym in our small town several people came up to me and said, "I heard you're doing a marathon" - well, not a marathon, but long enough for me. Many times I wondered how I was going to be able to do all three legs one after another but knowing that I could do them separately I just hoped that on the day I would be able to put it all together (and not expire trying).

I searched on the internet for beginner triathlete advice, information and stories, some of which were hilarious. The accounts of other people's first triathlons inspired me and helped me to keep up my training. Many of them were ordinary people like me who were just out there giving it a go. In June my friends and I bought triathlon outfits and started getting psyched about our first race which by now was not far away.

Leading up to The Day there were plenty of nerves and anxious, sleepless hours as I went over and over the day in my head: how I would lay out my transition area, where I would have to run, what gear I would need, and how would I fit the bike in our car? What if it didn't fit? Could I take the wheel off? What if I couldn't get the wheel off? This endless barrage of maybes, worst-case-scenarios and what ifs ran continually in my head for days leading up to the race.

Race day dawned very early at 4am. We had stayed in a hotel the night before to avoid the 2 -hour drive from Bagdad. There were probably a couple of hundred other competitors taking part in the race (many of whom had travelled from Phoenix) and the sight of all those aerobars and ripped bodies was enough to turn us green horns very pale. I asked an older man (who looked like it wasn't his first rodeo) about the protocol for the transition area and he very kindly explained the set up to me, and how the T1 and T2 transitions would work. One thing that we discovered very quickly is the wonderful camerarderie between triathletes. Everyone was so friendly and helpful and if we mentioned that we were first-timers they were very encouraging and really supportive. Having been so nervous prior to the day I was very surprised to find that rather than being stressed out at the race, I actually felt relaxed. It felt good to be there and I was excited that soon the race would start and I would get to find out if I could actually do this after all. I thought that I could but I wanted to prove it to myself and everyone else.

We started the swim in 20 second intervals and although I needed a couple of quick breaks I felt good about how I was going. I tried to relax and treat it like a training swim so that I wouldn't use up too much energy too soon. Getting out of the pool I was pretty out of breath and anxious to not forget anything getting ready for the ride. The relatively cool morning and the wet triathlon clothing helped to make the ride comfortable for at least the first lap (the bike course was two laps of 7.5 miles each, and horror of horrors, included the dreaded HILLS - I had not prepared for HILLS!), but by the second lap the day had started to heat up, the outfit was dry and it took more effort to get around the course. I tried to approach the ride in much the same way as the swim, just pretending that I was out for a leisurely ride and enjoying the scenery. The scenery was indeed lovely but was regularly interrupted by the blur of the fast riders blazing past me with their aero helmets and honed calves, barely raising a sweat. Another lady and I took turns at passing each other (a thrill after a lifetime of coming last in almost every sport I've tried) then I got the advantage when she got a flat tyre and had to call for a back-up bike. Since I hadn't yet figured out the trick to drinking and riding at the same time (walking and chewing gum I can do) I had to stop a few times to have a drink and take a quick breather, but I finished the ride within the time frame that I hoped to and I still felt good. Hot, but good.

Going into the run (in my case, walk) I knew that I was near the back of the field (second to last, in fact) and just after I started Flat Tyre Lady rode past on her replacement bike so I knew that I'd better keep the pace up unless I wanted to be Tail End Charlie, slower than someone who had a flat tyre. As I finished the walk I jogged across the finish line and soaked up the cheers of the waiting crowd. It was an amazing feeling but after drinking heaps of water for almost 3 hours, I really needed the bathroom! I got a big hug from N and although I was tired I felt wonderful, so proud to have achieved my goal. At no time during the race did I entertain a single negative thought. I never doubted my ability and never wanted to quit. I didn't go hard but I didn't go home without doing what I'd gone there to do. I am very proud of myself and can't wait to do it all again (I'm signing up this week for Prescott Valley in September).

Monday, July 13, 2009

The Project Takes Off: No Dig Vege Gardening Part 2

Well, the no-dig vege garden has definitely been a success: at the time of writing this (about 4 weeks after this photo was taken) the garden has gone absolutely crazy! We have been picking State Fair-worthy zucchini, eating sweet sugar-snap peas and delicious bok choy. Now the corn has developing ears and the pumpkins are starting to take over their end of the garden... so I have started work on Garden #2 (photos to come soon). Apart from being able to enjoy fresh, home-grown produce it has been fantastic to be able to grow it on otherwise barren, rocky soil, without having to break the ground. I have not needed to use any kind of insecticide so I have also managed to fulfill my other goal of keeping the garden completely organic. The soaker hose usually only gets turned on for about 15 minutes a day and that has been plenty to keep everything looking as healthy as you see it here. Shredded paper mulch salvaged from the office helps with water retention and the whole thing is doing marvelously.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Project Begins: No Dig Vege Gardening Part 1

I decided not long before we went to Australia that on our return I would build a no-dig vegetable garden in our backyard. I did some research (see Other Links of Interest) and got some really great (big) ideas. There is a fantastic spot in our backyard that gets all-day sun, is slightly sloped (good drainage!) but is rocky and virtually devoid of soil. Perfect, in other words, for no-dig gardening.

I constructed the border of the garden (which is roughly 4 x 2 metres) out of surplus firewood logs (it's Arizona: the fireplace was only ever going to be ornamental although we have been known to strike a match and set the fire occasionally). Don't ask me what kind of wood it is, it's not very dense but we don't have a clue what it's called. Anyway, it makes an ideal edge for the garden. The planting medium is made up of layers of cardboard, newspaper, hay, manure and compost. Cardboard and newspaper we had plenty of lying around at home. The hay I was given by a very generous rancher friend of ours (thanks Golden!). The manure I collected from the local corrals. Near the mine there are horse and stock corrals that are rented out to local people. No shortage of organic manure that's for sure, and it's free for the shovelling which is what I did last Sunday morning. It's hot work but well worth it.

The next day my very keen apprentice and I set to work to build the garden. The bulk of it was done in a couple of hours and watered in just before the first summer thunderstorm arrived. No rain but! Thunderstorms mean the monsoon is coming but as yet it's early days and we haven't had any rain. More help the next day from the future market gardener and we have corn and peas planted. The peas I have been growing from seed in containers but they are now ready for their debut in the vege patch. Watch this space for spinach, carrots, bok choy, lettuce, capsicums and more still to come.

Arizona: Take Two

We arrived back in Ay Zee on May 1st after a marathon journey from Perth via Melbourne and LA. It was incredibly long and tiring but at least it was uneventful. We had a wonderful time in Australia and like all good holidays seem to be, it was over far too quickly.

It's good to be back here and to see our American friends again. Summer has definitely started with temps in the mid-30's (that's Celsius, folks) every day. This week the humidity has kicked up a notch and the afternoon thunderstorms have started, signalling the start of the monsoon season.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Australia Revisited (aka G'day from WA) - Part 1 in an Occasional Series

We're back in WA at the mo for our first Australian visit since relocating to Arizona in April 2007. It has been terrific to be back here and to be able to turn off the alarm clock for a few weeks while we just relax.

We spent the first 5 days of our visit (including the Easter long weekend) in Sydney as we waited in nervous anticipation for our US visa renewal interview. Lucky for us the visa was renewed and we will be returning to Arizona next month as planned. It is a huge weight off our minds.

Here in Perth we have been having a great time catching up with friends and family whom we haven't seen in at least 2 years. It is just over 3 years since I was last here and I'm really happy to be back, even if it's just for a short while. I've been stocking up on Australian souvenirs, snacks and groceries to take back to the US. It's amazing what you miss when you're away.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Monster Jamming with the Digger - Spot the Closet Rev-Head

In late January I crossed another "must-do" American experience off my wish-list: taking in the live spectacle that is Monster Jam. I think that my excitement even eclipsed N's, and he is a die-hard fan of monster trucks. I happily waited in line for over an hour to see the Digger up close and get Pablo Huffaker's autograph - it was totally worth it. This picture has pride of place on the wall in my office at work.
It was a long day and by the time the show started at 7.30pm, we'd been there nearly 4 hours (using our pit passes and working our way through the throng to check out all the trucks) and N was starting to get bored. The racing started with kids racing ATV's, a stunt driver then the monster trucks' preliminary round, then N started asking if we could go back to the hotel, but I wasn't going to miss FREESTYLE!!! It did not disappoint. There were crashes, stacks, roll-overs, broken axles and all the action a truck fan could ask for. A bonus: N was given a T-shirt that had been shot into the crowd by T-shirt cannon! Size XL, it will fit him in about 20 years. The only really bad part of the evening was when Grave Digger didn't win the competition, and the driver of the winning truck (Bounty Hunter - he put on an excellent performance, a really great driver) came up to collect his trophy - the crowd very loudly booed him. They were only there for one truck. Needless to say I had a fantastic time (yes, P and N did too) and I only wish there was a way that we could make it to Vegas for the World Champs at the end of March... I'll have to keep working on that one!

Amusing Questions We Have Been Asked - Part 7 in an Occasional Series

"What language do you speak in Australia?"

("What language do you think I am speaking now?")

"I don't know... Australian?"

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Get Ready Australia, We're Coming!

Yes, what you've heard is true: in April this year we will be making our first visit to Australia since coming to the US 2 years ago. We are all very excited to be visiting Australia again and I for one have a definite agenda: meat pies, seafood and eat it. We will be going to Perth for 3 glorious weeks and I can't wait to be back by the sea again and enjoying everything that we have missed in the past 2 years (and I never thought for a minute that I would EVER miss PIES). N wants to see a kangaroo and I want to stock up on grocery items and souvenirs - the shopping list is getting long already! As well as catching up with friends and family, we will have to apply for a new US visa while we are in Perth, as without one we won't be allowed back into the US. The visa we have now is fine for while we're here, but as soon as we leave the country it's game over and we have to apply for a new visa. Here's hoping that it all goes smoothly and we make it back to Bagdad again without any hassles.

Hail to the Chief: the US Gets a New President

On Tuesday January 20 the long wait ended and the 44th President of the United States was sworn in. I watched some of the inauguration ceremony on TV at home (I was off work that day). It was interesting to watch the inauguration ceremony and to see how much pomp and ceremony goes into it (a lot!). Some people have asked me what I think about the new President, me being from another country and looking at things "from the outside in". I usually like to avoid the topic of politics because I prefer to keep my political views to myself, so I won't publish my opinions here. Most Americans I have spoken to about the new presidency see it as a positive thing and they are optimistic that Obama will be a good leader and will do a lot of good for the country. He is entering the office in a very difficult time so we will see how it goes as he and America face the challenges ahead of them this year.

A Rollercoaster of a Different Kind: Adventures in Copper Economics for the Young Enthusiast

The last quarter of 2008 saw a devastating crash in the price of copper, coinciding with financial crises both in the US and in many other parts of the world. Starting in September the price of copper fell from above US$4 a pound to around $1.25 by the end of the year. In Novmber there were layoffs at our mine, followed by even more layoffs in the week before Christmas. For a small, close-knit community like ours it has been acutely felt. Conversations used to start with, "So, how are you doing?" but now it's, "So, are you still working?" The price of copper is on everyone's minds and we are hoping and praying that we will be lucky enough to get to stay on here for at least a while longer and continue our American adventure, at least until the end of our current visa (another 2 years). Fingers crossed and see how it goes.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

California Dreaming Part 2

In early November we again made the pilgrimage west to California, this time with Mum on board, to revisit Disneyland and Legoland. For Mum it was very special to be able to share the magic and excitement of both those parks with her only grandchild. I wasn't sure if I would ever make it to Disneyland once in my lifetime, and now we've been twice in 6 months! In some ways it was much better to visit in November than in June (the height of summer); the crowds were much less and the wait for many of the rides was almost non-existent (except for the Nemo Submarine ride - N's favourite, of course - the wait for which was still extremely long, and no Fast Pass available) plus this November the weather was still warm and sunny so it really was very pleasant.

Disneyland was just as much fun to visit a second time and having been before we knew what we really wanted to see and do, and what to avoid, which helped to save a lot of time. Mum went on some rides that I hadn't really thought she would want to try - but once on the Pirates of the Caribbean was enough for her! Funnily enough, for someone who doesn't like heights or flying, the Soaring Over California ride was her favourite (if you don't know it, it's a simulator-style ride in which you sit in suspended seats in front of an IMAX-type movie screen, and it looks and feels like you really are flying over a whole bunch of California landmarks and scenic areas)!

Legoland was a hit again with our resident Lego fanatic. This time we went for 2 days, by the end of which we had seen absolutely everything at least a few times. The water park and some of the rides were closed for the winter but there was still a lot to keep everyone occupied and entertained. Legoland's new aquarium hadn't opened yet when we last visited so that added some variety and satisfied our junior marine biologist's thirst for all things sharky.
Given the expense and our plans for travel to Australia this year, I think it will be a while before we make it back to Disneyland again. But you should never say never...

Amusing Questions We Have Been Asked - Part 6 in an Occasional Series

"What is Santa Claus called in Australia?"

It's OK, it's a Corral - a weekend in Tombstone

At the end of September my mother came to visit us from New Zealand for 7 weeks. It was fantastic to have her here and for her to spend some time with N in particular (her only grandchild). One fun (long!) weekend trip we did while Mum was here was to visit Tombstone in southern Arizona. From Bagdad it was a 6-hour drive so it's almost as far away as California, and a very long way to go just for the weekend! Our visit coincided with the 117th anniversary of the gunfight at the OK Corral so that was as good an excuse as any to make the drive south and check it out.
We watched a re-enactment of the famous shootout (during which my cell phone, which almost NEVER rings, and which of course I had forgotten to turn off, rang - thanks Wendy!) and checked out some of the old saloons and historic buildings. It must have been a really wild place in the early 1880's. There are some fascinating stories and some very old buildings to explore.

Tombstone gave us our own funny story to take home. We were exploring the Bird Cage Theatre, a very famous Tombstone theatre that had closed exactly as it was in the late 1800's and wasn't opened again for decades. It is commonly held that the Bird Cage Theatre (and many other Tombstone buildings) is haunted by several ghosts. Walking around the ancient theatre and seeing the furnishings, curtains and furniture in its original condition, it's easy to believe that it could be true. Before we went to Tombstone we had told N that Tombstone is a cowboy town and to get the most out of the experience he insisted on wearing his checkered shirt, cowboy hat (from the 4th July parade) and jeans all weekend. So when he walked around he looked like a little cowboy, and fit in very well (especially since it was the anniversary of the shootout at OK Corral, there were lots of people in Tombstone dressed in period costume). So we were walking around in the Bird Cage Theatre, taking it all in. The theatre is split-level, and stairs lead to the lower level which is just behind the stage. While we were there, another group of visitors was walking around in the lower level. From the upper level N noticed a small window covered with mesh that allowed a view of the lower area, so he knelt down to have a look (the window was just above the floor). At the same moment that he put his face to the window, a boy on the lower level looked up, saw what he took to be the ghost of a small cowboy looking back at him from the window, and nearly jumped out of his skin. It was just so funny, N really had this boy scared and thinking that he'd seen a real ghost. Check out this link if you want to find out more about the real ghosts and some more historic information about Tombstone:

One thing that I really wanted to do when we visited Tombstone was to go to the Boothill Cemetary and pay my respects to Lester Moore. His must be one of the most well-known epitaphs in the world (see the photo above) and it really strikes a chord with my sense of humour. The first few years of the 1880's must have been a bumper year for the Tombstone undertaker as it seemed like almost the whole cemetary was filled in 1881 and 1882. Many of the headstones tell how the person buried there had died, and so many of them had been killed in one dispute or another, or had been shot by someone who had not long afterwards been shot by someone else, and there they all were in the cemetary together. That was how they settled arguments in those days: whoever was left standing was the winner.