Sunday, March 8, 2009

Looking Sharp

We have but a few days of true leisure remaining in our Phoenix portfolio. This weekend we had decided to visit the Arizona Science Center. First a side errand to the Heard Museum.

Traci had needed to purchase something from the Heard, the premier native arts museum, in Phoenix. She planned to drop in to the gift shop, make a purchase and we could quickly head out to the science center. We arrived finding free parking in areas surrounding the Heard. There were quite a few cars jockeying for limited spaces so we counted ourselves fortunate to have landed a quick hitch for the minivan. We had packed a few sandwiches so the plan was to have the kids and I eat at a bench near the parking lot while Traci and Savannah headed off to the Heard a block east of the parking lot.

Sophia Shane and I unwrapped our PBJ's and took brief residence on a bench surrounded by flowers and palo verde trees. The parking lot usually serviced the Immigration Department of Phoenix, today it was a free lot for the Heard. We sat on our bench quietly working through our sandwiches in the bright noon sun with a unreasonably pleasant 65 degree temperature surrounding us. Occasional pedestrians made there way past our lunch and nodded their hellos or gave a sideways glance. The day was extremely gorgeous. I am slightly superstitious and swear the city knows we plan to vacate in a few weeks and is giving its best effort to keep us here. I know this sounds a little self centered but please don't ruin my illusion.

Sophia entertained the flowers around us by bending near them, cupping them gently with her tiny hands and giggling pronouncements, "Look a pink one!", "Take a picture of these daddy!" She wore a pink frilly dress with many layers beneath giving the idea she might catch flight in a gust of wind. The pink was interrupted in regular intervals by white polka dots. She gave Amy Adams a run for her role in Enchanted, for I knew if a bird would have landed on one of her outstretched fingers I would have declared myself inside a cartoon world.

Other worlds had captured Shane as well. He has a perpetual battle raging for the good of the universe with dramatic sound effects and several punches and kicks in the air. He will often fly his spaceship or throw imaginary projectiles toward an unsuspecting enemy. It is impressive to watch his embattled pantomime but can be a little gnawing when the action lasts nearly 24/7.

Traci returned quicker than I anticipated announcing there was no way to get to the gift shop without paying full price to enter the Heard. She explained there was a festival going on and these two days are the only two days all year where one can not enter any part of the museum without purchase.

I found a nice spot for a photo and took the kids up while Traci and Savannah finished their sandwiches. Traci appeared at my ear announcing I need to roll up the windows and lock the van so we can walk to the science center. It turns out Traci and Sophia had been to the science center before and Traci recognized a nearby building as some sort of landmark. A quick step down this street and we would be there. Good, I was feeling relieved not to have to move the car again. I locked up and we set off.

We crossed the street by the parking lot to meet a large ornate group of townhouses built on the opposing corner of the street. This, Traci informed me, was said landmark and we would be at the museum in no time. We walked past the building fascinated by the half unoccupied and the third unfinished. The children were fascinated by the building, it accentuated Sophia's princess theme with tall wrought iron, towers and turrets with green copper roofing and small flowered entryways. The building was fantasyand the children openly fantasized about living there.

We passed the end of the building, looking up finding a long winding brick wall clearly demarcating the terminus of the street we had been walking toward the museum on. Unable to help myself I asked if this wall had been there when Traci came to the science center the last time. She chuckled, patronizing my sarcasm, and admitted she had erred in her location. We went back to the car to find the science center was actually 2 miles south of our current location, per the highly suspicious GPS system.

We made our way to the science center, entered and began the journey through exhibits. One exhibit had held the anticipation of the trip in the balance, The Bed of Nails! Traci, as I said she had visited once prior, whet our imaginations with an online video of Ellen Degenerous lying on the bed of nails. There was no way a person could just lie on those little pointy nails and not feel bad. There on the computer was a woman lying quite comfortably on the bed of nails. We all had been hooked by Traci's uncanny ability to sell. We found the bed of nails and everyone took a turn, except our mighty skeptic, Shane. He watched several people including all of his family ride those projectiles supine but held his reservation about the whole process. He pushed the button to raise the bed of nails and lower the bed of nails yet he refused to get on. We explained, rather lamely, about the even distribution of weight across many nails instead of one thereby displacing weight and rendering the sharp nails harmless and he stood his ground. So we went on to other exhibits, the pulleys, the levers, musical instruments, electric motors, electric generators. Shane took a brief intermission between each exhibit to study the bed of nails, watching man, woman and child brave the implausible.

We stacked 20 nails on the head of one nail, raced weighted wheels down a metal track, observed the parabolic flight of a rubber ball, all with a short pass by the bed of nails. At one point we all found ourselves around the bed of nails and we began mildly goading Shane into trying it. He finally relented, after watching his little sister's third ride on the amazing torturous device, he decided in might not hurt after all and he clambered aboard.

Fifteen minutes later Shane was starting his third presentation to all the newcomers. "I can lay on this bed of nails. It doesn't even hurt" He lays down with a persistent look of slight anxiety, like he's barely holding in a new case of stomach flu, that he just can't shake but this gives the audience a genuine excitement regarding the feat. "See it doesn't even hurt you," he proclaims victorious after dismounting. People continue to line up as we are leaving and I wonder how many more of these little trials Shane will suffer through only to find he's all right with whatever is going on.

1 comment:

Townsends said...

I can tell that you do a lot of planning for each excursion. I enjoy the pix and narratives.

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