Photo courtesy of morgue file.
Flip-Flop Tours. My sister and I invented this entity while driving across country. “See the world in a day,” is our motto. That was how most of our vacations have always been: drive-by with the occasional stop and look at something, then get back in the car. (Similar to the Griswolds in National Lampoons’ Vacation when the family stopped to see the Grand Canyon).
Everyone should travel across country at least once in their life by car. I’ve done it a few times now and each time has been an adventure. Hopefully, most people are able to take in more touristy destinations and sight-seeing on the way. We could not, as we had a backseat-driving 4-year-old in the backseat who tended to get cranky in the afternoons, and we didn’t have much time as we had a self-imposed deadline to reach our destination.
The most recent adventure was caused by my sister’s move from coastal North Carolina to the desert of southwestern Arizona. My job, and the real subject of this tale, was to keep an eye on the sea-monkeys (names unknown) and the betta fish, “Fishy.” Fishy came with an aquatic plant of some sort that also had a name, “Moss Ball.”
(Photo courtesy of wikipedia.org. Fish pictured above is slightly different color than “Fishy”)
Sea-monkey are unique little critters. I don’t know if you’ve seen a sea-monkey. It came as a surprise to me what they actually looked like, and a bit of a disappointment to learn they aren’t at all like those cartoons in those sea-monkey advertisements I had seen a million times in comic books when I was growing up.
Comic Version of the “Amazing Live Sea-Monkeys” (They look like fun! They learn tricks too apparently, according to the advertisement):
The REAL Sea-Monkeys, aka Brine Shrimp (Artemia salina) are below:
Photo courtesy of wikipedia.org. Pictured above are the real-life sea-monkeys—a mating pair and a single one.
My nephew’s particular sea-monkeys appeared to be very busy in the mating process most of our journey (see photo above for that visual), so I suppose they were a “bowlfull of happiness.” To make certain every one of them were accounted for, I frequently counted them: one… two… three… four… and the single one—five. We felt a little sorry for the single one who just swam around without a mate attached to its back. It seemed happy enough, though, going about its business, swimming and eating. All the sea-monkeys seemed to be oblivious to my constant staring at them like a zoo attraction.
On the first day, I placed the sea-monkeys inside the car door (the car was packed with the usual moving stuff, us, plus the cat and toys to keep my nephew busy—there hadn’t been much room available). It seemed to be a safe-enough place, until… I forgot about them when I got out of the car and shut the door. Water splattered everywhere like a torrential rain-fall. The cover came off and out with the waterfall that formed a mess on the carpet floor landed two sea-monkeys! Of course, my nephew had a saying for that… ‘All aboard the fail boat.‘ The fail boat—yes, it’s a crowded boat sometimes, and amazingly it didn’t sink from all the weight inside.
With quick reflexes, though, I was able to scoop them up under my fingernail and place the squirmy little critters back inside their little watery home and save their lives. I counted them to be certain. Success! Everyone was accounted for and no one had died. After that debacle, I remembered to take them out of the door before opening and closing it. I had a few other close calls though when I forgot about them, but nothing was as major ad a venture for the sea-monkeys as that first cascade of rushing water that pair of sea-monkeys ended up being swept up into.
When we hit Mississippi, near Louisiana, the traveling got a little more dangerous for the aquatic life in the car. The heat from the sun beating down on us added to the fact that we were trapped in a traffic jam without a way to escape it. We wondered why there didn’t have another route.
Photo courtesy of morgue file. Pictured above is not the actual traffic jam we encountered. It’s just for demonstrative purposes. In real life, no one got out of their cars and there were more semi-trucks parked along side us. And trees. Lots and lots of trees. There doesn’t appear to be a tree shortage in Mississippi.
We probably moved a few inches at a time for hours and hours (It seemed that way, anyway). After sitting there, trapped amongst the caravan of traffic and overheating cars, the heat reached a point where the air conditioning didn’t seem to be working any more and we feared the sea-monkeys and fish might boil. I made multiple attempts to keep them shaded from the sun and heat, sometimes providing shade with my hand or whatever I could find (which tended to be the mail my sister grabbed prior to our leaving her house).
Arizona! It was a miracle! All five of the sea-monkeys; Fishy, and Moss Ball made it alive. No critter died on my watch 🙂
(Epilogue: Unfortunately, Fishy passed away about a week after the journey from unknown causes. I’ve heard there was a funeral and Moss Ball joined Fishy in his desert grave. That same day, my sister made haste to replace Moss Ball with Moss Ball 2 and a new Fishy 2).