Thursday, May 28, 2009

Things I Didn't Do

While recently driving around the US for three and a half months I got to see and do a number of really cool things, some of which I've described previously in this blog. There were also a number of things that I wanted or intended to do, and then didn't do for one reason or another. This is a post about the things I didn't do. For obvious reasons, there are no photos, so here's a picture of fireworks from this past Memorial Day.

1. Watts Towers in Los Angeles. I was in LA, I intended to go, and then it was sort of just time to move on, and I hadn't gotten to it yet. No excuse. Next time.

2. The Lightning Field. 200 stainless steel poles, each 20 feet tall, spread in a grid across a square mile of western New Mexico? Sweet. Turns out that it's a big expensive pain in the ass to visit, you can't just drive up and check it out. Pft.

3. Trinity. The site of the world's very first nuclear explosion. Only open to visitors two days a year. I just wasn't there at the right time.

4. Chimp Haven. It's a retirement home for chimpanzees. Really. The entertainment industry only has use for juvenile chimpanzees, once they're adults they're too surly (and strong). So their working life is about three to five years, and then they live another 40 or 50 years before they die. With most animals, we're content to kill them when they're no longer useful, but apparently not with chimpanzees. Thus Chimp Haven, and other similar institutions. Open to the public for visits seven days a year, I missed the March 21st open house by one day.

5. Rocket launch. I've always wanted to see a rocket or shuttle launch. The last time I was driving around the US, in 2003, I watched a rocket sit on the pad and then go nowhere when the launch was canceled nine minutes before liftoff. This time I hoped to see the launch of the GOES-O satellite, scheduled for April 6th. It was postponed, so I ended up skipping Florida entirely this time (despite the fact that Saint Petersburg, Florida has the largest collection of works by Salvador Dali outside of Spain). The GOES-O satellite still hasn't launched, and is currently scheduled for June 26th.

6. The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death. Murderous little dollhouses, what could be better? Other than a rocket launch or chimpanzees? The Nutshell Studies are currently housed in the Medical Examiner's Office in Baltimore, and are allegedly viewable by appointment. I called, and was told to fax a request to the Chief Medical Examiner, which I did. I never heard back. I certainly wouldn't ever suggest that you should incessantly send crank faxes to anyone. Certainly not. On an unrelated topic, the Chief Medical Examiner's name is Dr. David Fowler and his fax number is 410-333-3063.


  1. I'm curious where you came up with the list of sites (both successfully visited and not). That would be interesting to see (though probably a real pain to document...), especially for those of us planning similar trips.

  2. Josh, I wish I knew. I can almost never remember how I decided to do something. Once I've decided, it just has this feeling of inevitability, like I was always going to do it that way. But I do keep a list of places that sound interesting to me. Whenever I learn of a new place that sounds cool, I put it on the list. As an example, last night the Albert-Kahn Museum outside of Paris went onto the list. Tonight Cappadocia, Turkey went on the list.

  3. Ben, please post something new soon! :(

  4. If you like Dali, the Dali museum in Figueres (Catalunya, Spain) is a really cool place. If you go there, you should also visit l'Estartit and Portlligat.


    Gemma (Emerson st.159)

  5. Thanks Gemma! I love Dali, and will definitely visit (I'm sure I'll be in Spain someday...).

  6. So, would it be tacky of me to make put all these things on my list of things to do before I die? It would, wouldn't it? Maybe I will anyway, just so I can send you pictures...


  7. Hey, they're all still on my list. Except maybe the Nutshells, those jerks. I definitely need to see a rocket launch some time.