Tag Archives: elephants

The Ten Best Things about Truth or Consequences, NM

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The New Mexico towns I’ve spent the most time in are Taos and Truth or Consequences. Each is special in its own way to me. In my next two posts, I’ll share my ten favorite things about each town. Since I was in Truth or Consequences when I wrote this post, I’ll start there.

The Ten Best Things About Truth or Consequences

#1 My favorite thing in T or C (as the locals call the town) are the historic bathhouses with hot mineral water for soaking. Especially when it’s cold out, I love to soak in that hot, hot water.

#2 The town has a really cool name. Originally the town was called Hot Springs, NM, but in 1950, it became Truth or Consequences to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the radio program of the same name.  I appreciate the reminder to tell the truth or face the consequences.

#3 T or C is warm (or at least warmish) in the winter. When Northern New Mexico is too cold for me, I head south to this town in the Chihuahua Desert.

The cold season lasts from November 22 to February 14 with an average daily high temperature below 59°F. The coldest day of the year is December 25, with an average low of 28°F and high of 50°F.

#4 Miner’s Claim (318 N Broadway Street) is one of the best rock shops I’ve ever visited. The store is crammed packed with gems, minerals, beads, incense, jewelry, knickknacks, and shiny rocks. The guy behind the counter owns the store, and he’s friendly and knowledgeable. While he does stock high-end items, his prices are fair, and there’s plenty in the store for folks on a limited budget.

The turtle that gives Turtleback Mountain its name.

#5 There’s a turtle reclining on one of the mountains overlooking the town! I love geological formations that look like animals!

The sculpture Joy, by R. William Winkler with one of the Pelican Spa buildings in the background.

#6 Truth or Consequences is an art town, and I don’t just mean the work on display in galleries. The town boasts lots of great art on public walls and in front of businesses. From murals to sculptures, there’s lots of cool art to see while walking around T or C.

#7 The town is so into art, it has an Art Hop on the second Saturday of each month. The Art Hop is a great excuse to meet up with friends and see what’s new in the galleries.

#8 The plants are cool in T or C. There are more cacti here than in the Taos area, and the ornamental rosemary grows in huge bushes. I like to break a small branch of rosemary off a bush and tuck it behind my ear for a smell more delicious than any perfume. The last time The Man and I left T or C, we cut several large pieces of rosemary from a plant in front of a gas station and arranged it on the dashboard for a great smelling van.

The Rio Grande as seen from Rotary Park.

#9 Folks can get up close and personal with the Rio Grande in Truth or Consequences. The river runs right through town. It’s accessible from Ralph Edwards Park, as well as Rotary Park. People fish in the river from Rotary Park and south of it too. If a person wanted to, s/he could wade right into the Rio Grande in T or C.

A panoramic view of Elephant Butte Lake from the campground in the state park.

#10 If the Rio Grande isn’t enough water for a desert dweller, T or C is less than ten miles from the 40,000 acre Elephant Butte Lake State Park.  Elephant Butte Lake is New Mexico’s largest body of water. The lake offers miles of trails, two marinas, sandy beaches, fishing, boating,  and a campground.

Any questions about Truth or Consequences can be left in the comments, and I will do my best to answer them.

I took all of the photos in this post.

Elephant Sex: Review of Modac

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Modoc: The True Story of the Greatest Elephant That Ever Lived
In April 2015, I read a book called Modoc: The True Story of the Greatest Elephant That Ever Lived by Ralph Helfer. If you are interested in Elephant Sex, go ahead and read my review, which follows.

The subtitle of this book is “The True Story of the Greatest Elephant That Ever Lived,” but it reads more like a piece of adventure fiction. The author says the story is true, and I don’t doubt that most of it is. However, the author doesn’t offer any sources (no bibliography, no end notes), doesn’t even say he spoke extensively to Bram and/or Gertie Gunter. Helfer does mention in his author’s note that he used “research and documented proof, which may-or may not-be true.” He also mentions “‘hearsay’-that which people tell you is factual,” but he never says what people he talked to. Finally, he writes the sentence that makes me wonder… “Then a little (poetic) political license is taken.” What does that mean? I take it to mean the author embellished the story, but when and where?

The part of this book that bothered me most was all the direct quotes. How can a true story include so much dialogue? Did people really remember exactly what they said 30, 40, 50 years before? I doubt it. Why use direct quotes if you can’t be sure you’re quoting directly? Usually when authors make up dialogue, they note that they’ve done so, saying it was written to the best of their (or their subjects’) recollection. Nothing like that here, just direct quotes on page after page.

I guess a reader of nonfiction never really knows what parts of a true story are true and what parts are embellishment.

The book is well written and kept me interested, kept me reading. It is an adventure story, and what an adventure Modac and Bram (her trainer-companion-best friend) have. They survive a shipwreck in the Indian Ocean. They live in an Elephantarium somewhere in India. They meet the Royal White Elephant, which no one was allowed to see without permission from the maharajah. They work in the Indian teak forests. They are forced to go to war. They are a huge success in a circus in the United States. So much happens to the elephant and her boy!

Someone asked if this book is suitable for kids. While there are a few mentions of human sexuality (two older teenagers are described as engaging in “romantic intimacy” and there is a reference to a heterosexual couple playfully wrestling and the young woman being surprised by the man’s “hardness”), there’s an entire elephant sex scene. The male elephant’s “erect penis was bursting for attention…Some six feet in length, perhaps weighing twenty-five pounds, and prehensile…” (Prehensile?! Prehensile?!) After the cow elephant was introduced, “[she] spread her hind legs to support the bull’s weight…The penis had searched and found the vulva. Insertion was imminent…As the delicate tips of their trunks met, the orgasm erupted.” Don’t give this book to your 10 year-old unless you want to discuss all that at the breakfast table!

 

Honestly, I’d be more worried about kids being subjected to the violence in this book. There is quite a bit of violence here, much of which I did not want to read. The shipwreck scene and its aftermath are scary. A man is executed (death by elephant) for killing his wife. Bandits try to steal an elephant and kill her human friend, and she (the elephant) gets vengeance. A woman escapes rape only through death. Elephants and their people are forced to go to war when rebels take over their village. War leads to injury and death. Modoc is mistreated by strangers throughout this book, sometimes in extremely violent ways.

If I were responsible for children, I wouldn’t let anyone under the age of 15 read this book unless I knew s/he possessed a high level of maturity. Even so, I would read the book first and have frequent (possibly chapter by chapter) discussions of what the characters were experiencing. This book offers a lot of possibilities for nightmares, so I’d offer a lot of possibilities for talking through all those scary parts.