Oh, the things you see

 

Oh, the things you see when the water drops. Right in front of the Nature Center in Pueblo, Colo., ancient cars lurked semi-submerged and jutting up from the Arkansas River, reports the Rocky Mountain News. Thanks to record low flows, a dozen volunteers were able to yank out a 1950s-era Cadillac convertible and a Depression-era sedan, thereby removing both an eyesore for visitors and a hazard for fishing lines.

Utah's Great Salt Lake is fraying at the edges. Lack of rain and a hot summer have dropped the lake by two feet, reports The Associated Press. While this is good for brine shrimp that flourish in the low water, and better for businesses that harvest the tiny animals, it is not so great for humans. The noses of visitors detect a certain "lake stink," caused by decaying organic matter as the water retreats.

With water cops on the beat now, you can get into trouble if you break a sprinkling ban. After a woman in Morrison, Colo., felt she had to water her backyard plants no matter what, she got turned in by a neighbor, reports the Denver Post. But when police followed a hose into the woman's backyard, they found more than dampness: Inside six pots they found six pot plants, each 18 inches high. They arrested the marijuana grower, but "it is unclear if she was reprimanded for the water violation as well."
Thirty thousand rubber ducks just got cheated out of a ride down the Rio Grande River. Low flows forced an annual "Duck Pluck" ducky race that benefits service organizations to move to the Albuquerque Botanic Gardens. The Albuquerque Journal says Boy Scouts in boats will have to pull the duckies out of a pond to identify the prizewinners.

There she was, Mrs. Kansas International, crowned at a pageant last March, and all set to go to a national pageant in Pigeon Forge, Tenn. But what to do about the kids? Vicky McCurdy told pageant bosses that her husband had to work, and no babysitter could be found in Ottawa, Kan., so she'd have to skip the competition to take care of her two children * whereupon pageant officials fired her. Mightily miffed, McGurdy told the AP that she found her dismissal unworthy "of an organization that touts family values."

President Bush recently allowed reporters to get a glimpse of his life on the ranch in Crawford, Texas. The orchestrated peek showed no loafing. Bush was followed around in the pre-dawn light as he declared war on invading brush, cutting out fast-growing cedar trees and burning them. "To Bush, 'liberating' his oaks from cedar is an act of environmental protection," reports the AP. For Secret Service agents trained to take a bullet for the president, the work means making sure the bad trees don't bang Bush in the head. The president seemed to relish the sweaty labor, and he certainly eschewed chitchat: "Spotting a herd of cattle, he says simply, 'bovine.' Minutes pass before he says another word." Bush planned to stay a month at the ranch.

A souped-up sport utility vehicle is on the market, though the sport is war. For half a million dollars, you can buy an armor-plated Ford truck or GMC Suburban and equip it with a grenade launcher or machine gun. The weapons pop up through the sun roof, reports the AP. But don't even think about getting good gas mileage: That can "dip into the single digits."

If you thought backyard barbecues were safe, think again. In San Andreas, Calif., police "followed a trail of meat juice to a woman suspected of stealing steak from a neighbor's barbecue." The charge leveled against the woman was receiving stolen property, reports the AP.

Fried chicken may have gotten a cop in big trouble in Taos County, N.M. Though state police conclude that "it is impossible to say" whether an officer was eating Kentucky Friend Chicken when he smashed into another vehicle, a KFC box was found on the dashboard of the police car. There was another problem as well, reports the AP. Police officer Anthony Trujillo was "speeding at 80 miles per hour," according to a lawsuit filed by Ernest Mondragon, the driver of the pickup involved in the collision. Mondragon, however, was charged with two traffic violations. Officer Trujillo, who has since resigned from the police department, told officers at the accident he was driving only 40 mph, and according to a police spokesman: "It's not against the law to eat and drive. It's inadvisable, but not against the law."

About 2,100 opera-goers in Santa Fe, N.M., got to see the first hour of a performance of Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin by flashlight, battery-powered lanterns and generators, reports The New Mexican. Electricity was disrupted by a bull snake that had crawled into a transformer, creating a power outage. But the show went on, making "an interesting evening of theater," said administrator Tom Morris. Seventeen years ago, the same thing happened, only that time a mouse was the culprit: It chewed a power cable and did not survive the experience. No word on the fate of the snake.

Betsy Marston writes Heard around the West for High Country News in Paonia, Colorado (bet-sym@hcn.org). She appreciates tips of weird Western doings.