On a whim, Sapphire and Cricket headed to Washington D.C. aboard an Amtrak train to hear a speech by Fred Singer, a prominent U.S. climate change denier. During a stopover in Beaver Falls, two scruffy men in bad suites boarded the train and sat across from Sapphire and Cricket, both clutching maniacally to manila file folders. Within thirty minutes of departure, the smooth swaying of the train and the rhythmic clacking of the wheels caused the men to fall asleep, the contents of their folders dropping to the floor.
Sapphire couldn’t help but look. The documents, labeled “INSECT-CLASSIFIED”, described the pictured insect as: “No. 1 Leader/Positively Identified by Field Agents Graham & Smith in London, Halifax, San Francisco, Beaver Falls, Wanapitie, Nevis Island and St. Louis.” The document further authorized a “squish without prejudice” order by the commissioner of INSECT, Melina Schulz.
Sapphire and Cricket inspected the documents for a few moments. They had never heard of INSECT and were genuinely surprised to see their little village of Wanapitie listed with all the other places. As all this was sinking in, the two men began to move, and Sapphire hastily placed the folders back on their neighbours’ seats.
WHAT IT IS NOT
It was a warm afternoon, and Frank James was in one of his favourite places on earth: the Mark Twain National Forest. Walking along the edge of the Eleven Point National River, James came across this curious looking fellow among the shrubs at the river’s edge. As James approached, a wickedly huge widow maker broke off from a pine tree adjacent to him and crashed to the ground missing him by no less than a foot. As James collected himself from the near-death experience, this curious little insect flew very close to him and in James’s words, “winked” at him.
Unlike the human Olympics, the canine Olympics take place every year for four consecutive years then takes a four-year hiatus so that new athletes can begin training. With that in mind, this Beaver Falls canine didn’t have much time to lament his defeats in the high jump and the hundred meters when he was pressed back into training.
The United States Canine Olympic Committee decided on a rigorous training regime to prepare this dog for Canine Olympic Style Wrestling. Pictured here is his diminutive but tenacious trainer showing our Olympian the finer points of the sport.
WHAT IT IS NOT
It was a true breakthrough in rail safety when Amtrak hired and trained two Beaver Falls dogs, Chuckles and Jasper, to walk along the Amtrak rail lines looking for track defects and any other safety concerns.
It was a great disappointment when Amtrak officials announced that the pair would be laid off due to declining revenues and smaller passenger volumes.
Chuckles took the news particularly hard, but after a spirited donnybrook with Jasper both dogs felt better and vowed to secure employment elsewhere.
Cricket and I often take the Amtrak to Washington DC to listen to the annual speech delivered by the head of the National Parks Service. On one such trip, we were delayed in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania.
We wandered around the beautiful town for a couple of hours when we came across a well attended picnic of civic dignitaries.
Cameras in hand, we asked the gathered folks if we could take a photo of all the Beaver Falls officials. After a few pictures, we realized the town mayor was absent from the festivities and were told by the town treasurer that the mayor was rarely seen in public and disliked having his picture taken.
Some weeks later, a plain brown envelope containing this photo arrived at our Wahnapitai home.
WHAT IT IS NOT
Parks Canada recently enlisted the services of several Canadian beavers to help in the detection and elimination if invasive species throughout wetland areas in Canada.
After several weeks of intense training at the National Bird and Mammal Institute in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, these beavers are assigned to various areas around the country.
The beaver in this photo is assigned to the Georgian Bay area of Ontario and has a specialty in detecting purple loosestrife and dam building.
While on an Amtrak train leaving Beaver Falls and heading to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, these two dogs refused to get off the tracks, bringing the passenger train to a complete stop. The dogs, Chuckles and Jasper, were especially trained to sniff out cracks in the steel rails and bring to a halt a passing train until required repairs were finished. While mulling around for repair crews to arrive, Sapphire took this photo of the two serious canines.
WHAT IT IS NOT
Every Friday morning at 7 am, these dogs board a small train known as the Budd Car which Runs through parts of Northern Ontario, Canada. It is believed these dogs, who travel on their own, are heading out to a camp near Amyot, Ontario, Canada, to do a bit of fishing and general relaxation.
Some years ago, this duo missed the train and they now place themselves on the track so this unfortunate situation will not be repeated. Sapphire took this photo just before the famous “all aboard” was shouted by the conductor.