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April 19, 2009

Creek Bank Festival

Frankie had a lovely time at his first social event of the year. On Saturday he put in an appearance at the Creek Bank Festival in Leeds, Alabama.

Frankie, Jane (friend and assistant) and I arrived just before the opening to avoid a long walk with Frankie to get into the festival. We parked just across the driveway so we only had to cross the parking lot. Of course, getting Frankie out of the car and across the parking lot is an event in itself: cars pull over, people gape, Frankie goes the wrong way...well everything as expected.

Frankie was excited as ever for "a big walk"Posted Image. There was a crowd around him at almost every moment. Being an expert at this I bring "The Frankie Survival Kit": a skateboard, hand-out sheets covering the top ten questions, a camera (Jane's), Handi-Wipes, and a bag of carrots. Frankie's needs were met.

What I forgot was a human survival kit: water, cash for food, sunscreen, hat and two spare human assistants so we could take breaks. There is no break from Frankie's endless walk. Posted Image

Really you would think that walking with a tortoise that has a pace of an older lady with a walker would be an easy task. But no.

There are endless course corrections (use foot), the picking of dandelions, the tossing of carrots, the lifting of children to pull them from harms way as Frankie stops for nothing, Frankie constantly stepping on my toes, answering the same 20 questions over and over, handing out fifty Frankie information sheets, constantly looking down, walking backwards so to keep an eye on Frankie, and the constant regret that there is no food or water for humans.

There was even a booth giving out free water but regretfully it was not in Frankie's path. At one point I spared Jane long enough for her to grab two samples of simply heavenly cinnamon bread.Posted Image It is entirely possible that the cinnamon bread was the worse ever in the entire world but to us humans it was much needed sustenance.

And Frankie trekked onward.

We did stop by the City of Leeds police booth -- or maybe I should say Frankie plowed through via a back table.Posted Image The four officers were delighted that Frankie stopped by until he decided to pee in the middle of their booth. Posted Image I could do nothing but apologize (he peed on the grass so there is no clean up), place a chair over the incriminating wet area Posted Image and get away before they realized how stinky tortoise pee is.

And there was the incident when Frankie headed straight for the performance stage. As cute as a 60 pound tortoise would be stealing the spot light from a talented young boy belting out his church song resume, I thought it best to steer Frankie clear. Best I could do was divert him into the crowd of spectators. He still upstaged the young singer but at least Frankie didn't plow him off the stage.

We made it twice around the festival before I came to the complete understanding that Frankie could do this all day but Jane and I was about to drop dead of exhaustion. A few more hundred course corrections and we make it to the car. We put the struggling 60 pound tortoise who wants to stay for another six hours into the car and drove home.

When we got to my house and put Frankie in the yard, Jane and I went straight for a couple of chairs and collapsed. We chatted for a while but what I remember most about those moments were how completely exhausted I was and how much I desperately needed a nap, some food and water. Posted Image

Keeping up with Frankie's social calendar is hard work!

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