You just never know, do you? You think you have somebody all figured out, and one day he up and surprises you totally.
That was the case when Harvey Cadbury came by recently to take me to lunch. Hadn't seen him for years, but I would have known him anywhere. That guy has the biggest ears! (His schoolmates used to call him Hopalong.)
“Well, Harvey, what have you been doing since you left El Paso?” I asked. “Last I heard you were a salesman….?
“Well, I'm doing a different kind of selling these days; I'm a tour guide."
"Yep!" He tossed a shiny brochure on the table. "Ol' Lop Ears O'Hare himself gave me the job when he heard my spiel for the last land development." He winked at me. "You know what I mean, Wanna; it was one of those ventures where the castle, or burrow, is in the air, but there are no facilities like gas and running water on the ground. It was my lucky day, too, when I got the offer from Lop Ears; another week and I might've been in jail."
He paused. "Especially if I had gone ahead with my Wild Surmise Fantasy Tour ...."
Well, I always said Harvey was either going to make it big or go to prison; there was no in-between. I'm so glad he decided his chances were better using his oratorial skills for educational - and legal - purposes.
"Take a minute to read the brochure, Wanna, and then I'll tell you about one of my tours."
DESTINATION : Somewhere South of Chile
AVAILABILITY : All Year; No Overnight Facilities Available
DIFFICULTY: Easy to Moderate; more strenous tours by special arrangement
DURATION: One Day, Sunrise to Sunset
Join us for O'Hare Cruise Line's Bunny Hop one day excursion as we explore one of the world's most interesting locales, Easter Island, which combines exciting history with breathtaking views. Located in one of the most remote areas found anywhere, Easter Island is only accessible by our special tour.
On your visit to this unique island you and fellow Lagomorphs from around the world will visit spectacular monoliths from ancient basket making civilizations. You may choose from various special hikes, including picturesque remains of long-gone egg forests and ruins of basket making and egg-dyeing sites. For the most physically fit, a hike to the Island Pinnacle is a never-to-be-forgotten experience where one can explore ruins of the Ceremonial Plaza, site of ancient rituals and bunny-bowling, fetch and bounding games, and have a 360 degree view of the Pacific Ocean.
One of our best adventures for all Lagomorpha, there is no other place to explore your rabbit and hare heritage like Easter Island. Hop aboard!
Early Breakfast on cruise ship
Embarkation at dawn on Easter Island
Tour of Visitor Center and brief explanations of various sites
First Stop: The Bunny Trail Loop - ancient monoliths and fossilized eggs from gigantic long-gone egg forests
Break for Tea and Pastries
Individuals may choose various short hikes, as explained by guide
Return to Visitor Center for Lunch - Lettuce and Cucumber Sandwiches, carrot sticks, variety of herbal and specialty teas
Afternoon optional guided excursions include hiking to other monoliths and ruins; a visit to an ancient Thumper Egg Rolling Site; a tour of The Burrows, ancient residences of Easter Island's original occupants. ((Any of these can be added; minimum of 6 participants required)
All visitors return to Visitor Center at specified time for Q&A
Tea and pastries (Souvenirs, books and maps available in Gift Shop)
Sunset return to O'Hare Lines Tour Ship
Snacks and lunch provided; if any special meal requirements, bring your own. Bottled water and tea provided; no alcoholic beverages. Sun hats and sunglasses strongly recommended. Canes or walking sticks rental at Visitors Center. Photography permitted, but leave all electronic devices except cameras on ship; no internet available. No digging or otherwise disturbing of environment permitted.
HAVE A HOPPY DAY!
I looked up from the brochure. "Wow, Harvey! This sounds great. You mean you have tourists coming from all over?"
"Absolutely! You can keep that brochure, if you want," he said. "O'Hare Tours has plenty of them."
Then he told me about one of his tours, The Bunny Hop Loop to the first group of monoliths and petrified eggs on Easter Island.
There were six originally in that group, including a husband and wife team, Bucky and Hazel, who started off bickering with each other.
"You can't eat that now, Hazel! You know how you get altitude sickness and you better wait to see how you do after you've climbed. I don't know what it is about you females. Eating all the time! Anyway, I've got plenty of eggs in my back pack for later!"
"You better watch out, Bucky. The lady behind me is eating, too, and she might not take too kindly to your comments. I think she could take you down pretty easily. "
The rest of the rabbits had been strangers until they gathered on the boat at sunrise for the beginning of the tour, for which all of them had signed up previously.
The group was yawning sleepily until Harvey said, "No toilet facilities available; bring your own bag."
"Just kidding, just kidding! Composting toilet facilities are available here at the Visitor Center and at The Pinnacle."
"This is not a math excursion, but it will make you feel so good you might want to multiply! Just remember what happens, though, when you overdo it! This place would not look like it does today if there hadn't been too much multiplication long ago!"
"Did you hear what he SAID?"
At this point the tourist in the pink hat dropped her basket and ran for the composting toilet facility. She had gotten seasick earlier, and had to spend the entire day on a cot in the Visitor Center. I don't know if rabbits are allergic to dramamine or not, but she probably regrets not buying some, otherwise.
Harvey always begins his tour with background information: "As some of you may know, lagomorphs are members of the taxonomic order Lagomorpha, of which there are two living families: the Leporidae and the Ochotonidae. The name of the order is derived from the Ancient Greek lagos. The first fossil record of mammals with lagomorph-like characters is from the Paleocene Epoch (65 to 54.8 million years ago), a time during which many mammalian orders diversified."
"No one lives on Easter Island today; rabbit overpopulation in the distant past destroyed all the existing food sources. And the chain of life being what it is, all the egg forests were killed off when they ate their seed eggs, as well.
"In the last century, Easter Island was declared a World Lagomorph Historic Site and is now off limits to any commercial or other use. The VISITOR CENTER is only open when the tour boat arrives, and no commercial lodgings are available, as only day tours are permitted. And by the way, before you go back to the ship take time to observe the lone surviving EASTER EGG TREE here at the center, the only one remaining of once-vast egg tree forests."
And at this point, as his tour group's eyes begin to collectively glaze over, he grins, and says, "Never fear, Fellow Lagomorphs. My philosophy is, Don't use a ten-dollar word when a dollar word'll do. Now that you have the background you need, I'll keep it simple. "
"So, folks, welcome to Easter Island!"
"Here we are at the first one on our tour, folks. It's hard to believe it even when you see it, isn't it? Imagine the immense labor and time involved in carving, transporting and erecting these Lagomorph monoliths."
"Wow, this one is a flop-ear!" Petrina Rabbit commented.
"Yes," Charlie says, nodding. "And perhaps you have read that a red cap at the other Easter Island meant somebody REALLY important. Same is probably true here, I would guess. "
"I can't vait to tell Harry and Hedda Hopper about this!" Petrina said with awe.
"Wow! What a great view from up here. And did you notice the size of some of those ancient eggs?"
"Hazel, do NOT try to eat those eggs! They are way too old. And besides, we are not supposed to disturb anything."
"Oh, good grief, Bucky. Your jokes about my eating are getting about as old as these eggs. I wonder; did they roll them down the hills?"
"They used to have several games," Charlie said. "Kind of like the Bunnylympics, heh heh."
"I noticed there's an optional tour to some of the ancient egg-rolling sites mentioned in the brochure. I may take that one," Rufus Rabbit says. "I am reminded of our Highland Games back in Scotland."
As they wander to each of the monoliths, they take time to appreciate the views of the ocean, stretching into vast distances on all sides.
"I can't believe I forgot my camera!"
"Can you guys even COMPREHEND all this?"
When they have completed the Bunny Loop, they take time for a tea and pastries break. At this point, Charlie points out that they can all go off on their own, if they wish, reminding them when they should all gather again at the Welcome Sign to return to the Visitor Center for lunch, and then other possible tours in the afternoon. Quite a full, strenuous day!
"Well, this was certainly an awesome experience. Always been proud to be a Scot, but this is the first time I ever really knew I was a Lagomorph, too," Rufus said.
"Well, I may have teased you a lot, Hazel. But I am happy to see your altitude sickness pills worked."
"Me, too, although I don't want to make that last climb up to where you are. You don't want to see me rolling down these hills like those ancient eggs!"
"I wonder how our companion back at the Visitor Center is doing. What a shame she had to miss this! I think she overindulged at breakfast."
"Just like the rabbits who made these statues. Maybe they should've called this Eater Island."
"Good one, Rosie! Gotta laugh in the face of all this extinction, right?
"Well, I had no conception what too much conception could cause, I must admit!"
"What a bunch of kidders! Okay," Charlie said. "You are all on your own now until lunch time. No hare-brained running around these stiff precipices, guys; I wouldn't want any of us to be a sacrifice, planned or unplanned!" Charlie said.
"And that's how an O'Hare Let Your Hare Down Tour goes, Wanna. Much like this each time. Husbands and wives bicker, somebody gets seasick ...."
I have no doubt Harvey is a big success as a tour guide. Not only does he have big ears, which makes them at ease with him, he has a golden tongue, too. Why, I could just SEE that place as he talked about it.
I do wish I had thought to ask him for more details on his abandoned Wild Surmise Fantasy Tour, though.
It took a long time for this to come together.
Several years I saw a cartoon of the real Easter Island figures on a hillside and happened to have a chocolate rabbit on the table in front of me that had just inspired another story, Death by Chocolate. I looked at it and at the cartoon and thought, hmmm.
I did quite a bit of research, including downloading a real brochure for an Easter Island Tour. Then, using my research and my imagination, I wrote the brochure for OHare Cruises and created the logo for it and the story.
And, of course, no cruise is complete without tourists, and who would they be? Well, rabbits, of course.
I looked through my stash for possibilities.
I wanted a variety of shapes and colors to suggest tourists who had come from around the world for this tour. Once I had decided which ones might work, I began looking through my stash for Hawaiian and other tropical appearing prints.
(I find that wrapping the small pieces around the cardboard bobbins works nicely to keep them smooth and tidy.)
Here I have chosen pieces for each rabbit.
I needed to flock them, however, before clothing them, so did that next. I didn't get pictures of the flocking process, but basically I gave the rabbits' heads, paws and feet (whatever would show outside the clothing) a base coat of paint. Then dropped them in a sandwich baggie with the flock and shook them briskly. I carefully removed them and set them aside to dry. Once they were thoroughly dry, I lightly brushed away any excess. Where there was a blank spot I added a bit more glue and flock.
Here's my first makeover.
From Peter Rabbit ...
... to Petrina Rabbit.
The flocking on these lighter rabbits worked well, generally.
The hardest part about the costuming for all these little figures was working around the hands and arms, which were fixed close to the body. Basically, I cut squares, rectangles and ovals of fabric for each element, buttering the back with tacky glue, and adding a coat of glue to each body part, as well. Then I pressed the fabric smoothly onto the body, and used my pick, fingernails and the dull side of my craft knife to indent into the creases and cover the elements that were already there, like the green tops of the carrot. I used my small sharp scissors to trim away excess as needed. I added a hat and lace to her dress to add to her feminine appearance.
For my next one, I wanted a darker flock to represent a rabbit from another area of the world. She turned out darker in some places than in others.
From pastel ...
... to print.
I repainted and glued bits of lace and fabric atop existing hats to make most of my tourists' hats. My mother used to have a fishing hat that looked like that little green one! lol
My next figure was quite a bit taller and I turned a she into a he.
From gardener ...
...to tourist ...
Once again, I discovered that the lighter shade of flock worked best. I wanted to have a sporty look for this guy, too. I love his checked pants. You know how whenever you go anywhere, you can always recognize the tourists by their weird garb?
This fellow also wears sunglasses which I purchased from Alice Zinn, although I added them much later.
The next makeover ...
From holding a flower ...
... to holding a basket.
This was the most difficult one because I had to hack away that flower and disguise the remaining flat spot by setting a basket in front of it. I wound up not having enough room to use this one in the scene, but she was fun to dress anyway. I like her added hat with its silk ribbon tie.
These two are VERY tiny rabbits, about the size of my thumb nail. The little yellow flowers on the blue fabric were too widely spaced by the time I got the sleeves pressed into place, so I made individual tiny blossoms from paper to fill in strategically and to trim her hat. Boy, that was a challenge!
I just gave him a tropical print jacket and sunglasses. (I had to paint some of those blooms, too.) The wee sunglasses were made especially for me by Signe Alvarstein of Norway. After I accidentally lost one pair I waited until my entire scene was done to glue on the pair this fellow wears because they are so very tiny and I didn't want to bump him and lose these, too. It just killed me to lose those very special glasses, and I have gone carefully through everything on my work table, on the floor and in the trash can, just in case. But to find something that tiny would be sheer luck, I think.
RULE: Do not glue glasses on until EVERYTHING else is finished.
These dressed bunny tourists stood on their landing platforms for months before I finally began to work on everything else. Originally, I had thought I would have them gathered at the shore as they disembarked, but that did not work out in the small space of my dome, which only stands eight inches high. I wanted to use that particular dome because the wooden part has an attached turntable, and I wanted the scene to be viewed from all sides.
Time went by as I kept mulling over how I wanted to do the land expanse. Originally I planned to stack florist foam, trim off the rough edges, and cover with green model railroad grass, with my monolith rabbits stretching up the hillside like on the "real" Easter Island. However, one day as I searched for something in my landscaping cupboard, I came across a package of grass covered styrofoam pieces that I had purchased at the dollar store once. I saw them and thought, Eggs! At first I was going to stack and glue them, ...
... and then I recalled a strange box with similar pieces already glued in place that has been in my stash for a long time, waiting for something. I don't recall where I got it or if something else was on top of it, or what, but I thought it would be ideal for my Easter Island base and save me considerable time!
As he has so many times before, Robert came to my rescue, working to pull out an entire styrofoam block to which the "grassy eggs" and "stones" were glued. It was really wedged and glued into that box. Once he had it loose, I set the styrofoam block on its side in the bottom of my kitchen sink and used my bread knife to saw away almost all of the styrofoam.
It is the kind with the tiny balls that flies everywhere, so I decided to try a hint that I read recently on Pinterest or somewhere on different uses for dryer sheets. I got a dryer sheet from the washroom and rubbed both hands with it. By golly, it worked! Not only did the styrofoam excess not cling to my hands and arms, I was able to use the sheet to gather up the bits that had clung to the sides and fallen to the bottom of the sink.
I added a big blob of glue to the paint mixture in my condiment cup and painted across the bottom to keep the styrofoam from shedding off again. Doesn't look pretty, but it worked and it won't show.
I had to trim away some of the squareness to make it conform to the round turn table. I peeled off the green parts from the pieces and glued them to cover the exposed white. I also removed the grapevine pieces and kept them for some future use. I added a couple of my Dollar Tree grassy egg shapes to the top for added height.
For the base I used a circle of thin foamcore, giving it a coat of Caribbean blue paint and a sprinkle of tiny glass beads to suggest foam. I wanted to keep it simple, with all the emphasis on the island itself.
I used my graphics program to make the welcome signs for each side of the scene, folding over to make a double layer and enclosing the posts between the layers, then cutting the oval egg shape.
When I first got the idea for Easter Island, I went online and googled until I found these desk-top pieces. I was thrilled because they are modeled on the exact figures, were in scale for my project, and a small book was included with fascinating background information. Serendipity!
However, they needed some ears, and I wasn't sure exactly how I was going to go about making them.
Talk about serendipity! While I was sitting there at the kitchen table watching Robert struggle to get the base removed from that box, my eye fell on a paper mache drink container from McDonald's. Aha! Its roughness and malleability would be perfect for my figures' ears, I thought. So I removed one section and cut some sample ears to trial fit. One layer was not thick enough, however.
Here I am gluing one layer of ears atop a second layer of mache. Much better!
Here I am gluing the double layer of mache ears in place. I decided to make one flop-eared, just for variety and the heck of it. It will also have a red cap, similar to some on the real Easter Island.
On the right you can see that the ears have been trimmed down considerably to reflect the stone construction. I used a base paint coat to meld the ears onto the existing figures, and on the left you can see the addition of a black wash to give the figures a more realistic aged stone appearance. I painted it on with a brush, then wiped off the excess. There were periods of drying time for all these stages, as well as some sanding with an emery board at different times on those ears.
The last element of the construction process was to very lightly brush on a reddish chalk, emphasizing more red atop the lop-eared figure.
The various sizes of colored eggs are from my Easter stash. The largest painted eggs had little gold loops for hanging; I unscrewed and removed them. I used pull-apart model railroad greenery to make the vines growing in the crevices and around the bases.
I had a lot of fun creating Easter Island. Hope you enjoyed your tour with Harvey Cadbury, as well.