The closest I’ve ever come to going to a circus was on the frequent childhood “family trips” to Las Vegas, when my parents would hand me and my brothers $20 to go play in the arcade. Between two boys and one girl – and despite the keen money management of said little girl – the cash lasted all of 10 minutes. After that, one of our parents or other responsible adult would take us out to the Midway Stage where we would be dazzled by any number of free circus acts while sitting on sticky benches next to the warm bodies of other tourists who may or may not have showered that morning.

This probably explains why the circus I remember from my childhood smells of stale popcorn, the mysterious sticky stuff on those Midway Stage benches, cigarette smoke, McDonald’s french fries and just a touch of body odor.

This also probably explains why today I found the eau de barnyard and exhaust that greeted me as I approached the Ringling Bros. Circus train cars so refreshing.

Unlike the stale, musty odors of the circus I remember, this smelled like life, like the wonderment of youth, like the promise of childhood joy under the big top … and, yeah, like poo.

Visit my Flickr photostream to see/download the elephant photos!

UPDATE: See more video of the elephants walking here!

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