Friday, January 18, 2013

Deja Vu: It's "Finish the Sentence Friday" again! Happy, Happy!

My pride and joy captured.  Five feet in length
and an attitude that wouldn't quit!


















I'm bouncing for joy!

It's my favorite time of the week.  Finish the Sentence Friday has returned for an encore!

(Kind of like the slasher movies of the 80's.)

This week, the SM's   (Sentence Masters) Janine of Janine’s Confessions of a Mommyaholic   http://www.janinehuldie.com/ and Kate of Can I Get Another Glass of Whine  http://www.canigetanotherbottleofwhine.com/ have set us up with another winner sentence to finish!

(Yawn!)

This week, it's: 

  "“The last time I went on vacation, I…”

So now, the task must be undertaken.  Pure excitement at every turn follows.  Fail not to see the drama, the intensity, the humor, the ...... , well, since you can't hear my voice the hype doesn't matter.  Anyway, here goes the answer.

"The last time I went on vacation, I captured four Western Diamondback rattlesnakes and four Green Mojave rattlesnakes, and nearly fell asleep at the wheel driving them back."

Do you want more?  If so continue.  If not, simply go down to the comments area and cut and paste the words, "Gee, I can't believe you did that.  Whatta trip!  You're the bravest person I know!"  and be done with it.  However, if you want more, and believe yourself to be a true glutton of punishment, here it is.
Spider Rock in the Canyon de Chelly
(looking down from canyon rim)

In 2001 (I know it was a long time ago, but I don't get vacations often, damn it!), I was going to be part of a group from a local reptile zoo to go to Arizona and hunt the Green Mojave Rattlesnake.  No, we weren't going to kill them!  We were going to bring them back for venom extractions.  

Okay, short answer to your question ... the Green Mojave is mostly a neurotoxic venom rattler, more so than any other rattlesnake in the U.S., as most of them are hemotoxic.  Since the venom was needed for research against Alzheimer's disease, and since that was a primary purpose of the reptile zoo, it only made sense we go find some.

Long story short ... director of zoo gets bitten by cobra prior to trip and all drop out except me.  

So, I jump in my RAV4 (at the time) and head to Arizona by myself.  I'd met a guy on the web from a herp society in the state, and was to meet him in Sierra Vista.  

I made it as far as Shamrock, Texas by the end of the first day, was warned against eating Texas burritos at a Truck Stop, did so anyway, and slept on a full stomach.   I arose early the next morning, showered, and hit the road.

An hour later, the burrito warnings held true.  Let me just say that there are not enough stalls in the very few rest stops along I-40 in Texas.  Sitting tall in the saddle now has new meaning.

I hit Arizona by early afternoon, and headed North to see some of the sights.  I stopped at the Hopi Indian Reservation and bought my wife some jade and silver jewelry, hit a couple of roadside tents and bought some Indian blankets, and then arrived at the Canyon de Chelly, where I marveled at the canyon and Spider Rock formations.  
Monument Valley from a distance.

Wore out, I drove 80 miles to a hotel, found it full, and had to drive another 50 miles to find another.  It was a lousy concrete building type with tile floors, but it worked for the evening.

Next day I got up, and visited Monument Valley.  This is where all the great rock formations you see in Westerns and on multiple commercials are found.  I drove my RAV4 around the 18 mile dirt road through the park, stopping every five minutes to take pictures, and finally left a couple of hours later ... only to find my RAV4 wasn't running right.  

Because of this, and the lateness of the afternoon, I bypassed the Grand Canyon.  Stupid, stupid, stupid! But, you have to understand, by this time I was about "rocked" out.  Last thing I wanted to see at that time were more rocks.  Yep, I still regret missing it.

Anyway, I hit Flagstaff, found an open auto parts store, and bought and installed a clean air filter not filled with dust and dirt from Monument Valley.  


To give you and idea as to how big this place is,
this is a boulder at the bottom of one next to my car.
I hit Phoenix about nine p.m., got lost getting off the Interstate, and ended up in an area of hopping cars, red and blue head scarves, and no English speaking residents.  I finally found my way back on the interstate and ended up in Tuscon, getting a hotel room, and sitting in the back of the hotel with two Hispanics who were kind enough to share a beer with me and seem interested in why the hell I was wanting to capture rattlesnakes.

I get to Sierra Vista the next day, get settled in a hotel room, and call my acquaintance.  After meeting him, I asked him to take me to an authentic restaurant for a great meal and I'd pay for it.  Wasn't a bad pizza, I must say, but wasn't really what I'd had in mind.

Driving around Bisbee, we spied two large rattlers on the side of the road.  I found one of them dead, but the other quite alive.  Adrenaline was flowing as I desperately tried to keep it out of the scrub brush on the outside of the road.  Suddenly, brakes were squealing behind me!

"What are you doing!"

My friend was about 100 yards up the road listening to music in my air conditioned RAV4 with his back to me.  That made it fairly difficult for him to answer for me.

"I said what are you doing!"

Again, a curiosity seeker that didn't know I was fighting with death about three feet away.  I'm desperately struggling to use my hook and grab stick to untangle the snake as it's tail finds some brush and starts to wrap around it.

"Turn around immediately and answer me or I'll shoot!"


Myself and Patrick moving some of the smaller
specimens to different travel containers.
Damn, the snake was now really getting in the brush deep.  I couldn't even see it's head, which is not a good thing, to say the least.  So, I take two steps backwards, raise my tools high so they can be seen easily, turn slowly and say, "I'm hunting illegal aliens.  What the hell do you think I'm doing with a snake hook, anyway?"

It turned out to be Border Patrol agents.  After checking my license, they wished me good luck and told me not to worry about limits.  "Take all you want" were their final words before getting back into their van and taking off in a cloud of desert dust.

"Can you say, "Entrapment" boys and girls?"

We finally caught five of them that night.  When stopped at a Border Patrol security point, I offered to open the container to show the officers, but they decided against it.  

Now I know how to smuggle dope if I ever decide to!

The next day, I traveled to Tombstone, watched a couple of wild west shows (including the Gunfight at the OK Corral), bought a cowboy hat, got completely sunburned to a crisp, and had a great time.  That night, we found another three, which maxed out my limits.
Gunfight at the OK Corral in Tombstone.

To go into detail about the Mapquest 40 hour trip home would be boring.  Let me just say that hotels will not let you stay in them when you have rattlesnakes, and sleeping in a RAV4 during a heatwave is impossible.  I made it from Sierra Vista to just East of Nashville, Tennessee, before I started to lose my depth perception and found cars getting closer to my front bumper real fast.  

I pulled over, slept for 20 minutes, awoke in a pool of sweat, and drove the 4 remaining hours the rest of the way home.  I had driven the 40 hour straight trip in 42 hours, by myself, stopping only to eat, visit the rest stop, and to have a quick nap.  


Smaller specimens between 24" to 32" in length.
That night, I brought the snakes into the house, where my wife dreamed that one bit her on the toe and she died before getting to the hospital.

See, aren't you sorry you asked?   


Next week, remember, "cut and paste, cut and paste!"



Happy, Happy!


33 comments:

  1. What an adventure! It's one of our dreams to travel across the US to places like this - see the Grand Canyon, stop off at motels and diners. Loved the pictures and reading about all you got up with snakes. Great pictures too...thanks for the Friday afternoon read, enjoyed it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Melanie - It was a little of the normal path, one might say. I have to say the pictures were taken from a VHS tape (thus the clarity) I took of the whole trip. I cut it and used voice overs during it to make it like a documentary after arriving home. It was a lot of fun! Many Thanks!

      Delete
  2. Seriously, this is so your type of adventure and as soon as I heard snakes, I thought yup Richard is at it again, lol!! Seriously, sounded like a fine adventure and take you advice about the burritos if I am ever in those parts. Thanks for linking up with us and always a pleasure reading your blog :) :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Janine - My reputation obviously precedes me here. lol It was a lot of fun, especially in the mountains the second night. Something big and yellow passed in front of the RAV4 right after we'd gotten back in. I asked my running mate what that was and he said, "A puma." I retorted, "Puma ... Mountain Lion!!!!! And we're out here with snake hooks????" Oh well, tis better to have lived...... Many Thanks!

      Delete
  3. "Gee, I can't believe you did that. Whatta trip! You're the bravest person I know!"

    This had to be the most brilliant thing you've ever said. I spit out my tea laughing and couldn't not use it. As for the snakes, you're crazy. Like - certifiably nuts. But I agree- you have a good method for smuggling marijuana. Think about it. It might be more lucrative than blogging. LOL

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Julie - What? You couldn't not use it? Oh well, you know I gave you a way out! lol Not being partial to jumpsuits, I think I'll skip the smuggling part. I understand Arizona's got a sheriff that's a pain in the neck to those caught doing stuff like that. : ) Thanks for the read and comments! Means a lot!

      Delete
  4. "Gee, I can't believe you did that. Whatta trip! You're the bravest person I know!"

    Yawn! huh? I wonder what it takes to actually get your blood flowing. lol We've driven from Alaska to Florida, South Carolina to Denver, and what seems like almost all points in between. I've seen alligators, banana spiders, black widows, grizzlies, scorpions, black bears, cougars, and coyotes. But I have yet to see a snake. And, honestly, I hope I never do!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Terrye - Good to see you today! Actually, the last thing to really get me going was a high performance driving class a couple of years ago at a sports car track in Lexington, Ohio. Speeds in excess of 150 mph, floating around corners as the tires squealed, and watching a guy wreck behind me in the rear view mirror was a lot of fun. To see the snakes you really have to be looking for them. Where you're at it's easy, because at night the desert dust that clings to them reflects in your headlights. A rattler travels with the rattle in the air, so they're easy to spot. Give yourself a little time ... you're in a perfect area to see many of them. lol Many Thanks!

      Delete
  5. Oh. my. god. You did this willingly? YIKES! LOL. I would so get bit before my snake hook made it out of the bag, haha. And border patrol? hahaha. I think they were thinking the same thing. "More power to him," they said. HAHA. Okay, well, I have respect for you, but boy, I could never, ever do that. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Cyndi - Good of you to visit! Before you say anything, the clarity of the pictures suck because I took them off of a VHS type camera that I documented the trip on. Tax purposes, you know! lol Things like this do tend to get me going. I guess I'm just an adrenaline junkie at heart. There's nothing like the feeling of confronting something that can kill you and winning. I learned long ago that fear will only keep you from experiencing things that most miss. They never know the rush it provides. You just have to study strike zones and species habits before challenging them to at least have a winning chance. Knowing the location of the closest hospital doesn't hurt ... just in case! lol Many Thanks!

      Delete
  6. Replies
    1. Rachel - Thanks for visiting! You're not the first person to ever express that initial thought (my wife's been in that corner for years, lol). I've just always looked at the extremes and said, "If they can do it, why can't I? They're no better than I am." It really just all comes down to controlling your fear. Whether it be on stage doing stand-up, working with venomous reptiles, or driving a high performance car on a sports car track, fear is your main foe. Yet, when things are going right, the adrenaline rush replaces fear, and the excitement runs at full speed. It's hard to explain, but once you've been there, you want to go back over and over. You just have to understand, if you play with fire, you're going to get burned sooner or later, and I've definitely been in that area, too! Glad you enjoyed this!

      Delete
  7. V cool Road Trip... being raised on TV, I get a total charge out of seeing (in person) scenery places! I did a trip to the Bonneville Salt Flats and now every damn time there is a shot of desert and mountains, I'm all " Hey! I was there!!"

    You know, except the fact that the Border Patrol guys had guns, it might have been fun to just have tossed them the bag of snakes and let them discover for themselves the nature of your contreband!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Clark - You and me both, my friend! All the John Ford/ John Wayne movies were shot in Monument Valley, as well as the recent Army commercials showing a person climb one of the straight up bluffs. My wife now says, "Hey wasn't that were you were at as she's heard me describe it so often." lol The Border Patrol folks were actually cool after a while. Just that initial event kind of made me wonder about pushing them. Too free to aim guns is not people you want to push. : ) Many thanks!

      Delete
  8. You and I have very different ideas of what "vacation" means! ;) You are a brave man...
    Also, that prompt to skip to the comments was hilarious! Well played...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Stephanie - I've always looked at a vacation as a chance to do something different. lol My wife just looks at me and shakes her head, but knows better than to argue. She did protest a little a couple of years ago when I went to take a high performance driving course at a sports car track, (She seemed to think me too old to drive at race car speeds, lol) Glad you enjoyed! Many Thanks!

      Delete
  9. That's pretty crazy! I do have a phobia of snakes and bugs! I was thinking you were going to get bitten for a minute! Whew:) Thanks goodness!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kelly - I really can't think of a daytime phobia I have. As long as I'm awake, I feel like I can handle a situation someway / somehow. My fear comes at night. Being attacked by something / someone while I sleep and not able to defend myself is my greatest fear. I still have my "Warning: Venomous Reptiles" sign on my bedroom door, thinking it might detour thieves if they were to get in the house one night while I was sleeping. Strange, but true. lol Every person that's dealt long term with venomous snakes has been bitten at least once and I'm no exception. I was lucky more than once, and knowing my limitations, have now stopped dealing with them in any way. Thanks for the comments!

      Delete
  10. I am soooooo not a snake person! I once stepped on a little garden snake... which I believe would not have hurt me nearly as much as I hurt him... but I still would rather avoid any kind of snack at all! I am not going to lie.... this little post has me shaking a bit!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Stacy - Calm down ... it's over! lol Seriously, the garter snake probably died as stepping on it could easily have broken a rib and created an internal wound. Snakes have no white corpuscles to fight infections, so chances are it's long gone. : ) Snake phobia's have been spread by environmental conditioning for centuries. My father had a fear so great he'd call someone else to kill one, or pull out a shotgun to keep from getting near them. If I hadn't of got bitten when I was young by a copperhead, I probably wouldn't be any different than him. I just started learning everything I could about them as I wasn't wanting to limit my enjoyment in the forests because they lived there, too. Knowledge can help conquer fear. You're example is one I always use, in fact. "Remember King Kong coming through the village? The natives attacked him for fear of being stepped on. To a snake, we're King Kong! So, he protects himself the only way he can." Many thanks!

      Delete
  11. Wow...what a long drive and all I can say that I hope your research came with good answers :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ruchira - The drive was a monster, but it's also an accomplishment! I pushed myself to find where my limitations stood, and then found out what it would take to get in the "safe" zone again. It's always good to know that, just in case you're pushed to them again. As far as the research is concerned, funding in the last few years has dwindled as most facilities found government grants for that being cast aside as monies went to more "profitable" ventures. It's a real shame that they'd rather send money to things of greed than to something that had a strong possibility of helping people fight such a terrible disease, but that's the U.S. government for you! Many thanks!

      Delete
  12. All I can say is you are one brave man...and I think I would have had that same dream as your wife! Great story!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Emily - I was really joking in the article about being brave. I just face my fears and do my best to not let them get in the way. lol My wife still remembers that dream (at least that's what she just told me.) I guess some things never go away. : ) Thanks for commenting!

      Delete
  13. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  14. What an adventure!!! Now I see why you left the reptile comment on my post. You are a brave soul - I should just copy and paste that line into this box. I enjoyed reading this! Thanks for linking up!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kate - Good to see you here! I figured you'd come around sooner or later (as you usually stop by, thank God) so the relevance would be made. lol I make no claims to being brave, that was purely a joke. I do face my fears though, as I don't want them controlling my life. I've done much in my life that many would call stupid. Funny thing is that they constantly ask me to tell them about them as if they wished they'd have done them. I just never wanted to be that old man on the porch looking at his great grandchildren telling them he'd wished he'd done something. Instead, I want to be able to tell them what it's like doing them. Many thanks!

      Delete
  15. Those snakes are gorgeous, the patterns on them are delightful!
    I also have a vision of you ending up in "Snoop doggy dog's" dance video with hopping cars.
    Please excuse my British brain.x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Emma - Really good of you to visit! You are the first to recognize the beauty they offer! Amazing! Venomous snakes have some of the most beautiful patterns of any of the reptile world. They can be mesmerizing to observe. One just has to remember the lethal bites they can provide without provocation. lol Those were exactly the type of cars I was surrounded by at stop lights! I actually stopped at a convenience store for directions, and a man ushered me out quickly saying, "You go now, you go now. Dangerous here!" I'd be lying if I said my hand wasn't on my pistol the rest of the way back to the interstate. Keep the British brain coming back! I love it! Many thanks!

      Delete
  16. Wow. FIrst, I have to say look up the word "vacation" because I'm pretty sure you're supposed to relax on one. Er, with that said, I have a kid who makes it impossible to relax on vacation so never mind. Second, you're batsh!t crazy! OMG! Seriously, I wouldn't have needed the burritos because seeing those snakes would have had me crapping my pants. What an adventure! Glad I found you via the blog hop - you're bookmarked now.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kristi - Very good to meet you! That actually was my way of relaxing. lol Work was so boring that this type of trip was just what I needed to feel alive again. Of course, that goes right into your "batshit crazy" comment! lol You'd have really said that if you'd have been with me in the Everglades as we were tagging gators a few years before. : ) As you're treading water on the side of the airboat, you suddenly wonder how big and how many more gators were swimming beneath you looking at your legs and saying, "Anyone got any hot sauce?" Many thanks!

      Delete
  17. So that was a better ride than any reality show! Thanks for taking me on it with you...I guess...since I'm not that crazy about vipers, to be perfectly honest!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Rachel - Good to have had you along! Now you know why I have to little tolerance for the reptile reality shows. Having done it, I really hate the sensationalism as they try to make it into something more than it actually is. Many thanks!

      Delete