In the summer of 2003, Charlotte and I decided to take a trip across the country by rental car (why a rental? Don't ask--it's complicated, dull, and annoying.), stopping at various friends along the way, seeing the sights, and culminating in our annual visit to the Burningman festival in Nevada. This is the diary we kept along the way.
|25-26||Hot Springs AR|
|?||Oklahoma City OK|
|31||Mesa Verde CO|
|?||Grand Canyon AZ|
|11-13||Los Angeles CA|
|16-24||San Francisco CA|
|24-Sept 1||Black Rock City NV|
|2||Salt Lake City UT|
Lotte, bless her heart, left a key detail out of our desert hike last night, in deference to my right to narrate it. If you haven't read her account yet, you should probably do so first.
Andre had explained in advance that he's particularly fond of evening and night hiking because -- in addition ito it being much cooler -- the senses of sound and smell are sharpened when sight is reduced.
I was as dazzled by the diversity of desert plants and animals as Lotte was. I had always imagined giant saguaros to be a rarity, but the hills were covered with them. Any temptation to stray from the path was easily squashed by the thick array of formidably defended greenery on every side.
Andre let me break trail, giving me the best chance for wildlife spotting. Just after sunset, we came to a place where he urged me to proceed with extreme caution. The week before, he had met a diamondback rattlesnake there, and he suspected its hole might be nearby. We passed the spot without incident, though.
The jackrabbit Lotte mentions in passing was striking -- long & lanky, with improbably tall & erect ears. As dusk fell, as Andre had predicted, I concentrated more and more on my hearing. More than once, I jumped with surprise as birds were flushed out of bushes at my passing.
As clouds drifted over the face of the moon, a sudden, sustained noise had me leaping back in alarm. When my concious mind had time to react, I took a few more big steps back and called out to the others -- it was the sound I had been listening for so intently before -- the rattlesnake's rattle.
Andre pointed his flashlight where I indicated, revealing a thick mottled tan snake writhing angrily in the center of the path (subsequent research suggests it was a Tiger Rattler). In the flashlight's glare, it continued to rattle while retreating to one side.
While Andre pursued it into the bush to get a better look, I held Lotte's hand to my chest. "That's really fast," she said.
I think its time to turn around I announced k loudly.
As we walked back by moonlight heat lightening flickered brightly over the mountains to the southwest, illuminating the clouds from within.Feel Free