Sunday, February 19, 2017

Holey Socks Batman!!

I know you are probably tired of me extolling the virtues of the Living Desert Museums around the country, but everyone should see at least one.  They are amazing examples of natural habitats for the creatures living on our planet that you probably will never see otherwise.  Take these snakes for example ....... you KNOW I love photographing the wildlife, I just prefer these babies to be behind really thick glass.

Imagine my surprise when as soon as I ventured in the door, there was a docent holding a boa constrictor.  EGADS!!  Think you might like that volunteer job?
It happened to be packed the day I was there.  There were school busses everywhere, not a good sign at all.  That meant noisy kids banging on the glass, yelling and screaming while the parental supervision just stood there.  Holy Moley Batman, can't someone tie their hands behind their backs?  I'm guessing the snakes are pretty used to it because they were as still as could be.
This blacktail rattler looks like it's sleeping.  As I think I've mentioned before, my Mom put the fear of God into me when it came to snakes.  We had a large rattler den out behind the cattle cabin in the Southern Sierra Mountains and I imagine she thought we might get into trouble.  My fear became so great I wouldn't even touch the Arizona Highways magazine when it came because it might have a picture of a snake in it.  Holy scaredy cat, Batman!!
There was the occasional king snake, but in my part of the country they are black.  We were always told they were "good" snakes and to leave them alone .... they killed the "bad" snakes.  This mountain king snake certainly looks like a deadly coral snake to me.  I seem to remember some kind of rhyme, like red touches yellow, kill a fellow ... don't quote me on that one!!  You might end up dead!!
This little Santa Catalina rattlesnake would be hard to see.  He's very small and blends in really well with the gravel.  Holy macaroni Batman, I sure wouldn't want to step on this baby.  It's interesting how it makes such a perfect circle!!
A tiger rattlesnake?  Who's heard of all these varieties?  I'm sure there are some harmless snakes somewhere, but they are NOT in this exhibit ... except the King Snake!!
Holy heart failure Batman!!  This is a Western Diamondback, a deadly creature I'm rather familiar with.   I've run across them on the trail while on horseback.  They are very hard to see, blending in so well you would probably step on them if it weren't for their early warning system.  I'm VERY familiar with THAT sound.  This one has just shed his skin, making him a cranky boy!!   Snake skin doesn't grow with them like human skin, so two to four times a year, they shed the outer layer.  I love that the museum left it here for you to see.
Holy spider Batman .... here's a large one, about four inches across.  Spiders aren't my favorite either ... especially BIG ones.  While in the Sierra Mountains gathering cattle the little buggers would crawl up under the cattle trucks, then drop out on the ground when we got home.  Us kids literally sat around the truck and watched them.   It STILL gives me the shivers.
SURPRISE BATMAN!!   That wasn't the real spider above, that was his exoskeleton he shed like a snake does, only not quite as often.  No I don't know what kind it is ... it's BIG ... like the size of your entire hand!!  Eeeewwwwwwwww .....
Let's play a game ... can you find the snake?  There's a brown vine snake here laying among the branches.   It didn't look quite as dangerous ... it was small.  Also known as the Mexican Vine, it can grow up to six feet in length.  Holy smokes Batman .... lets avoid this one!!
This is a coachwhip snake, named because it's skin looks like it's braided.  Holy Cow Batman ... there are lots of myths about this one.  They say it will chase humans, but in reality, it's just extremely fast at trying to get away, not caring much about what direction it goes.  
Snakes aren't the only attraction around the Living Desert, but there are just too many photos to show you at once.  Although most of the snakes eat lizards and birds, I stopped in for some human lunch at 11:00, trying to beat the crowds.  I was wrong.  The crowds were there no matter what time it was.

If you're going to eat in the cafeteria, whose name I completely forgot to write down, be ready to make some decisions.  Holy Agave Bowl Batman ... sounds easy, right?  Here's how it went ... the number in parenthesis is the number of choices she reeled off for each question.

What kind of lettuce?  (3)
What kind of meat?     (3)
Corn or salsa?
What kind of beans?    (2)
What kind of rice?       (2)
What kind of salsa?     (3)
What kind of dressing?   (6)

No wonder the service is so slow .... it took five minutes just to make up MY bowl?  Holy Made To Order Batman!!
The food was delicious, but the table space in short supply.  Since I had a table for four, I offered two seats to a couple from New Hampsha (Hampshire) who came to Arizona for the Gem Show.  I learned everything about Gem Shows that I didn't care to learn (I'm not really a rock person), but I loved her accent!!  They were a very nice elderly couple, who showed me their entire collection of gem photos with prices in the $80,000 range.  Good Grief Batman ..... for a rock??  Crystals I was told ..... as well as big pieces of gold.  I was sure they were in a league WAY above me!!

After four hours of walking up and down the hillside searching for creatures, all of which I will show you tomorrow, I knew it was time to leave.  My feet hurt, not to mention the rain that was starting to drip from the sky.  No matter, the clouds made for some nice images!!
Finally back at the rig, I figured out the problem.  Holey Socks Batman .... no really, my socks had two inch holes in each heel.  In spite of the embroidery machine, they went in the trash.  What a shame ... now I'll have to look up the nearest Boot Barn for another pair.

Stay tuned for some coyote, wolf and bear pictures!!

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