Monday, July 10, 2017

But It's a Dry Heat. AZ/ NM- Day Four, July 4th, 2017

This is where we separate us from the young studs who cruise all night and will do anything for the glory of a trophy snake and a boatload of Facebook likes.

We slept in. We did not get up to cruise for Gilas or snakes. We slept in and when we got up, we sat in comfy chairs outside in front of our room, listening to birds, looking at the mountains and bunnies and enjoying the cool breeze. This might have been a real turning point in our lives. We were totally at peace. I somehow feel sad for people who always have to GO GO GO and can't sit back and be immersed in nature. It kind of set the tone for the day.

We went to breakfast in New Mexico for the first time of the week. We walked to the restaurant, enjoying the birds and critters along the way. An old, defunct Video Arcade sat gathering dust in the desert.
Potential goldmine here...

Walking back after breakfast, a small brown bat almost flew into Andrea's head, which isn't a super-huge head. Something had awoken it from wherever it was spending the day. It flew back while we watched.

A family of Gambel's Quails crossed the road like the Partridge Family. Here is one of the chicks.

We decided that for our last day there, we wanted to revisit some of the places that we'd enjoyed the most. Naturally, we hit the bird house again. We had a nice talk with the woman who lives there ("Oh, yeah... Alligator Lizards run into the house when I open the door sometimes!") We scored a few more birds, like the Ladder-backed Woodpecker (#66 on the year, Lifer #167)
#66 Ladder-backed Woodpecker (Lifer #167)

Here's a Canyon Towhee (thank you Alex via Bob!) (#67/ #168)
#67 Canyon Towhee (Lifer #168)

Our last Lifer bird was a Verdin (#68, #169)
#68 Verdin (Lifer # 169)

We headed back to the mountains...

A dribbling mountain stream put us into our happy places.

We knew what we wanted to see again... the Chiracahuan Leopard Frog ponds. On the way there, we saw a young Yarrow's Spiny.

We sat and watched the frogs for quite a while. Such a gift to be able to view them.

As we were leaving, we saw something we hadn't noticed a couple of days ago... a sign that this is a healthy population. The next generation...

We had to hit the road. Although we'd already checked out of our hotel, we still had a 2 1/2 hour drive to Tuscon. One last herp for the trip, the ubiquitous Yarrow's Spiny Lizard.

Andrea humored me and posed for this pic, under my superb direction.

Wouldn't you know it, about an hour out on the highway to Tuscon, we hit some heavy rains. I hope some of it made its way to the parched mountain area.

Anyone who travels along Route 10 between Tuscon and El Paso are familiar with the signs for The Thing. What is it? It's a very well advertised tourist stop is what it is. We decided that we had enough time to give in to the hype and visit The Thing. One of the coolest things about The Thing is the multitude of Barn Swallows nesting on the grounds.

For a buck, you get to walk through 3 big aluminum barns full of kitsch, sketchy artwork  and sensationalism. It was great fun. This car might have been used by Hitler... but then, maybe not.

Wonderfully bad torture carvings. From solid wood!

No critters had come into the barns to enjoy the shade (as warned) but some Desert Cottontails were lounging in the shade outside.

Then, it was the moment of truth... hundreds of miles of billboards... what is... The Thing????

Eh, it's just a mock-up of a desert mummy, fashioned way back when by a guy who made mermaids for carnivals and stuff. But you know what? Totally worth it.

That was it, the end of our adventure. We caught our flights with no real problems and made it home by 7 AM Wednesday morning, ready to sleep. Kitties missed us, we missed them. Reptiles ate, everyone was happy. And we had a ton of memories and a new lease on life. Seriously, the grind to find will kill you. Enjoy what you can. Of course, you have to try a little sometimes but nature is easier to enjoy when you're not driving yourself crazy. Time for a nap.


  1. The Thing! Mystery of the Desert!

    That is sincerely my favorite place in Arizona. We bought a bumper sticker there and frequently get comments on it. Unfortunately in the last week someone tried to peel it off, so now it's only half there.

    Herping for big targets in the SW this time of year is a fool's errand. But the landscape and common species make up for it. The Chiricahuas in particular are a bit of an obsession of mine.

  2. yous need to hang with artists, we take forever cause we have to draw.... so no rushing around for us

  3. Great series of posts! I especially like the rattlesnake pictures. Reminds me of my first diamondback many years ago in Texas. Love those snakes. Nice to have you back here in Massachusetts. Hope to see you soon.