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by Lloyd Treichel
Dateline: April 30, 2006 -- La Veta, Colorado
[To view photos full sized, click on the thumbnail photo]
Leaving Phoenix... In mid April, I left the Apache Junction (Phoenix area) and headed north to Payson. Payson is at 5000 feet and still a little cold in the evenings. Low night time temperature was 35 degrees. Compare that to a night time low in the sixties at Apache Junction.
Cowboy reality and/or myth... always gets my curiosity. Famous Western writer Zane Grey lived in the area at a cabin in the nearby Rim Country. A reconstruction of the cabin has been created in Green Valley Park in Payson. The original restored cabin had burned in a 1990 forest fire. The reconstruction and the Zane Grey Museum has much memorabilia from his life and living in the Arizona Rim Country. The day I took the tour, the guide at the house was very knowledgeable. After about 45 minutes of information, I felt I really didn't need to read a biography.
The Forest Ranger station said that the Timber Mesa Trail was a loop of about six miles. Setting expectations is a good thing. However, at the six mile point according to my GPS, I was about a mile from the trail head. Once I arrived at the trailhead, that "about six miles" was actually seven and a half miles. Since my recent hiking had been at about 1700 feet, hiking this trail at 6700 feet was not easy. I was hurting!
Over half the trail was walking through a pine forest. That gets quite boring. I would rather have an occasional view point.
Pie Town, New Mexico... Cinnamon rolls can not be found everywhere. Pies are found in Pie Town. This blink of a town has few businesses -- and no fuel -- is located on Highway 60 in New Mexico. I chose the Pie Town Cafe for a mid morning piece of pie. The Peach-Plum-Crumb pie was great with the cup of tea.
For a piece of pie to go, I chose the New Mexican Apple with Green Chili and Pine Nuts. That unusual combination provided a contrast of flavors and textures making an excellent piece of pie. Head to Pie Town for more information.
Very Large Array... This 5000 square foot dish shaped antenna is one of 27 positioned across the high desert in New Mexico. The National Radio Astronomy Observatory VLA is located about 40 miles west of Socorro, NM on Highway 60. The radio waves from planets, stars and celestial formations are collected by these antenna and combined and processed by computers to produce images and data for scientists to understand the chemical makeup and structure of the solar system.
For more information about the National Radio Astronomy Observatory and examples of the images collected by the antenna: http://www.nrao.edu/
Taos, New Mexico... While parked at Taos, to get some much needed exercise, I went to the Geocaching web site and found a couple in the area. The photo is a picture the Rio Grande Gorge just west of Taos on Highway 64. A 1000 foot deep at this point makes for dizzying heights on the bridge that spans the gorge.
One of two Geocaches in the area gave me some exercise along the rim of the Gorge. The second Geocache was near Manby Hot Springs at the bottom of the Gorge at the river's edge. I noted about five people in the hot springs as I walked by in search of the Geocache. After an entry in the Geocache log, I headed back up the half mile trail to the rim of the canyon.
Snake attack revisited...In the previous column, I wrote about the snake ambushes experienced while hiking. Here is a follow up:
A little about that rattlesnake photo... When I took the picture of the rattlesnake, I was about ten feet away. I did use the zoom capability, but there was still a lot of scenery in the picture. The picture was cropped before I posted it on the blog.After posting that photo, I received several emails. I found them amusing -- especially these first two from the ladies.
This from Dee Williamson...Ye Gads you were lucky....He looked like he was ready to strike.......When I was a wee one in NJ we used to collect the skins....I think I gave my mom high blood pressure......Typical tomboy.......Home made bow and arrows and I thought I was the hunter of the wild.........I did get a frog but my hunting days were over when my Dad told me if I killed it I ate it.......... They thought that they could feminize me and bought me a little table and chairs so I could have tea parties.....I unscrewed the legs of the table and thought they would make good baseball bats seeing they wouldn't buy me one....... ah........memories......
This is from Linda Hylton...I looked at your blog...don't think I want to get that close to a rattlesnake! Snakes in general don't bother me at all...in fact I'm more than willing to pick one up and hold it (used to gather up Bull Snakes when I was a kid and take them home...freaked my Mother out!). I just would like to stay away from anything poisonous!
This from Ernie Murphy...That's a great rattlesnake pic. Hope you took it with a long lens. I have little experience with venomous snakes, other than avoiding a few I've encountered in the wild. But I have a lot of experience with others --- the harmless kind I caught and kept as a kid, and some years ago, with my pet python, Leroy the Lounge Lizard, who was misnamed.
Leroy got pretty big before I gave him away, six feet or so, 20 or so pounds.
Here's what I know from experience: They hunt by scent, and in the case of pit vipers such as rattlesnakes, copperheads and water moccasins, by sensing body heat. Not sure their eyes are very good, either. They look real hard and intently at prey, so they must be seeing it, though I don't know how well. Snakes have ears, but not sure how good they are.
The only times I got attacked by my python was around feeding time, which occurred every two weeks or every month. It involved going to the pet store for a live rat, or if no rats were available, a few live mice. Even after feeding Leroy a rat by dropping it in his cage, and even after he bit, strangled and swallowed it, he bit me when I put my hand in the cage shortly afterward a couple times. Why? Because my hand smelled like food. It had been handling the rat. Nasty little teeth, like needles. A couple stayed in me and I had to remove them with tweezers. Snakes are a lot like sharks: only slightly smarter than rocks. Their primitive little minds are focused on the concept of detecting food and attacking it, nothing else. Like sharks, they attack so fast you can't even see it happening. You can't possibly move a hand (or yourself) out of range when a snake lunges at you. They're way faster than you when in strike mode.
All I know about walking in snake country is to wear long pants, ideally with boots and long, heavy socks, and to carry a stick. A snake can be pushed out of the way easily with a stick. With a stick forked at the end, or cut with a flat piece of branch at the end, a snake can be pinned down just behind the neck, also. I've picked up all kinds of snakes, large and small. Have never picked up a venomous snake and never plan to. (I almost said wild snakes, but all snakes are wild. Living in a cage and being handled does not domesticate them a bit.) I actually like snakes and think they're beautiful animals, and they make great cowboy boots. Crazy guys hike in rattlesnake country while carrying a machete. They saw that in a movie or something. You don't want to attack a poisonous snake with a machete unless you've first pinned him down with a stick. Doing otherwise is a good way to get bitten.
That's all I know about snakes. Having been attacked (repeatedly) by a python and lived to tell about it is one of my few real distinctions.
Late spring snowstorm confinement...
1491... by Charles C. Mann. With the subtitle New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus, this book questions the history we were taught about the American continents before Columbus arrived.
The author brings together much information from numerous sources including visits to archeological sites and interviews with many of the leaders in the research. In the past forty years, archeologists and other science specialists have been combing through archeological sites throughout the American continents. There is no general consensus on a lot of the issues. However, they do agree that before 1492, there were more people living on these continents than previously believed. They also were highly organized and practiced intensive agricultural including forests of nut and fruit trees.
The book will shatter historical myths and reveal a much more complex pre 1492 Americas.
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