Thursday, March 17, 2016

let me out, rat poot, roadrunners,
half-mast, and too small to fight



Lemme think here. Should I turn around—or keep goin’?

I went back to last month’s page and added three more paragraphs, changed some text, switched a photo, added another of an absolutely awesome tow vehicle that I came across in Bisbee, and changed the title a bit. I seem to go back and edit past pages quite a bit, even some I’ve written years ago.

Meadow and Mesa did not like staying in the Nash for three weeks while we were in Bisbee. Meadow would go hyper every evening. If there were a small item lying about, it would get swatted all around the trailer. Mesa was way more vocal than he usually is, and his usual can be a bit much to take. He was making a sound between a howl and a snarl—he was totally pissed. As you know from previous pages, once we got to our next spot and they were allowed out, they flew out the door, easily clearing the three steps and disappeared for hours. Maybe I should trade them in for a turtle.

While in CoRs, I ran across a couple I met a few years ago. They live in Silver City and at that time, had a Casita. They now have another trailer. I like coming across people who have moved on from a Casita. Casitas are fine for what they are designed for but they are SO overpriced. And they have carpeting not only on the floor, but on the walls and ceiling. Good grief, what a dumb idea for a recreation vehicle. One might want to take the time to find out about alternatives, other small, light-weight trailers.

I stopped at the Deming High-Low Ranch to visit Jerry before heading back to Oliver Lee. I wanted to hear what the doctor told him after his latest heart checkup. Doin’ good. I also got him laughing 3 or 4 times. I sure do enjoy giving the gift of laughter.
I could swear he said monthly rates there are only $180. I wonder if there are other LOW RV parks with rates as low. I wonder what monthly rates are in Escapees RV parks. I wouldn’t be the least interested in staying in such a park, just curious. It sounds like quite a deal for those on a low, limited income.


I found out I’ve eaten rat poot from time to time, and it’s pretty tasty. Dr. Rob Dunn, a biologist, said, “The bacteria responsible for sourdough bread originally came from rodent feces. Any sourdough you eat has that history, yet it’s all perfectly safe and delicious.” Hmm.


One thing I look forward to upon reaching southern NM each winter, is seeing roadrunners again. Next to ravens, they are probably my favorite bird.
As you can see in this picture, true roadrunners have feathers that are two shades of blue. The birds can appear somewhat cartoonish and make a beep-beep sound.


There are some, however, who argue that a photo such as this, represents the true roadrunner. Be that as it may, roadrunners are awesome birds.
All the roadrunner photos were downloaded from the web.

Roadrunners tend to live in semi-open, scrubby habitats dominated by creosote, mesquite, chaparral, and tamarisk, as well as grasslands, riparian woodlands and canyons. But the birds can also be found at elevations over 9,000’ in piƱon and juniper woodlands.

Roadrunners are members of the Cuckoo family. I’m not joking here. Two toes point forward and two backward. They make X-shaped tracks in the dirt (so is this bird goin’ or comin’?).

These birds can stretch their stride and scoot along at over 15 mph. They can also leap up to 6 feet and snag insects and small birds out of the air so they don’t see much of a need to fly. Another factor in their not flying much, is that they are really not designed for it. They have short, rounded wings so when they get aloft, they go into a glide, rather than flap their wings, and can stay airborne for only a few seconds. If Wile E Coyote had kept chasing Roadrunner, he would have caught him.

I love their running posture; the head and tail drop down bringing all parts of the bird pretty much inline, parallel to the ground. Sometimes one sees the roadrunner’s arrow-like posture on southwest pottery. When the bird comes to a stop, the head and tail rise up, almost into a ‘V’ pose. Pretty cool.

Then there is the crest. When it flattens, the roadrunner is getting ready to scoot. But if she sees something interesting, the crest rises back up. These are very curious birds.


Roadrunners are well suited for their habitat. The birds can drop their body temperature at night by 10 degrees (almost going hypothermic), to cool their overheated bodies from desert heat and to conserve energy. Once the sun comes up, they ruffle their back feathers, exposing dark patches of skin and thus raise body temperature without expending energy. Roadrunners, like seabirds, secrete a solution of highly concentrated salt through a gland just in front of each eye, which uses less water than excreting it via their kidneys and urinary tract. The birds also reabsorb water from its feces before excretion. Roadrunners reduce activity by as much as 50% during the hottest part of the day. And its carnivorous habits offer it a large supply of very moist food. Yep, the bird definitely has good survival skills.


They eat mostly animals, including small mammals, rodents, lizards, frogs, toads, insects, scorpions, birds, and small people. (^—^)


The feisty birds can kill and eat rattlesnakes. Sources varied on how this was done, so choose your favorite. One source stated that roadrunners snaps up a rattlesnake by the tail and cracks it like a whip, repeatedly slamming its head against the ground until it is dead. Another stated the birds kill by pecking them repeatedly in the head. Sometimes roadrunners work in tandem with another roadrunner; as one distracts the snake by jumping and flapping, the other sneaks up and pins its head, then bashes the snake against a rock. Anyway, these fearless birds swallow its prey whole but sometimes, can not swallow the entire length at one time. Occasionally one will see a roadrunner walking around with the tail of a snake hanging out of its mouth, until full digestion is achieved.

In winter, fruit, seeds and other plant material make up 10% of the roadrunner’s diet. Small birds make up most of the bird’s winter food source. Before I was familiar with the roadrunner’s eating habits, I saw a roadrunner kill a small bird (which in itself, surprised me). He then just stood over it for nearly a minute, constantly looking all around. Then he bent down, scooped it up and swallowed it whole, head first—in a flash. Just blew me away. I am just SO thankful these birds are not the size of an ostrich.


Roadrunners tend to be loners, remaining solitary and mostly silent except during nesting season. Roadrunner pairs are monogamous and can mate for life and renew their bonds each spring with a series of elaborate courtship steps and calls. They live for 7-8 years. They build a nest a few feet off the ground in a tree, shrub, or cactus. The nest can be over 17” wide and 8” deep. The female lays eggs in intervals, averaging a clutch of four to six chalky white eggs. They incubate for 19 to 20 days before hatching. Because of the pace of the laying, the first fledgling may be ready to leave the nest as the last egg is being hatched, making it possible to produce a second clutch. Both parents incubate the eggs during the day, but only the male incubates at night.

Roadrunner had no trouble getting away from Wile E. Coyote but real-life coyotes present real danger. The mammals can reach a top speed of 43 miles an hour—more than twice as fast as roadrunners.

Roadrunners possess a vocabulary of several distinct sounds, including a loud clacking when startled and a cooing call during courtship.

Male roadrunners perch atop fence posts and rocks, calling out with a mournful coo-cooo-coooo to advertise territorial boundaries. When threatened or displaying to a rival, they erect their crest and reveal a bright orange patch of skin behind the eye. Both members of a pair patrol their territory, which can measure up to a half-mile in diameter, and drive off intruders.


Roadrunners hold a special place in Native American and Mexican legends. The birds were revered for their courage, strength, speed, and endurance. The roadrunner’s distinctive X-shaped footprint is used as sacred symbols by Pueblo tribes to ward off evil. The X shape disguises the direction the bird is heading, and is thought to prevent evil spirits from following.


Sure do like roadrunners.

Meadow had a run-in with a feral cat at Oliver Lee. I went running outside when I heard the snarling. My little 9 pound girl is not into fighting. I couldn’t find her but she came back to the Nash in about 20 minutes. She had gotten so scared she peed herself; soaked with urine and was having trouble with her back left leg. A vet cleaned up her wound and gave her a couple shots. At least it wasn’t a coyote or rattlesnake.

One day I was wrapping up my morning hike in Dog Canyon and noticed the flags were flying at half-mast. I stopped in the office, asked about it, and was told it was for Nancy Reagan. I’m glad she lived so long; she seemed like a good person.
Anyway, I was wondering if the flags were at half-mast because Donald Trump is still in the running.

Yesterday, I got up at 5:30, went outside, and up at the visitor center, there were spotlights on the mountain. There were also lights moving along the Dog Canyon trail. When I went up later, to start my hike, there were quite a few emergency vehicles parked by the office and the trail was closed. A young, athletic woman went hiking up the trail the day before and after dark, called a friend to say she needed help and was right along the trail, with a good spot to wait. Search and Rescue did not get the call, however, until around 4:00 in the morning. A fire crew drove up the back road to the top and started hiking down the trail as a S&R crew started hiking up from the trailhead. At some point they met—but no woman. In the afternoon, a helicopter was called in and helped with the search for a couple hours. The crews are still searching and I have not heard if she has been found.

(I added this the next time I had web access. The helicopter found the hiker coming down the next canyon to the north, San Andres.)

If you have not hiked Dog Canyon at Oliver Lee, there is a gnarly stretch, at least it is to me. From the line cabin, there is a good, short climb gaining 300’ to the beginning of the Eyebrow at about 3.1 – 3.15 miles. The Eyebrow is a long easy slope, more a walk than a hike. There is another good climb at the high end of it up to the 4.0 mile marker. Anyway, the Eyebrow is a loose, narrow single track above a short, steep incline. If one trips and starts to slide or roll—you are dead. Right at the bottom of the short, steep incline—is a cliff. This is the section of trail where Indians dropped rocks from above to ambush soldiers (not like the dumbass mural in the visitor center that depicts these stellar guerilla warriors, who were defending their homeland, as idiots.)
I hiked the length of the Eyebrow a few years ago and did not enjoy it. Like I said, it’s pretty much an easy walk rather than a hike, but I am not comfortable with heights, don’t balance as well as I used to, and I kept having these thoughts of imminent death. I know, I know, what a wuss!

February sixty minutes sixty years—2420 minutes
February Triple 18—pecs/delts: 1800; core: 1800; legs: 5090

”The lens and filters we choose to view life
all come down to one thing. Attitude.
When it seems like the circumstances of your life
are dulling your view, remember
you choose how to see the world.”
forgot where I came across this


RVwest article ‘Following a Free Spirit’

RVwest article ‘The Spaces Between the Places’