was such a pretty corpse that I kept her around for a while.”
talking about a praying mantis she once saved from a black widow.
After that, the mantis would ride around on her shoulder when she
worked in the garden. Eventually she died, and Em kept her body until it disintegrated.
zooming down Highway 60.
passed a place that was freshly painted white with huge, bright red
letters that said JESUS SALVA. “Jesus Saves” in Spanish. Or was
it somebody's name? A religious retreat? A cult headquarters? Or the
location for a horror movie?
arrived at the Nature Conservancy's Hassayampa River Preserve, I
noticed a head stone with MURDERED on it. It was the final resting
place of the Barney Martin, his wife, and two sons who were killed in 1886. A bit of bloody Wild West history.
preserve's visitor's center Em said,“What a pretty tarantula!”
to wait for a pair of cows to move on before we hit the trails.
“It'll be okay, as long as you stay out of their line of sight,”
a volunteer said. It got me thinking about the mechanics of
bullfighting, as we passed the RATTLESNAKE ALERT sign.
expecting to find datura here, but it was all over. At one point, it
was a jungle with the devil's trumpet as far as the eye cold see. This
is what the plant does in its natural habitat. Some of the flowers
were as big as four inches across. Black insects crawled on the white
was also a marijuana-like scent in the air. And spectacular fungal
colonization of certain trees. And lots of large ants, black and red,
scrambling around the trails where a lot of the footprints were
was place full of giant, rust-covered dinosaurs as we entered
better not stop there,” said Em.
we may find something we want,” I agreed.
also greeted by an abandoned motel with a RE-ELECT SHERIFF JOE ARPIO
sign, and a tire place with an inflatable Bigfoot.
we kept mistaking painted statues in of Old West characters for real
people. One was chained to Wickenburg's Jail Tree, where outlaws were
chained “for lack of a hoosegow” from 1863 to 1890. They say
no one ever escaped.
chicken-fried steak sandwiches at the Golden Nugget Restaurant, we
got back on Highway 60, and discovered that a section of it was
adopted by The Doom Family. Could it be the Doctor
Doom? We looked carefully, but there was no sign of Doctor, the
Missus, and the little Doomies picking up roadside litter.
had trouble finding Vulture Mine Road, and Vulture Peak Road, but
eventually found the trailhead near the volcanic neck, were we got
our tramping-through-the-desert fix before zigzagging our way back to
It was a