Saturday, September 29, 2012

A-Hunting I Will Go

Today was a good day. Mam and the Lemon Lemurs won their early morning match-up against the Watermelon Blasters. Smunch and the Blues...well, they played pretty well, even though the scores from today's tournament didn't reflect that. I was super proud to see him catch a pop fly in the infield, while playing second base and then have the presence of mind to notice the runner who had been at second was too far off the base and dive to tag him out. Unassisted double play. Awesome.

But, in a rather unusual turn of events, the kids' sports were over early today. I talked to Mam a little about a hike I've wanted to take for a long time. I told her I wanted to go out and look for tarantulas and asked if that was something she'd like to do next weekend. It seemed up her alley. "I'll have to think about it," she replied, noncommittally.


I dated a guy once who didn't want to have children. I think he considered our planet some kind of doomed cesspool that no one else should be forced to endure. He asked me once why I wanted to have kids. I told him I wanted to teach them about all the really neat stuff on our planet. I doubt he understood. There's a reason that one didn't last.

Although many of my warm, fuzzy notions about children have been banished by the reality of them, I still want to show them all the cool stuff out there. But sometimes...they're just not interested in seeing it. And I know I'll be happier if I forgo the incessant whining that would happen if I took them and go on my own.

I get tired of waiting for other people to be interested in my little adventures. It was 4 o'clock. I decided to go today. By myself. Perfect timing for spider sightings.

I arrived at the parking lot at Mitchell Canyon right around 5:30 and the sun was just starting to go down behind the steep hills surrounding it. That was a good thing. It was hot over there today and the ground radiated heat. At 5:30, it was still 90 degrees.

The park leads "Tarantula Treks", but I had a hard time finding any information on them, except for some led by a nearby museum for $20. I didn't feel like spending the money, so I found some instructions at Weekend Sherpa instead. And started off, just as they suggested.

This is not supposed to be a long hike, but I missed a couple of signposts along the way and wound up walking much further up the canyon than I intended before turning around. At least it was a beautiful evening.
I didn't see any spiders, just some suspicious-looking holes that I later learned were probably tarantula burrows.
and some nice wildflowers.
I found the trail I'd intended to take...or at least I thought I had. Turns out I was at the opposite end of it and was now taking the intended route backwards. There were a lot of people up the hill I was climbing. I figured that was a good sign. And I figured the views were nice, so if I missed out on arachnids tonight, I'd just have to come back again.
I ran into a little girl who couldn't help but tell me all about the five tarantulas their group had just seen. Obviously, I'd just run into one of the Tarantula Treks. It was handy since they could give me some tips on where to look.
Cool. Nothing quite like getting what you came for. I have it on some authority that this is a male tarantula. I'm guessing the females are bigger, but this guy was easily the size of the palm of my hand.

I continued on up the hill. Up and up and up...until I realized this couldn't be quite right and it was getting dark. Before you panic at just how ill-prepared and lost I was, I did have a flashlight and some food with me. I would not have perished out there and I avoided re-spraining my ankle.

I turned around to retrace my steps just as a lovely full moon rose over the hills.

An owl started hooting. I started high-tailing it back towards the mommymobile...more because I was afraid they'd lock me in the parking lot than because I was worried about hiking in the dark. I noticed dozens of little bats flying around overhead. It made me smile. Some people think bats are scary...but those probably aren't the kind of people who go looking for tarantulas.

It was nice and dark by the time I got back to the car. I struck up a funny conversation with the woman cleaning the area around the visitor's center. We talked about reading signposts, bears, wild pigs and swimming mountain lions.

Clearly time to head home, but what a fun little adventure! Maybe I'll get the kids to join me out there hunting for giant spiders yet...

1 comment:

mommieN. said...

awesome little tale, I love it! how DO you find these little places. So telling, the comment about the reality of children v. the fantasy....yet it seems there juust enough fantasy to keep us going, despite the countless little heartbreaks along the way. Looking forward to the next outing -- whether it's reading about it or latching on!