Monday, April 8, 2019

Rattlesnake crossing!

This year in Arizona I took up bicycling. One of my friends started a group called "Easy Riders". We started off riding, I think, about eight miles, and by the end of the season we were doing fifteen. I usually rode once a week. There's a 55-mile bike loop around the city of Tucson. At first we began our ride at a trailhead a couple of miles from home. Eventually we were traveling half an hour to get to our start point. By the end of high season we'd ridden the entire Loop, one segment at a time.

Turnaround point
"High season" in Arizona is January to March. Our RV resort is full of snowbirds for those months. On about April 1, people start leaving for home - unless there's still snow in Minnesota or Michigan or Wisconsin, or still rain in Washington or Oregon. Many of the activities at the resort end in the last week of March, so there are LOTS of end-of-season potlucks. We say goodbye to the people we discussed current events or foreign affairs with, or quilted with, or hiked with, or played handbells with. It slows down at Voyager, so instead of a bus-every-day life, days are wide open for things like sleeping or sitting on the front porch reading or catching up with whatever has been put off for the several previous months. I like this time of year.

Last Saturday - April 6 - I went for a bike ride on the Loop with my friend Tom. We'd both missed a ride the previous week on this particular section of the trail, and we wanted to accrue another 15 or 16 miles on our bikes. Our start point was at the Christina-Taylor Green Memorial River Park, just to the north of the city. Christina was born on September 11, 2001 and was killed January 8, 2011 by a shooter who was targeting Gabby Giffords at a constituent meeting in the parking lot of a Tucson supermarket.

The ride was especially beautiful; we had a lot of rain this winter and the desert blooms were spectacular. About five miles in, we saw a dozen people standing on the trail ahead of us. We slowed.

A rattlesnake was crossing the trail.

I stopped. Tom threaded his way through the bystanders and passed the snake, which rattled.

I had never seen a live rattlesnake outside of a zoo.

As Tom continued on his way, I heard a couple of remarks about how "He should show some respect." I said, joking, "Well, you know, he's a snowbird from Minnesota. He didn't know." They nodded, and when the snake reached the side of the trail, I rode away.

When I caught up to Tom, I told him what had happened. He said, "It's MICHIGAN, Linda. And we have rattlesnakes there."

Yesterday afternoon, a friend told me that last year she had seen a rattlesnake inside the RV resort, on a main street. "April is when they come out."

I guess Larisa, our Designer Cat, will need to stay inside this spring. I wonder if cats stalk snakes. I don't want to risk it.


DJan said...

Shiver... yes, I would keep Larisa inside during rattlesnake season. Those bike rides sound like fun, though. :-)

Linda Reeder said...

Sounds like a good reason for the snow birds to fly north.

Tom said...

Hmmm, I guess those rattlers are all over the place. We saw one in So. Carolina when we were there in Feb.

Joared said...

Oh yes, another Great Lakes State, Ohio, where I lived some years had rattlesnakes, too. We were also concerned about Copperhead snakes cause they give no warning. I recall my husband and I driving in Tucson many years ago through Saguaro Natl Moniment. He stopped our car abruptly, grabbed his camera, got out of the car, as had spotted a tarantula crossing the road — the first he’d ever seen.

Madeline Kasian said...

Must be a real “season” this year.. my neighbors here in Gilbert are finding some snakes in our yards!! Ugh..don’t like ‘em but it’s Arizona, and I’ve been here over 30 years now, fact of life. I steer clear, on trails, and have only encountered a few over the years.... I’d love to see a photo of your bike... I would like to ride mine more often.. it’s an old Schwann, no hand brakes,kinda heavy but fun.. with sumemrcomning,have to get out VERY early in the Valley to ride before heat... but outside of summer, the rest of the year is perfect for anytime riding...

clar said...

Wow. This is so cool.