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Cautionary Tails

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Cautionary Tails

On my evening run through the Arizona desert last night I had a number of wildlife encounters. Expected during the summer season and remarkably common during my runs on my local trail route. I would encounter two Western Diamondback Rattlesnakes this evening which gives me almost as many sightings as all of last year (a record year for me). It is still June with about four months of watching where I step and hearing the occasional rattle, jingling while I sort out how close I am to the snake.

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Of the many assorted and interesting critters I experience while I take in the desert environment, the most often seen, in this order are deer, rabbits and you guessed it, rattlesnakes. Twenty one at last count for the Spring and Early Summer season. Getting rather close to the number that welcomed me on my runs last year.

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I love wildlife encounters and, well, snake encounters are a not quite a love affair but I do take on a trail runner crazy enough to run through the desert in the summer time, will trek through snake territory and will have a few meet and greet sessions with other inhabitants toting a rattle. It is their home and I do respect that simple fact.

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Do rattlesnake's give my heart a jolt? No, but there is a bump in the heart rate when I take a quick dodge to the left or right to avoid a snake.  They can blend in very well to the desert floor but I have had to become great with those scaly senses.

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Very, very thankful that of all the creatures on the planet, the rattlesnake rates high on the list of animals that let you know of its presence. A beautiful fact and one of the reasons I have an admiration for the scaly and sometimes noisy, scary creatures of horror films and jolting newspaper articles. Oh, those stories of people who get bitten after decapitating a rattlesnake are primal fear unleashed. 

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I have adjusted my trail runs, slightly, due to encounters at the start of my trail. There are one of two 'friendly' slithery reptiles along the start of my trail time. Roughly eight or nine meet & greets within the first minute of the trail. I had to wonder about the fact that there was a r snake 20 feet up the trail. The photo below is another run-in that is at the exact start of the trail. Sheeesh! I now walk this lively section.

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Clock is ticking toward my next run. Almost all of the wildlife I see on my runs is during the suppertime excursion. I will have my eyes dialed in for any and all wildlife, capture what I can with my camera and enjoy getting out in nature and continue to improve my health and diabetes care. And watch my step.

If you find yourself trekking through rattlesnake territory, do be ultra careful. I have read about some horrendous encounters with some devastating results after interactions with Mr. Rattlesnake.

 

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Plan to share another angle on my wild wildlife experiences. Could include Gila Monsters, Tarantulas (yes, I pick them up!), Desert Tortoises, Bobcats, Javelina's (no, don't pick those up), Giant Desert Centipedes, and who knows what else might appear in my blog.

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Black Rattlesnake

Black Rattlesnake

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A Wild(life) Year in Video! 2015

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A Wild(life) Year in Video! 2015

A Wild(life) Year in Video! 

I shared in my previous blog

A Wild(life) Year in Photography

Another 'wild' year for me and my encounters with wildlife.  The wildness factor dipped into my photography and in video.  If I am taking photos I am usually just a button touch away from capturing wildlife in video.  It is always my goal to walk away with photos and video if I happen to encounter a Sasquatch, Aliens, javelina, or whatever crosses my path or chases me in the rugged landscape of desert terrain in which I call home. 

I have posted some memorable moments below with links to video(s) taken.  I have not posted all of the videos under each photo.   It was a good year for the videography, whether it was filming a tarantula crawling up my arm, a rattlesnake a few feet away or something away from the animal/insect kingdom.

Other videos on my channel can be found at:  

Dave Nevins YouTube Channel

Thanks for your visit and I look forward to more unique and exciting opportunities to use my camera in the future.

Rattlesnakes interacting

 - on one of my runs

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A Front Row Seat to the Race Across America

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A Front Row Seat to the Race Across America

A Front Row Seat to the Race Across America

by Dave Nevins

While the Tour de France has twenty-one stages, hotel stays, catered meals, ample sleep opportunities and is ‘only’ 2088 miles, the Race Across America (RAAM) is one single, grinding, relentless stage.

Vic Armijo and Jennifer Salazar and rider Christoph Strasser near Trinidad, CO

 The top solo participants in RAAM average about two hours sleep a night, with no hotels.  Their meals

are corralled from the confines of cramped vehicles and they pedal 3,004 miles (if they are among the 50 percent that prevail as overcomers ).  The clock starts in Oceanside, California as riders follow a detailed network of  back roads that take them through the searing heat of the Mojave Desert, up and over the Rockies (high point is 10,856 feet), across the wind ravaged Kansas landscape, over the dreaded Appalachians, with a final tick of the clock in Annapolis, Maryland.  This year, the country unleashed some brutal, nasty weather upon the participants.  The desert Southwest was 5-10 degrees hotter than in the past decade and torrential rainfall and floods east of the Mississippi River slowed the race field.  

Christoph Strasser (Austria) near Trinidad, CO

With the start of RAAM on June 16, I was driving the RAAM Media 1 vehicle. I followed the procession of solo riders as they left the Pacific, churned up Palomar Mountain, took the plunge down the Glass Elevator, a ten mile plummet into

Borrego Springs, CA and the searing heat of the Mojave Desert. This is stark reality punishing the riders, especially those coming from Europe.   Their training doesn’t usually include adapting to oven temperatures.  I had a front row seat to the highs and lows that make up one of the toughest events ever concocted.  

Severin Zotter (Austria) - Hanover, PA

With me in the Media 1 vehicle were photojournalist Vic Armijo and  videojournalist  Jennifer Salazar.  Their task was to provide photos/commentary and video of the race, with a special eye on the leaders.  My task was to assist them in reaching their goals. I drove, drove, bought gas, and drove some more, with ample opportunities to take my own photos/film and assist Jen with filming. 

Along beautiful Highway 12 near La Vita, CO

It took a short while to

work our way through the whole field of solo riders and eventually catching the race leaders near Brawley, California.  The teams (2, 4 and 8 person) started the race on June 20

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and generally caught the tail end of the solo field in Ohio.  

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This was my sixth RAAM.  In the other five I had participated in I had been part of a crew supporting a team.  This included Team Type 1 and their first RAAM (2006).  I also crewed for Team Type 2 for two years (2009 & 2010).  During this year’s race I was extra thankful for my CGM, as I was living a life that was definitely off-track from my usual lifestyle. I had to stay focused and do the best I could with blood sugars and control, constantly checking the sugars on the CGM.  It was easy to check the blood sugar levels with a quick glance on the CGM.    My basal rate had to be notched up a significant amount to cover my deficient exercise life while fastened to the driver’s seat. Thankfully, I had good blood sugars for most of my time on the road.  Another smile….

Vic Armijo and Jennifer Salazar near Hanover, PA

The long hours at the wheel did affect my glucose levels and management.  

started each day with a low carb meal and kept the basal rate at a higher rate than normal.

Lunch was usually whatever could be snagged at a roadside gas station/convenience store.

Not ideal, but slightly better with coffee in hand.

Dinner found us chasing riders or settled into a hotel in Anywhere USA.  I often packed a dinner of sorts early in the day from food that I was able to pick up or had packed in Dave’s ever-relied upon food bag.  Our first sit-down dinner didn’t happen until the end of the race in Annapolis.  I relied on constant contact with my CGM and the convenience to make bolus shots

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on my insulin pump during crazy-busy times often while driving.  

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Steering wheel in hand meant dealing with traffic, a long list of turns and directions for each day and continual filming and photography.  Often I drove alongside the cyclists to provide some of best opportunities

for Vic and Jen to take photo and film

yet a little unnerving for the driver.  We were always on the search for choice places to capture incredible footage.  Thankfully, this was Vic’s tenth year and he was pretty dialed in to the premium locations for shooting.  Our route took us mainly on back roads where we were immersed in the beauty of this country

the nooks and crannies of a beautiful and historic landscape that eludes most people zooming down the main arteries that crisscross this country.

Jennifer Salazar in Maryland, near the end of the race

Toward the end of the race, the notorious hills of West Virginia and Maryland greet each rider with a wicked, sneering grin as the finish line hails.  By this point riders are at their lowest ebb energy wise.  We ended the race tracking the top two solo riders; Severin Zotter (Austria) and David Haase (United States).  Severin wheeled across the finish line in Annapolis, first (eight days, eight hours, and seventeen seconds).   An amazing feat since this was his rookie year.  

A fun shot taken by Jennifer Salazar as I was not, quite, the RAAM Rookie Male of the Year

So what was the payoff for me? I came away with a vast number of photos and a healthy amount of video from a truly amazing event.  Not to mention the many  outstanding and inspiring

stories, too many to recount in this blog.  No doubt the memories will stay with me forever, not to mention the hope that I’ll be back on the roads of RAAM next year.  

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Photo of the Week - January 26 - February 1, 2015 - 'Rain in the Desert'

Photo of the Week - January 26-February 1, 2015
'Rain in the Desert'


Record rain fall pounded the Tucson area this week.  Much needed, but the search for stellar photos was horribly hampered.  Records fell as a Pacific storm unleashed 1.39 inches on Friday(January 30), and another 1.41 inches drenched the city on Saturday(as of 6pm). These 2 days would contribute about 1/4 of our yearly total. A drop in the bucket, for my previous residence in the rain forest of Sitka, Alaska.
U.S. Weather Data working overtime reveals Sitka with 87+ inches of rain a year with 33 inches of snow fall.  

Mt. Lemmon, rising above the city, would receive 5.4 inches of liquid sunshine (term borrowed from Washington).
This rare occurrence must be a sorry sight for those seeking the desert during Superbowl week, 2+ hours of pavement from Tucson.  

A unique, missed photo, of a coyote out my window, was my flash of nearly good fortune amongst dreary weather and a week of blood sugars that were not among my best, and were keeping me somewhat caged indoors.  I fired the camera 3 or 4 times as the coyote passed my point of view.  It would have been classic stuff since Canis latrans had some interesting behavior.  
Guess my camera settings had been 'nudged' as the photos were total black.   The setting might have worked had a lightening strike hit at the exact time as I had taken the photos. 

The rain began to fall on Friday and I watched it rain.  And rain.  And rain some more.  The water began to spill onto the deck and seep toward the house.  When water begins to create an H2O imprint in the desert then it is photo time.  I grabbed the camera and caught many photos including the one at the top of the page. 



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