Eyeballs in the Night (and in the morning)

Eyeballs in the Night (and in the morning)

Fulfilling the need to run, burn calories, melt the stress molecules, and escape the confines of four walls, I purchased a headlight.  A really, really expensive one (Petzl Nao).  It may become an inheritance item............

I had been chasing the fading daylight as the calendar edged into the end of the blistering heat of summer and into the fall season.  When fall strides our direction and the temperature finally dips below three digits we notice the light switch quickly dims and turns off.  Arizona does not have daylight savings.  While not the 3:30 sunset time I survived in Southeast Alaska, we do lose that extra hour of sun.  Shouldn't we change the time frame to get less sunlight during the summer?  Just asking...

On the run tonight I saw eighteen sets of spherical bodies.  Ok, most of these were drowsy, less than motivated deer.  Not real earthshaking.  Oddly, there were two sets of eyes that I could not identify.  One was from a distance, gazing hungarily at the lone runner.  Or was he or she just bored?  

I spotted a medium sized critter to the left of the ranch road that had become an important part of my daily existence.  I got closer and pulled out my trusty camera for...a missed shot.  I followed the animal.  Did I mention that it looked like a baby mountain lion?  Was he or she leading me back to mom?  Or was it a cat?  I would not expect a cat to be well within the confines of a rugged desert landscape, with a darkness enveloping the terrain. But, I guess I have ended up in places that are not well suited for humankind.  

Did I mention how dark it was out?

Moon making its entrance behind the Catalina Mountains

The new adjustment of running at night, chasing unknown animals and the solitude and joy of running through the desert well after the sun has set, has been a novel and rather amazing experience.  The weekend runs, sans darkness, feel unusual to a degree.  

I would leave the roaming 'critter' and head to the end of the trail and enter a stretch of asphalt.  A grunt up a steep hill and I am on top of the world.  Or, at least, the top of the Tucson valley.  It is the highest road (besides the Mt. Lemmon highway) in the area.  I would gather a sensational view of Catalina, Oro Valley and part of the metropolitan kingdom of Tucson.  

As I neared the end of the varied and beautiful loop run, I would see yet, another unidentified animal.  The sun was tapping on the jagged mountain lines above me, so I had a better look at this critter, but, it was from a farther distance.  What the heck was that?  

 

 

 

An Ultra Challenge

An Ultra Challenge

November 12, 2016 was a rather significant day for me.  It was, also, a very long day along the Colossal Vail 50/50 Arizona Trail Run course.  All 34 miles of it were calling my name.  My body was screaming "Dave!", toward the end of those lengthy, tortuous miles across the Arizona desert.  A day in the desert where challenges and goals were met.  Boom!!!

Bright and early near the start line

It had been 10 long years since I ran the Pederson Ridge Rumble (35 miles - Sisters, Oregon) and 5 years since I ran a segment for the Team I Challenge Diabetes in the Canadian Death Race (23 miles - 6500 feet or so, of elevation gain - Grande Cache, Alberta, Canada).  

The day started off well as I reached the parking lot at La Posta Quemada Ranch, next to the Colossal Cave Mountain Park.  How would this day go?  Would I have a great run, good run, a mix of running and walking or the dreaded DNF (did not finish).  Would my diabetes and blood sugar behave?

Only one way to find out!

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On the walk to the start

 

I watched the 50 mile group stride past me and onto the beautiful Arizona Trail.  A half  hour later the 50k troopers toed the line and went through the pre-race talk.  The nerves had been activated, spinning, churning and clunking in the background.  In the foreground was the memory of the last two weeks of training, which had not gone well, by ultra running standards.

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Ok, it was a little cool for Southern Arizona

Countdown brought reality to the surface, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1.........and away we go!  There were about 100 runners in the 50k category.  The race director had warned us that the most likely spot for participants to fall was in the first couple minutes of the race.  A crowded trail littered with a plethora of rocks, with runners anxious  to pass did prove his point.  At least it was a short way to carry the injured runners back to the start.

Cienega Creek, early in the race

Mid Route - suffering is half over!  - Photo by Damion Alexander

The sun had just risen above the ridge line of the  Rincon Mountains and and I was making good time.   In typical race happenings, I was probably moving faster than I should.  Running in a pack causes one to move a bit faster.  By mile 11 I was doing well as the terrain took us through some ups and downs through the beauty of the Sonoran desert.  Those 'ups' would total about 3,000 feet.  With an out and back course we would even out by the 34th mile.  

Runners and the Rincon Mountains in the background

I-10 Tunnel

Video of the I-10 Tunnel and it's occupants

Just past mile 11 my grand start began to fade and took on another dimension.  I was not feeling so good.  I had initially attributed that to a fast (er) start, serious lack of sleep and whatever else I could come up with.  I was wearing a CGMS (Continous Glucose Monitor System) to check on how my blood sugars were treating me.  They were doing well, I thought, as I made semi frequent glances at my insulin pump for readings.  They had appeared good, but my CGMS was not favoring me as I motored forward, with some hitches in the engine.  I now was feeling like I did not want to endure another 22 miles.  Maybe one mile at most.  This was motivated by the fact that the first aid station was nearing and I had a drop bag positioned for my stop.  With my blood sugar looking good (111) I began to question the accuracy of my CGMS and my decision to run 34 miles.  

I sat down, took a couple of huge breaths and pulled out my blood sugar meter to zero in on an actual reality.  Meter read 52.  Normal blood sugar is 100.  I grabbed a precious packet of Honey Stinger Pomegranate Chews and indulged.  And then the next packet.  I now knew why I was beginning to have a rough day.  Duh. Diabetes is a major reason I take on such challenges, though it offers back, a few road blocks, bumps or scary creatures along the way.

I will endure.

Somewhere close to the 1/2 way point.  Photo by Damion Alexander

 l left the aid station with a stomach full of energy chews and a feeling that I was heading away from the DNF (did not finish) category. The five miles to the next aid station included a nice upward trend to the high point of the course and the following downhill to the halfway point.  It also included a runner in a 40 gallon hat, which brought a smile to my face.

Video - Do not know who this is, but, seems appropriate.

Aid Station at 17 miles

At the half way point, my blood sugars were pretty solid and I was doing good in the energy department.  My legs had a few minor issues.  My iliotibial bands were screamingly tight and I was nearing cramp hell at the back of my legs.  I motored on...

The remote restroom at 17 miles

I dealt with another low blood sugar,  after the aid station, but not quite the punch that mile 11 had delivered.  I would catch the next aid station at mile 23 and access my drop bag for the last time.  I do not even remember what I grabbed, but, could not have been much as blood sugar was not yelling 'feed me', 'feed me'!.  Blood sugar/CGMS were playing fairly now and readings were almost normal.  Grand, sometimes, to be normal.

One of the factors in my favor was a lack of blisters.  The Injini toe socks had earned their high praise.  

Around mile 28 I was passed by a seriously nice looking gal named Kaitin.  Let me re-phrase  that.  Not the nice looking comment, the speed involved. She cruised by me.  What on earth was she doing so far back in the race?  I picked up my tempo, temporarily, and ran with her for maybe a mile.  Kaitlin was dealing with some severe stomach issues and proved the point as she would needed to stop and release her guts to the desert floor. We ran/walked together, or in proximity, to each other, for the next six miles.   

Passing back through the I-10 Tunnel.  At least I was ahead of this guy!

The end was near.  It had to be!  Coming up over a rise revealed a beautiful setting with the mountains surrounding me and finish line below. It had evolved into a bit more challenging day than I had signed up for, but, I was very thankful that I had made a step (roughly 70,000 or so steps) in the right direction.  I enjoy unique challenges and finding the finish line, whether it be at the end of a 34 mile race or a completed project.

I came across the line and received my special 50k finisher rock which sits on my desk at work. It is a reminder that I am still alive and kicking and will continue to seek adventure, challenges and more rocks. 

Cienega Creek

Finish line below

Ending the year with Challenging Goals

Ending the year with Challenging Goals

6 days from now I will be immersed in a 34 mile trail running race (Colossal Vail 50/50 Arizona Trail Run).  I opted for the lesser of the 50's.....50k - actually 34 miles.  The more impressive 50 denotes 50 miles.  Maybe next year, on the 50 miles.  I will look to survive this year, in sweaty fashion.  

 

Gila Monster on one of my training runs.

 

Along with the 50/50 race I have also signed up a team of 5 mountain bikers to race in the 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo race.  All of the team have type 1 diabetes.  A link that ties us together in a cause and probably in carbohydrates.  My goal is to create a film out of the adventure and share our time riding and living with diabetes.  

The team chose No Limits as a team name.  

The 24 Hour race did give me an excellent reason to purchase a new, crazy green, mountain bike.  My previous Gary Fischer model was dating about 15+ years old and was having issues.  I may have issues on the route but at least I will look good while I suffer.  

I created this website today so will continue to post on living a life with adventure and diabetes.  

Kent Loganbill and I riding in the Tortolita Mountains. Kent is helping me with Team No Limits.

My time with the bat

My time with the bat

The day in late July would bring us more extreme heat, surrounded by an extra layer of thick, heavy humidity.  Another day in the Monsoon season, amid the dramatic landscape that is the desert southwest.

The storms were likely crashing the scenery to our southeast, leaving Tucson, with just plain, wicked heat.

Family had just arrived in town and they met me at the bridge at Campbell and River Road.  Not the usual family vacation destination.

Bat looking toward the bat flight and a beautiful sunset

We would be joined by my wildlife biologist friend, Eric Peffer.  

Underneath the bridge, a crowd was gathering, as Eric began an excellent introduction to one of the cities bat hangouts.  An estimated 10,000 Mexican Free Tailed bats reside at this location.   

The bat colony would send out a few scouts to determine the direction of the wind.  Much easier to soar into the wind than with the breeze.  

This is the time of the year that the newborn are taking their first flight.  This flight is a challenge as the little ones have to drop from the thin opening that is between the cement beams that they call home.  They have about 20 feet to learn to fly or they become part of the food chain.  Unless of course, we step in.

Sunset from under the bridge

The runt of a family did not make his/her first flight and ended up on the ground below.  We watched the little guy drag himself along the ground, knowing that he would not be able to gain flight and that he would likely not survive the night.  

I was surprised when Eric picked the bat up.  He would explain that the bat was not old enough to bite (the rabies issue).  Being nature minded and leaning toward adventurous, I would also hold the bat.

Eric would deliver the bat to a friend who transported him to a wildlife refuge.  The last we heard he is one of 3 or 4 bats that have been dropped off recently.

Bats in the bridge, before flight

Short section of the bat flight

Bat Flight at the Campbell/River Bridge

Dave's Diabetes Story on the ADA Blog


'Dave's Diabetes Story on the American Diabetes Association Blog'

I was fortunate to have a story of mine posted on the American Diabetes Association Blog. The link is below.


For the story, I submitted 3 photos.  If you pull up the story you will see my Medtronic Global Hero photo from 2012.  The photo above is from the Boise trail book of which I am a co-author.  It was an incredible experience to have run over 1,000 miles in the exceptional Idaho terrain that we covered.


This photo is from the 2015 El Tour Expo.  I was a new hire to the ADA and this was an event where I promoted our coming Tour de Cure.  I am sporting the Red Rider jersey which highlights riders at the Tour de Cure with diabetes.  
It has been a real honor and inspiration working with these outstanding individuals.


Link to the story.

The Mission Hits Close to Home


The Mission Hits Close to Home

The following was part of a presentation at the American Diabetes Association Mountain Region meeting in Phoenix, AZ on April 20, 2016.  My story was edited and included with encouraging and inspirational stories American Diabetes Association staff from the Mountain Region.  They were: Lynda Jimenez (Phoenix ADA), Beverly Bartel (Montana ADA), Anne Dennis (Phoenix ADA), Hannah Hoogenboom (Denver ADA), Julie Garcia (Phoenix ADA), Kirsten Weatherford (Montana ADA) and Kaylee Gronau (Phoenix ADA) and myself.  All of us either have Type 1 diabetes or have family members who do. 

I believe my first real connection with the ADA was a journey from Seattle, WA to Glacier National Park (Montana) for a backpacking excursion to the Granite Park Chalet.  We actually celebrated Christmas on August 25th while at the Chalet.  This was the last 25th on the calendar before they closed for the season.

The Glacier National Park trip might have been the spark I needed to make an entry into the world of adventure and seeking new challenges.  Another tie in with the ADA was the BBAD (Border-to-Border-Against- Diabetes) Tour.  A group ride from the Utah/Arizona border to the Utah/Idaho border.  4 of the 5 riders were T1’s.  The trip was organized to finish the day before the ADA EXPO Salt Lake City where we were involved/featured.

Hannah Hoogenboom’s uncle Peter was on the tour!


I have also been involved with the ADA being the beneficiary in past events.  Two ocean swim events benefiting the ADA in Alaska (10k/5k) made for some interesting experience in event planning!  So glad and fortunate to be working with the American Diabetes Association and to have such  wonderful people helping me out and inspiring participants in our events.

Note:  I am the Market Manager for the Tucson ADA




'Aravaipa Canyon, with a Brief Appearance by Edward Abbey'

'Aravaipa Canyon, with a Brief Appearance by Edward Abbey'

Aravaipa Canyon runs for 11 miles through the rugged Galiuro Mountains of SE Arizona.  It is one of Arizona's few perennial streams and this gem is only an hour from home (the west entrance).  

Aravaipa Canyon Wilderness is a special place for me, and yes, there will be more Aravaipa visits and blog posts in the future.  This post will mainly be photos/videos, but, a recent article on the Nature Conservancy in Arizona Highways (April 2016) gave me some new information I can toss into the mix of photos/videos.   

Eric Peffer

Having heard author Sean Prentiss (Finding Abbey:  The Search for Edward Abbey and his Hidden Desert Grave) at the Tucson Book Festival, I had added interest in the life and death of Abbey (and, of course, the possible location of his grave) I was surprised to read in Arizona Highways that Abbey was the first manager of the Aravaipa preserve.  He was later joined by Doug Peacock.

Hell's Half Acre Canyon (side canyon of Aravaipa Canyon)

Aravaipa provided the setting for some of Abbey's most memorable essays, including the haunting story of his encounter with a mountain lion and a lighter essay about javelina's he titled

Merry Christmas, Pigs!  

More importantly, he completed his novel

The Monkey Wrench Gang,

while canyon-bound

,

using Peacock as the inspiration for George Washington Hayduke.  Noted author/writer Peacock's observation that the human history of the canyon is "as colorful as a Western novel."

Defenders of Wildlife fired Abbey at the end of that month.  Abbey wrote of his dismissal, "A shabby, sneaky, cowardly thing to do".

Painted Cave Canyon (side canyon of Aravaipa Canyon)

Thoreau had Walden Pond, Edward Abbey had Aravaipa Canyon.  For a city slicker like Abbey, he needed a place of sanctuary, of refuge and of "redemption."  To him, Aravaipa Canyon was his saving grace in a concrete world.

It is for this reason that he fashioned his essay "Down the River" about Aravaipa Canyon with such love, respect and admiration.  

Eric Peffer

I will extend my love, respect and admiration to a brilliant location, along with a few photos/video links and my first blog to include Edward Abbey.

Who shall I include in my next blog?  

Desert Varnish

Lori Conser

Lori Conser & Eric Peffer

Bibliography

Arizona Highways April 2016.  

Weeds and Roses - "Edward Abbey / Mountain Lion".

That Darn Hole in my leg

'That Darn Hole in My Leg'

Every Search and Rescue mission is unique and you head out the door with a loaded backpack and sometimes, an unsettled feeling.  Will we be helping an injured hiker, looking for a lost hunter, recovering a body or....a number of other situations that could be life or death or simple first aid.  

This story involves a hiker who had badly injured his leg, on a hike on Gavan Hill.  Sitka (Alaska) Mountain Rescue had been called to assist in his safe rescue down the mountain.  The Sitka Coast Guard was also involved in transporting the injured hiker to the hospital. 

Transporting the hiker to an area that a helicopter could drop a litter

This tale would also involve me, and the rescue that almost happened.  More about that later.  I did a blog about my year with Sitka Mountain Rescue (and this rescue): 

The rescue crew headed up the Gavan Hill trail.  It is a steep,  gnarly trail that is well decorated with roots, rocks, steps, stair cases, and ruts, lacking the traditional dirt trail element that is found elsewhere.  

The hiker was doing ok, just needed extra assistance since he had torn a meniscus on the way down.  Luckily, he was at the edge of cell phone coverage into town and Sitka Mountain Rescue.
Sitka Coast Guard - Photo by Bill Greer

A Sitka Coast Guard helicopter would be called in due to the difficult trail condition for a carry out.  The rescue group carried him in a litter, to an area that was barely wide enough for the basket drop from the helicopter, whirling above. 
Photo by the Sitka Coast Guard

I walked ahead of the wheeled procession to get to the next technical area, where I could help with the maneuver.  I took a route to the right, off the trail and made my way............hmmm something just entered into my leg.  It did not hurt, but I was
a little perplexed at what had just happened.  


My initial thought was that I had just brushed against something.  I never saw what, exactly, had entered my leg but it had cleanly made a jagged path into and out of my calf.  

Eyes now focused on my leg, I took a breath and took in the current situation.  Well, lucky me, I was a few feet from a group of Search  and Rescue personnel.  


Oddly, my leg did not hurt and was not bleeding, much.  I was probably centimeters from having something cut, torn or punctured.  Extra duty by someone on the team and I had a nicely wrapped leg and would not need the helicopter to make a 2nd trip.


We discussed Dave's 'situation' and I gave a thumbs up on hiking down the mountain and making my way to a hospital.
The team on Gavan Hill was not large enough to send a person down with me.  They were needed in a more serious rescue effort.  


"Are you sure you are ok with hiking down, by yourself?"
"Why yes".  I believe I was asked in different ways as to my ability to have a lovely hole in my leg, and do a prolonged hike to actual safety.
"Of course, no problem" or something like that was my follow-up response.  

I was handed a 2-way radio and I assured myself that my body could be picked up on the way down if I had 'issues'.   


I had a contact when I reached the trail head and my own ambulance service to zoom to the hospital.  Trina, would be my rescue, transportation and would provide some humor along my interesting course that I was now on.  

I gave Trina a call once I reached the trail parking lot.  I would not have been surprised if she had nonchalantly asked if I would like her to take care of a parking lot surgery.  A short time later, in life, she would be helping take out clients on fishing and hunting trips in the rugged Alaskan back country.  This would include mountain goats, brown bear and I could only guess on bagging a possible Sasquatch. 

She would also be one the only person I have heard of to sit in on a surgical procedure and snap photos.  This story just keeps getting more interesting!  I would find myself laughing, while looking down on a horrifying gash across my calf that looked like I would have an incredible tale to tell.  Nope, just dumb luck walking into branch/stick.  

I had a single request of the doctor stitching me together.  "Doc, I have a major trail race in 6 days and I am crazy enough to run it".  His answer would turn the 'like' into a 'plan'.  He  strapped that wound with expertise and an extra knot or 2 and I did run the Alpine Adventure Run.  Up the same Gavan Hill I had just limped down.  I was incredibly fortunate.  I could be writing a story with a far different ending. 


2 Peaks Adventure in Alaska

2 Peaks Adventure in Alaska

Following the Canadian Death Race in July of 2011, I was open to another adventure, one a little closer to my home in Sitka, Alaska.  Out my window, opposite the Pacific Ocean breaking under my home, I could see 2 prominent peaks near downtown (Mt. Verstovia & Gavan Hill).  Gavan Hill is known for the ever popular and long suffering Alpine Adventure Race.  Mt. Verstovia is known for its wickedly steep, rugged trail that climbs 2550 feet in about 2.5 miles.  

Gavan Hill trail is no less brutal, with about 2400 feet gained in 1.6 miles.  This would be my own custom created event.  A signature event without the aid stations.

Video of the 2 Peaks adventure

I elected to run/walk from a parking lot (Sitka National Historical Park) between the 2 peaks, run to Verstovia, grunt up to picnic rock, zoom down, run to Gavan Hill and of course, up, up, up to a point that I felt was a high point.  Trail does continue from there but I wound be content with about 5,000 feet of gain for the elevation deposit for the day.

This is trail running/walking in SE Alaska.  One of the nastier sections.

The effort would take place in September, about a month after my 23+ mile, 6,500 foot (elevation gain) ordeal at the Canadian Death Race.  This was a momentous occasion as I signed on to run with the I Challenge Diabetes team.  I had recently had knee surgery and  was hoping for one of the easier legs.  That easier leg transformed into the toughest leg as others on the team withdrew or pleaded a little louder than I.  

The timing should have been perfect for the 2 peaks effort, but I managed only 1 hill training run before September rolled in.  Also rolling in was weather.......SE Alaska rainforest weather at its gnarliest. The teeth would bite later in the day.

1st view point on Mt. Verstovia (800? foot elevation)

I set off with a well stocked Osprey running pack.  The blood sugars were good and the day appeared to be in a stable hold.  It might be a decent day, weather wise in the rain forest.  Could it be?

Despite a lack of specific training, meaning, actually running up hills, I made my way up Verstovia.  Slow but sure, a mix of walking and running.  I passed 1 person (if memory serves me correctly), my only link to humanity on either trail.

I had brought along a camera that was lacking in quality and performance but was waterproof.  I shot footage at various stages, knowing that I would eventually piece together a somewhat rough film (see link above).  It would take 21 clips to create the short film that would be my introduction into the world of filmmaking.  I have been working on my first 'real', quality film as I work through the footage of a No Limits Sea Kayak Expedition,  tentatively, named 'Alaskan Waters'.  

Near the first summit of Verstovia

I would reach picnic rock, which is the first summit of Verstovia in good shape.  The Arrowhead is the true top of Mt. Verstovia was jutting just above me.  A more technical approach, which I was not willing to attempt without a partner. 

Goal #2, Gavan Hill

The weather was turning as I made my way down the mountain.  As evidence by my array of photos, running SE Alaska trails is a challenge and requires a major dose of concentration.  I had a lot of trail time and was somewhat skilled at the ballet on rocks.  Having diabetes increased my need for good planning and focus.  I had dealt with higher blood sugars for the first half of the run but would eventually level out.  

Gavan Hill

I hit the trail head of Verstovia and made a right turn.  On to Gavan Hill.

1st viewpoint on Gavan Hill, approximately 1,000+ feet up

A bit more tired, Gavan would require more walking and an onslaught of nature as the wind, rain and a thick,  layer of wetness became the next chapter in my 2 Peaks experience.

Gavan Hill near the first summit

I would glance at my watch and realize that darkness would begin to envelope the mountain terrain soon and the dismal day would usher in darkness quicker.  

Near the top of the first Gavan Hill summit

Reaching the trail head, I shot a final memory of the 2 Peaks experience.  Darkness casting its shadow across the Last Frontier. Deep in the woods the evening came at an alarming rate as I ran toward my vehicle.  There was an encouraging glow of light and life as I escaped the veil of forest behind me.  

7 hours after my first steps toward Verstovia, I slowed my run to a walk and unlocked my car door.  Done.  A tired, but happy thumbs up for another adventure check off the list.

A Wild(life) Year in Video! 2015


A Wild(life) Year in Video!  2015

I shared in my previous blog A Wild(life) Year in Photography
that 2015 was a 'wild' year for me.  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 2016.









































Rattlesnakes interacting - on one of my runs














A Wild(life) Year in Photography!




A Wild(life) Year in Photography!

Me and the Roaming Bison in Colorado.  Photo by Eric Peffer.

It has been been a wild year for me, in many aspects.  One of those areas that continues to make my head swirl, is the amazing desert I live in and the wildlife I have had the opportunity to spend some quality time with.  


Most of the photos are from my home base in Catalina, Arizona, although photo adventures to Colorado and New Mexico have added some new animals and geography to my photo line up.

Part of the large herd of elk in Colorado (approximately 150)

I have a number of things in my favor:
1.  An eye for things that are 'wild'
2.  a 70-300 lens
3.  Many of my photo adventures are with a wildlife biologist.
4.  I run in an a desert area where I see maybe 1 person a month.  More of a true desert setting. 
5.  Just plain luck

Family of 4 Bobcats in the neighborhood

Many of my photos are taken during my daily runs through the desert.  I typically run near sunset, which I feel is a better time to see animals plus it puts me on the highest road in our area to capture stunning sunsets.  The runs limit my camera options but I have had good success with a decent point and shoot camera (Samsung WB350F).  The Samsung is sporting a 42x zoom.  Oh yeah!

One of the four bobcats (family) in the neighborhood

My goal, when possible, is to take film along with photos.  I may put together a film blog for this year.  

I think back to last year and I did not get much in the way of wildlife photos while this year has been phenomenal.  Looking toward 2016. 

Wild horses near Fort Garland, CO

Enjoy the photos! 

When I grab my camera, I aim to get photos and video.  Check out the videos on my latest blog:  A Wild(life) Year in Video!

Wild horse near Fort Garland, CO



Bighorn Sheep - Taos, NM



Redtail Hawk - Klondyke, AZ

Not totally 'wild' but a wild setting - near La Veta, Colorado


 Rattlesnake on one of my runs - Catalina, AZ

 Roadrunner near the house - Catalina, AZ

At the house

A Javelina visit during a run - Catalina, AZ



Horned Lizard during a run - Catalina, AZ

Young Desert Tortoise - Catalina, AZ

Walking Stick, almost stepped on and bypassed - Catalina, AZ

Tarantula visit on a run - Catalina, AZ

Tarantula on one of my runs

Gila Monster at the house - Catalina, AZ


Family of 4 Bobcats in the neighborhood - Catalina, AZ

Bobcat photo published in a local paper

Young Desert Tortoise on a desert run - Catalina, AZ


A brief stop during the Race Across America as wild horses cross the road in Utah


During the Race Across America - Pagosa Springs, CO



Praying Mantis, Lori & Eric in Klondyke, AZ

The Klondyke Cold Rush

Off the heavily traveled Interstate 10, Klondyke Road weaves through gently rolling prairie, skirting the towering Mount Graham, at 10,720 feet, the tallest peak in the Pinaleno Mountains and the majestic Santa Teresa Mountains.

It was a lengthy four-hour drive to reach the little hamlet of Klondyke, where the aged sign boasts a population of five.  About 35 miles were dirt, although road conditions were much better than anticipated.  The road ends at the eastern entry of spectacular Aravaipa Canyon, within the supremely rugged Galiuro Mountains, a rough and remote place that was the home of Arizona's last wild wolves before the reintroduction program of the late 1990's. 

Our goal was for Eric, Lori and I to pitch tents at the start of the trek and spend the next two days exploring the spectacular setting that Aravaipa Canyon Wilderness offers.  Little does one realize the crazy circumstances that are involved in this ten mile hike (mainly in the creek).  While the west entrance is only 50 miles from my home, the east entrance is 200 mile drive.  These miles and the 4 hour drive will become more significant, later in the story.

Video of the last section of road to Aravaipa Canyon East.  

Road to Aravaipa Canyon East (last section)

Entertaining a visitor at the old Klondyke School
 

The sun had slid behind the towering cliffs of the dramatic canyon. We exited from the Peffer family taxi (Eric's folks), grabbed the seriously overweight backpacks (did someone throw rocks in my pack?), clamped on our headlights and began our search for a campsite. None being found, with looming darkness and threatening skies, we strolled back to the parking lot.  Flat, close to a toilet and no time for a crisis, parking lot camping was perfect, for the moment.  

The rain began to fall and buckets of the liquid sunshine were pounding us as we scurried to set up shelter.  I had 'planned' to practice setting up a tent that I had not used in many years. This did not happen. Those years had destroyed the elasticity of the bungee cords in my tent poles.  Lovely.  Any idea how dismal it is putting up a tent in a driving rain, in the dark, with largely worthless poles?  

The tent would eventually, somehow, find shape, as the skies continued to unleash their madness.

The weather forecast, being a serious matter when spending most of your hiking hours within the creek, in a very distant location, and carting a lot of expensive camera gear, was for about .07 inches of rain.

Those .07 inches of rain fell in about the first 12 minutes of bombardment, and would continue through the night with an occasional boom of thunder thrown in for grand measure.  

Santa Teresa Mountains
 

The morning saw the three adventurers tired, needing coffee and questioning the wisdom of entering the rising creek.  

A single truck would splash its way past our parking lot accommodations.  Odd, to have traffic roll past us, since this was basically the end of the general road system.

An old windmill structure and wind sock behind the Klondyke School. The school now serves as a search and rescue location and helicopter pad.
 

The truck would ramble back through our disaster zone and Lori, in a heads up move, would emerge from the tent and flag down the vehicle.  It was a rancher checking on a horse on her property.  The news on creek conditions was not stellar.    "Can we get a ride back to Klondyke"?

Redtail Hawk
 

We scooped up our wet belongings and joined 2 drenched dogs, in a crowded truck, for the journey back to Klondyke.  It would have been a long slog, on foot, back along the road that Billy the Kid had once traveled.  Our home for the day would be the old Klondyke School.  It is now being used as a search and rescue base, for community meetings and a helicopter base.  

Klondyke Road and the Pelocillo Mountains
 

The call was made and it would be another eight hour drive for our gracious and now overworked drivers to pick us up.  

Adorning the now sparse, marginally used school, were posters advertising the film 'Powers War' and an old poster on a historic gun fight in the Galiuro Mountains called 'Shootout at Dawn'.  I read Shootout maybe 15 years ago and was intrigued by the story and history of Klondyke, the Galiuro's and the Power family.  The story chronicles the Power family and a conflict and eventual gun fight over draft dodging during WWI.  There are a number of books on the subject, with some siding with the Power family and others which back law enforcement.  The actual facts elude those seeking the full story, so the details and guilt will never be fully known.  Four men would die in the most deadly gunfight in Arizona.  The world premiere of the film was shown in Klondyke.

The film is an excellent documentary:

The Power's War film

With a lengthy wait, I explored our surroundings, equipped with a camera and thoughts of a future Aravaipa trek.

We were quite the sight, with wet gear spread out over a lengthy section of stone fence in front of the school.  Checking on the status of the new members of Klondyke community was 'the Grader Man'.  He had grown up in the region and his role was to keep the roads in working order during adverse conditions.  I missed his visit but heard of some of his exploits and of his nearly famous dog, a Rhodesian Ridgeback, who travels on the roof of the truck and of his courting the females of the isolated area, with special escape visits to a girlfriend eight miles from his home.  

Storm clouds over Willcox, AZ
 

Plans for another Aravaipa journey are in the works.  The area is too amazing to not come back. The wet gear and clothes should be dry by then.  

'Let's Do It!' (Part 4) - An almost cross country cycling adventure

'Let's Do It!' (Part 4) - An almost Cross Country Cycling Adventure

Pouring cats and dogs and some unidentified critters as we rode the final 16 miles to Lordsburg, NM.  An exhaustive search yields no reasonable housing options, so we opt for camping in the thickets behind a city park.
The Holiday Inn of Pecan Orchard Camping

Roger's 'Breakfast Machine' greets me in the am and flat tires greet me later in the day.  It occurs to me that I am the lucky recipient of about 100% of the bicycle problems.  Amazingly, tire terror would puncture Rog's life, and out of mine, the last half of the country.  

Hatch, NM, capital of all things chile, was next on the ever expanding pedal universe.  Timing being perfect in our little chile world, we entered Hatch during their Chile Festival.  We would attach 3 chiles to the back of our velocipedes to share our allegiance to chiles. Journal notes fail to supply the question of how long those lasted.

A little further along New Mexico roads, Rog would ride over a deceased coyote.  In the slashing darkness, my laughter echoed across a rather empty landscape.  

 Near Nutt, NM and an approaching storm

Feeling good, but a touch of grogginess in the head, we spin triumphantly into the metro kingdom of Albuquerque.  Blood sugars have been ok, but there are moments.  Those moments are consuming when you are exhausted, pedaling into the wind (a true story teller will share that it was always a headwind!), dodging diapers in your path and dealing with agonizing blood sugars.  The challenges of each day are easily forgotten as the day yields special blessings sprinkled through the miles. 

Albuquerque, NM

As the big city looms, we jet into civilization behind our first tailwind.  We are one day ahead of schedule and this is Rog's previous hometown, so we stay four nights.  We set up camp in Grandma Burke's backyard.  A novel setting for our tour that has yielded many different settings for our 'home' each evening.

I turn 26, with little fanfare and the fact almost escaped me.  September 9 - Albuquerque to Santa Fe.  A cold has developed and will effect the next few days of pedaling.  My educated guess was the chilly night and horrible camping conditions upon the cement ground between a pecan and chile orchard in Garfield.

Amazingly, my back feels great and we are adapting to the long hours on the bike.  It is a miracle, and I am truly thankful that I hopped on the bike, a little over one week ago, despite a back that was screaming no way Jose!  There are still additional adaptions needed to a still uncomfortable seating arrangement.  

We spin through the rugged beauty of the Pecos Mountains as we head into Las Vegas.  No, the other Las Vegas (NM). The glory of this journey is embedding a mark upon my soul.  Rog and I have taken on a trek that was hastily thrown together, with a serious lack of funds, between two people that did not really know each other and it is developing into the trip of a lifetime.

Rog, shirtless in Santa Fe

Within the scribbled notes of my journal;  "A lot happens in 112 miles".  This post was on a long day (September 11) from Las Vegas to Tucumcari.  Those 100+ mile days,  fully loaded packs, do make for a lot of possible journal entries, but a soul and body that is too tired to write more than a few scribbles.

The days are slowly blending together and the bicycle and the road are becoming our lives.
  I no longer wonder, 'why are we doing this?' It is too amazing and enriching not to.

First extended rain hits us as we wheel into another state and an ever changing landscape.  We say hello to Adrian.  That is Adrian, TX.



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 20th and generally caught the tail end of the solo field in Ohio.  

Adam Bickett

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

Pagosa Springs, CO

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 filmyet 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 countrythe 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.  

'It is Far to EVERYTHING, except Nature


'It is Far to EVERYTHING, except Nature'

Maybe 20 minutes ago I read a letter that Gunvor had written to my mother.  It is about the famed cookies that I had brought up to their cabin in Colorado.  She thanked my mother for the highly valued recipe and further on was a line she had shared about the remote location of the cabin.  She shared,  'It is far to EVERYTHING, except Nature'.  Agreed.  

This escape to the rugged majesty that is Southern Colorado was furnished by an invite from Eric (who is training me in photography) and the family cabin, situated high above Fort Garland.  Away from civilization, and close to things that wander the hills.  


The 12 hour drive would take a little bit longer as we stalked the many elusive photo ops along the back roads of Arizona, New Mexico and Colorado.  En route we would take the back roads of New Mexico, with an introduction to Pronghorn Antelope, and into the grandeur of El Malpais National Monument where we would encounter a few roaming elk.  They would continue their roaming ways until they connected with a herd of maybe 50.  Too far for even my 300mm lens, but a good sign for the trip.  


When we first saw the Bison in Colorado it was devouring grass behind a fence.  Only thing was that the fence had major gaps in it.  As he/she began to wander outside of the barbed wire it opened up a unique opportunity to photo and film a bison that was free to roam and spend some time near us. 

1 of 3 videos I posted on my youtube channel with the Bison.



Having just worked the Race Across America in the Media 1 vehicle I was stoked to come back to what is probably my favorite area of the course.  The stunning section of Hwy 12 between La Vita and Cuchara, CO is hands down, cool and beautiful.  Unfortunately, no wildlife, but always enjoy capturing our colorful, metal rooster.



We were fortunate enough to come across a herd of 150-200 elk.  It took roughly 20 minutes for the herd to cross this area.






I wanted to include some shots of the incredible Great Sand Dunes National Park (near Alamosa, CO).  




The Rio Grande Gorge near Taos provided us with tremendous views and bighorn sheep right next to the bridge.




Shortly after returning, I came across a bobcat family of 4 near my parents house.  This was the straggler of the family, as he ran down the wall to catch up with the rest of the clan.  

"As the Crow Flies"


'As the Crow Flies'


This is a story where the pictures tell most of the story, so I will lay out some of the background for a rather unique tale involving a crow, a ghost town, Hwy 40, and Flagstaff/Mt. Humphrey's.  As I look over the photos, I could not have orchestrated this better had I hired a film crew.


The background involves 2 different angles.  As my rental car  was zipping down Hwy 40, between Winslow and Flagstaff, AZ, I caught storm clouds enveloping Mt. Humphrey's.  I took the next exit (Two Guns road) in search of a high spot to snap the swirling weather conditions that were developing 30-40 miles ahead of me.  


I did not locate a good spot to take a photo, but I did notice a ghost town on the other side of highway.  Hmmm.  Love to explore, so I checked out the remnants of a failed commercial enterprise, mixed in with some older buildings.

Link to a story on Two Guns:

After exploration, photos and realization that I had a rental car to return, I ventured back onto Two Guns Road.  One last fleeting photo of the Hwy 40 sign (since I had traveled across most of the country on it).  Lucky me, there sat a crow on the Hwy 40 West sign.  

I took a photo and tried to get another photo of our bird and signage.  Evidently the crow had a mission, and I caught him/her taking off.  For some unknown, but now cool reason, I took a photo of the crow flying across the highway


The crow would arrive just before I reached the highway entrance.  I glanced at the same signs, but the West Hwy 40 sign was now on the right.  I had first seen the crow on the Hwy 40 West sign on the other side of the highway and he/she now sat on the Hwy 40 West sign on the other side of the Hwy.  


As if the crow felt like I needed additional help/support, I would get 'beaked' into a West direction.  'As the crow flies' may take on a different meaning.

Getting Paid for Adventure


'Getting Paid for Adventure'


In a couple days I will embark on another adventure, of sorts.  I will be driving the Media 1 vehicle for the Race Across America (RAAM).  Many consider this the toughest athletic event on the planet.  It is also my next paid employment.  Somehow, someway, I have come into a number of adventurous jobs that seem to fit well on my resume and my lifestyle.  Yes, work can contain a bit of adventure.  Why not?


In the 90's I assisted Franz Spilauer (RAAM winner in 1988) on 2 different bicycle tours over 2 summers.  Each tour was about 3 weeks long and hit major tourist points in California, Utah, Arizona and Nevada.  We covered about 5,000 miles each trip.  The riders would cover about 50 or so miles each day and the rest of the miles was driven.  It was an amazing opportunity to spend time in most of the major parks in the 4 states that we zipped through.  


I would move out of  the desert and to Boise, Idaho for a job.  Not just a job, but an opportunity to get paid to ride my bicycle as a bicycle messenger.  Not quite a New York City messenger at heart but still a cool job.


I would then get paid for running.   Lacking talent (to officially get paid to run, as an athlete), but I would be part of the creation of 'Boise Backcountry Adventure', a trail book for the Boise, Idaho area.  We were of the frame of mind to run all the trails (except the canyoneering sections).  Over 1,000 miles was run to obtain information for the publication.  It was another exceptional job opportunity.


No running or pedaling involved, but I consider my move to Sitka, Alaska to be linked to adventure.  Just getting to my island setting, with a vehicle was interesting, to say the least.  I would enjoy time and a unique lifestyle in the Last Frontier and am glad to once again combine adventure with employment. 

My latest job revolved around adventure.  At least other people's adventure.  I was employed at Perimeter Bicycling Association of America with a slate of events, such as El Tour de Tucson and Viva Bike Vegas.

The adventure job list could roll into volunteer work.  Maybe another blog hangs in the balance.  

If you are up for adventure, and even jobs with a dash of adventure, keep your eyes open.  You never know what adventure you will find, or what adventure will find you.



Thanks to those who create, read, dream and support!

Thanks to those who create, read, dream, scan and support!

A photo I took of the Catalina Mountains, Catalina, Arizona

I enjoy sharing my photos and adventures with the internet world.  Many of those who read this blog,  are part of the Type 1 community.  They have Type 1 diabetes and know the real ups and downs and additional challenges that this disease has on each of us who deal with this 24/7.  It is my true hope that through photos and my adventures that I can help inspire others.  Maybe to dream of their own their own adventures or next challenge.  Diabetes is not going to stop them! 

I am honored and especially touched when those who create, use my photos or stories as a small step to use their talent as they share and inspire others with their creations.  
Below are creations by Dana Belore and Joseph Lansing.  Thank you Dana and Joseph for such a Blessing and encouragement!
Painting by Dana Belore (a talented 13 years old, who happens to have diabetes) of the photo above.  

Photo I took during a run in Charouleau Gap, Catalina, Arizona


Painting of the photo above, by talented artist, Joseph Lansing (also a member of the diabetes community)

Let's Do It! (Part 3)

Let's Do It! (Part 3)

At the end of Part 2, I mentioned something about the fact that Roger and I rarely knew where we would be resting our heads  after a day on the bicycle.  That was part of the excitement of the day as we pedaled to the end of either:
1.  our sanity
2.  our hunger
3.  daylight
4.  our physical limits
5.  all of the above

I only remember 3 hotel/motel stopovers.  These were not planned, just happened to come across a cheap hotel/motel or we truly needed a shower.  


The beauty of this adventure was a true lack of planning and a 'winging it' attitude.  Since we only had about 1.5 months to prepare, it did not allow us to do much planning other than the expected scurry to get out of Tucson, pedaling east.

Since I have diabetes there was at least a degree of extra planning on my part.  Keeping Dave alive would require insulin, syringes, low blood sugar items, blood testing supplies, patience, and perseverance.  

We did a lot of camping out.  This was in Santa Fe, NM

The true heroes of the tour were the fraternities, kind families we usually met in grocery stores, churches, and the dependable fire departments.  They always took us in.  I can still remember sleeping in a fire truck. I have this vague memory of setting off the fire alarm in the fire station in Sonora, Kentucky, as we accidently burned, yet another meal.  I will have to dig into my photo archives for the classic photo of Rog dressed in fireman apparel on his bicycle.  

One of those lingering memories is a couple in Missouri that invited us to stay at their home.  After dinner they went out for the evening.  We had the place to ourselves.

A list of places we challenged ourselves to spend the night included:
Cemetery - score!
Jail - we were rejected
The Cookie Lady - A Virginia must stop!  There were cookies, so not really a 'true' challenge.

Bus - Don't remember if it was on our challenge list, but we managed a bizarre evening in a bus.

Yes, after Part 3 we will escape New Mexico!

The Monster

The Monster

It was a rather unusual week at the casa in Catalina, Arizona.  The week started grindingly slow and as we headed into the weedend it was verging on dawdle time. Yes,  there was March Madness time and the tv was airing the pregame hype of the Arizona vs Wisconsin game.  March Madness didn't do much for my search for stories and/or photos, but 8 words would change the story line.  "There is a bobcat in the back yard" gushed my father.   


Wildlife has given us lots of love at the Nevins casa, with sojourns from bobcats, coyote, hawk, deer, javelina (that visit is worth it's own story!), gambel quail (with a troop of little paws).   
A guest had asked my mother why she had not taken down all of the halloween decorations.  That 'decoration' happened to be a roaming tarantula.


With those 8 words, I sprang for my Canon.  John, our company, sprang for his camera and we met on the back deck, eyeing the small palm tree, where the feline had last been seen.  The bobcat leaped onto the back wall and bounded into the neighbors yard. 
My camera, clenched in my hand, the same number of photos available as when I had grabbed camera, a few minutes ago.
I had missed the opportunity.
 
The Gila Monster Video #1

I knew the 'usual' route of the bobcat and I gave marching orders to John to follow me and we should be able to catch the 'visitor' near the wash.  I zipped down the right side of the house, feet moving quickly from flagstone to flagstone until I veered left, toward the street.  It is always exciting when you are running hard with an expensive camera in hand.  I looked back to see if John was nearby, and saw nothing.   



This animal distraction was perfect timing.  The Arizona Wildcats were getting pasted and I had been avoiding the tv.  Where was John?  I was in position for an award winning photograph(?).  The bobcat came right toward me, just as I expected.  He or she did make a slight change in the usual stroll through the wash and over to the golf course.  I fired off 2 or 3 shots and the fur ball was gone.  John?

Bobcat


Back at the house I heard another 8 words (or something like that).  'There is a Gila Monster in the back yard'.  Ok, 9 words. 

The Gila Monster is one of only a handful of venomous lizards in the world.    They may spend more than 95% of the lives in underground burrows, emerging only to feed and occasionally to bask in the desert sun.  Another reference had indicated up to 98%. 
They are considered a threatened species and are rarely seen above ground.  

A component of Gila monster venom called exendin-4 was recently investigated for treating type-2 diabetes.  This peptide stimulates the secretion of insulin in the presence of elevated blood glucose levels.  It also has the effect of slowing gastric emptying.  Phase 1 clinical studies have recently begun with this exciting experimental drug.

The Gila Monster Video #2

The story unfolded............John did follow me, sort of.  He first used his brain and headed toward the left side of animal house.  Shorter route then going right.  Sounds good on paper but there is no real passage on this side of the house.  The 5 million watt AC sits square in the way of about anything except maybe a Gila Monster, or other small critter.  He crossed paths with the monster and that got his attention.  Forget the bobcat.  I would never have come across the Gila Monster, even if he/she had been on that side of the house for the next 10 years.  The odds?