A Blue Bee, A Mystery Boom, a Rattlesnake, and Bagpipes
A Blue Bee
I mooed back at a tough looking Sonoran grown brown cow and he or she hustled down the two-track kicking up dust. Moos sounded off behind cholla hedges lit up in a prickly halo of red sunset glow. Not the visiting types these sun-raised beef jerky cows.
Between Phoenix and Tucson off “Historic” Route 80 we stopped for a few nights rest on BLM land where I met my shy brown steer. Here the Sonoran Desert is lush, populated by mature cholla, saguaro, ironwood and other vegetation I don’t have the names for.
One sunny afternoon I sat in a dry wash contemplating the mysteries of life. How is it I come to be 39, but somehow still contain a person of 5, 8, 16, 19, 24, 26, and 33. I am simultaneously all of these people and none of them. I found a new wrinkle on my forehead and it resulted in bangs and dwelling on mortality and sitting in dry washes grooving on the enigmas of time.
Then I saw the Blue Bee. I had to check myself. Was I high? Did I ingest some hallucinogen? Breath in an exotic desert fungus spore? The Bee buzzed slowly along the wash edges again. My head felt clear. That bee was definitely blue.
Here is what I learned:
- There’s 1,000 different species of bees in the Sonoran Desert
- Tucson is one of the best places to see different bees
- Africanized Honey Bees are nearly indistinguishable from Honey Bees for experts, for a lay person forget it. You can tell if you disturb a hive and they don’t stop attacking, but the honey is delicious. I recommend this honey from Bisbee. I had their raw honey.
- My blue bee could be a digger bee, but I don’t know.
- There are also green bees
The cellular service came and went in intervals standing in one window facing east, crossing your fingers and hopping on one leg, while warding off the evil eye, but Kurt wanted to take the time to proceed with camper repairs at this location. He replaced the four worn out suspension parts on the axle he believed caused the abnormal tire wear. He worked on the repairs for two days.
Directly after completeling repairs we spent an afternoon in Tucson having new tires put on the camper. All of the tires were worn smooth on the inside. Some exceeded all lifetime expectations, and wore down into the bands. Afterwards Kurt picked out a camping site in the Ironwood Forest.
A Boom In the Desert
We drained away a day cocooned inside the camper while the Sonoran rained. Low grey felted clouds dangled over the sky muting the desert vibrance. They watered the desert garden, slowly, tenderly. Creosote bushes expelled their dusty rain aroma over the land. At about 4:45 what I thought was a lightning strike hitting within 100 ft occurred. The curious part, there was no recorded lightning activity. Kurt did find, however, that Tucson has in recent years a history of mysterious booms that cannot be entirely explained by weather, sonic booms, seismic activity or mining activity. On Twitter there are more frequent mentions of Tucson mystery booms happening, the number of witnesses for each event varies.
Curiouser and curiouser.
I did what any good Oregon Trail Gen’er would do, I went online looking for clues. Tucson is not singular for reports of mysterious booms. They are reported worldwide and can be found in historic documentation. Places like New Jersey, New York and Ohio are mystery boom epicenters. There are mystery boom bloggers.
The easiest dismissal, in this account, is to blame it on a sonic boom and be done with it. (I’ll have this argument with myself). I have heard sonic booms. Many times. I am not inclined to mix up a sonic boom with a lightening strike. It may have been the Silverbell Mine, but that also seems inconsistent with what I heard.
Charming Rattlesnakes with Bagpipes
Southern Arizona began to warm up on us. I cannot recall experiencing eighty degrees and dry unless my father had his enormous wood stove cranked in the darkest hours of an Upper Peninsula cold snap. Thirty percent humidity and acrylic paint dries faster than you can get it off the palette. The nights were beginning to hold the heat of the day.
I wasn’t surprised to meet our first rattlesnakes in this weather. Kurt found one sunning outside of its den on a crumbling structure the day we moved camp. I am disappointed to tell you I’ve seen more aggression from a two inch long grass snake. It didn’t care about us. There was another diamondback poking out of the den, but as soon as it heard footsteps it retreated. I returned for more photos the following day expecting to catch the snake(s) in at least a different position.
There I met a small gathering of people rock picking and their dogs. They didn’t know that the snake(s) were sunning themselves on the dilapidated wall. Before leaving one of the rock pickers pulled out his bagpipes and played a tune to the desert. I think the snakes enjoyed it. They had both retreated into their den from all of our noise and started coming back out for the music. I guess there’s something to the snake charmer thing.
– Arizona Fish and Wildlife Game Warden
The nearest hospital that can handle snakebite is Tucson. Two hours away.
On the morning we packed up Freddie puked up an unknown object about twenty minutes after Bean regurgitated something. I was laying in bed working out a trigger point in my shoulder just to operate swivel on my head. The consequences of substituting coffee for water on exactly one day. A Game Warden stopped at the snake wall. I terrified him and Kurt. The warden retreated down the road after warning me about the limitations of the local hospitals to treat snake bites. Kurt mildly explained that I’m ”crazy.” I thought I was carefully Jenga style moving little rocks seeking snake sheds. We’ll just have to agree to disagree. A smidge later a BLM ranger came by to beat a metal rod into the ground to attach warning signage about the snake den.
I can report a bite free experience, and some hindsight consideration that I don’t possess the best self preservation skills▪️
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