We met our friend where the road taken turns to gravel and then carpooled with him up the rough remainder until we hit trail. Once on foot, I happily crossed the conveniently placed rocks over a creek between the low trees and realized that we weren't going to hike only in dirt and sagebrush. The fact is that this particular location is not only lush (I use that term loosely) but also full of birds. We were scouting for birds—a favorite pastime of our friend.
Our hike continued along the sandy, narrow trail until we decided to sit among the grasses and watch and listen. Maybe the birds would come out if we were quiet and still. I looked up the hill and spotted two gophers standing on their hind legs and reminding me of the meerkat Timon. Surely they, motionless, would let me take a photo. I guess I got just a little too close.
Another creature, however—whether vain, oblivious, or bold—gave my camera what it wanted. Butterflies flew all around us during our climb and descent. Of course I had to keep snapping my mouth closed and pressing my lips tightly together whenever they flew too close—it's this bizarre phobia I have that a butterfly will fly into my mouth—but Luke captured some beautiful pictures.
Now all we had to see was a snake.
My husband has a few similarities to Indiana Jones: he's adventurous, clever, adamant that artifacts belong in museums, and hates snakes—okay I'm not certain about the museum part. Snakes don't exactly bring smiles and warm fuzzy feelings to me, but I have touched and held snakes and do find them cool to see in the wild. After our day's adventure, however, I will stop teasing Luke about them. Amit had said something about snakes and I had started filling him in on how much Luke detests them, when not long after we all came face to forked tongue with one. I confessed that had I been in front, as Luke was, I would have jumped a mile high too. But then Amit and I started taking pictures.
No more surprises or animal sightings greeted us for the rest of the hike. We took our hungry selves back to the city for food and began feeling the soreness in our legs and feet that would accompany us for a few days. That is to say Luke and I are sore; Amit probably isn't at all and that's good because his next hike will be in the Himalayas. I'll have to work up to that.