Saying this post is late is perhaps an understatement, but as my knee convalescence drags on, I have no excuse to procrastinate further.
In sum, it was a spring of "green", although not so much because of the color. In Arizona, despite what some people think, we do have lots of green year-round! Many envision "hot, brown and nothing worth seeing". But, we who know it better, know much better! The myriad of colors -- the brilliant blue sky, the evergreens, the exposed earth basically offering you the cliff-notes of local geology. The intoxicating scents -- the mesquite, pine, cypress, their crispness, and my all-time favorite the creosote especially during monsoon season when it plumps up w/moisture. The life, the history, the good livin',...! I could go on and on and on about how much I still dig this place!
But, this past winter and spring, my life seemed to revolve around "green" -- my Grandmother who was the last woman on our side of the family to carry the married surname Green and the Verde River (spanish green), the latter which gives life to much of Arizona. Per my previous post, our grandmother's final days were swift but she was super sharp til the end, and I'd had a few of my final phone chats w/her while I was walking along various spots on the Verde and she at her home in Florida.
I didn't realize the "green" connection at the time nor the awesomeness of how much they both gave so much vibrant life and brought everyone together. She for the family, and the river for its life-sustaining water.
At the time, I'd merely been trying to find other things to do outdoors which gave me some wind in my face and still-injured-knee more time to heal...and of course to escape the "cold" of the higher elevations near home.
I spent many days paddling (stand-up paddleboard / SUP) along different sections of the river, though mainly in its dammed sections, some of AZ's best lakes. The lakes are fantastic nuggets of the state and for the most part are quiet and unvisited in the winter/spring especially midweek. Sheep, bald eagles, coyotes, wild donkeys, cattle and wild horses were regularly within sight, quenching their thirst from the wild and generally inaccessible river's flow.
And of course the bike. Duh. Since all my lil' hinge would really allow was some easy spinning, I'd scouted some long empty desert dirt roads where I could camp then just spin to my heart's content.
So remote in fact that sometimes I actually packed a little heat, something I rarely do. Maybe I'd need it against some hungry mountain lion at dawn, or a bored ol' cattle rustler, or.....just felt like the right thing to do in certain locales.
However, of all those remote excursions, the only time I got a little sketched out, the heat wouldn't have been much use, sadly. I was on my bike on an old fireroad seeking the old historic Sheeps Bridge. The day was getting warm already and I was definitely having to pay attention to water supply versus mileage away from homebase (aka the truck).
I crested a hill and lo and behold there's big daddy rattler sprawled out across the road sunnin' himself. I could relate, after all the sun felt great. But, he was blocking my way and wasn't going to budge. I waited a few seconds and took the opportunity to snap some pics. I was still a good 15-20 feet away and didn't feel too threatened.
Until. He. Got. Annoyed. He rared his head back, giving me the ol' cockeye all while setting his rattler in full-throttle. Instinct kicked in and I swear I felt sweatglands open in places I didn't know existed...my shins?? Wha?? So, now ol daddy simply refused to let me pass thru his sundeck. Errr. Rolled a few small rocks his direction which were not met kindly. I then got mad. I FULLY INTENDED TO FIND THAT SHEEP'S BRIDGE SO OL DADDY NEEDS TO CHILL THE EFF OUT AND LET ME PASS. Eventually, after I told him that I was just a guest, he slithered up the bank and disappeared into the brush; I'm quite sure that when I pedaled past that I was at mock-speed, breath-held, traps fully stressed toward my ears and probably eyes squinted if not fully-closed (the same thing I do unintentionally sometimes on the dirtbike on rocky drops beyond my skill-level...ha!) Point being, neither that little sidearm nor pepper-spray would've done much good w/ol daddy rattler.
(Oh by the way, he was the 5th snake I'd seen since sunrise. Ah, another day in the life...)
( Fun friend TD & I playing along the northern sections of the Verde. )
( One of my now-favorite spots to set up camp now; ok well not now as it's 1 zillion degrees down that low, but come November, I'll be back! )
special chats with my grandmother,
brilliant blue skies,
wide open space...