I typically aim to illustrate my writings with copious photos of the landscapes I visit. But there’s only so many ways to take a picture of nothing.
The Carrizo Plains are a hot, barren wasteland of dry grass and tumbleweed. Just a week ago I announced the breaking of my lowest count record with my 17 species day south of Bakersfield. Out in the plains I saw 14 species my first day.
At least some of those few birds were interesting.
The walk was long, hot, and boring. But it was not lonely. Halfway through the transect was a house where I met a pair of dogs. They barked at me constantly the first day.
On the second day, we were friends.
On the third day, despite my adamant protests, the shepherd followed me from her home to the very end of the transect about a mile away, then back home again. She had a fondness for playing fetch, but unfortunately could find nothing but rocks in our desolate surroundings. This fact did nothing to deter her.
I stumbled across a few other species in my travels, all of them unwelcome. On my first day I was about two feet from stepping on a perfectly silent rattlesnake on the side of the road.
Back at camp it was hot. On our third afternoon we measured the temperature up to 106 degrees; the sort of heat where absolutely nothing is capable of being accomplished outside. But worse than that were the flies. We discovered early on that the horde of buzzing insects was too persistent to simply ignore, and by the second afternoon we grudgingly took the hour long drive to town to purchase a screen tent. It was one of the best things I have ever bought.
Thought this addition to our camp made life in the great outdoors significantly more bearable, it confined out activities to a 9 by 13 foot space. Add the heat, and it wasn’t long before we turned a bit stir crazy.
Once her work for the day was done, Logic decided to become a deity for a colony of ants. She repeatedly picked up the corpses of the unfortunate flies who found their way into our tent, then deposited them in front of lone ants and watched with intense concentration as they sprinted off to tell others, then returned en masse to rip the deceased insects to shreds.
Fortunately, our stupor was broken by the arrival of the most welcome visitor of all: Nathan, bearing gifts of cold pizza, ice, and fly zappers that instantly turned us from cowering victims to invincible hunters running maniacally around camp and leaving a trail of scorched fly bodies in our wake.
Best boyfriend ever.