The Mystery of Saguaro’s Signal Hill!

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Of all the National Parks we’d visit during the course of this trip, Saguaro was by far our favorite. Despite the image of immense cacti standing over a desolate expanse, the region is actually teeming with plants and animals perfectly adapted for its harsh conditions. It would also grant us a glimpse of one of our favorite creatures but, for the first time, in its own world instead of ours. And, as with the fulfillment of any quest, it began with a journey.

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We arrived in Tucson on Friday June 10th and spent the earlier portion of the day visiting the Sonora Desert Museum. This accredited zoo highlights the region’s hidden wonders while supplying plenty of friendly volunteers and educational signage to help grant outsiders like us an appreciation for it. We intended to take full advantage of this and asked one of the docents what our chances were for finding wild tarantulas at Saguaro. He had just given us a private presentation on scorpions so it was the perfect segue.

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Finding “Smokey” while Hot on the Tarantula Trail!

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After a fun morning in Roswell, New Mexico we were back on the highway heading southwest towards Deming. What’s in Deming you ask? Not a whole lot, but we needed a place to crash before making the trek to Tucson where there’d be plenty. Today’s stretch was about three hours and if there’s one thing we’ve learned from previous road trips, it’s the importance of breaking up long drives with any interesting attractions we can find along the way. Unfortunately, those aren’t easy to come by in this mountainous region which is why we were very happy to discover something just an hour into the drive while also gaining new insights about America’s iconic messenger of forest fire prevention, Smokey Bear. Now for most of my life I’ve always referred to him as Smokey THE Bear but, after being admonished on numerous occasions by our friend April (whose father-in-law used to be the Director of New Hampshire’s Forest and Land), have since learned the error of my ways and no longer use the word “the” as Smokey’s middle name.

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Getting our kicks on Route 66 with Buzzsaw Sharks & a T-Rex named Stan!

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After our success at Aztec we headed down to Gallup, New Mexico and spent the night. The next morning we decided to skip the crappy, free hotel breakfast in favor of McDonald’s and a southwestern variant of their breakfast burrito with green chiles (I swear, everything down here had green chiles in it). We barely sipped our ice coffees before hopping on to I-40 towards Petrified Forest National Park. It was just over an hour from where we’d been staying but, as soon as we crossed the Arizona border, the clock gave us those sixty minutes right back courtesy of the Arizona Mountain Time Zone. In many ways it was like going back fifty years…

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Kingdom of the Spiders – William Shatner Treks Through Tarantulas!

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The 70’s were a special time for me. It was a great time to be a kid for so many reasons. I still vividly remember the cool toys like Micronauts and the 8″ Mego super-hero action figures (they are not dolls). Actually, pretty much any toy made by Mego at the time was cool! During this time there was also a constant availability of horror and monster movies to be seen on television.

This was also the time period that began my interest in entomology (the study of insects). Thanks to a Christmas gift of a kit for collecting butterflies and moths, I have had this interest ever since. Instead of actually collecting them now though, I am more into photography and conservation with them.

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When Animals Attack: MAN VS. NATURE FILMS!

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Back before Al Gore began promoting global warming initiatives and the phrase “being green” simply meant that you were inexperienced, Hollywood had already tapped into the notion that the human race, for all of its arrogance, is still at the whim of nature. As pollution and environmental issues became more of a concern, some clever horror writers decided to ask a very poignant question: what would happen if nature decided to fight back? What would our chances be if the seemingly innocent creatures we take for granted during our everyday lives suddenly struck at us via an organized unit (e.g. THE BIRDS)? Thus the sub genre of “eco-horror” was born and although these films were never as much fun as the giant atomic beasts abundant in the 1950’s, normal sized animals still made for effective antagonists.

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