Spiders and Snakes

Mark Walker MWalker at gensym.com
Wed Feb 16 00:47:40 EST 2000

Doug wrote:

> One thing to add to that romanticized image of the "'last' 
> (20th) century": 
> While I agree that getting there was typically quite a feat 
> for those lucky 
> few early Lepidopterists who chanced upon this nascent Shangri-La of 
> entomology, it is hard to overlook that today's challenges 
> can be greater, 
> though not accompanied by a theme of virgin adventure.

Doug is so right about the modern day hazards (oh, and by the way - the
Grizzlies basically roamed wherever they wanted to in California -
highlands, lowlands and quite out in the open, I understand.  I believe they
named Los Osos, near Morro Bay, after the Grizzlies that used to meander
down to the estuary to play with their food.  Unfortunately, this made them
rather easy targets - and no humans really wanted any in their

On one trip to south Florida, during my pleasant years of living in the
peaceful back woods of Vermont, I had a similar neurotic experience.  I was
a good distance away from my car as well, and parked in the middle of
nowhere.  I had been collecting in solitude most of the day, and getting a
little too comfortable in my conversation with myself, if you know what I
mean.  I had been fascinated by the number of Heliconius charitonius that
were on the wing, when in the distance, through the bushes, I noticed legs
walking around the general vicinity of my car.  And then voices, muffled by
the distance, appearing to be having a conversation around this seemingly
abandoned vehicle.  I started to walk a bit faster, hoping that they would
hear me and realize that there was in fact a human attached to the car.
Suddenly, I remembered that I left the entire vehicle wide open - unlocked,
and with driver's side window down.  I walked faster.  Quickly, fear sank
in.  I was south of Miami, far from any tourists, and anyone crazy enough to
be out in the backwoods was probably crazy enough to "borrow" a few tires
from an uninsured rental vehicle.  Maybe plug a few holes into it with a
stolen handgun just for the sheer pleasure of it.  Not to mention the fact
that all of my luggage, my laptop, and all of the work I was to engage in
the following week were all exposed and quite vulnerable.  I began running.
I considered picking up stones, shouting, anything to prevent being
mercilessly victimized by these hooligans.

Imagine my surprise, though, when I arrived in full sprint - huffing and
puffing, only to find a Bronco convertible with two adventurous couples in
their mid-sixties, out for a four-wheel drive outing.  I don't know what
they were staring at - surely I didn't look as stupid as I was.  Besides, no
one in Vermont ever locks their car...

Mark Walker. 

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