Ever Seen One Of Those Up Close?

When we lived at the EPNG gas plant out near Arlington, Arizona, I used to hike around in the desert some. Lots of cool stuff out there back in the day. If you knew where to look, there were arrow heads, lots of interesting rocks, and the scenery was pretty awesome, too.

There were also plenty of snakes, scorpions and cactus, all of which could do a person harm if you weren’t careful where you were stepping or reaching. As long as you knew something about desert life, you were never really in any danger.

We actually used to hunt scorpions, but I’ll tell you about that one later. It’s a story in itself, and an interesting one at that.

I was out one afternoon—by myself—exploring a dry wash that ran along the edge of the EPNG property, just the other side of company air strip. I use the term air strip loosely, as it was only used by very small light planes. A friend of mine that worked there had a little two-seater plane, and he used to take me flying once in awhile.

But getting back to the dry wash, I was meandering down through it; had a mesquite branch I’d picked up and was using it as a walking stick. I’d also use it to poke around bushes that were blocking the path along the dry wash bed when there was no clear way to get around them. I figured any snakes hiding in there would strike at the stick, not come after me.

The sides of the wash were higher than my head in a few places, and pretty much straight up and down. There were small caves and shelves here and there in the side of the wall, too. I was walking right next to the wall at one point, when I heard a slight movement by my head. I froze, and when no further sounds came, I very slowly swiveled my head to see if there was anything there.

Have you ever looked into the eyes of a Gila monster that was about, oh… four inches away from your face? Holy big ugly lizard, Bat Man! My feet were moving so fast, they were digging a hole in the sand, and I wasn’t going anywhere. That big lizard opened his mouth real wide—looked as big as my head—and said, “Hiiiiiiisssss!” I got some traction then, boys!

Dang! Have you ever seen one of those things up close? There’s a reason one half of their name is monster, ya know!


  1. Sherry said

    I love the visual of your feet digging the hole . I probably would have just fainted.

  2. Gary Williams said

    It must have been in slow motion because you weren’t known for your speed!

    • That’s funny, Gary. I got faster after I learned not to hit heel first. Up until then though, my old man used to say I was so slow, I looked like I was running in place. Kind of fits this story, doesn’t it?

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