A Country Drive.

 

marmot

I take a hard right off McCarran, If there had been someone close to the rear end of my truck I would have bypassed the dead end road just like 40,000 other cars do each day. In a short 90 degree turn you can, if you let yourself be transported at least 40 years back in time.

The road is a dead-end, there is a sign right at the turn, the sign doesn’t tell you that it is a long dead end. On my right is a number of acres, don’t know how many; probably 40 acres, that seems to be the most popular section term, of freshly plowed fields. Dark, moist earth, the smell hits my nose. This is one of the uniquely aromatic lanes in town. A few hundred yard south east is another field, a few black bovines are feeding on the turf.

To the left are a variety of structures, a cinder block warehouse, an old ranch house, and a bit further down a number of small apartments that at one time housed faculty or Ag students at UNR, a bit further west there is a corrugated metal shed, and a large Quonset hut, it is where they keep all the irrigation sprinklers.

A few months ago there was a short flurry of outrage on the Facebook, about a scientific study on cattle.  It involved cutting a hole in the side of a cow, and placing a clear piece of plastic in the side of a cow, so the could view the three stomachs in action.  People were aghast, screaming for blood.  I am baffled, UNR had Window Cows for at least 40 years, they had a whole herd of fat, happy, and well fed cows, each with a round 12” plastic porthole.  I am not aghast.

cow

Early into the drive I see activity beside and across the road.

Marmots. Yellow-bellied marmots; scores of marmots.

Have I mentioned yet that I hate rodents. From the naked mole rat no one ever sees, to a Amazonian Capybara, there is not one species worth saving. I doubt that there are any species of rodent on an endangered species list, and if there is, well, hasta la byebye. Now before anyone gets all PETA (I am a card carrying member of People Eating Tasty Animals) on me, 40% of all mammals species are Rodents. They outnumber us!

RODENT: a pair of ugly upper front teeth, surrounded by myriad flesh, fur, and various ugly tail forms.

In my neighborhood I hear new residents complain about the large number of coyotes, whose howls wake them up at night. I like coyotes, I will even swerve to miss one. Why? They eat rodents. In the 25+ years I have lived here, there has been only a duo of mice; the cat got one and once I clean up the garage the other will be vanquished.

I have just remembered I am driving, the Marmots are forced to cross the road in several places, from plowed field to grassy field. They are popping up out of their burrows, some standing erect until you get to close and then they disappear. I tell my self to get pictures on the drive back. Up ahead a flock of birds take to the air.

There is a construction zone ahead of me that is one of the main changes. It is an overpass for the new Southeast Connector. I drive under it and across a bridge over a small ditch. There is a turnout just a few yards ahead, and then a bit further is the closed and fenced entrance to the sewer plant. Well there was a month ago, today the guard shack is at the turnout. I turn around and park, the guard shack is empty, but the gate is open. Seems kinda of senseless to me.

I pull over and park. There are five wild horses on the hill beside me and my first thought is to hope that they don’t make it out on the connector a few months down the road. There may be a clash between Auto and Equine. No, there will be.

The ditch to my right is flowing, fairly clean, but we did just get over a 14” snowfall. Two summers ago the ditch was low, slow, and foul; the ducks would fly over it, as the sludge water flowed to the plant.

I head back, stirring up the horses and several dozen more Marmots along the road, I try to take a picture of a few but cell phone cameras are crap, nothing turns out. The birds are back on the road; there is a large crow, and four turkey vultures taking a leisurely lunch, the entree a Marmot who somehow failed to pay attention. I drive up slowly, three of the vultures take off, one a bit more belligerent holds his position.

As much as I dislike rodents, I curb my desire to aim my truck at a Marmot, as I get closer to home the jack rabbits come out, I will drive into the sage brush after one of them. Gotta be careful about doing that on Geiger Grade. I took out a Jackalope one day, it’s antlers took out both my passenger side tires, my tires were equally destructive to the Jackalopes 10 point antlers. It would have been bittersweet to possess an accidental trophy like that.

jackalope

I have always wanted a beaver hat but it is a rodent.

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