Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Javelina are not pigs

Even with no sleeping bags to pack away and a dishwasher for breakfast dishes, we struggle to get out the door early. Today we managed to make our way to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum shortly after their 8:30 opening. On the road, we've bypassed a dozen zoos and a series of museums highlighted in our travel books, budgeting instead for the essentials- food, Disneyland, a transmission... Having hiked, camped, driven and played in the desert, we'd have skipped the museum, satisfied with our Sonora experience. If it weren't for the insistence of EVERYONE we've talked to in Tucson, "Oh, you really have to go..." we'd have missed the javelinas.

In the gift shop at Joshua Tree, Aslin took a seat on the floor, getting comfortable in front of the book shelf. From the counter, the staff watched. We left before the binding broke and before she finished the story. Today, after meeting a couple javelina families, she finished Don't Call Me Pig.

"Javelina aren't pigs. They're more closely related to rodents. They are herbivores and can eat prickly-pear without scraping off the thorns. If anything threatens them they make a loud noise and show their sharp teeth. They stick together and stand their ground. The grown-ups weigh 30-40 pounds. Today they were sleeping in the shade. When they woke up, they made sounds like donkeys." -Aslin

The humming birds, maybe 15 types, were amazing but too fast for our little camera. (A Blue Throat's heart beats 1260/minute!) The barn own in the raptor flight exhibit was trained to model. Or bribed by the dead mouse the trainer held by the tail.

The fox rests while the coyotes pace and studies the horizon. (The people rubberneck and make kissy sounds to call them either way.) Their habitats are not nearly as smelly as the bob cat's. Should we need to reestablish our campaign to drive the squirrels from the attic, I'll be in touch with the museum for a donation of used soil.

Models of volcanic activity, fossil replicas, the age of shallow seas. Time capsules of every era are displayed. A very english docent talked us through the early human inhabitants of the area including a hands on lesson of their tools for the hunt. A good-size reproduction of the desert caves opens to a mock mine. Splinters of raw malachite, azurite and pyrite are among the treasures we're encouraged to sift from the "mine-dump" site.

Down the road from the museum, the service at Benny's was lousy. The grilled cheese and onions rings not bad. The new friends who invited us over for travel stories and tether ball, great.


Anonymous said...

Hola, mis amigos!!!! It's been a long time, and Ukiah and Aslyn, you probably don't remember me to well. You are so grown up now. My kids are about the same age as you were when I first met you. Shane gave me your blog address. It sounds like you are having a wonderful adventure. I haven't read it all, just january and february. I thought I would write about what I know about poison oak, as I have become an expert of sorts.

First of all, your delayed reaction was probably caused from oils that got stuck in clothing or shoes and then rubbed against your skin. The oils are very hard to wash out, either buy special soap, which I have only been able to find at chainsaw/small motor shops, or throw the clothes out if you suspect contanimination. Hot water doesn't really help and usually contanimates anything else the clothing is washed with.
As for treatment, usually when something affects the skin in nature, the cure is nearby. Look for a bush with small, shiny, ovalish, dark green leaves, woody berry like seeds, and shiny, red bark. This is manzanita. Make a tea from the leaves and drink and rub the solution on the affected areas with cotton. Madrone will do the job too, but I am not too sure as how to identify it. Garlic tea helps too. Also, honey made from the pollen of poison oak flowers will help your body build a natural resistance to rash. Usually, in poison oak country you can find local honey producers that have poison oak honey. Often what they call wild flower honey will contain poison oak pollen. Of course, there's the old standard grandma cure of calamine lotion to relieve itching, but I remember when I was a kid, the relief was but momentary, and that stuff would dry on me and make my skin feel stiff.

I hope that helps. But of course the best solution is prevention. I know it was a while ago that you had poison oak. The shrub has leaves similar to oak trees, only when it is most "poisonous" it has red leaves, almost resembling the leaves of autumn. Stay away and if you do walk through it, be sure to be careful with the contaminated clothing and shoes as it will keep getting you on down the line. It took me forever to figure that one out.

I hope the rest of your trip is safe and with no more mechanical problems. What a great way to go to school!

Have lots of fun.


Anonymous said...

Oh yeah, for some great geological formations, north eastern california is great. There's lava beds and all kinds of wonderful formations. Also, I have found a book of "magic", called Hotsprings and Hotpools of the Southwest. It is available at Barnes and Noble and completely awesome. I had many, many adventures originate from that book. About an hour and a half east of Redding is a wonderful, natural (as in not a resort) hotsprings that is well off the beaten path and has a Native American burial ground, apple and plum trees, blackberries and a beautiful branch of the Pitt River. I even saw a group of wild horses there about two years ago. It is just outside Big Bend which is about 17 miles off the 299. If you are interested I can give you directions. It is also in that book I mentioned earlier. I can recommend more hotsprings if interested. Mostly in CA though. But I do know one on the Baja peninsula that also has a waterfall which falls into a beautiful, crystal clear pool and signs that say NO BASURA everywhere. The hotsprings here are actually little hot streams. I'll stop babbling now and go to bed. Good night.


owlhouse said...

Wow, so good to hear from you. Thanks for all the first aid and travel tips!
Sounds like you've have poison oak exp? I'm a walking encyclopedia on the topic now. You and I should write a book!

Email me with news of your life, kids...


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