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Desert Wildlife

“Hey, Mr. Parsons! Whatcha doing?”

Oh, no. It was Billie Haskins, the nine year old kid next door. He had a way of driving me nuts. I was working on my WRF 450, trying to pull the rear wheel to fix a flat. I had a cheap open end wrench and was pushing for all I was worth. I did not need Billie Haskins right now.

“Fixing a flat, Billie. Hey, why don’t you go play in traffic or something?”

“Ha ha. You’re so funny, Mr. Parsons. My dad says you should always use a box wrench or socket and breaker ba...”

“YOUCH!” The open end slipped off, slamming my fingers onto the swing arm.

“Yeah, because that’s exactly what he said could happen. AND it will strip the axle nut.” Billie peered at the rounded nut. “Like that.”

Little monster. I sucked the blood off three fingers and tried another section of the nut. The metal had stripped over onto the next section, so I began hammering the open end onto the nut. Now it would hold.

“Hey, Mr. Parsons, have you ever seen any wildlife in the desert when you ride?” Billie asked as he stomped a cockroach on the floor.

Had I ever. The desert is full of wildlife. People think that the desert is a barren wasteland, but I have seen my share of wildlife.

Once Matt and I were riding at night, and in the middle of nowhere, we came upon a parked car. The windows were steamed up, and because of the glare of our lights, we were unable to see inside. We decided later that there were probably two people in the car, and they were either killing or breeding, but it was none of our business, so we just passed by real slowly, revving our engines in a menacing way. Same story an hour later on the way back.

Roger and I were zipping up a trail on afternoon, and I was behind him at the time. I don’t really know WHY, because I‘m way faster than him, but sometimes these things just happen. Anyway, as he ripped around a corner, a teenage boy and girl stood up really quickly from on a mattress, pulling on clothing. We dusted them both pretty good. Gee, that’s so romantic.

Or how about the time I was on my back, on the ground, next to some girl- I don’t know her name- and while your mind is racing at the thought of this wild life, we were changing the starter in her Suburban. I had ridden up to find her, again in the middle of nowhere, underneath her truck, trying to change the starter. We worked at it together for around an hour, and finally got it hooked up. All the time she is muttering about her worthless boyfriend, how she had to pick up and leave, and she can take care of herself. The rig is packed full of all her earthly belongings. It is just beginning to get dark when we finish, and I determine that she doesn’t need a new starter. The battery is dead. Brilliant.

More wildlife? Well, there was the naked guy sunning on a chaise lounge chair next to his pickup. He wasn’t in the middle of nowhere. He was about a mile west and south. Should I stop and see if he needs any sunscreen? Don’t think so.

Then there was the pup tent. Right next to a jump we flew over. (I swear you could see light under both my tires!) A head sometimes would pop out around the third rider past. The guy was there for about a month.

Once we were, I don’t know, around fifteen miles east of the middle of nowhere, and there was a Mexican family in a camper. By the very permanent look of the surrounding area, they had been there for quite some time.

There was the guy in his ’76 Monte Carlo, working on his engine. He’s at the end of this Jeep road with 7 foot whoops! I don’t even see how he could have gotten there. Or why. Can’t you just see it? “Hey honey, I’m going out ten miles of nasty dirt roads to work on my car.” Well, at least Billie Haskins wouldn’t bother him out here.

Roger and Bob came upon a person who had apparently committed suicide. He was on the ground with a gun in his hand, very dead. That was really wild. But no life.

I was ten miles off the road and found a guy in a pickup with a flat and no spare. He had four kids with him. Apparently none of them were Boy Scouts. You know, “be prepared?” I rode down to get cell service and called his buddy to tell him Dave was stuck out in the middle of nowhere, but I knew better. The middle of nowhere is two miles north and three east of here! When I got back they had built a fire. So they were a little prepared.

“Well?” Billie asked as he handed me a socket and breaker.

I grabbed my old crescent wrench. “Oh, a jackrabbit once in a while, lizards, an iguana once.” Better leave it at that. Billie is just too young.