Monday, May 26, 2008

Why I never, ever leave home without my camera



Years ago, when Robb and I had finished our contracts at the Dallas Theatre Center (never to return again!) we took a little camping vacation through Texas. We stopped in Austin to visit our friend Spencer, and managed to leave our tent in his house. We had stayed up very very late that night, and Spencer's house was knee deep in books and who-knows-what. We somehow misplaced our tent in all the clutter. We were at the campsite, unloading our car, when I asked Robb where he had packed the tent. He gave me a horrified look and said, "I thought you packed the tent!" Robb sort of freaked out, and when I tried to calm things down by reminding him that we were car camping and that we could always sleep in our station wagon, he said something that still makes me laugh. "Stop being so reasonable," he said "I'm trying to have a hissy fit."

Once we bought a replacement tent, we had a pretty crazy animal-filled vacation. While we were setting up the campsite, a Chihuahuan Raven dropped a live and large black snake, practically on Robb's head. Robb and I were walking down a path, when we noticed something falling from the trees above me. That something turned out to be snake poop, from the largest snake either of us had ever seen in the wild. Then there were the gators, and the peacocks that screamed (freaky and blood curdling!) all night long. The turtle laying eggs in the middle of our path. The first and only live armadillo we saw in Texas, which was snoofling around the base of the campsite's pay station, and which was visited by a large owl as we were watching it.

Despite all of this, the most memorable encounter with wildlife on this trip happened while Robb was in the showers, and I was sitting at our picnic table, writing postcards.

I was sitting quietly, when a bobcat strolled into our campsite. I held my breath, as it locked eyes with me. I didn't move a muscle, and all the while I was wishing two things.

One: that Robb would come back in time to see this beautiful, graceful, magical animal. (He didn't. And when I told the rangers about all this, they didn't believe a word of it.)

And Two: that my camera wasn't all the way across the campsite, on the other side of the bobcat. Although -- or maybe because -- I never got a photo of this animal, I will always remember the sense of awe I experienced, being in the presence of this beautiful cat. I always figured that no photo could ever live up to this memory.

Until today.

Robb and I had spent the morning at the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve, exploring the tidepools, and laying on the beach. We were at our car, in the neighborhood near this park, and I was changing my shoes, when something ran across the street, about a block away. I thought I had seen a fox, but the tail seemed all wrong. I bolted out of the parked car, grabbed my camera, swapped out the lenses, and trotted down the street. I really didn't expect to see anything, and I'm certain that Robb thought I was insane to even bother trying to catch up to a wild hunter.

When I got to the place where I saw the animal disappear, I spotted not a fox, but a young bobcat, standing on a fallen tree. To have the opportunity -- again -- to look into the eyes of a magnificent wild cat was so thrilling!

I shot off a few photos, and then tore back down the stree. As soon as I was back at the car, I told Robb to drive down to where I had just been, and amazingly, the cat was still there. So this time, I got both my wishes. I got a killer photograph, and was able to share the experience with Robb.

Wonderful!

20 comments:

Anonymous said...

WOW!! What a fantastic picture! It is so... regal! Great job, lisa.
-wassamatta_u

Peas on Earth said...

That rocks! How wonderful!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing the amazing stories and the photo. Beautiful.

Grumpy Grinch

shiloh said...

Bobcats are cool. One of my friends had one as a pet he raised from a kitten. One day 'Spike' decided he didn't want the easy life anymore and ran off.

Spike still had his wild instincts so he no doubt made the transition very well.

Jen said...

"snoofling"

This is the most PERFECT word I have ever seen describing the movement of an armadillo.

I'm originally from Texas, and have seen heaps of them over the years, and yup - that's exactly what they do. They snoofle. :)

terrie said...

Great photo, amazing experiences!

I can relate to the forgotten tent...did that once, and drove about an hour away to buy a cheap replacement at a crappy walmart store. Then got back to find that everyone had realized in the meantime that we could have just put our pads and sleeping bags in the camper shell of our friends truck!

I might need to steal Robb's hissy fit line sometime!

. . . Lisa and Robb . . . said...

Let's hear it for the WalMart tent!

cath said...

Awesome photo and story!!!

gollygee said...

That photo is just gorgeous! I show your pictures to my coworker and every time she's like "those photos are so good! Are you sure she's not buying them somewhere???" And I say "NO NO NO!!!" West coast bobcats look so much different from the ones I've seen! East coast bobcats are much stockier and furrier. Your photo almost looks like a domestic tabby cat head PhotoShopped onto a cougar body! :D It's just amazing!

Pica said...

Fantastic. Fant TAS tic. So glad you had your camera and that Robb got to see it too!

Anonymous said...

OK, I have to share a wildlife story with you because I know you'll appreciate it...

Years ago I was working as a counselor at a summer camp. When I was on my break one day I was walking up the road alone. I heard what sounded like the world's biggest bee buzzing around my head. I swatted it with my hand and it went into the bushes. In a minute it was back. It wasn't a bee at all, but a hummingbird. It landed spread eagle on my beaded necklace and proceded to try to get nectar out of the beaded flowers. I stood there for several minutes, hardly breathing, staring at this hummingbird giving me the world's tiniest hug and thinking "no one is ever going to believe this!!!!"

=) Wild Rose

MommaWriter said...

Awesome! I've seen several bobcats around, but never had a camera good enough to get a decent shot of one. He looks quite magnificent! And I have to agree that any sighting is just that much cooler when you get to share it with someone else!

Stacey
(WyndRyders #2)

LindaM said...

You are better than National Geographic!

Kaaren said...

I'm looking for a new camera (big birthday hint for David). Are you using digital?

Kaaren said...

P.s. I probably would have passed out if a bobcat looked at me. Huge wimp!

John and Diane said...

WONDERFUL shot! I'm so jealous, I have always wanted to see a bobcat. I know they are out here in the woods by our house but it is very unusual for anyone to see one. Lucky, lucky you!
-the folks at Toast Ranch, who live across the road from a very old (real) ranch, called Bobcat Ranch

Martha said...

Wow! That bobcat is just strutting his stuff for you. He knows he's just one sexy beast. Glad you had your camera! I guess your next photo will be of Bigfoot.

Anonymous said...

Did you get to pet the kitty?

Please don't get that close again without a taser, ok? The two of you would add up to 1 scrawny meal, you know!

Annalisa

Anonymous said...

He's beautiful! You are lucky to get so close twice. If you would like to see some big bold bobcats in your own 'hood, check out Sunol Regional Wilderness in East Bay Regional Park system. They have two that are practically.. tame. They like to hang out near the ranger station waiting for the gophers to pop their heads up out of the holes in the lawn. We were very excited to see one last spring- only the second time I have seen a wild cat and the first was just a flash jumping across a road. Alas I don't have a decent camera, like you! When we told the rangers we'd just seen a big bobcat they said "oh that's just Bob, he won't bother you"
Suzi of SuziLivvi

TaylorM said...

That is totally an amazing story. But I just love what Robb said. "Stop being so reasonable - I'm trying to have a hissy fit!" So self-aware. I love it. And I got a good laugh out of it, too.

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