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Campsite Buddy

Campsite Buddy

Friends –

Earlier this month, Bob and I were backpacking in the Escalante River Canyon – intending to go to a secret destination that we call our third home. Top secret. Unfortunately, it does require crossing the Escalante River twice, and due to the high water level and current on this particular trip, we were unable to do so – at least with our packs. So, we did what we never do, and camped along the banks of the river itself.

>Some say that all things have a good side, and we found that in this case it was very true. Among other new-found pleasures, we were visited frequently by a local resident (or perhaps more than one) known as the Great Basin Collared lizard. The literature says that these guys are quite skittish and run away from people – often on their hind legs. But this was definitely not our experience. In fact, we found them to be quite friendly.

>Undoubtedly, their agreeable nature was nurtured by the expectation that we would feed them, although we did not do so intentionally. But we had three incidents with our buddy that seemed to be downright friendly.

First, I was lying in my sleeping bag, noticing a squashed beetle on my tarp that must be something we stepped on. As I was lazily gazing at the big black corpse, our lizard buddy came up to visit. Just inches away, he looked at me as if to ask permission, and then leaned over to munch on the beetle meal. Notably, he did not grab it and run, but rather chose to dine at ‘my table’, so to speak.

Second, what seemed to be the same lizard came up to Bob as he was preparing his pack for a day hike. Since he just sat there, Bob gently reached over and tickled him under the chin. Our buddy seemed to appreciate the rub, and did not go away until it was clear that Bob was done giving him this delight.

Finally, on the last day, we were down by the creek pumping our water in a brushy, cottonwood tree-filled area. Sitting on my lap, I felt a tickle on my thigh, which I assumed to be from the brush. Thus, absent-mindedly, I pushed it away. But my hand recognized that it was more than a bunch of leaves, and I looked over to see our buddy, now about one foot away. He seemed to be shocked that I would do such a thing, and was staring at me as if to try to figure out what did wrong. There was nothing I could do to take back that opportunity, and sadly, he left.

Anyway, we both enjoyed our little campsite buddy, and this gourd is a tribute to these creatures that are so characteristic of the Southeast Utah desert. My grandson loved the stories, so I will have to take him there, when he is big enough to backpack…

This gourd is for sale for your donation to Doctor’s Without Borders, or another good non-profit of your choice.

Margie lopez read