June 11, 2017
Since Russia is very much in the news and the 2017 Summer Fun Write Stuff Contest is underway, this seems like a perfect time to bring back this creative contribution by John Thompson of Carefree.
In the June 2005 issue of A Peek at the Peak (The Peak), we announced the winners of our “The Write Stuff Challenge: The Tall Story.” Contestants were required to write a story that was filled with exaggerations, lies, fabrications, fibs, embellishments, improbabilities, or was “downright untruthful.” Prizes included cash awards and Burger King Buck gift certificates so winners “could enjoy someone else’s Whoppers.” The story below was the second-place winner.
You can submit entries for three categories, this year: Seeing and Doing, What’s Worth Preserving, and My Hero. The Grand Prize for the 2017 Write Stuff Contest is a stay at the Four Seasons. For information, click below.
2017 Write Stuff Contest Information
Write Stuff: Russian Visitors and Large Animals
By John H. Thompson
Recently, we had some Carefree visitors from Russia. These old friends were interested in the “Arizona experience,” and our desire to fulfill that wish provided all of us with something considerably beyond what we expected. We toured the usual spots for visitors. They enjoyed Rawhide, of course, and showed considerable interest in the Heard North Museum. They happily rummaged through el Pedregal, looking for items to take home for friends and family. As we wandered around Cave Creek, we enjoyed their amazement that there could be such a place in a modern and up to date country like America. We explained, “Out here, we like it this way!”
We motored through Carefree Highlands, taking in the wildflower beauty, giving names to the creosote bush, brittlebush, saguaro, barrel cactus and prickly pear. Vladimir admired the saguaros, while Gabbi, his wife, loved the desert marigolds. Christina, their nine year old daughter, decided the Chuparosa was her favorite when she learned the humming birds delighted in its nectar. She also was thrilled with the animals we were able to see – javelinas, rabbits, coyotes, bobcats, along with a plethora of desert birds. But Christy was not satisfied. “Can’t we see some big animals?” she asked.
“We can sure try”, I said.
We headed for Los Cedros, home of prize Arabians, armed with a big bag of carrots. Christy smiled broadly at seeing the beautiful residents of that handsome facility. She liked seeing the friendly horses and being able to pet them. It didn’t take us long to run out of carrots, and her to loose her smile. “This is really great,” she said, “but I actually meant big wild animals. You do have those, don’t you?”
“I guess we had better try harder!” I said. We piled in the jeep and headed for the McDowell Mountains, perhaps to find a few desert mule deer. Nothing! We turned around and headed up to Cave Creek Road. Turning east, toward Seven Springs and the lakes, we slowed down and peered hopefully for animals on both sides. Then we headed for Bartlett Lake, and turned off the main road onto the four-wheeler tracks. After a couple of miles – there! on the horizon, some large animals! I pulled off under a mesquite tree and we piled out.
Trotting along in a Neanderthal stoop, we wound through the dry wash up to hill top for a closer view. There were some big, but definitely odd looking critters outlined against the sky a short distance away. We took off in pursuit to identify the lumbering beasts, so Christina could add them to her report of animals seen — coyotes, javelina, quail, bobcats, etc., when she got home.
As the short stalk continued, we topped the hill, and our eyes popped! Four wild camels, obviously a family group, parents and two younger beasts, were gazing at us with considerably more calm than we were feeling. They seemed quite unperturbed, staring quizzically at their observers. “We assumed it was the first time they had ever seen any Russians,” said my indefatigable spouse.
We explained that the United States Cavalry had experimented briefly in the late 1800s with a “Camel Corps,” and that from time to time descendants of those camels that escaped or were turned loose still could be seen trooping about the Sonoran Desert.
Cristina was beaming, and observed wryly, “I hoped to see Meeky Mouse when I came to Amerika, but instead, I got to see “Joe Camel!”