We set out to drive the 775 miles (1,248 km) from the Chiricahua Desert Museum, Rodeo, New Mexico, to Fort Worth, Texas in three vehicles. I travelled with Bob Ashley and Ken Foose, Tell Hicks travelled with Theresa Moran, and Eric Thiss (Zoo Book Sales & Serpent's Tale) travelled with his son Evan, and the huge projector screen required for the presentations at the International Herpetological Symposium.
We took the quieter and more interesting Highway 9 through Animas, Hachita, Hermanas, Columbus and Mastodon and entered Texas to overnight in El Paso. Enroute we found two species of horned toads (Phrynosoma modestum and P.cornutum) and a Mexican hognose snake (Heterodon nasicus kennerlyi) which Tell and I found besides the road while we were pursuing a Desert gopher snake (Pituophis catenifer affinis) which shot across in front of the vehicle but evaded capture.
REPTILES ON HIGHWAY 9 TO EL PASO click on images to enlarge
Round-tailed horned toad, Phrynosoma modestum
Texas horned toad, Phrynosoma cornutum
Mexican hognose snake, Heterodon nasicus kennerlyi note the tightly coiled tail and flattened head display
Convoy stopped by the side of Highway 9, Bob and Theresa talk near her car at the front, Ken at the rear of Bob's vehicle, speaking to Eric besides his car.
I have an avid interest in history so we stopped off at the Pancho Villa State Park in Columbus, New Mexico, which celebrates the famous Mexican revolutionary's raid on Columbus in 1916, in which 18 Americans were killed and which was followed by General John Pershing's punitive expedition into Mexico in pursuit of Villa.
These early years of the 20th Century were alive with revolution and strife around the world, 1916 was also the year of the famous Easter Rising in Ireland and World War One (the Great War as it was known as nobody had any idea there would be a World War Two) was in full swing (1914-1918) although America did not enter the fray until 1917.
Sadly we arrived about 30minutes after the Exhibit Hall has closed but I was able to photograph an armoured tank and a field gun outside the buildings, before we moved on towards El Paso.
Armoured tank at the Pancho Villa State Park
Field gun at the Pancho Villa State Park
When we left El Paso the following day we drove across the flat and fairly featureless plains of West Texas, dotted everywhere with wind-turbines or nodding donkey oil derricks. At an occasional stop Tell would sit and play his harmonica.......
Tell plays his harmonica during a short break in the journey
........all was well with the world, until we passed this sign driving through Sweetwater!
My disgust knows no bounds for the Sweetwater Rattlesnake Roundup and others of its kind.
America at its worst!
After the IHS we drove back to the Chiricahua Desert Museum, or rather Bob drove with Tell, me and the giant projection screen for company. He covered the entire journey in one long 14hour drive.