Sunday, July 11, 2010

A Visit in Salida or "I Must Have Bats In My Belfry"

We stopped for a few days in Salida, Colorado to visit Shelley's cousin Omar and his wife Anne. Omar and Anne have recently moved into a house that is located at a campground that Omar owns. So, it was extremely convenient as they reserved us the camping site closest to their home.

On our second day there they announced that they thought it would be nice if we all went to the Orient Land Trust (OLT) that evening to see a huge colony of Mexican Free Tailed Bats leave their roost and head out on their nightly hunt. We thought it sounded like a pretty cool thing to do and said sure we would go. Omar then explained that after we arrived at the land trust, the trip would entail a short hike to see the bats. “No problem” thought I. They also vaguely alluded to the fact that the OLT was the home of clothing optional hot springs. So – I'm thinking – “I'm going to see bats not naked people at a hot springs – and Anne and Omar are not clothing optional type people so - it'll be okay.”
Now for some background. First of all,Omar and Anne live at 8,000 feet above sea level. Our house in Florida is 38 feet above sea level. So already they are way way ahead of us as they are used to oxygen deprivation. Second, Omar is Mr. Mountain Man. He has climbed each of Colorado's 54 mountains that are over 14,000 feet and many of them multiple times. Anne is no slouch either and has climbed her share of mountains also.

We get to the OLT and find out that this little hike is 1.8 miles and we are currently at 8,600' and will climb 800' in elevation to 9,400' (9,425 to be exact). OMG, I'm old, over-weight, out of shape, can't breath as it is, and here we go. And I'm thinking “I must be batty to be doing this”

We head off to meet our tour guide, Roger. I'm sorry that I failed to take a picture of Roger so you will just have to use your imagination. Roger is probably 50 years old and looks to be in quite good shape. We can tell this by the clothes or lack there of that he is wearing. Roger has on Army issue boots and white socks, a green Army t-shirt that the tail of just barely manages to cover his butt and a 45 pound pack on his back (I know it was 45 lbs because he told us repeatedly that it was 45 lbs) and that is ALL. Roger is standing there tugging on the tail of his t-shirt trying to cover – well, those parts that should be covered.  As we head out on our little walk, we see other folks that are staying at OLT (it is a resort) and thankfully they all have the decency to be adequately dressed. (I know, I'm such a prude).

The hike took 1.5 hours, we did have many rest stops, not enough but many and although I brought up the rear the entire time and bitched and moaned and thought that my lungs would burst or if not them my heart – but I made it. On the way up we learned special tidbits of information from Roger. Such as – did you know that rodents are not mammals? Or did you know that a jackass is the result of the mating of a donkey and a mule? You get the picture – Roger is one of these people that thinks he knows everything but in reality knows absolutely nothing.

About 10 minutes after we got to the Glory Hole where the bats were to come out of – out they came. In waves, all 200,000 or 250,000 of them. This is kind of a strange bunch because it is 100% bachelors. All the girls and kids are at Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico. Or so Roger said. After about 20 minutes of bat watching it was the hike back down which only took 50 minutes.

We had fun and it was interesting and I'm glad we went. However, Omar and Anne, next time you plan an excursion I'm going to Google it first and see what the real scoop is so that I know whether or not I need to pack an oxygen bottle.

One last note – on the way back the path had been very dark and Monte and Omar were wearing headlamp type flashlights to light our way. When we got back to the bottom we all needed to use the restroom. Turned out that they are all unisex but at least the stalls had doors which was more than we could say for the urinals. As Monte was waiting outside the bathroom his headlamp was still on and he heard footsteps and turned around and there, like a deer in the headlights, was some woman in all her glory, carrying just her towel to the shower. Monte said it was not a pretty sight and he really wanted to offer her his jacket as she could really use a coverup – but she was completely oblivious to his discomfort and her own case of the sags and bags and just strolled right on by him.

1 comment:

~Cheryl said...

Sounds like a batty good time!