Saturday, May 3, 2014

She Shot the Sidewinder

Meet Jill. Jill was my Warm Showers host for two nights at the end of my Pacific Coast tour in 2012.
Me & Jill.

Jill is a rock solid awesome woman. She phoned me a few times during my trip to make sure that all was well. When I got to her place, we shared some amazing conversation. And then right before she dropped me off at the airport, we took her kayaks out onto the Pacific Ocean. I had an absolute blast hanging out with Jill. I wish she and I lived closer.

Jill gave me some great advice. She said, "When you get back to the 'real world,' don't forget the feelings you have experienced on your trip." I took Jill's advice to heart; I didn't let my feelings get buried underneath the day-to-day doldrums of reality -- namely: get up, go to work, rinse-and-repeat. Nope, I'm reliving those great trip feelings over and over and over again.

Jill sent me a sweet email last night wishing me well on my trip. She also shared a brief experience about her stay at her cabin in the high desert and advised me to beware of the sidewinders:
I was up [at the cabin] last weekend and shot a 10-year old sidewinder who had set up shop -- been living in the crawl space of my cabin, intent of terrorizing me every so often, especially when I was under the house doing work on the electrical or plumbing, etc. Finally got him! Remember to keep your tent zipped up, especially at night when nocturnal serpents are hunting in the desert!
Hmm…as I was reading this, I was thinking "what in the hell is a 'sidewinder'"?

This, my friends, is a sidewinder:

A sidewinder (aka "a mother f'ckin' rattlesnake").

You may recall the following Q&A from my A Pre-Trip Q&A with Alex and Sarah blog entry:

What are you least looking forward to on this ride?
Alex: The hills.
Sarah: The mother f'ckin' rattlesnakes.

Fuck the hills! While the hills may indeed kill you, you won't die a slow and painful death by venomous injection.

Now I'm all for the "circle of life" and all that shit, but certainly the circle would be much better without snakes. Yeah, I'm definitely sure of that.

These sidewinders get their name because of their form of locomotion. They do this sort of winding/jumping thing that enables them to quickly travel over the sand.

The signature sidewinding motion of a sidewinder.

Oh, and apparently they bury themselves in the sand during the heat of the day, in order to regulate their body temperature. Great! Just peachy marvelous!

A partially buried and very well disguised sidewinder.
(Photo by Randy Babb, from

So now that I knew what a sidewinder was, I could fully appreciate Jill's story. I had this image of Jill straddling this monstrously-sized sidewinder. There's a plume of smoke coming out of the barrel of an AK-47, which is tightly gripped under Jill's arms. The eyes of the freshly-killed rattlesnake have rolled into the back of his head, and a puddle of warm blood slowly grows as bright red blood seeps through the bullet-riddled sides of the slithering beast.

(Yeah, okay, so maybe this isn't entirely plausible. I'm guessing AK-47s don't smoke. And since snakes are cold-blooded, the warm puddle of blood thing doesn't exactly jive. But, you get the drift.)

While I'm super glad that Jill put the end to the terrorizing snake, and while I'm super glad that Jill gave me a heads-up about these rattlers, I have now developed a new concern about how exactly I'm going to get up in the middle of the night to pee. I have visions of laying awake in my tent at night, my bladder filled to the max, as sidewinders keep throwing themselves at the sides of my tent.

I think I need to get myself a shenis. The shenis would enable me to pee without having to leave the tent! Yes, in fact, that's a brilliant idea! (If you aren't familiar with a shenis -- the great equalizer in allowing both sexes to stand while peeing -- or even if you are familiar, I suggest you take this opportunity right now to go to and expand your awareness of outdoor gear.) As long as the shenis can project at least three feet (i.e. just outside the radius of my tent vestibule), I should be just fine.

I'll leave you, my dear readers, with an image of me biking through the deserts of southern California, with my new rattlesnake-attack-prevention gear strapped to the back rack of my bicycle. Dear lord almighty -- save us all!

(Thanks to Ferit for the photo editing.)


  1. This post was hilarious. You're such a riot, Sarah!

    1. No hilarity intended, Cassie. These rattlers are serious business! ;)

  2. Good plan! If nothing else you will scare the snakes to death! Another reason hiking on glaciers is a good thing. No sidewinders!

    1. Haha! Gotta get me a fat bike so I can bike on the glaciers. :)

  3. I'll sleep easier at night knowing you have the right "equipment" ;-)

  4. this post would work better if it had you in a cowboy hat, with an AK-47 on the bicycle at the end. just sayin'! :)


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