Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Where the Wild Things Are

I had an amazing encounter last night after work. Actually, I had two amazing encounters that were really kinda cool.

First of all, after I watched the latest two hours of the WSOP coverage on Tuesday night (featuring one of the craziest knockouts I've ever seen), and the pilot episode of 'V', I headed off to bed, trying to get a catnap in before going into work at 1:00 am. But my phone rang at 10:30--the poker room was busier than usual, and they wanted me to come in early at 11:30, instead. I'm all for being busy at work, so I agreed to give up my sleep.

I was glad to see that the room was still hopping when I got there (weeknights can be especially tricky--it's sometimes like a domino effect, once a couple of people up from the table, sometimes all the other players follow and suddenly the game is broken). Of course, as soon as I sat down, all the table talk was about my big Quads jackpot over the weekend.

I didn't want to bring it up--I still have to make a living, and honestly, I can't blame a guy who's stuck a hundred bucks if he doesn't want to toss a buck out of a small pot to somebody who just hit a jackpot for over four grand. It was my first night back at work since my big score, and I was a little worried about how it would go. Would I make any tips at all?

Actually, it turns out that I had nothing to worry about. I've got a lot of friends who work in rooms down on the Strip, and they're struggling mightily right now. So I feel pretty lucky that in our room, even though it's not one of the bigger or more celebrated poker rooms in town, and I don't get as many hours as I'd like, it's still a very good place to work--our players generally take very good care of us. And I still had a decent night. Well, I was on pace for a very good night, but then it turned into one of those domino-theory nights, and I got out a little earlier than usual.

I didn't mind so much--I was still pretty tired, having been up all day and missing out on my evening pre-shift nap. And I was hungry too. After I punched out of the casino, I headed over to the grocery store to get something quick and easy to eat, and to grab a few essentials that I was running low on, also.

On the way home, I took the back way into my neighborhood, just because of the fewer stoplights to deal with. It's kind of like a service road that runs parallel to the freeway, and it cuts behind a couple of shopping centers and there's a big open chunk of undeveloped land on one side, too.

Anyhow, as I was getting near my turnoff, I saw what looked like a good-sized dog crossing the road a few dozen yards in front of me. As I got closer, I could see that it was a fairly large coyote. I've never seen that before--right here in the middle of Henderson, not a quarter mile from the freeway! I slowed down to get a better look, and the coyote stopped to size me up, also. I stopped in the middle of the road to watch him (there was no traffic--it was like 3:00 o'clock in the morning), and once he got off the road, he just kinda made his way over into some bushes on the side of the road. There was no place for him to go, since there was a huge 7-foot high noise barrier wall there, and on the other side was a subdivision full of tract homes. I was right there at the corner where I would normally turn left and go a couple of blocks to my apartment complex, but instead, I wanted to watch this coyote for a bit to see what he was gonna do.

So I just flipped a u-turn and pulled over a little closer to him, watching him walk along the base of the stucco wall. I just sat there for a few minutes, and he kept watching me, too. I found myself wishing I had a camera, because not only was it the first coyote I've seen out here, but it was a huge one--bigger than any I'd ever seen in Arizona. And it was in the middle of all this civilization, too!

Then the amazing thing happened. He stopped pacing along the wall, looked over his shoulder at me, and then suddenly he leaped up and landed on top of the wall--seven feet up, just like a cat! Then he stood there staring at me for a split second like Yeah, I'm a badass--Did you see that move? and then started strolling along the wall for about twenty or thirty feet before disappearing over the other side.

Wow. That was pretty cool. A normal domestic dog would've never been able to make that jump and then stick the landing like that. Satisfied that I'd seen all of the show, I put the truck back in gear and pulled away. Since I'd flipped a u-turn, I was heading the wrong direction, and the service road I was on was a divided four-lane road. So I had to go down about a quarter-mile or so to the next cut-out and make another u-turn to come back.

And just after I did, I saw another coyote crossing the road in the same place as the first one.

The second one was a bit smaller than the first one, and obviously the female. I pulled over to watch her, but there was no way she was gonna be able to make the same leap as her mate. I rolled down my window to listen if maybe the two of them were communicating, and yep, they were--a very low bark came from the other side of the wall.

The smaller female just took off and started trotting along the wall and turned left, going down the same street as I was heading. I didn't have my camera, but I grabbed my phone and tried to snap a picture of her with it--she was only about 10 feet away from the door of my truck and trotting down the sidewalk. It didn't turn out at all--no flash on that camera, and it was the middle of the night, so the picture was just pitch dark. But as soon as the wall ended at the entrance to the subdivision, she sprinted off into the darkness, reuniting with her companion. I could hear them 'talking' for just a second or two, but couldn't see them, so I rolled up my window and drove the last couple of blocks to my apartment.

It was a neat thing to see, and I wish I would've had my camera with me and gotten a picture of that big coyote walking along the top of the wall--that's something that doesn't happen every day.

Well, at least as far as I know.


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