By Trina Machacek
I pay attention as I drive. Seeing all the oddities. Crows eating something off the road that left an unmistakable vibrant slide of unmentionable parts and pieces, until the very last moment when they hop up out of the way of the cars speeding towards them with horns honking. Like a crow knows what a honking horn means. Sorry, stepped in something and slipped off the road.
On road trips where the towns are but a handful and miles apart, attention to the road is a must. But! Yes a long haul “but.” Where miles out number the cars and the speed limit is set for all those miles, occasionally minds wander. My mind wanders and things become clear as mud left in the hoof print of a passing wild horse after a summer rain. It was that wandering that led me down another scary pathway.
There are not too many of us who haven’t spent some time in the mountains. The great outdoors. Hunting, camping, hiking. Hiking? Really? Not unless I have four wheels and a motor under my hiking booties. HAHA Oh I have hiked. My best hike is from the lake up to the campfire where the marshmallows are hanging out.
Got something sticky stuck to my shoe again. Squishing along.
Being a somewhat knowledgeable outdoor gal I got to thinking about all the things there are out there. Lurking. Watching me as I look for them, escaping from them. “THEM!”
There is a very old sci-fi movie of that name. It’s about giant, really huge giant ants that of course devour unsuspecting humans. I am not scared of ants, that would be silly but more to the point the thing many a girl squeaks about, spiders. As I was zipping down the highway I looked over to the mountains around me and wondered, “Just how many spiders are there out there?”
Those eight words started a whole thing as I drove alone in my car down the long, quiet, sparsely traveled highway. Then this happens.
Up ahead on the road a familiar sight came into my view. The road was turning a reddish color. Not like it was painted totally red, more of two lines, where tires go, was red. Two lines on my side and two lines in the opposite lane. Instantly I knew what was ahead. Crickets! Mormon Crickets! Millions upon millions of the creepy dickens.
Okay a little Mormon cricket background for you who have not had the pleasure of seeing the plague of these hopping masters of nightmares. I can only tell of what I know and have experienced. Others who have more book learnin’ will certainly know more than I.
In approximately the mid 2000s I saw my first mass movement of these bugs. We were out in summer exploring the Diamond Range and we stopped to unload our 4-wheelers. I got out and the ground kinda moved with things jumping. In all directions. Lots of things.
We of course had heard of the crickets but this was our first look. I-GOT-BACK-IN-THE-TRUCK. After some discussion where he talked of going further and seeing them and me hanging onto the door handle with a death grip, we went home. That was the first of many times I met the Mormon Crickets. I must say, that summer I learned to live in peace with them. I caught one, a baby one, in a cup and touched it and later on as they grew and started to come into my yard I played what I called, “Hop. Hop. Squish,” where I took out as many as I could. Luckily we live next to BLM ground (Bureau of Land Management) and the officials spread “bait” to stop the scourge at the graveled road. Well sort of, enough so I could sleep.
I heard tell of a gal in the next valley where the little stinkers, (yes they stink when dead and then they eat their dead) covered her house. So much so that she had to take a broom and clean off her doorway and sidewalk to get a UPS delivery. Yuck.
I talked to old timers in town and they could barely remember these bugs coming in maybe the 1940’s, but the men I talked to really couldn’t remember exactly. Then in the 2000’s they were back! In-mass.
So much so that snow plows were brought out by the Nevada Department of Transportation to clean the slimy cricket covered roads. The crickets have been back nearly every year or two since then.
That should be enough to keep you from sleeping well. G’night.
Trina lives in Eureka. She has two books out that are available on line or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org to buy signed copies.