Talk about road blocks!
A few years after buying our place at Howard Mesa (north of Williams, AZ, south of the Grand Canyon), my editor, Jeremy, came to visit us down in Wickenburg. It was January, right after Macworld Expo. As I do with all of our out-of-state visitors, I took him to the Grand Canyon.
Since our property was along the way, I decided to take a short detour to show it to him. We’re proud of our lot at Howard Mesa, mostly because of the incredible views in every direction. We like to show it off.
It had snowed hard the night before our visit and the ground was covered with a thick blanket of the stuff. I was driving my Jeep which was still relatively new and had good tires. The roads at Howard Mesa are not plowed in the wintertime — in fact, we’re pretty lucky if they get graded during monsoon season. And, of course, with only two houses on our side of the mesa at that time, it wasn’t as if a lot of people were going that way. Still, there were relatively fresh tire tracks to follow, so I could find the road.
We came up the state road, rounded a bend, and were rather surprised to see this small herd of young open range cattle in our path. As you may be able to tell by their faces in the photo, we weren’t the only ones who were surprised. I clearly remember rolling to a stop in the road about 50 feet from these animals, snapping a photo, and then just waiting for them to move. They didn’t.
I inched forward with the Jeep, trying to encourage them to get out of the way. I was probably about 20 feet away when one of them decided I was too close. It whirled around and started back down the road in the direction I needed to go. Since cattle are herd animals, within moments they’d all turned around and were trotting down the road.
At this point, we still had about a mile to go to get to our place. The cattle may have been trotting, but they’re not exactly fast. When I sped up, they didn’t. They were already moving at top speed. I didn’t want to frighten them or hurt them.
Well, I had a Jeep. Jeeps can be taken off-road. So I found a break in the vegetation at the side of the road and drove around them. That was enough to scare them off the road. They cut cross country through another lot. I pulled back onto the road and we continued our trip over the existing tire tracks.
A while later, when we arrived at our place, we saw the cattle standing as a tight herd across the road, looking in at us. But they didn’t get in our way again.