Saturday, May 30, 2009

The Coyote Habitat in Your Backyard

Seriously, coyotes. In Maryland.

I'm getting ahead of myself. As I begin to write this post (on my COMPUTER and NOT, for once, VIA TEXT), it is 1:52pm on Saturday, May 30. This day has already been momentous, as I feel it deserves recognition as probably my most productive Saturday morning in 2009, thus far. (Yes, that's ambition, right there, after that comma.) That's saying a lot [about my personal laziness] when you realize that it's already almost June. That's right, folks. However, I'm unashamed. My Saturdays are usually spent engaging in one of the following:

a) Brunch. I usually consider getting up and showering, "getting cute," and going to brunch quite momentous and praiseworthy in and of itself. I've clearly got an inner fatkid that should STFU sometimes.

b) Sleeping in.

c) Reading a book or a magazine or, if I'm feeling particularly technophile, watching TV or chipping away at my RSS. Sometimes I even get up and put my ipod in the speakers -- Oooh!

Sometimes a, b and c are combined in various ways. To be honest, I'm usually pleased if I'm showered and out of the house or at least thinking about it by 11am.

Today was not one of those days. Yes, I have days that deviate from the norm occasionally, particularly during running seasons when I'll have to drag myself out of bed at, like, 6am to drive somewhere and run more miles/kilometers than necessary for a good cause and a subpar swag bag while simultaneously beating away thoughts of "what the hell was I thinking?!" Running season is getting into swing again, so I'm anticipating more of these soon, but as of now I'm not signed up for any races, so today was not one of "those" days.

Today, I had to go showdown with the Maryland Tree Huggers. Okay, I don't know if that's what they are really called. In fact, I know that's not what they are called. And, on that note, by "showdown," I mean show up with my tail between my legs. Confused? Fine. In plain English: I got a note a few weeks ago saying my car needed to be Vehicle Emissions Tested. The note came complete with a lovely picture of what one can only presume to be Maryland's Chesapeake Bay wetlands, complete with blue heron, which is why I immediately compartmentalized this to be some tree hugging initiative. My check engine light was on at the time of first receipt, so I ignored this note for awhile. (CEL is an automatic fail). Apparently, I ignored it for too long, because I got a note in the mail last week saying that if I don't take my car in to be inspected, the registration would be rescinded by the state. Considering that the registration for my car is under my dad's name (thanks, dad!), I decided I needed to get my butt in there. Buoyed with ambition to do the right thing in the state's eyes, for the environment and all the blue herons and whatnot, I checked the hours for the Emissions test site near me. NOW GET THIS: The test places are only open 8-5 some week days, 8-7 other week days, and 7-1 on Saturdays. Closed Sunday. WTF are people that don't get home from work until 6:30pm most nights supposed to do. Go Saturday, I guess. Well, last Saturday I slept through it. It was a "b" Saturday. This Saturday, determined to save my registration, I woke up early and drove 30 minutes to the freakin' test place. I send my car through and, miracle of miracles, it actually passes. Yay. I think I might have gotten a free pass, though, because they definitely didn't put it on those spinning wheel things... As far as I could see, the guy just looked at it, printed a sheet, and told me I passed. Um, okay. Thanks. It also cost me $30, which included late fees. Dumb. I hope you're happy, herons.

Anyway, I brought some running gear along with me, just in case there was a cool nature-y trail. I was in Derwood, Maryland, which is kind of natural and rustic, so I was kind of planning on there being something cool nearby - a park or something. Luckily, there was! When I was driving to the Emissions site, I saw this paved trail on the side of the road called "Rockville Millennium Trail." After my car passed, I returned and headed out in an arbitrary direction, figuring I'd do an out and back or something to avoid getting lost.

After an indefinite distance of running and listening to tunes, there was a sign on the trail saying 1.5 miles. I figured I was probably 1.5 miles from the trail head, so I decided to go there, turn around and head back. The anticipated 3 miles plus whatever I had already come would probably put me somewhere are 7-8 miles for the run, which would be fine. I trotted off. A mile and a half later I was at some sort of Rockville community center. I walked around looking for a door so I could go in and use the bathroom before I headed back. While walking around, I spied a sign which read "COYOTE HABITAT. Please keep all pets on leashes. If you see a coyote, call [someone]." Um, WTF? A Coyote Habitat? In Rockville, Maryland? Weirdness. I started wondering how fast coyotes can run. I wonder if they are faster or slower than regular pet dogs. I guess somewhere along that train of thought I decided I didn't want one to show up so I could find out, so I headed back down the trail without using the bathroom. I didn't see a coyote, but now I'm curious. Who knows about this place? What other weird animal habitats do we have in Maryland? Strange.

I got back to my car and continued my morning productivity by heading to the liquor store to get some beer in anticipation of a dinner I'm bringing a friend tomorrow night to celebrate their move... Now, I'm back home and blogging. It's only 2:16 now. Today has been shockingly productive. I'm going to hop in the shower and find something else to do so I can continue feeling narcissistically proud.

Until next time...


Valerie said...

When I lived in Gaithersburg, I saw not only a coyote on the NIST campus, but snakes, turtles, frogs, foxes, and of course geese, ducks, and deer.

Sometimes there are bear sightings on campus.

I wouldn't be surprised if there were cougars. Four legged cougars.


So I'm not surprised about the coyote habitat sign. It actually confirms for me that what I thought was a coyote was definitely a coyote.

Oh, and if your car is not an old clunker, they just hook it up to a computer for the emissions test. It's all just a form of taxation. It's really a pain that they make you drive out to Derwood to pay $30 for nothing...

jeff said...

i loves me some nature.

i meet up with a group of trail runners every tuesday at a local wilderness park for some pre-dawn fun. every so often we'll see packs of coyotes trotting along the trails or yipping to eachother in the distance. sometimes, though, we'll be running along and we'll hear them get ahold of something, like a rabbit.

i was running solo a couple months ago and heard a couple get a hold of a rabbit. if you haven't heard a rabbit in terror/pain, it sounds like a woman screaming. the frenzied howling of coyotes and screaming women are EXACTLY what you want to hear when you're running solo on a trail in the wild an hour before dawn.

good stuff. makes you run faster.