Today His Highness and I drove to a local park instead of jogging around the neighborhood and vicinity. There was a geocache I wanted to pick up near the banks of the Santa Ynez River. And there is a park alongside the Santa Ynez River, appropriately named River Park, through which to access the cache. So I thought it would be fun to jog along the multi-purpose path and pick up the cache somewhere in there. I also thought it would be fun to bring Zoe along to assuage some of my dog-mom guilt, what with catering to His Highness all the time. Great plan.
The path around the park was not connected to the multi-purpose path I had seen on the other side of the river, but I figured eh, whatever. Still a path, still a bit o' jogging, good to go.
The upside to this path was that it ran right alongside the massive laurel field next to the park. So many beautiful colors of bloomin' laurels. I snapped a few pics, which I will try to post sometime soon. Probably once I figure out if I can somehow remove the grains that became lodged in the camera's lens mechanism when it fell in the (dry,sandy) river bed, or if it's completely hosed.
So we continued along our way, rounding the corner back toward the front portion of the park, when Zoe very nearly stepped on a snake. And not a slender little garter snake. This guy was the width of a garden hose, and probably 3 feet long, and was sunning itself in the middle of the trail.
Did I mention I have an irrational fear of snakes?
To my great credit, I abruptly pulled backward on the jogger, and the leash, saying "Back, back, back, everybody," and took stock of the situation in an outwardly-calm manner. To the snake's great credit, it didn't move a bit. I wondered, in fact, if it was dead, but it didn't have a dead look about it. So we went around in back of it, where I noted there were no rattles. Good. A short distance later a lady & her dog walked my way and I said, "Just so you know, back up the trail a bit, there's a--"
"Gopher snake? Yes it's been there for days."
"Is that what it is, a gopher snake? They're not harmful, right?"
Turns out, they're not. She asked about its head, which was definitely not diamond-shaped, and the markings, which were somewhat, but not exactly, like those of a diamondback. So most likely it was a gopher snake.
Based on my elevated heart rate and the amount of adrenaline coursing through my body, and the fact that there was no way I was going to keep going and look for more gopher snakes, I decided that the half-mile walk was very-nearly as good as a three mile run for the day. The only problem was that I had not yet gone after the cache, and I was wondering, from the corner of my eye, if every branch or twig was moving a little.
I'm a dork for geocaching, though. There was much anxiety, and double-checking branches and paths and such for movement and long, thin, curvy things. But I got it. After we were all back in the car, on our way out of the park, I drove by The Spot and saw that the snake was no longer there. So it was most definitely not a dead snake.
On the one hand I'm proud of myself for handling the situation in a non-panicking sort of way. On the other it scared the be-jeebers out of me, and I'm probably doomed to a week of snake dreams.
Thanks for nothing, gopher snake...