The Bee Movie Ed Wood Never Made
Off-roading in the San Felipe area, even in one
of its milder and restful forms, can apparently court unexpected
results, entirely independent of the usual potential pitfalls
such as flat tires, mechanical breakdowns, running out of gas
or water, getting bogged in sand, puncturing the oil pan, rolling,
getting lost, bandito or puma attacks, accidentally interrupting
a majauana harvest, getting devoured by fire ants (which usually
follows the previous pitfall) or even being abducted by UFOs.
Sometimes something will happen which is not in any of the books.
Sometimes it's better not to be too curious about what lies
out there. It may not always be the TRUTH. It usually isn't.
of the milder and restful forms of off-roading takes the shape
of a day-trip into the desert with a pleasant young lady, picnic
basket swollen with victuals and refreshments, digital camera
inspired by new Duracells to macro into the smiling new blooms
that have been startled into the air by last week's sudden rainfall.
Then a leisurely ramble over to the ancient
shell beds for a little fossil hunting. Nothing in the waypoints
to traumatize the neck or lower back. No unknowns to worry about.
At least that was the theory, anyway.
The young woman (let's call her SC) was a retired
doctor (young and retired are not oxymorons
anymore) with no off-road experience. So the trip was planned
to ease her into the rewards of not doing what Rober
Frost confessed in one of his poems, which is to take the less
traveled of two roads. I was going to show SC the merits of
ignoring all roads and blazing a new one.
The day of the trip was much like 322 other days
that year - warm and sunny. I picked up SC beside her house
in El Dorado and stowed her gear in the back of the Suzuki Samurai.
We followed Saltido Road to the foothills and turned south at
del Triumf. Both of us kept alert for a place to safely
ease into the desert. After a few miles we found it and the
Suzuki dropped off the road into the spikey, hard vegetation
of true desert flora. Lightly imprinted tracks ahead told us
we were not the first to choose this passage through the undergrowth.
We followed the trail until a clearing, hugged by screens of
ocotillos and mesquite, invited us to stop and spread a blanket.
For the next hour or so our cameras snapped like
chiropractors as we explored the carpets of blooms and buds
that hung from hooks all around us. Then we retired to our blanket
and excavated the picnic basket.
After lunch the Suzuki nosed through the brambles
until it found the south road and we made our way to the shell
beds where we found the calcite and calcium signitures of various
extinct mollusks engraved in rocks that were once part of an
ancient sea bed. As we deployed ourselves in Deerstalker fashion,
bodies cantilevered to bring our faces closer to the ground,
I chanced to glance up and noticed a fissure in the face of
a stone and earth parapet that rose out of the desert a little
to the west of us. Desiring a closer look, I surveyed the intervening
terrain and decided to use the Suzuki to find a passable route.
When I was satisfied the way was navigable, I returned for SC
and we negotiated a lockpick course through the heaving stones
and shellburst vegetation to a place near the bluff.
The scarp was steep and deeply ridged at intervals,
which allowed for relatively safe climbing. I carried my camera
up to the
fissure, which was unsually black around its edges. The
desert was quiet as a domino. I looked back and saw the Suzuki
on a flat between two rumpled tan blankets of earth, which was
as close as I could get. I took a photo then turned to face
the crevice, the viewfinder still screwed to my eye. That was
when THEY came out.
Most attacks are prefaced by a tactical reconnaisance
phase, when a few scouts sally out to survey the enemy and collect
information about their location, intentions, strengths and
weaknesses. Of course with a caucus of killer bees, mostly Republican
by nature, there is a certain element of psychosis that preempts
the natural order of things and their actions are likely to
be somewhat rowdy, if not downright Kamikaze. The instant my
camera uttered its faux shutter click the fissure coughed out
a sideways hailstorm of insects that swarmed me like high school
kids on a pizza.
My first thought, for some strange reason, was
to protect the camera. My second thought, a nano second later,
was "...to hell with the camera!"
Beating myself like a piñata, I decided
I needed to be somewhere else, preferably three or four latitudes
north. I ran down the steep embankment while at the same time,
using only my arms as semophores, I managed to deliver the first
three acts of Shakespeare's Macbeth --in a foreign
SC gave me a quizzical look as I flashed by her.
Then she suddenly began semophoring the fourth act and joined
me, which may not have been the best strategy as I was trying
to draw the bees away from her.
Two bees or not two bees?
Two bees. That was how many managed to puncture
my body with their primitive syringes before I reached the Suzuki
(god knows why I ran that way; the vehicle didn't have a top).
SC arrived unscathed, thankfully, although one of the impertinent
assassins tried to fly up her nose. The bees, which at first
seemed resolved to popparatzi me to the ends of the earth, finally
lost interest and flew away. Presumably they retired to some
kind of bee lodge to joke about the incident over a few thimbles
of mead. SC was still frantically plucking her head like an
unsprung harp, trying to flush out any stragglers. I calmed
her down and searched her hair carefully. She, in return, pulled
the stingers from my arms. We were two mountain gorillas preening
each other after an afternoon of high antics.
We quickly voted to keep moving and decided to
return home by way of the dry
lake bed. It was soothingly bleak with miles of bloomless
sand that promised to remain a safe haven for the rest of the
day. And it took a little of the sting out of our shameful retreat.