PHOTOS: Chicken Creek, Utah, last spring

This alarming-looking but harmless snake was particularly well-mannered, as every creature, human or otherwise, I ever met in Utah was. I nonetheless still recommend not inviting one into your sleeping bag unless you have exhausted every alternative to get rid of mouses.

This alarming-looking but harmless snake was particularly well-mannered, as every creature, human or otherwise, I ever met in Utah was. I nonetheless still recommend not inviting one into your sleeping bag unless you have exhausted every alternative to get rid of mouses.

One of the most secluded and prettiest camps we ever found was in the Manti La Sal National Forest. If any of you ever need recommendations for really off-the-beaten path places to camp, let me know. In the American West, if you're willing to brave some roads like the one below, there are tons of places like this to camp. The harder the road, the better the camp. We never saw another person at Chicken Creek for four days.

 

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Tracks like this usually have signs at the beginning warning drivers not to attempt them with trailers. I never saw one I didn't ignore, though I would have if an idiot of my caliber happened to be traveling in the opposite direction.

Tracks like this usually have signs at the beginning warning drivers not to attempt them with trailers. I never saw one I didn't ignore, though I would have if an idiot of my caliber happened to be traveling in the opposite direction.

Roo demonstrating her savant's capacity to pre-locate and mentally catalogue every mouse within 1000 meters, making for more efficient disposal later.

Roo demonstrating her savant's capacity to pre-locate and mentally catalogue every mouse within 1000 meters, making for more efficient disposal later.

If you can ID this for me, please do. 

If you can ID this for me, please do. 

This is the way any retriever worth her salt navigates treacherous waterways. As you can clearly see, Roo was flailing wildly in the torrent as she came under a brutal pirhaña attack. 

This is the way any retriever worth her salt navigates treacherous waterways. As you can clearly see, Roo was flailing wildly in the torrent as she came under a brutal pirhaña attack. 

Just outside the frame is a small-sized dinosaur, no more than 7-800 pounds. She was camera shy, so you'll have to take my word for it. It took almost no time at all to train her to peck bread crumbs off the ground like a pigeon. And, yes, dinosaurs turn out to have lovely, multicolored feathers.

Just outside the frame is a small-sized dinosaur, no more than 7-800 pounds. She was camera shy, so you'll have to take my word for it. It took almost no time at all to train her to peck bread crumbs off the ground like a pigeon. And, yes, dinosaurs turn out to have lovely, multicolored feathers.

The curse of remote areas is that there isn't much to do, so people tend to develop odd hobbies. Bulldozer and grader whittling is a popular pastime taught to small children because of the whimsical results you can expect from them.

The curse of remote areas is that there isn't much to do, so people tend to develop odd hobbies. Bulldozer and grader whittling is a popular pastime taught to small children because of the whimsical results you can expect from them.

As soon as you get out of Utah, manners fall apart and revert to their usual American standards. This example is somewhere north of Chicken Creek and serves as a reminder to screen bears carefully before inviting them to camp with you. 

As soon as you get out of Utah, manners fall apart and revert to their usual American standards. This example is somewhere north of Chicken Creek and serves as a reminder to screen bears carefully before inviting them to camp with you. 

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