Thursday, January 26, 2006

The Carcass Run

Today was probably one of the funniest days of my life in terms of working with the California Condors. Court and I drove up to Sacramento to pick up a new vehicle for the project. Once we finished stuffing ourselves at Chili's we went to Modesto to pick up some carcasses. Remember we were in two separate vehicles when we went to pick up the carcasses.

This is how the plan usually goes...about two - three days before we pick them up from an organic dairy we call the place and tell them to unplug the freezers. So I guess at dairies calves die a dime a dozen. (I have no idea what that means, but it seems like a good thing to say). So Court had left about 5 messages for the owner and had never got a return call. We get there and one of the lids is up on the freezer, but they aren't bagged which primarily means they are frozen together. There are two freezer each with about 7 calves frozen together. So we search around the barn thingy we are in and find a pipe which then becomes a crowbar of sorts. And we pry them loose as best we can. We then load them into the back of the pickup truck. Remember---they are not bagged or I should say the ones on top are not bagged. So that back of the pickup truck kind of resembles this (although these ones have already been eaten by the condors and are heading to the trash). However see how that leg is hanging over the side? Well it was pretty much the same thing.

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So we take off. Remember we are in two different vehicles so for most of the trip I get to watch one of the calf's tail twirl in the wind. I have to say I laughed the entire way back. We come to a four-way stop and Court goes through. Then I watch someone from the other direction go through, but about break their necks trying to see what is in the back of the vehicle. Still laughing. Minus the two people, I look at this for an hour and half...

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So we travel the back roads for a short time before arriving in the shopping areas. We were in traffic before entering Highway 99. The people in the opposite lane were shocked, in awe, dying, etc. The Fed Ex man looked over about three times and the whole time I am laughing. He finally saw me and said what are you laughing at? I pointed forward. The best part was that Court and I had radios and were chatting about all this.

Then we entered the major highway. People would start to pass him and then almost slam on their brakes trying to look over. Or they would make a lane change behind him and then realizing what they were following quickly make another one. The best was a vehicle with three females. They pulled up along side me and Court switched lanes about then right in front of them. I thought the driver was going to puke. She put her hand to her mouth and well I can't explain the expression, but it was definitely priceless. The other two women in the vehicle were primarily doing the same. When they were finally able to change lanes, the driver was looking out her window afraid to look back towards the calves. We were laughing so hard.

Primarily the rest of the trip was people doing double takes at the vehicle. Not sure what happened when we gassed up because Court as a few islands away. And I can only imagine how it was when people came up behind him when it got dark and saw the leg sticking straight in the air. Straight out of the Twilight Zone.

So what is the weirdest you've seen driving?

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