***Roadrunner and Tortoise are missing***
When you think of “The Tortoise and the Hare,” you probably picture it happening in a lush green forest. But, of course, this famous race actually took place in the Mojave Desert, home to the desert tortoise and the jackrabbit (whose name is a misnomer-- he is actually a hare!) In the course of this series, you will find not only them, but some of their fellow desert dwellers as well: the horned toad, the roadrunner and the coyote.
The race began where streets of pavement and dirt cross,
(P and Panamint their names, but on animals such things are lost.)
Between Cypress and iron the dirt path runs,
Toward the setting of the sun.
The horned toad was the first spectator there,
Cheering for the jackrabbit-- er, hare.
He knew what it was like to have a misleading name,
So he sat to the left and wished his friend fame.
The third pile of cement debris kept him hot.
Rusted metal now marks his spot.
The racers ran on past the toad,
And next saw roadrunner beside the road.
He cheered for the tortoise, off to the right.
(The hare had outraced him the other night.)
He stood beside yuccas, enjoying the shade.
On their northwest end his nest is now made.
The hare looked over his shoulder to find
The tortoise was really quite far behind.
He continued on, up and over a hill,
Moving long legs with practiced skill.
The coyote was also watching the race,
Though he did not care who came in first place.
He was only looking for his next meal,
So over the crest of the hill he did kneel.
But the hare sped right past and left him bereft,
In his hiding spot-- the white rocks on the left.
Into the wash, other side of the hill,
The hare turned left, scurrying still.
But when he came to a rock in the midst of the path,
He turned off the trail, to take a small nap.
Off to the left, behind desert holly,
You’ll find him indulging in this folly.
The tortoise trudged on, steady though slow,
Past the hare, his slumbering foe.
Finally the finish line was within his sight.
He walked right on through it, his heart feeling light.
The others, so excited he had won the race,
Carved out a monument in the shape of his face.
Left side of its neck-- you’ll find Tortoise there,
Celebrating his victory over the hare.
So remember as you go through life and your own races run,
Slow and steady always wins, and it's also much more fun!
This walk is probably less than 2 miles round trip, but it is over sometimes soft sand and rocks, and involves a bit of climbing at the end, so be careful of your footing. And remember, this is the desert; temperatures can get into the triple digits in the summer, and when it rains there is a danger of flash flooding. You may be lucky enough to see some of the characters from this story in person, but be cautious of running into more dangerous desert inhabitants, including snakes, scorpions and cacti. Also, motorcycles and ATVs drive through this area from time to time, so keep an eye and an ear out for them.