It’s finally summer in Colorado, and after several aww-inducing hikes in the Centennial State, I’ve come to an important decision: whoever’s in charge of giving states their nicknames should totally rename Colorado the Cuteness State. For one thing, “Centennial” is super boring and stuffy. And for another thing — a more important one by far — just look at all this adorableness!
Baby bunny who could fit inside my coffee cup.
This guy was hiding on the side of the path, so small we almost stepped on him. He was seriously about the size of my palm. After nearly blinding him with the flash of a thousand photos, we kindly ushered him off the trail, into the safety of the taller grass. Hours later on the return trek, we found him exposed again, hanging out on the side of the road like some kind of bunny of the night. Kids these days. Honestly! Okay, I’m not sure whether he’s actually a bunny or some kind of chipmunk, but still. He should not be out on the road like that!
Bewildered prairie dog who took a wrong turn at Albuquerque.
Poor thing was all, “WTF is that?! WATER! Where the hell am I?!” He spent a few more minutes darting out toward the waves and back before taking off into the woods, probably to reboot his GPS.
We saw both of those furballs at Chatfield State Park last week. We also saw coyote and fox on the Highline Canal trail (they’re admittedly less cuddly). Yesterday, we hit up Roxborough State Park for a hike in the rain. I didn’t have my camera, and for most of the afternoon, the only wildlife we saw was a caterpillar hanging out on a leaf, which was totally fine by me, because Roxborough is Rattlesnake Country (yes, there are signs so naming it), among other things, and I prefer to keep my poisonous wildlife, my larger-than-a-bicycle wildlife, my teeth-sharper-than-a-razor wildlife, and my shit-that-can-just-mow-me-down-and-eff-me-up wildlife at least fifty feet away at all times. Little personal policy right there.
Unfortunately Pet Monster doesn’t have the same policy. He’s like one animal mimicry away from a trip to the emergency room. Near the end of our Roxborough hike, he started making eyes at a mule deer in the meadow, who then followed us onto the path as if we had food. Or possibly were food. Or maybe she just wanted to be friends. Now, I like a cute mule deer as much as the next girl, but not when she’s following me instead of skittering off like a normal deer ought to. So I got a little jumpy and begged Pet Monster to keep his eyes on the trail ahead of us, walk fast, and stop encouraging the thing.
Death-by-mule-deer narrowly averted, we marched onward, only for PM to make a new friend.
- Pet Monster: Look up there — something’s moving on the ridge.
- Me: Ohmygod, is that a mountain lion?
- PM: Um, no.
- Me: I seriously think it’s a mountain lion. And look! It’s moving toward us!
- PM: *Squints at the thing because it’s like 5 million miles away* No, it’s not.
- Me: He’s coming this way! He’s totally stalking us! We have to go RIGHT NOW! *tugs desperately on PM’s arm*
- PM: He doesn’t even know we’re here. Why are you so freaked out?
- Me: Excuse me, but I really don’t want to get killed. Getting eaten by a mountain lion right now would be so… lame!
- PM: You’re not going to be eaten by a mountain lion.
- Me: Well I don’t want to get bit by one, either. Or tasted, licked, or sniffed. You know what? I don’t even wanna be looked at by a mountain lion. *speedwalks down the trail*
- PM: That was a mule deer, just so you know.
I guess it’s fitting that as soon as we got back to the car, the final wildlife sighting — waiting for us beneath a nearby truck — was a Stellar’s Jay, which is this really cool blue-and-gray bird that totally sounds like he’s laughing at you.
So maybe the Cuteness State isn’t the best name for Colorado. How about the Cute From A Safe Distance and/or Looking Out The Car Window State?