Epic Desert Road Trip – Part 1 Reno to the Great Salt Lake

On October 19, 2010 I flew to Reno to meet up with my brother from Hawaii and my Dad who lives in Reno in the summer and Arizona in the winter. Our mission: drive from Reno, NV to Surprise, AZ via Colorado and visit as many National Parks as we could along the way.

We started our epic journey by packing up Dad’s 2000 Chevrolet Monte Carlo. We had a lot of stuff, including two boxes of home-grown tomatoes plus three grown adults to take, but my experience loading vehicles for live animal shows has taught me a thing or two about how to pack!

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Will and Dad and a Packed Monte Carlo

We headed out of Reno on I-80 east, along the Truckee River.

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The Truckee River

We were following much of the Truckee River Route of the California Emigrant Trail. We stopped at a rest area that marked the Forty-Mile Desert.  This part of the trail was described as the most dreaded section of the entire route to California.  We decided to have lunch.  Too bad those emigrants in the mid 1850′s could not have gotten in a time machine to join us.

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Lunch in the Forty-Mile Desert

We continued heading east until we reached Wendover NV.  We spent the night there and in the morning, we toured the historic Wendover Air Base. “Wendover Air Base operated primarily as a training site for the crews of B17, B24 and B29 aircraft, including the Enola Gay and Boxscar, the crews of which were responsible for the first deployment of nuclear weapons over Japan in 1945.” – (Tooele Co Website)

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Wendover Air Base

The Great Salt Lake loomed ahead – and we stopped at one of its shores to explore and have lunch.

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Great Salt Lake

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Caroline examines the Great Salt Lake

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The Great Salt Lake is too salty for most plants and animals to survive, however, there is one famous resident of the salty lake: Sea Monkeys! Sea Monkeys are actually shrimp that are able to exist in salty inland lakes around the world.

No reptiles live in the Great Salt Lake, however, many species of snakes and lizards live in the surrounding desert. Sadly, I found a juvenile gopher snake in the parking lot of the lake’s marina, but it had been squashed by a car.

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Smooshed Gopher Snake

Next Posting…Arches National Park

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Arches National Park

Creature Feature: Amaya Perez

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Amaya Perez

Animal Keeper

Reptiles Alive Name: Amazing Alligator Amaya (aka Triple A)

Hissstory: Amaya got her Masters in Telecommunications Engineering in her native Pamplona, Spain.  Amaya’s adventures since migrating to the US in the summer of 2001  include performing research on different species of bats and working  as a  Keeper Aide at the National Zoo.  Amaya joined the Reptiles Alive! team in September 2010.

RA Diet: Leftovers or a frozen meal heated up in the super amazing RA microwave. That thing is on steroids!. Oh yeah, a coffee in the morning is a must.

Natural Diet: Even though Amaya’s natural diet is Mediterranean food, she loves to try new flavors.   She is the ultimate omnivore and will eat just about anything with gusto.

Range: “Amayas” or “Amaias” are most often found in the northern part of the Iberian Peninsula. They are a hardy and adaptable species and can now be found in several continents.

Habitat: You can regularly find Amaya roaming the wonderful natural parks in the DC metro area guiding her offspring and teaching them survival skills. Playgrounds are likely to produce sightings as well. When away from her offspring you can find Amaya at RA’s headquarters baby-talking to the animals or at the National Zoo coming up with fun and crafty enrichment ideas  in between cleaning and feeding.

Size: Amaya is about 5’7” and would rather not disclose her weight.

Lifespan: Amaya rarely gets a good night sleep so she is afraid years are being shaved off of her life. If sleeping patterns improve, Amaya could live up to 80 years or more.

Reproduction: Amazing Alligator Amaya has been mated for 10 years and has produced three rambunctious offspring with our very own Boa Brad.

Conservation: Amaya has always been in love with animals. Her biggest dreams when she was a little girl was going to Africa to be amongst some of the coolest animals on Earth and becoming a veterinarian.
Even though her background is in engineering her life has been dedicated to animals (including juvenile human primates) since her migration across the Atlantic.
Amaya enjoys caring for animals greatly and also loves sharing her knowledge and love for animals with the public when working at the zoo. Amaya also enjoys training animals and learning about animal behavior.

Cool Facts: Amaya has been an animal keeper since 2002 and has worked with a wide variety of non-reptilians. Amongst the creatures on her list are: lions, tigers, spectacled bears, sloth bears, giant pandas, gorillas, orangutans,Sulawesi macaques, gibbons, lemurs, coatis, caracals, servals and red pandas.
Amaya has only recently discovered how cool reptiles are and loves learning about them.
She has made it her mission to always soak the elderly animals in comforting warm baths at RA  every day she works.  Amaya also loves to hear Jeremiah the Bullfrog sing in happiness after she gives him a tasty treat.

Hello world!

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Creature Feature: Cope’s Gray Treefrog

Cope’s Gray Treefrog

Hyla chrysoscelis

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Reptiles Alive name
: “Hyla”

Hissstory: Hyla was an unwanted pet sent to live with us in March of 2010.

RA Diet: Crickets and meal worms.

Natural Diet
: insects.

Range: Gray tree frogs are found throughout the eastern United States north into Canada.  They are native to the Washington DC area.

Habitat: Forests, backyards, and urban parks.

Size: Gray tree frogs grow to about 1.25-2 inches, the record is 2 and 3/8 inches.

Lifespan: Can live 5 + years.

Reproduction: Males gray tree frogs begin to call in mid to late Spring.  They form large groups called choruses. Their song is a flute like trill, a bit like a telephone. They breed March – October. Eggs are laid in water – usually ditches or puddles that form in the spring and dry up in the summer.

Conservation: Threats to gray tree frogs include:  air & water pollution and habitat destruction.  They require access to clean pools of water each spring in order to reproduce.  If the pools of water are gone or polluted, the population of tree frogs in that area will disappear.

Cool Facts:  Gray tree frogs have remarkable camouflage – they become almost invisible as they perch in the trees where they live.  They can also change their skin color from a dark gray to almost white to a light green.  If frightened, however, they flash bright gold on their thighs as they leap which may startle a predator.

Tree frogs also have suction cups on their hands and feet that allow them to stick to almost any surface.  You might find a gray tree frog stuck to the outside of the  glass window looking into your bedroom!

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TESTIMONIALS

"It was fantastic and the whole party was into it. Tony was truly a wonderful educational presenter."

Rachel Karnes, Mom, Potomac Falls VA

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Rachel Karnes, Mom, Potomac Falls VA

"It was fantastic and the whole party was into it. Tony was truly a wonderful educational presenter."

"Thank you! The information provided to the kids was so educational and fun. I am a homeschool mom and the way the material was presented...

Patty Coote, Mom, Herndon VA

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Patty Coote, Mom, Herndon VA

"Thank you! The information provided to the kids was so educational and fun. I am a homeschool mom and the way the material was presented felt like we were at a fun event! The parents even remarked that they learned something. My son has a lifetime memory because of your program."

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Marcie Blackstone, Mom, Clarksburg MD

"Thank you for an incredible birthday party! All of the children had a wonderful experience. Caroline was so easy to work with and Tony did a great job presenting to the kids!"

"Liz was great. She was prompt, organized, knowledgeable, friendly and fun. Having her do the show in our home was effortless, entertaining, and overall a...

Tammy Berkon, Mom, Alexandria VA

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Tammy Berkon, Mom, Alexandria VA

"Liz was great. She was prompt, organized, knowledgeable, friendly and fun. Having her do the show in our home was effortless, entertaining, and overall a wonderful experience for everyone!"

"I loved it so much. They teach you about the animals and you get to touch them! Rachel did a really wonderful job" 

Birthday girl and Mom, Chantilly VA

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2017-01-02T09:12:19+00:00

Birthday girl and Mom, Chantilly VA

"I loved it so much. They teach you about the animals and you get to touch them! Rachel did a really wonderful job" 

"I am so glad we hired Reptiles Alive for my son's birthday. CobraCaroline and all her reptiles were a huge hit! All the kids loved...

Elizabeth Poppi, Mom, Reston VA

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2017-01-02T09:12:52+00:00

Elizabeth Poppi, Mom, Reston VA

"I am so glad we hired Reptiles Alive for my son's birthday. CobraCaroline and all her reptiles were a huge hit! All the kids loved it! Even those who seemed a little reluctant were reaching out to pe the animals at the end. Caroline's energy and enthusiasm was contagious and we couldn't have asked for more!"

"The program was outstanding. Caroline was so knowledgeable and was able to teach the children at their level. She handled the animals very professionally and...

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Joan L. Mancuso, Director Potomac Nursery School

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