As my sister Mary headed off the road to look at something, I cautioned, "Watch out for rattlesnakes." Judy was ready with a camera and her picture of Mary--and Theresa laughing--says all that needs to be said about the impact of my words. Of course there was no snake. Then.
We left Dolly Sods and headed downhill, stopping to look at the view and at wildflowers we somehow missed on the way up. The gas gauge was getting more interesting all the time--even the light was coming on to say, "Stupid! You should have bought gas before you came up here!" But you see, my Rendezvous has an odd gas gauge--when there is almost half a tank it will drop to empty and RUN OUT OF GAS if I'm on the wrong kind of downhill slope. I know because twice it ran out of gas in my driveway parking spot, even though I knew it had plenty in the tank. Which gave Larry all sorts of "I told you so" ammunition.
But to get back to our trip...
So we looked at flowers and took pictures of the view and no one was really looking at the road--except me because this is a typical one-lane-bumpy gravel-West-Virginia-road and you'd better be paying attention or you'll jar your teeth out in the potholes. And that's why I saw him--or her.
I didn't get close enough to determine the sex. This Eastern Timber Rattler was a beauty and apparently recently shed its skin because it was very brightly and freshly colored. It had nine rattles and a button, Larry told me (you know that by counting the rings at the end of its tail) which means it was no spring chicken.
The snake was about 3-4 feet long and it seemed to be enjoying the warm sun on the road. Even when we tossed some pebbles and a cracker at it (okay, that was me--I thought it might be hungry and want a cream cheese and chives cracker!) it didn't offer to shake its rattles. We stayed in the Rendezvous, of course--except Judy who went around back of the car to look more closely at our friend. Mary and Theresa really weren't interested in looking!
When we left, the snake continued sunning itself. We hadn't disturbed its plans at all.
(And yes. We made it to the gas station with plenty of gas to spare. As soon as we hit a level spot, the light went out and the gauge returned to its correct position. Weird car.)