Gary's taking a break and will return on June 28. While he's gone, we'll print some of his columns from the past. Today's is from Aug. 8, 1995.
Dear Gary: I was on a car camping trip to the Four Corners area of Arizona. One of the last stops on the trip was the Navajo National Monument, where a companion and I did an overnight backpack trip on June 30.
While we were inside some ruins, we saw a raven stealing my disposable camera, which I had left at the foot of the ladder into the ruin.
As we watched the bird fly leisurely away into a canyon, the ranger said he'd take a walk next morning and see if he could find the camera. In case he found it, he told me to leave my name and address at the visitor center.
On July 18, a package came for me in the mail. It was my camera. The paper outer covering had been ripped off and it was very sandy and grainy, but the film was still inside.
The enclosed letter from the ranger who found it was inside the envelope:
Dear Ms. Martinez:
I found what I believe to be your lost camera.
I was on horseback, fleeing a flash flood in Upper Keet Seel Canyon when my horse ("Pepe") and I climbed the embankment just before Keet Seel Ruin to escape the water rushing all around us. Just on the outside of the boundary fence, in the sand, I found the camera. Having heard the raven story from Ranger Kline, I made the connection.
I hope the film is OK, and the raven took some good photos of you and the canyon as he flew away.
Apparently, ravens are notorious pack rats and the pictures turned out fine.
Dear Olga: That reminds me of the time, some years ago, I was involved in rehabilitating an orphan raven that had been hand-raised by humans.
The raven was semi-tame, so I decided it needed to be released in a wilderness area far away from human contact.
A friend had worked at a fire lookout in the coast range north of Morro Bay and he suggested that would be perfect. After a visit to the deserted site, I agreed, and the raven was released a few weeks later. Little did I know that our primal wilderness spot, at the end of 30 miles of almost impassable four-wheel-drive fire trails, was a mere 10 miles away from the old Hearst Castle at San Simeon, ahem, as the raven flies.
A month later I received a phone call from a ranger at the Hearst Castle, who wanted to know if I knew any ravens.
A tourist visiting the castle had his light meter stolen by a raven. The rangers followed the bird to its roosting tree and discovered a big surprise.
Not only did they find the light meter, but also a 6-inch-wide paint brush, a digital watch, 30 assorted earrings (none of which matched), a gold chain, three credit cards, a roll of film, a gold ring, a dozen empty soft drink cans (eight Pepsi, three Coke, one 7-UP), a man's handkerchief, a black bra, a belt, a pair of suspenders, two pairs of eyeglasses, $9.57 in spare change, many assorted pencils and pens, a pair of binoculars and assorted bits of colored glass, pull tabs and other garbage.
The ranger and I had a good laugh at the raven's choice of collectibles. I volunteered to come trap the bird and relocate it to a more appropriate spot, like maybe somewhere in the Australian Outback.
"That's not necessary," the ranger laughed. "That bird was so angry at us for taking all its goodies it flew off and hasn't been seen since!"
You don't suppose that raven flew all the way to Arizona, do you?
Contact Gary Bogue at firstname.lastname@example.org; or write Gary, P.O. Box 8099, Walnut Creek, CA 94596.