A Road Trip Through the Desert.

We saw a very large cow. At least I think it was a cow. Kyle said it was “probably a cow”, but seeing it in the middle of the road – in the dark – it could have just as easily been a bear.

A bear that looked kind of like a cow, but still.

I grew up in the Midwest. I have seen cows before. But I’ve never seen any that looked like this one. This one was, like, giant. Like a giant cow. With horns (I think). And it was tan (I think). And it had these glowing, red eyes (or maybe they weren’t red, they were just glowing. It was dark, after all. You know how animal eyes glow in the dark.)

Or maybe we saw a demon cow. I don’t know.

Either way, I gasped. Like, audibly gasped. Which is a strange reaction for a girl who grew up in the Midwest and has SEEN cows before, don’t you think?

It was late and we were driving down to Phoenix, AZ after a long day spent at the Grand Canyon where we had stayed to watch the sunset (this was before Kyle told me people had gotten lost after dark at the Grand Canyon and died, and I was like “GREAT”).


I don’t know if you’ve ever driven through Arizona at night – or during the day, I guess it isn’t really that different – but the hike from the Grand Canyon back to civilization is a lot of backroads. In the Midwest, we call these “back country roads”– but in Arizona, it just looks like desert. Like the scenes in Breaking Bad where they would meet up in the middle of nowhere to do drug deals and kill people? It sort of looks like that.

But, you know, nicer.




So, we’re driving back to Phoenix, and it’s late, and we’re both exhausted from hiking and driving and doing Grand Canyon activities all day (taking pictures, mostly) – and all of a sudden, one of us looks up (I honestly don’t remember which one of us, probably me – I’m more likely to get distracted by shiny things) and said, “Oh my gosh! Look at the sky!”

The stars. There were millions and billions and trillions of stars. More stars than I’ve ever seen in my life. It was like a star galaxy screensaver.

So, Kyle pulled off on a side road and turned the radio down.

No, he did not propose. (It sounds like I might be setting up a proposal story here, but I’m not. I’m setting up for a demon cow story, remember? We are not engaged.)

No, we did not turn on a slow, romantic song and get out of the car and start dancing. (This is romantic in theory – but we most likely would have started laughing and felt weird and the whole thing would have been ruined.)

No, we didn’t even, like, make-out.  (I tried, but, I was too busy thinking about the cow.)

As soon as we had pulled off to the side (I’m imagining this was, like, a dirt road, but I actually don’t know, because it was dark) I saw a giant pair of glow-y eyes in the not-so-distant-distance. And a large outline. Of a LARGE animal. Maybe a bear, maybe a demon cow, who knows. And I gasped. Audibly gasped. And I think I said, “Oh my god.”

And – because I reacted as if I’d just seen Heisenburg running around out there from Breaking Bad – Kyle slammed on the breaks and said, “What? What’s wrong?”

I looked harder. Was it a bear? Did they have bears in Arizona? Would I sound stupid if I said, “AHHHH! It’s a bear!” if it turns out to be, like, a chipmunk or something less threatening?

Just kidding. I knew it wasn’t a chipmunk. But I also wasn’t convinced it was a bear.

“I don’t know,” I said. “I thought I saw something.”

“Did you?”

“I don’t know.” I said. “I saw eyes. I think.”

“You think?” He asked, straining his eyes to see through the darkness. There weren’t any street lamps out there, or other cars to see by their headlights. All we had were the stars and – well, the headlights on our Mustang. But still. It was dark.

“It looked like, a cow.” I said. “But, not a cow? Like a really big cow. I think it might have been a bear.”

He inched closer with the car so that we could use the headlights to see. Finally we saw the outline of this bear-cow-like-devil-creature standing in the middle of the road, staring us down with it’s demon glow-y eyes.

“That?” Kyle asked. “That’s a cow.”

“That’s NOT a cow.” I said.

“Yes, it is.”

“What would a cow be doing way out here?”

Here’s how NOT geographically educated I am — in my mind, cows are native to the Midwest and no place else. (I realize – in hindsight – that this likely couldn’t be possible. But, still. Let me pretend that I’m a “country girl” and know all about cows just because I grew up near a cornfield.)

“Did it get loose?” I asked, assuming it must belong to a farmer, as all cows do (right?). “Do they even have cows in Arizona? Do they have WILD cows in Arizona? Are wild cows a ‘thing’?” All real questions that I asked. “Are wild cows a ‘thing’?” Just call me Buffalo Bill.

We watched the outline of the cow mosey off into the pasture as Kyle put the car in Park and took out his phone to take a picture of the millions and trillions and zillions of stars.

Meanwhile, I was on Cow-Look-Out-Duty. Assigned by me, of course. Kyle was less interested in the cow.

“Maybe we should put the top up,” I suggested, since we were driving a convertible and – did what everyone does when they rent a convertible – had the top down. Suddenly I was having images of said-cow sneaking up behind us, reaching its large-cow-head into the car and dragging me out of the car by my hair and into the pasture, never to be seen again.

“Relax.” He said. “Look at the stars.”

This could have been romantic. Think about it. Just a cute couple laying underneath the stars, alone, in the middle of the desert? They write movies about this.

And then the couple gets murdered.

But I tried. Really, I did. I tried to pay attention to the stars. There really were a lot of them. More than I’ve ever seen in my life. I tried to “relax”. I even tried to make-out with my boyfriend and he was like, “What are you doing?” and I was like, “Ugh. I don’t know. Where did that stupid cow go?” Because the whole time I was wondering –

Are cows dangerous?

Has a cow ever tried to kill anyone before?

ARE there wild cows?

This should have been romantic. But Kyle was too worried about taking pictures, and I was too worried about being eaten alive by a mad cow. PLUS, we were in the middle of nowhere, in the desert, in the dark, and… well, we all know how horror movies start, right?

We didn’t last ten minutes. I mean – the cow didn’t “get us” (obviously – since I have lived to tell the tale), but after about eight minutes of me being jumpy and twitchy and nervously darting my head around like a paranoid Russian spy, and Kyle saying “would you just relax? It’s fine. That cow went somewhere over there.” and me saying, “Are you SURE?” and him being like, “Yea. Pretty sure.” and me being like, “Urghhhh….” (For those of you who don’t know what that sounds like – it’s the whiny, grumble, urgh-y noise I do under my breath when I’m uncomfortable. Kind of like if I’m about to get my blood drawn at the doctor’s office.)

“Can we just go?” I finally asked.

I know it sounds like I’m really dragging out this whole “killer cow” story – but honestly, can you imagine the headlines? “Illinois Couple Killed in Tragic Accident, Slain by Wild Cattle”. 

Hey – if it could happen to anyone, it would probably be us.



3 thoughts on “A Road Trip Through the Desert.

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