Last evening as I was picking my way down a rutted forest road I had to stop to let three enormous javelinas cross the road.  This is the first time I’ve seen javelinas, although I’ve smelled them, and I’ve seen their lying-down places where they rest.

I had no idea that javelinas range so far north.  I thought they were a Texas and Mexican border kind of thing, but I guess not.

Javelinas are the northern cousins of the peccary, a wild and voracious pig that travels in packs and eats anything alive that it can overpower, even adult humans.  I was trekking with a native guide through the jungle in Costa Rica when we smelled the peculiar and disgusting aroma of peccary.  We tiptoed as close as the guide felt safe, staying downwind.  If the pigs got a whiff of us, the guide said, we would be dinner.

There must have been thirty of them, with a huge boar standing sentry.  That herd of pigs could run us over and make a meal of us in seconds, he said.  So we tiptoed back the way we had come, avoiding the horrible trees with long sharp spikes all over their trunks. 

Who can have read or seen the movie “Old Yeller” that does not vividly recall the terrifying fight between Yeller and the javelinas (I think they call them “wild boars”)?  Poor Old Yeller got himself tusked up pretty bad.

I thought of that last night at dusk, when I found a decent camping spot not very far from where the wild pigs crossed the road.  Atina fretted because I wouldn’t let her out after dark.  She would be no match for a hungry, angry, or frightened tusker.

I actually ate wild pig once.  My first ex-husband’s folks lived in South Florida.  They (the folks) ate anything they could catch.  Kind of like javelinas, come to think of it.

By the time he was a year old, my son had eaten (raw tuna, but that’s normal) fried squirrel (pretty good, actually), pheasant, wild duck, fried alligator tail (very much like chewing on an old tire, vaguely reminiscent of fish), javelina, crawdads, and who knows what else.  I tried not to look.  (He lived through it, and acquired a taste for weird and disgusting food.)

Some distant relatives threw a party out in the bush.  They owned a ranch, so they took a couple of days off and barbecued a whole cow and a couple of whole pigs.

One of the teenage sons trapped wild pigs in a pit trap, hauled them out of the pit, popped them into a pen, and fattened them up for eating for a month or so.

Normally javelinas are very tough, because they have to travel long distances, and they have to work for their food, subsisting on acorns, and anything they can root up or catch, such as household pets and small children.

Fattened up javelinas taste mighty good.  Tender and sweet, but not kosher.

At the ranch barbecue, the eating was all done outside in the blazing South Florida sun.  There was a large pole building right near the barbecue pit, but we weren’t allowed to congregate in there, for inside the barn was a gigantic U-shaped assemblage of banquet tables groaning with “salads,” the kind made of canned fruit ruined with gobs of pink or green colored Kool Whip, and punctuated with contrasting colored tiny marshmallows.  Some of the endless variations on this theme were sprinkled with toasted coconut.  I believe they call this “Ambrosia.”

Much more interesting were the tables laden with every kind of pie: blackberry, mulberry, cherry, lemon,  chocolate cream, banana cream, and my personal favorite, Shoo-fly pie.  Shoo-fly pie, if you haven’t had it, is all about the thick layer of molasses that blankets a rich, flaky crust on the bottom.  The crust and molasses are baked slowly till the molasses thickens.  Then a layer of vanilla custard is poured on top, the pie is cooled, and topped with whipped cream (or not).  The result is that the molasses kind of makes its way up through the custard, resulting in a delightful variety of tastes and textures.  Shoo-fly pie, yum.  Forbidden to diabetics.

Regrettably, we must return now to the present.

After two days of cardiology testing, Atina and I decided to do the old splitsky into the woods.  It’s Memorial Day Weekend, so I’m pretty sure that most of the good spots are taken by three day weekend revelers.  So I studied the Forest Service map and picked a likely looking road.

It took some searching, but voila, the photo above shows you the delightful camping spot I found, with a fine view of the San Francisco Peaks, which are the Westernmost boundary of the Navajo tribal lands, marked by four sacred mountains.

We’re sitting right about 8,000 feet, elevation wise.  Glad I filled the propane tank; it’s gonna be a cold night.

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  1. When I lived in Phoenix, javelinas were pesky buggers around the outer edges of the city. Friends frequently complained about not being able to have gardens.

    I grew up in the south and never knew what was in shoo-fly pie. Sounds delicious. I am familiar with ambrosia…uck

    • Oh, I bet the stinky pigs feasted on yummy garden veg!

      Shoo-fly pie is strictly a low-income phenomenon common to both blacks and white…um, in fact I think Calpurnia, the maid in To Kill A Mockingbird, makes Shoo-fly pie. My mother in law made it. That side of the family is famous for its pies, biscuits, and fried chicken. Where in the South did you grow up? Shoo-fly pie can be found in Mississippi, Missouri, South Georgia, Alabama, South Florida and maybe South Carolina, although that’s not for sure.

      • I lived in North Carolina. I think you’re right that it is more common in the deeper south.

  2. I had barbecue last nite with greens
    it was good
    Have a great weekend Laura
    As always Sheldon

    • Yum yum! I just bought a bunch of beets, destined to become something good. I forgot to buy an onion, which kind of limits things, but something will manifest. Have a good weekend yourself!

  3. Sounds as if you found the perfect camping spot. Say clear of wild boars and anything else that is dangerous.

  4. Hi Laura, shoo fly pie sounds decadently yummy! Wild boars do not! Lovely picture πŸ™‚

  5. Nancy Fleagle Williams

     /  May 28, 2016

    Lovely camping spot. I live in eastern Canada and those kinds of salads abound at social gatherings and church suppers. For suppers I am frequently asked to bring things like salt and pepper because I what I bring is nothing like those salads.

    • Salt and pepper! Certainly you could bring pink Himalayan salt and pink pepper corns…then they wouldn’t even ask for that!

      Eastern Canada….Maritime province?

      Our band used to go Shelburn, NS every summer to play at the Shelburm County Fair. Lots of stories about that!

      How long have you been in Canada?

  6. Looks like a nice spot to park yourself for a while. Kangaroo is good to eat and so is crocodile. You can buy both in most supermarkets in Australia these days.

    • Yes, I would love to camp here for a good long while. The ravens are upset about our presence, and make their opinions known.

      Kangaroo meat…enough to give me nightmares. And forget alligator. Dead fish flavored shoe leather.

  7. Yowsa! I had never heard of them….I’ve heard of wild boars, though. Yikes. Glad you didn’t get eaten….LOL

  8. If five minutes before reading your post, someone had asked me what I thought a javelina was, I’d have scratched my head and guessed a female javelin. I had a look at a few pictures of them on Google Images. You were completely right in your description. They look very similar to wild boar and not at all suitable for throwing great distances in the Olympics. πŸ™‚

  9. Beautiful!

  10. Looks like a really good spot to be in for a while. You and Atina look after yourselves, OK? I think you both deserve a bit of TLC. Xxxx

  11. Oh, I’ll trade you these hot nights for your cold ones. Give me cold nights! (And days too)

  12. FML

     /  June 6, 2016

    I just got back from Arizona yesterday. We stayed with my brother in Chandler and roamed from there. Went to Prescott to visit some old friends from when I lived there. Showed my son Thumb Butte and told him about the time I was hiking there and saw a group of about a dozen javelina. Actually, I smelled them first, then heard them, and after picking up their trail I finally saw them.

    We went down south as well, Kartchner Cavern (highly recommend if you haven’t been there, Tombstone and Bisbee. Counting the drive down and back we put in about 2500 miles in one week. We all wished we could have stayed forever. Northern Arizona is the best place on earth!

    BTW, I ate javalina once many years ago, and maybe it was the way it was prepared, but I found it too gamey for my taste.


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