There is only one place in America where four states meet and, oddly enough, it’s called The Four Corners Region. There’s not much to mark the spot besides the BLM survey marker and a few well maintained (at public expense) restrooms. The area around the marker is arid, but since it’s better to be in the middle of nowhere than any other place on Earth, I’ve spent a few days and nights in that general locale. 
Other than the highways and the little BLM rest stop, the whole area is dominated by Indian reservations, which indicates that the place is a vast strip of wasteland.
I realize that some blog readers would have a hard time thinking that their government would screw the Indians and give them crap land (useful in modern times for constructing casinos). However, there are interesting things to see and do in Southeastern Utah, Southwestern Colorado, Northeastern Arizona and Northwestern New Mexico besides hunting horned toads. I think that Gilla Monsters are a protected species in Arizona now, but USGOV has not designated them as a protected species.

Nobody cared when I was a kid. Their bite is poisonous but if you wear heavy gloves with metal reinforcements (chain mail), their teeth won’t penetrate and their formidable jaws lock on the steel, not your hand. They don’t have fangs. The poison is in their saliva like a kimono dragon’s, and it’s completely lethal neurotoxin. The only way to get them to release (you take the glove off and leave it in their mouth and put another one on) is to dump them into a bucket of water. When you do that, they let go of the glove .

These days, Gila Monster poison is the prime ingredient in Byetta, a drug produced by Amylin Pharmaceuticals to treat diabetes. It is injected before eating morning and evening meals as part of a combination treatment with oral drugs. The FDA said it could be approved as a stand-alone treatment for diabetes. Who knew?
As a young man, I’d hunt them on a Honda 90 cc motorcycle. No, it’s not a fast motorcycle, but the Gila Monster was not a fast lizard. They grunt and hiss at you and those tiny legs move faster than you’d think when they want to get away, but we sold those that we caught to one particular pet store in Phoenix, AZ, that sold to zoos worldwide. It paid for the camping trips and for the 1968 Honda that was eventually traded in for a 1970 model, which I gave to my oldest daughter as a birthday present a few years ago.

Pay-off: $100.00 cash per monster back when that was a lot of money. Capturing three or four monsters on any given trip was considered to be a huge coup. Of the nearly one dozen monster trips I made, we struck out on about half, contenting ourselves with riding motorcycles and shooting a soda cans with .22’s.


  1. I had no idea about the diabetes link. I spent some time in that area as a kid. We would camp most summers around Durango and make trips over to explore Mesa Verde. Lots of great memories.

  2. And Detroit — and just about any Liberal haven where the honest and law abiding have been disarmed. Only in Detroit, they were disarmed and THEN the police announced that they wouldn't be patrolling anymore.

  3. I road a Honda Trail 90 through the Mogollon, and have some scars to prove it. But I only caught horny toads…

  4. They're also cool to look at, though in truth, Gila Monsters don't do much but eat bugs, produce poison spit and just hang out. And apparently the spit cures diabetes.

  5. I've caught more than a few of those too. I used to love to transport them to an ant hill and watch them eat.

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