The Wildest Ride: A Wildebeest River Crossing in the Serengeti

“This is not at all like the shows on NatGeo,” my restless mind was thinking. “This is actually sort of….boring.”

We’re sitting in a beige, pop-top Toyota Land Cruiser in the midday African heat with four other people. All six pairs of eyes are trained on the nervously shuffling, brownish-gray mass of wildebeest on the far bank of the Mara River, a couple of hundred yards away. And I’m thinking about when we might have lunch.

We were just picked up from the Kotagende airstrip about an hour and a half, maybe 2 hours ago and now, we’ve joined about 20 (or so) other safari vehicles amongst the trees and bushes and dry grasses overlooking the Mara River’s famous Crossing Point #7. All of the nearly-identical Land Cruisers are parked far back from the river so as not to scare the notoriously skittish wildebeest.


We are here, in the Serengeti National Park at this particular time of year specifically for this: The Great Migration. Each year, approximately 2 million wildebeest (as well as several hundreds of thousands of zebras, gazelles, impalas and elands) complete a 5,000-mile trek every year known as the Great Migration aka The World Cup of Wildlife.

The animals are doing what they’ve been doing for thousands of years: following their stomachs. Specifically, the wildebeest are following the grass as the rains move south through the short grass plains of Kenya and the Serengeti at the end of a long, dry winter.

The herds are hungry, starving even, and we’ve already seen several wildebeest carcasses on our way to this spot (we’re told that they die from starvation or exhaustion from the Migration, and sometimes, from a bacteria that lives in very young grass that they know they shouldn’t eat, but they’re so hungry, they just do).

The wildebeests will eventually settle in the Southern Serengeti and Western Ngorongoro Conservation area in January and February to give birth to their calves during a synchronized two-to-three week period before they head west at the end of the rainy season (March) and eventually north again (April), all the while following the rains and the grass.

Back on the banks of the Mara River (or, more accurately, the plains overlooking the river), the air is thick with tension from the indecisive wildebeest and excitement from the safari vehicles. As a lone, brave wildebeest moves up to the waters’ edge, you can hear a murmur ripple through the visitors peeking out of the tops and windows of the gathered cars. “There goes one.” “Looks like they’re going to go.” “Will he or won’t he?”


As the lone wildebeest sniffs the water, shakes its’ head and backs up in retreat, you can hear a sigh from the assembled visitors and drivers. “Nope, not yet.” “Changed his mind.” “Something spooked him.”

There’s plenty for the wildebeest to be afraid of. For one thing, there are loud hippos in the river, who I prefer to think are honking their encouragement. But the hippos won’t hurt the wildebeest. The crocodiles lying in wait however, certainly will. And do.

Then there’s the swift river currents that can carry the already-weak-from-hunger wildebeest away. And do. Sometimes into the waiting jaws of those crocodiles.

Then there’s the slippery river rocks. It’s not at all uncommon for a spindly-legged wildebeest to break a leg on those rocks, limping out of the river only to be caught by a predator a couple of hours or days later. Or die as it falls further and further behind the herd and gets picked off by a lion, a leopard, a cheetah, a hyena, etc. etc.


Oh, and then there’s the panicky herd in general. Even if a wildebeest has made it through the currents, outmaneuvered the crocodiles and traversed the slippery rocks, they’ve still got to get out of the river. There are hundreds if not thousands of wildebeests stampeding each other in a rush to make it out and on to the dry shores. It’s a mad crush that can lead to potentially life-threatening injuries and, of course, death from any of the many, many carnivorous predators lying in wait throughout the Serengeti.


Did I mention that wildebeest crossings, aka “Tango With Near-Certain Death,” happen several times a day at various points along the Mara River? So yeah. It’s no wonder that these particular wildebeests are a wee bit hesitant to get started on this—our first—crossing.

But the waiting and the multiple false starts isn’t the stuff they show you on NatGeo. And on that particular day, while I’m getting warm and impatient in a non-moving, non-air-circulating safari vehicle, I don’t yet have a clue as to just how dangerous and powerful and exhilarating a wildebeest river crossing really is. Sure, I’ve read about it, briefly, but I don’t really know. They can’t really show you the full emotional breadth of such a breath-stopping spectacle on NatGeo.

So, we wait, as lines and lines of wildebeest come and join the hesitant herd gathering on the banks.

Finally, there on the sandy bank, a brave wildebeest throws caution to the wind. His or her survival instinct and hunger finally overrides all the numerous fears and common sense and the first wildebeest charges into the water, followed by another, then another, until the whole herd starts making its way through the river.


We all hold our collective breaths until the first wildebeest reaches the halfway point and the CB radios cackle and the trucks start moving forward very, very fast, as if someone has shot a start gun.

(Actually, at least one of the trucks did jump the gun a bit at this particular crossing. The proper protocol is to wait till the animal gets to the halfway point. But some impatient folks start gunning a bit earlier than that, which can totally cause the animals to turn back around. That is, providing they don’t have the crush of the herd behind them. I know this because a few days later, on our fourth crossing, our truck was the premature racer and we did cause the wildebeest to turn back to safer shores. Womp, womp. Don’t worry. They did eventually cross.)

All 20 or so Land Cruisers lurch forward and what follows is the wildest 30-second ride in the Serengeti as all the lodge drivers maneuver to get their well-paying (and potentially well-tipping) clients in the very best spot to view and photograph the crossing.

I have to admit: I was really bothered by all the zooming vehicles and I was pretty concerned about the effect we were having on the poor, already-stressed wildebeest. I get the why and I understood that getting to see a wildebeest crossing is what we were all here to see and our drivers were just trying to deliver.

I started to get a bit emotional about us awful humans and our intervention into nature just for entertainment’s sake when I looked over and saw a crocodile take a small wildebeest down in the water, its dying bleats ringing in my ears. Then I saw another one get carried away by the current. And a younger wildebeest waiting on the far shore while its mother made it safely across. And another wildebeest come limping out of the water, me knowing that it probably was going to die.

Well, I thought, there’s that, then.


I tried to focus instead on the tremendous power of the sight going on in front of me, the thunderous sound of approximately 500 animals charging through the water, intent and intense and singularly focused on just making it across. And the relief they must have felt when they did make it across, pausing to catch their breath and slow their heart down and let the African sun dry their backs.

While the river crossings were not my favorite part of our safari in the Serengeti (honestly, I could have just seen one and been done), I do have to admit, they did stir up a powerful mixture of emotions. I was in awe of the power of the herd, bemused by nature’s impulses, and dumbfounded and sad that these wildebeests chose to go through this every year. I didn’t understand it but I was definitely awestruck by it.

And there’s nothing on NatGeo that can prepare you for it.



Balinese Eats that Will (Probably) Not Result in a Spider Body Possession

Babi guling

When I came across this article about Bali, I had to click on it, even though I knew I didn’t really have the “stomach” to do so. (PUN INTENDED) Also: (Heads up: the article I’m referring to involves an Australian tourist and stomach-burrowing tropical spiders. Soooo….yeah. Nothing fun there.)

You see, we went to Bali a few months ago. Actually, we went to Bali exactly two weeks after this event and stayed in the exact same hotel. (Heads up: the article I’m now referring to involves a daughter and her boyfriend murdering her socialite mother and stuffing her in a suitcase. You’ve been warned.)

Anyway, the coincidence of that event and our trip timing was incredibly creepy and weird. Creepy because, well, there had just recently been a murder in what I would positively call the least murder-y type place ever. I mean, seriously, the St. Regis in Bali is amazing. Wonderful. Tranquil. Everything and everyone is peaceful and cheerful and willing to help you with absolutely anything. If you even mentioned, for example, that you liked a particular fruit, that fruit would then appear every damn day nestled in a beautiful wooden bowl, just especially for you.

St. Regis beach
See? Totally peaceful and gorgeous. Not at all murder-y.

Weird because we spent a good part of everyday wondering if any of the staff we were encountering had known or waited on the victim and her murderers. When we saw a sign in the lobby about the area being monitored by cameras, we wondered if those signs were new or if they had been there the whole time. We suspiciously eyed every single heavy decorative object in our bungalow as a potential bludgeoning device. It was all very at odds with a vacation mentality.

Anyway, I’ll talk about the St. Regis in Bali a bit more in another post. Well, probably a lot more, since staying there was one of the best vacation experiences we’ve ever had (We flew a kite! We released a sea turtle! These are not euphemisms! These are legitimate activities we participated in!).

But for today, let’s just explore some of Bali’s best eats in pictures and be glad that no one got invaded by tropical spiders. Also, no giardia, so nothing but unicorns and rainbows as far as I’m concerned.

drinks and sambal

Sambal – This is the first thing we ate in Bali. It was served in a small dish next to these amazing peanut crackers. Sambal is sauce typically made from a variety of chili peppers and secondary ingredients such as shrimp paste, fish sauce, garlic, ginger, shallot, scallion, sugar, lime juice, and rice vinegar or other vinegars.

Nasi Goreng at St. Regis
(Photo not mine. I was too busy eating to take pictures

Nasi Goreng – I had this for brunch one morning at the St. Regis in Nusa Dua. It’s a fried rice dish, with shrimp crackers and sliced up omelet, and a side condiment of spicy red paste.

bubur ayem
Photo not mine. I was…well, you know. Click on photo for link/credit.

Bubur ayam – This was another St. Regis brunch special. It was like congee – a non-sweet porridge, with shredded chicken, green onions, sambal and eggs, I think. It was ok, not my favorite.

Satay – The Balinese love their satay. It’s exactly what you think it is: skewers of grilled meat slathered in a peanut sauce. We even ate these on the dive boat lunch (along with a variation of nasi goring).

Babi guling

Babi guling – The Balinese national dish: roasted whole pig. I really wanted to try this, but never got to. We hired a driver to take us around the island one day and he had his own agenda. When I asked about getting babi guling, he said the place he goes to was too far out of the way. Meanwhile, we must have passed about 50 roadside places specializing in babi guling over the course of the next eight hours. I really should have been more insistent. Especially in light of our own Porktober event.

pomelo salad

Rujak jeruk bali – Pomelo salad. Actually, I’m not sure this is a Balinese dish per se. I think it’s Thai. But we fell for it hard. We had it at breakfast and it came in these little glass jars at the W Hotel in Seminyak. A pomelo is like a grapefruit on steroids, and it’s cut up and combined with cilantro, peanuts, green beans, carrots. So refreshing and not unlike green papaya salad, only more citrus-y.

snakeskin fruit

Salak – Snakeskin fruit. It is indigenous to Bali and is related to the palm tree, somehow. It had an easy to peel, flaky outerskin. The inside fruit was segmented, and had a firm flesh similar to an apple, and a small dark pit in each segment. In fact, it tasted a lot like a cross between an apple and a pear, but much neater (less juicy). We loved them and ate a ton of them. Our butler at the St. Regis made sure we were well stocked.

Rambutan - the hairy, scary Balinese fruit
Again, not my photo. Click on image for link.

Rambutan – This hairy, scary-looking fruit was in our fruit bowl, but we didn’t even attempt to eat it.

Bitang - Balinese beer
This one, totally is my picture. Amazingly.

Bitang – Balinese beer. Nuff said.

There was one other dish that I ate twice and loudly declared them to be the best I’d ever had: nachos at the St. Regis. Usually at lunch, by our pool, after drinking many Bitangs and/or glasses of wine. At first, we ordered them out of morbid curiosity, certain that there was no way they’d be any good. But they were. They were delicious. Then I had to order them a second time, just to make sure. They had shredded chicken and a cheese sauce made out of béchamel and they were actually really, really good. I guess sometimes a girl just wants a taste of home.

St. Regis nachos. The. Best.
Amazingly, I stopped shoving these into my mouth long enough to take a picture. Note glass of rose in the background.

Maybe the Hogs Were Concerned About the Impact of a Potential Bacon Shortage?

Those animals, man. They are totally out to get us.

I don’t think I’m being paranoid (anymore) when I say that the animal kingdom has thoroughly turned on us.

The evidence is stacking up and has been well documented on this website.

  • Think badgers are cute little woodland creatures incapable of eating a midget porn star? Think again. Or chasing children? Nope. Or jumping out of the water and terrorizing adults. Wrong-o.
  • Perhaps you believe sea lions are adorable, doe-eyed water friends who like to eat fish, not celebrity’s legs? Au contraire, mon frère.
  • Are you entranced by the majestic wonder of an owl soaring through the air? Sure, that’s all well and good until it uses that impressive wind span to soar into attack mode on a running trail.

Do not get me started on sharks.

However, this little story out of Oregon definitely takes the animal kingdom revolt against humans to a whole other terrifying level. Blech.

“Authorities are investigating how a farmer in Oregon managed to be eaten by his own hogs.

A family member found what was left of Terry Vance Garner, 69, when they went to look for him a few hours after he’d left to feed his hogs – some of which weigh more than 700 lbs.

“For all we know, it was a horrific accident, but it’s so doggone weird that we have to look at all possibilities,” Coos County District Attorney Paul Frasier told the Register-Guard newspaper.

Agreed, County District Attorney Frasier. That is doggone weird.

Frasier said the family member first noticed Garner’s dentures at the farm’s hog enclosure, then saw pieces of the man scattered around.

Pause. Eeeeewwwww. Continue.

Watch out, dude. Those are cute pink killing machines.

The district attorney said Garner may have simply keeled over from a heart attack while feeding the animals. Then again, perhaps the hogs knocked him down, killed him and ate him, he added. There had been reports of the hogs behaving aggressively towards Garner before, even biting him once.

Or maybe someone else killed Garner and let the hogs dispose of the body. Frasier said he is also investigating the possibility of foul play.

Wow. This Frasier guy has got a whole lot of theories. He’s going to be doggone busy in the days and months ahead. Maybe he should call those Scooby Doo kids and get them on the case.

Garner’s brother Michael said the old farmer loved his animals, which he’d had since they were piglets and which helped him deal with his post-traumatic stress disorder from the Vietnam war.

Michael said a sow bit Terry once, but only because he accidentally stepped on its piglet, killing it.

“He said he was going to kill it, but when I asked him about it later, he said he had changed his mind,” Michael told the paper.

That might be one of the saddest stories I’ve ever read. You’ve got the therapeutic animals, the Vietnam war, dead piglets, and missed opportunities that come back and haunt you all in three sentences. Dang.

Packs of man-eating hogs go out for the night to forage on human limbs. Allegedly.

John Killefer, who heads the Animal and Rangeland Sciences Department at Oregon State University, said killer hogs are unusual but not impossible, noting they “are more omnivorous than other farm animals.”

So here’s a couple of things I didn’t know – that hogs could get up to 700 pounds, that they could be called “killer,” and that they are “more omnivorous than other farm animals.” Speaking of which, could I please get a copy of that color-coded Farm Animal Omnivorous scale that Professor Killefer apparently has access to? I want to take it with me next time I go to a petting zoo.

I found this other, slightly more morbid story in the LA Times. The first quote kills me.

“All we know is he died some way, and the pigs ate him. Most of him,” Garner’s brother, Michael Garner, told the Los Angeles Times.

Garner, a Vietnam War veteran, raised the giant hogs — larger than most of those sold for food — and provided piglets as 4-H projects for local youths.

“He’s an animal lover. He couldn’t do anything else with them. He wouldn’t sell them to eat, or anything else,” his brother said.

I haven’t asked XFE what he thinks about this, but I will personally be dedicating my excesses at this year’s Porktober to the memory of poor ol’ farmer Garner. He lived a good life, met with a, erhm, disturbing end, and provided us all a lesson: eat your pigs before they eat you.

Freaky Friday: Bagel Heads, Ghosts, Attack Owls

It’s been a bit of an odd Friday around here. For example, I was trapped at a work-related event for a large portion of the afternoon and when I returned to my own floor at around 2:30, no one was around. It was actually pretty creepy. Just empty chairs in every office and cube. Even the Party Crue from the Finance Hizzy were half gone. If there was a Get-Out-of-Work-Early memo, it was not circulated to me.

Yep. That’s pretty weird. (Owls will also figure into this post, so that’s creeping me out.)

Perhaps all my co-workers merely turned into ghosts, in which case they are probably off having an orgy with Kei$ha.

Our favorite white trash songstress has a new song out called “Supernatural,” which, of course, she needs to promote by going on Ryan Seacrest’s radio show. Seacrest, being the intrepid reporter that he is, delved deep into Kei$ha’s creative process and found out the inspiration behind the song:

“It’s about experiences with the supernatural… but in a sexy way,” she told Seacrest. “I had a couple of experiences with the supernatural. I don’t know his name! He was a ghost! I’m very open to it.”

Actually, my friend Katie over at MaddieUncensored has a much more plausible theory on the whole ghost-sex thing, including who it might have been.

I highly doubt she had sex with a ghost. It’s more likely the trash bag she was wearing billowed up and confused her. But please refer to the ghost as Ca$per.

The only Casper I know is J-Lo’s boy-toy, so Jenny from the Block better start enforcing her man’s curfew.

“You stay away from that Ke$ha or I’m going to $hiv you, Ca$per.”

Kei$ha also mentioned that she went on:

A “spirit journey by myself. No security guard. No managers. I just went around the world and lived on a boat. I was in Africa rehabilitating baby lions. I went diving with great white sharks, and just went on this crazy spirit quest. I got hypnotized, and I just really wanted this record to be really positive, really raw, really vulnerable and about the magic of life.”

Sounds to me like she’s been hanging out a bit with ol’SnoopKitty. And by hanging out, I mean, smoking some very special medicinal cigarettes.

In case you were wondering, some of the other titles off her new album are “Die Young,” “Last Goodbye,” and “Love Into the Light.” I’m definitely sensing a theme here.

(By the way, that Wikipedia page linked above is pure comedy gold. Some funny, funny stuff on there. Spandex on the Distant Horizon?? A song about “futuristic sex toys??”  National Geographic documentary?? Also: cover art = genius)

While we have some pretty compelling evidence purely speculative ideas on what Ke$ha’s ghost might look like (J-Lo’s leftovers), there’s just as good a chance that this ghost has a bagel for a forehead, particularly if this is a Japanese ghost.

“National Geographic Taboo” chronicles the bizarre beauty treatment in an upcoming episode set in Tokyo, following three people who opt into the temporary forehead injections which have become a keen part of the Japanese “body modification” art scene.

Here’s how it goes down: technicians insert a needle into the forehead and inject about 400 cc of saline to create a forehead-sized blob. (One bagel-ee describes is as feeling like “something’s dripping down [his] head” and a “slight stinging sensation.”) The practitioner then places his or her thumb into the blob to create the indentation….Luckily, the bagel-shaped injections aren’t permanent; the round protusion fades after about sixteen hours as your body absorbs the saline.

Eeewww. So. That’s now a thing.

Just in time for Thanksgiving, the next craze out of Japan? Turkey head.

Which leads to my last item of weird news: Apparently, there are some owls out here on the running trails of DC that want to take a chunk out of our bagel-less foreheads. This is THE scariest paragraph ever written:

I had been attacked by a bird previously, on a trail in Rock Creek Park just after dawn, so I was familiar with the feeling of bird claws raking my head. It feels like a kitten has been set on your head, claws out: There’s a light pressure and a mildly sharp prickle.

(Actually, the whole first-person account is terrifyingly graphic. I can’t believe they put that in the newspaper.)

Runners World also has a blog post noting the increase in unprovoked owl attacks, which they’ve pegged at four.

Now, it’s a well documented fact that I am not fond of birds. I have pretty much been attacked by every bird I’ve ever been around, including one memorable time when a grackle attacked my head one fine day while I was walking to class across the University of Texas campus. There were even witnesses.

(Both of whom failed to render aid, I caustically observed.

I may have shouted at them at the time. It’s all a feathery blur.

OK, fine, I did yell at the two small female exchange students, but seriously! How long did they intend to just stand there watching me get attacked??)

But I especially don’t like being dive-bombed by aggressive asshole owls while trying to get my fitness on. Running is difficult enough. I seriously cannot add defense moves (ie: flailing) to the mix. Somebody’s going to get hurt and it’s most likely going to be me.

I guess I could just throw my ipod at him and then stop-drop-and-roll my way home.

Very weird week. Hopefully this weekend is free of ghosts, body modifications and especially, owls. But not Ke$ha. I dig her jams.

Beavers, Preppers and Chelsea Handler

Oh crap. The beavers are at it again.

This picture, by the way, is from a shooting and sporting news website. Right. On.

From the Washington Post:

The beaver leapt out of the water and onto the dock and was seen acting aggressively and chasing the children, police said. An animal control officer responded to the scene, cleared the area and shot the beaver, police said.

Leapt out of the water and chased children? I’m not even sure Jessica Simpson is svelte enough to accomplish such a maneuver yet.

She claims she’s only 10 lbs away from her pre-baby weight. I claim that’s a lie. Black is slimming. It does not render the general public blind.

“Wildlife experts said people should keep their distance from animals that are acting strangely, which is often a sign they have rabies.”

Hmmmm, Petunia has been acting strangely. Perhaps she has rabies? Or, perhaps she’s tired of us trying to jam pills down her throat. Could be either, really.

“In an unrelated incident, authorities were notified of what appeared to be a rabid raccoon in the Lake Barcroft area on Sunday. Animal control officers will be handing out fliers in the neighborhood after the incident and the attack on the woman.”

Wait, that’s not really that unrelated. That seems completely related to the fact that the animal kingdom is turning on all of us.

That’s probably why Costco is now heavily advertising Doomsday Prepper gear, including several emergency food kits and Poise Hourglass Moderate Absorbency Pads (216 count). Because nothing says preparing for the end of civilization as we know it like incontinence. I guess those things could probably also be used to fight off rabid beavers. Or as bandages for your bloody stump of an arm after the attack. Will 216 Poise Pads really be enough though? Or should we buy 2?

They have more stuff here, including a greenhouse and some safes, you know, to hide your Poise Pads from the rabid beavers.

Hey, you know what’s probably related to a beaver (I’d look it up but I’m too freaked out)? A sea lion. But sea lions are a bit more discriminatory than our beaver brethren. They only go after celebrities, apparently. From the Daily Mail Online:

“It’s normally Chelsea Handler’s guests who are seeking shelter – from her barbed tongue. But the irreverent comedienne has revealed that she was the one being attacked, after a sea lion interrupted an otherwise relaxing day paddle boarding near her seaside Malibu home.”

Holy ridiculous sporting activities. Can you imagine? One minute you’re floating along in gorgeous Malibu, waving at your friend Jennifer Anniston and mumbling under your breath about her engagement ring blinding you, and the next minute, you fighting off some amorous sea lion who probably wants to offer you your own cable show. AND he took a chunk out of her leg!

I like to imagine that in this picture, Chelsea’s all, “What’s up, Jen? Why didn’t you have my back?”

So, what have we learned here today?

  • Costco is a marketing genius.
  • Animals are not to be trusted. Especially the water variety.
  • Chelsea Handler is kind of a bad ass (actually, we probably already knew that)

Sharks Apparently Have Nothing on Beavers

Hey there! Remember me? Has it been five days? How can that be? Five whole days since I’ve blogged?? I’m so, so sorry.

But here’s the facts kids: I’ve been pretty dang busy. So busy, in fact, that I haven’t watched any reality shows lately, nor have I been reading any celebrity gossip magazines (I didn’t even get my US Weekly this past week), and I haven’t been running lately (next week, for sure.). And I hadn’t stumbled across stories about weird crimes. Or so I thought.

While JUST THIS SECOND trying to confirm that there had not in fact been some weird crimes committed in the greater D.C. area (didn’t I hear something on the radio the other morning about some toe sucker pervert on the loose??), I came across this gem from the always dependable Huffington Post:

“A summertime swim in Virginia’s Lake Anna was supposed to be part of a fun afternoon for sisters Annabella and Alyssa Radnovich. But a beaver attack left both of them wounded and at risk for rabies.”

Holy frothing mouths! How does this happen? Where the heck is Lake Anna? It must be way out in the country, right? Like, someplace heavily wooded (I mean, beavers eat wood, right?) where the main source of income is the selling of homemade beef jerky by the side of the road.

But NO! Lake Anna is only about 85 miles away from my home in Alexandria. By Texas standards, this is watermelon seed spitting distance.

The girls both reported that they were swimming when they felt something sharp. That just gave me goosebumps. We’re not talking little scratches or warning nibbles either.

Although their mother said they are doing much better, Alyssa received around 15 stitches on her upper thigh, while Annabella’s beaver bite cut through muscle, requiring bandages on three wounds just above her knee. Doctors said that closing Annabella’s wounds would increase the risk of infection and both girls are receiving shots for rabies.

So, this lucky kid gets to hobble around for the rest of the summer with open wounds caused by a rodent. That sounds just awesome.

Don’t worry. The Radnovich clan took care of this beaver pretty damn efficiently.

The girls’ uncle shot the beaver with a BB gun and then killed it with a knife. He turned it over to health department officials who confirmed the animal did indeed have rabies.

Apparently, aquatic attacks of the furry kind are on the rise. A triathlete in Minnesota (who, by the way, was wearing a wet suit) recently wrestled with an otter in a lake in Duluth.

Quick sidenote: otters are related to beavers, right? Wikipedia says beavers are rodents (second largest in the world!) but otters are mammals. But they look the same to me. If anything, otters look slightly friendlier, but apparently not.

The reporter on this story in the Duluth News Tribune really gave it her all:

Fangs pierced Leah Prudhomme’s legs as she swam through the deep, dark rum-colored waters of Island Lake.

OK, now we’re talking! That’s quite an intro there. Paint me a picture, young Kelly Smith. The suspense and terror continue to build throughout the article.

In the middle of the lake north of Duluth, the triathlete struggled as the animal sunk its needle-sharp teeth into her legs, feet and back, leaving 25 bite marks, some 2 inches deep. “It just kept coming after me,” said Prudhomme, 33, of Anoka, Minn. “You never knew where it was going to bite next.”

In between peppering her with puncture marks, the animal’s head popped up a few feet away. That’s when Prudhomme noticed its distinctive long tapered tail, small beady eyes and gray head. An otter.

This story did not have as satisfactorily an ending as the Virginia one though. It appears the blood-lusting otter got away.

This, my friends, is an example of how one falls into a weird news wormhole. One minute you think you have nothing new to write about. The next, you find a trend of completely unprovoked animal-on-human attacks.

All I know is I won’t be going near any lakes this weekend. I might even skip the bathtub. Petunia’s been staring at me in ways I’m not comfortable with.