Many tourists describe the ride from Mingus Mountain to Jerome and Clarkdale, a distance of about 18 miles, as hair-raising—steep, curvy, narrow, with some unprotected dropoffs. In 1991, on a Fall full moon, 14-year old Max Rapaport and Aaron Bacharach and Zack Druen, his Jerome buddies, skateboarded down the mountain at 2:30 a.m. Apparently this was a regular full moon escapade.
The first time I even heard about them was a comment from Aaron on the story of the drag race between the Jerome chief of police and Zack (“Jerome’s Secret Indy 500”).
I asked Max, as he was holding his 3-month old baby Mykos is his lap, “Did this really happen?” “Oh, yeah,” said Max. “We’d park one car in Clarkdale and hiked up road from Jerome with our skateboards. When I got scared, I’d sit on the skateboard and use the soles of my sneakers to slow down. That’s how come I went through so many sneakers.”
I thought it was because he was hiking so much. Among some, my nickname in Jerome was Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farms, always so optimistic and cheery, and never suspecting the oh-so-innocent looking Max of his daredevil ways, that are only now coming to light. “Well, how did you get across the cattle guard after you pass Jerome, the one that got Fern on her bike?”
“I used to stop and walk across. The others jumped it.”
It was a lot of except for this one night. Just as I was cruising into Clarkdale on my skateboard, I saw Aaron and Zach bobbing crazily up and down, like jumping beans, and couldn’t figure out what was going on. I couldn’t stop and then found myself in the middle of a tarantula migration. Hundreds of them trying to cross the road. They were as scare as we were and were jumping on our shirts and jeans tearing at us with their pincers. They weren’t biting, just tearing at us. We kept brushing them off and kept right on going. There wasn’t anything else to do. as we were.”
The next day in biology class I asked my teacher about tarantula migrations and told him what we’ve seen. I just didn’t tell give him too many details. He scoffed —‘oh you boys up there in Jerome most have been on something. There’s no such thing as a tarantula migration.
So I looked it up. Apparently, durin Fall, male tarantulas go on a march looking for females.