Odd twins; rescue by owl; dinosaur IPA

Mishaps and mayhem from around the region.


What are the odds of twins being born on different days, different months and different years? According to the Natividad Medical Center in Salinas, California, where Fatima Madrigal welcomed her new babies, it’s pretty stratospheric: 1 in 2 million. But that is exactly what happened on New Year’s Eve. At 11:45 p.m., Madrigal’s son, Alfredo Antonio Trujillo, arrived, weighing in at 6 pounds. And 15 minutes later, at exactly midnight, his sister, Aylin Yolanda Trujillo, landed at 5 pounds, 14 ounces. Will the new arrivals celebrate their birthdays on separate days? That remains to be seen. But it is nice to have a day all one’s own.

Montana resident and wilderness devotee Mike Stevenson owes his life to a benevolent owl that came to his rescue over 40 years ago during a blinding snowstorm in the Bob Marshall Wilderness. That fall, Stevenson was working for an outfitter’s crew, guiding clients on expeditions hunting elk, bear and deer. Stevenson, who relished the solitude that the backcountry offered, had planned to stay behind when the crew departed, setting traps, and wintering alone in “the Bob.” “I always had a passion to get into the woods,” he said. “I wanted to get into the wildest country I could.” It was in the outfitter’s camp that fall that the crew first took noticed an owl that was loitering in the area, hunting the mice attracted by the horses’ feed. “The owl was pretty vocal. It would hoot all night,” Stevenson told The Montana Standard. But when everyone else packed up and left camp, the owl left too. Stevenson didn’t hear it again until weeks later, when he found himself caught in an extremely precarious situation. He had snowshoed a few miles to Big Salmon Lake to check his beaver traps. It was late in the day by the time he started back, with nightfall and a snowstorm bearing down, and Stevenson, whose flashlight was broken, got disoriented and soon became lost. He tried to start a fire, but his fire-starting kit was wet from the storm. Stevenson knew that he needed to keep moving to stay alive, but he was overcome with fatigue, and he finally plopped down in the snow and almost fell asleep. “I thought I was going to die,” he said. “I was getting scared. I was shaking and I wanted to go to sleep.” But just as he was on the brink, he heard a helpful hoot: The owl had returned. In desperation, he decided to follow the familiar sound, even though he wasn’t sure just where it was coming from. Nonetheless, he kept following the hoots until he made his way back to camp, thereby affirming that the time-honored saying holds true, even for wilderness experts: “It’s not what you know, but who-who you know.”

A humongous creature that swam the Triassic oceans over 200 million years ago is the namesake of the top-selling Ichthyosaur IPA produced by the Great Basin Brewing Company in Sparks, Nevada. The brewing company, formerly owned by Tom and Bonda Young, was honored in December at a ceremony at the Natural History Museum in Los Angeles. Not only did the Youngs provide donations and support for the excavation of some ichthyosaur fossils discovered in the Augusta Mountains outside Winnemucca in 2011, they also transported the skull of the 55-foot-long fossil to the museum in one of their Great Basin beer trucks. As of December, the ichthyosaur species on display at the Natural History Museum will be known as Cymbospondylus Youngorum, after the Youngs — though Tom Young told the Reno Gazette Journal that he’d had a different name in mind: “I was voting for ‘Beerosaurus,’ personally.”

On Jan. 26, the mighty reign of Jeopardy! champion, Amy Schneider, came to an end. Over the course of three months, Schneider racked up a 40-game winning streak, second only to fellow Jeopardy! legend Ken Jennings, along with $1.3 million in total earnings, good for fourth all-time. Schneider, a software engineer from Oakland, California, is the first woman to pass the million-dollar mark, and the first transgender contestant to qualify for the annual Tournament of Champions, which will be played this fall. Schneider’s media presence reflects positively for transgender communities, though she stressed on her Twitter account that it isn’t paramount to her identity: “I didn’t want to make too much about being trans, at least in the context of the show. I am a trans woman, and I’m proud of that fact, but I’m a lot of other things, too!”   

Tiffany Midge is a citizen of the Standing Rock Nation and was raised by wolves in the Pacific Northwest. Her book, Bury My Heart at Chuck E. Cheese’s (Bison Books, 2019), was a Washington State Book Award nominee. She resides in north-central Idaho near the Columbia River Plateau, homeland of the Nimiipuu.

Tips of Western oddities are appreciated and often shared in this column. Write [email protected], or submit a letter to the editor

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