I was chased by a very large and (understandably) very aggressive spider on my way to Tucumcari yesterday. It is the time of year when male tarantulas go wandering about in search of mates. The females stay close to home, so the males must go off looking for them, and if a road is in the way the tarantulas march right across.
There is something pretty impressive about a spider of such size that you can see it from a car going 65 miles per hour. We saw seven along the road during our 190 mile round trip, but that was only once we started really looking for them. We pulled over and backed up to get some photos of one fellow who was still out in the middle of the road when we first passed him. My sister stood guard and encouraged him to get to safety before any oncoming traffic reached the spot. He liked her; I know he did. At one point he reached up gently to touch her shoe.
On the other hand, I don't think he liked me or my blue shoes very much. I was maneuvering around, trying to set up the best shot, moving along with the big guy and attempting to keep him in focus. I glanced up over my shoulder to be sure that there weren't any cars coming in my lane, and that's when he snapped. When I looked back down at him he was coming fast, amazingly fast, right at me. My sister says that he reared up in a very threatening fashion, but by that time I was long gone. I apparently screamed, having lost all sense of decorum and delighting my sister who declares that she has never heard such a loud sound out of my librarian self.
Here is another shot of him, probably pawing at the ground and getting ready for another charge.
Go to Desert USA for information, photos, and a short movie about tarantulas in the Southwest: http://www.desertusa.com/july96/du_taran.html.
To see a short video of a tarantula from the Clovis News Journal, go to http://www.cnjonline.com/video/grady_23132___video.html/spiders_tarantulas.html