Oh blech! That's insanely big! I would have totally peed my pants. We don't have too many black widows out here, but there are occasional spottings in crevices or at the base of buildings and sheds. We do however have a problem with brown recluse, and they are much more difficult to recognize. So I kinda have to squish anything that I suspect might be a brown recluse; I don't really have the time to go consult a book and get close to see its markings! Those things are fast.
I feel better knowing there's one less black widow around; even if it was all the way out in CA!
We have alot of wolf spiders; which are actually really cool (and trust me, I am not someone who thinks spiders are cool at ALL.) They are predatory, mildly venomous but not deadly, and kill alot of insect pests, but won't bother humans unless they are provoked or threatened. They carry their young around on their back. I accidentally killed a mama last year and I felt horrible about it. She had all her babies on her back but I thought she had some sort of horrible growths. I was in the pool and she crawled off one of the pool floats and scared the crap out of me. I scooped her up in a jar of water and covered the jar to show Doug. A few minutes later, I looked and realized that what I thought were lumps were actually baby spiders, all of which had fallen off and drowned in the jar. I was horrified. Then this past Saturday I found one on the solar cover trying desperately to get out of the pool; and immediately recognized a mama and babies. I carefully scooped her out in a dry jar and put her in the garden; but not before taking a good look at the 20 or so itty bitty babies she had clinging to her back. Very cool...I just hope I made up for my snafu last year!
Alissa, you may have had a wolf spider...they have sort of furry legs and can get pretty big. They like to hang out in gardens, but they are great pest killers!