Rough Roads, Cool Temperatures and Ghosts in the Valley

Life on the road…

This week was mostly a travel week, putting in 1,024 miles on some of the roughest roads traveled so far. I think it’s great to warn people about the condition of the road by putting up signs every 5 miles that read “rough road ahead”, but why not just repair the road. I feel another government rant coming on…it’s OK, I’ll just keep it to myself. Some parts of I10 are so bad you have to slow down to a mere crawl just to keep your teeth from rattling right out of your mouth…or, like most people…drive 10 MPH over the posted 80 MPH speed limit and try to float over the holes. My poor little old travel trailer is getting bounced around like a sailboat in a hurricane.

On Tuesday I travelled from Las Vegas to about 35 miles west of Phoenix. Tactical error on my part as I had to get up Wednesday morning only to sit in rush hour traffic all the way through Phoenix. We’ve all been there, people with anger issues weaving in and out of lanes, cutting off poor guys like me pulling little travel trailers…and just to get nowhere. And then there’s the guy in the pick-up truck 2 vehicles ahead of me who jumps out of his truck as we are sitting waiting for traffic to clear. He has a large gas tank in the bed of his truck with a nozzle attached and he proceeds to splash gas all over the side of his truck and onto the roadway while trying to put some in the truck’s gas tank. At the same time, the guy in the vehicle directly in front of me tosses his lit cigarette butt out the window. NO there was not an explosion…but damn that could’ve been real bad.

Not all the best stories are told sitting around the campfire. While camped in Bowie, Arizona at an RV park that is adjacent to a rundown old convenience store/highway fuel stop, I had the unexpected pleasure of sitting around the picnic table out back with a bunch of old time locals. It was around sunrise and these 6 old guys were gathering for their morning coffee and bullshit session, so I decided to befriend them. Keep in mind that these guys are on the uphill side of 80 and don’t take too kindly to people insinuating themselves into their little group. But I have great stories to tell and…well…I’m a pretty cool old guy myself. After exchanging a few heart attack/fishing stories, another old guy pulled up in a beat up old grape colored Saturn. You know the one, chick-mobile all the way. As he got out of the car and limped over with his cane, one of the old timers jokingly quipped, “hey Jed, nice car. You turnin’ gay in your old age?” “Naw” he replied, “I wrecked my car and had to buy a new one”. I guess a new car in these parts means 25+ years old. Well of course there was a story attached to the grape colored Saturn. Apparently Jed and a couple of his cronies were out in the back 40 on horseback trying to remove a ‘Very Large” bee hive. But rather than use a proven conventional method of removal, they decided to lasso it and drag it down to the river. Already I’m struggling to keep a straight face…this is going to be good! Well…the bees didn’t take to kindly to having their hive attacked so they went on the offensive. Unfortunately for Jed, he took the brunt of their anger, being stung more than 40 times. Now Jed, being a right smart guy, knows he has to get to the hospital. So he high tails it back to the barn, jumps in his car and takes off “hell bent” like a mad man. “Why didn’t you just call an ambulance?” asked one of his buddies. “Didn’t wanna wait around for them sons o bitches” was his reply. So of course on the way to the hospital poor old Jed (keep in mind this guy has to be at least 80 years old) passes out at the wheel and runs off the road, crashing the car and rolling it into a ditch. Fortunately, the force of the crash wakes him up and he is able to find his phone to call for help. After being treated for minor cuts and bruises, a sprained ankle and his 40+ bee stings, Jed is released from the hospital and out looking for a “new” car. “I kinda like the color” he says…”and the chicks really dig it”.

While in Bowie, Arizona I visited the ruins of Fort Bowie. The fort was built in 1862 to protect Apache Pass and the spring that was discovered in the valley. Water in this area was very scarce and the spring became the focal point of many battles over the years. For over 20 years Apache pass and Fort Bowie were central to US Army operations against the Chiricahua Apaches. Although the pass was discovered by Brigadier General James Carleton while he was searching for Confederate troops, the army found a much more worthy adversary in the Chiricahua Apache Indians. During one such battle, when the fort was nothing more than a few tents as a temporary encampment, the famous Apache Cochise and his band of warriors battled US soldiers intermittently for 10 straight days. Many lives were lost on both sides of the battle and at one point the commander of the US troops, Lt. George Bascom lured Cochise into his tent for peace talks. During the “peace” talks Bascom threatened to hold Cochise hostage in an effort to end the fighting. When talks broke down, Cochise escaped by slashing through the wall of the tent and eluding the soldiers. After this affair, war raged in the valley on and off for the next 10 years. Much blood has been shed in this valley and the ghosts are there to speak of it. To get to the site of the ruins and battle area you have to walk about 2 miles over a ridge and down into the valley. When I arrived in the valley, I could feel the presence of all the brave men on both sides. To be in an area where there has been so much blood shed and loss of life. I just sat down in the tall grass, closed my eyes and let the spirits tell me their tales. It was quite moving for me, having recently been through a near death struggle of my own. Hopefully the photos will help tell the story.

I also visited the Chiricahua National Monument. It is an area of rock formations that have been created over millions of years, originating from the Turkey Creek Volcano which erupted over 27 million years ago…I wonder if they called it that 27 million years ago?. I’ll let the photos speak for themselves.

I am now in Fort Stockton, Texas and I plan to visit the historic site later today. Tomorrow I head to San Antonio and then on to Florida by the end of the week.

The Adventure Continues…

4 Responses to Rough Roads, Cool Temperatures and Ghosts in the Valley

  1. Avatar David McClung
    David McClung says:

    Those rock formations are awesome, there are soooo many! Great pics as always. Sounds like your on the home stretch be safe.

  2. Avatar Juliann Pick Reynolds
    Juliann Pick Reynolds says:

    As usual, very amusing stories and awesome pictures.

  3. Avatar Chandler McClung
    Chandler McClung says:

    Friday can’t come soon enough. I love you daddy

  4. Avatar Suzanne Chandler
    Suzanne Chandler says:

    Sounds like you are having the trip of a lifetime. Good for you!!