What a difference a day makes! My Sunday morning started with a faint breeze, a promise of a seventy degree day, and my dearest friend suggesting that a bit of a desert adventure might be just the tonic needed to sped up her recovery.
Monday morning started with what was to be a slow and relatively quiet day at the office that quickly devolved into a family emergency, paramedics, and a tsunami of problems. One thirty-six hour period, incredible.
The only thing I enjoy more than walks and adventures with my dearest friend are walks and adventures in the desert with my dearest friend. More than thirty years ago when I was to broke to pay attention, long walks were often the only date that fit my budget. As a result such outings are always tinged with pleasant memories.
For this little Sunday outing we selected the old town site of Stockton Hill a few miles north of Kingman. The town itself that dates to the 1860s is long gone, and the territorial era road that climbed over the Cerbat Mountains to connect with the mining camps of Cerbat, Mineral Park, and Chloride, is now a 4×4 only private road that leads to an encampment of very unfriendly, heavily armed folks who seem to be quite suspicious of everyone.
The sparse remnants of the original town are intermingled with traces of the more modern mining endeavors that followed in 1910, the 1920s, 1950s, and even the 1970s. It was here where I first earned my pay in underground mines.
On that insane project that proved to be a boondoggle worthy of the western frontier era, I worked on a twelve man crew that was enlarging a very old drift and stope. I tried my hand running a jack leg but soon learned that was a task better left to bigger men than me.
So, while the paychecks lasted I worked as a mucker, and later as a powder monkey. To say the very least, it was quite a learning experience.
Urban sprawl is fast spreading tentacles into the area. That definitely puts a damper on the sense of escaping into the wilderness as accessing the site means traversing a neighborhood of grotesquely oversized homes that mimic Spanish colonial estates.
As we twisted our way deeper into the mountains over an increasingly rocky road, we encountered a modern Hooverville of sorts. Obviously long term parked motor homes among the trees, and all the signs that the folks camping planned on staying, coupled with the sound of generators echoing in the canyon, made it clear that our thirty plus year history of walking the old streets of Stockton Hill were drawing to a close.
As we had the Jeep we left the crowds behind by crossing a washed out road, traversing a sand wash, and then adding more Arizona pin stripes to the Jeep by crawling through the brush. On the return trip, as we hit good roads and picked up speed, there was a distinctive slapping sound to the right front tire.
Well, it turns out that somewhere in our travels I had picked up a long piece of weather stripping studded with roofing nails that was now wrapped around the tire. Tire loss is often the price paid for an adventure but this was a bit symbolic as the damage was not caused from sharp rocks or cacti, but from the flotsam of urban sprawl.
After spending an hour or so at Walmart, the Jeep was right as rain and ready for another adventure. The rest of the days was rather anticlimactic with the highlight for me being time in my comfortable chair, basking in the sun that streamed through the window, and reading Inside The Third Reich by Albert Speer.
Monday proved to be the mirror image. Chaos, a family emergency, hours at the hospital amidst the tragedies that haunt the emergency room, and a seemingly endless stream of the rudest and most insensitive customers at the office that I have ever encountered.
This thing called life is not for the faint of heart, nor is it ever boring. Now, with a deep sigh and a solid breakfast under the belt, it is time to begin another day.