|Big Lake Lookout Trail, AZ|
Fried by several night shifts, began so-called vacation napping fitfully in the passenger’s seat as Dudine piloted, Cottonwood to Bisbee.
Day two, bad-ass sister’s Berserker wedding bash ended too early, without biker brawl or bullets, out of respect for the brats and us geezers. Oh well, not every party can be “epic.”
|The Great Wall of Naco|
Had hoped to simply visit sleepy Naco, Mexico, but to re-enter Disunited States requires a 21’ ladder, 40’ rope, shovel, or passport--to get over, under, or through the 20’ fence. None of which we had.
Further south, massive wildfire fouled the sky. Next day windblown smoke so thick over the Chiricahuas that we aborted that mission, flat farm roads to Safford instead.
The freedom of the open road includes the freedom to be stopped at any time by an official jack-ass with badge and gun, “your tax dollars at work.” In our case everyone northbound on Highway 191 was checked for ‘illegal humans’. My smile was illegal but we got away with a nice mid-morning shot of adrenaline.
|Pima AZ cemetery|
Which family is forever, exactly? Dudine felt like hell so we decided to rest a day in a cheap motel before attempting to camp out. High-class--cable television! She searched the endless channels for something besides propaganda and advertising; out of boredom I went looking for Glenbar cemetery, west of Pima, where many of my mother’s ancestors sleep among farms and fields.
Wrong graveyard. Sunny and hot.
|Glenbar AZ cemetery|
Finally found the folks with the help of modern electronics and their distant caretaker nerds.
|Glenbar AZ cemetery|
At 22 great-great-Grampa Boyle marched all over the southwest in the war to steal north Mexico but never saw combat. At 64 spent six months in federal lock-up for polygamy, then moved from Utah to the Gila River valley with 45 year old (youngest) wife number four. Their last child, his 27th, her tenth, was born there in 1889.
Some of the nicest headstones were for dead babies, like Great Uncle Burtis who didn’t see his second year.
Mama bear still somewhat ill next day. I can’t seem to care for one wife properly, only God can help a man with four! We headed north anyhow, on what was once known as Highway 666, supposedly following Coronado’s 1540 route through “New Spain.” (Actually east of there, scholars now say, which makes more sense, if you know the area.) Still hoping for two nights forest camping.
|Morenci mine, AZ|
My 1997 “Recreational” Arizona map shows a mountain town called Stargo near Morenci. It had the misfortune of being a company town on a copper vein; greed, too, can move mountains.
Stargo is not on my 2005 Rand McNally Road Atlas. A ‘security guard’ in Safford told me his high school went with it. Much dust in the wind.
The eastern Arizona mountains were badly scarred by recent fires. Haze from a new fire on the Apache Reservation followed us much of the way. My long-time goal of a Hannagan Meadow tryst with my bride of 25 years rose with the smoke, her blush now of asthma, allergies, and annoyance.
|Big Lake campground, AZ|
Stupidly, we persevered. Drove 20 more miles of dusty road west to skip smoke. I set up camp at a luxurious “improved” site, and left her there to relax, I hoped, while I hiked a few miles to Big Lake Lookout.
Aspen trees are common targets of forest graffiti.
|Big Lake lookout (what's left of it)|
Most of the hilltop was toast, including the fire lookout itself.
|Big Lake lookout, AZ|
Back at camp, instead of rested, Dudine was worse, and furious. My common swear words sounded terrible when they came out of her mouth! We fussed in hoarse whispers, not wanting to share our mini-drama with the quiet campground.
Nor with you, dear readers, amusing though you might find it. She may or may not be a crybaby, I am an insensitive and occasionally stupid ass, and we both may possibly be imperfect. How disappointing!
A big moon crawled slowly across the sky, I in the tent, she in the truck where she insisted it was less dusty. Bears had been harassing local campers; at some point I remembered there were “garlic and herb Triscuit” crackers in the tent. Would a bear attack for a snack? Rip me apart because she prefers “cool ranch”? I was awake all night, or dreamed I was.
|Big Lake lookout, AZ|
We would have been pathetic “pioneers.” I began packing for home as soon as birds began their sunrise service. We drove the several hours in near-silence, stopping only to eat and pee, vacation aborted, boo-hoo. Long time love runs hot and cold, ours will survive; not so sure about the rest of this scorched earth.
Worst trip ever? Give me a few more tries to screw up, and ask me on my death bed.
|Near Big Lake, AZ|
Special Science Close-Up:
The Fur Turd
When a critter on a "whole food diet" eats another critter.
“I think that in order to learn the great lesson of life, thoroughly, we should have to contend to some extent with poverty.”
--Henry Green Boyle, Payson, Utah, 1884.
From Ancestors (and some descendents) of Edwin Henry Boyle and Sarah Ellen Carter, Alice Lenore Boyle Oyler, 2001, Family History Publishers, Utah.