Thursday, March 30, 2023

Now I own two trucks


Before he died, Lou “sold” me his pickup and the camper he built. “Keep it, or sell it and use the money toward a new van or a new engine for the old van. “

Well, I just got back from the New Mexico Motor Vehicles Division. Title transfer, new registration. In the eyes of the law the truck is now officially mine. But it still feels like I’m only borrowing it, or looking after it until Lou returns. 

I felt guilty cleaning out some stuff from the glovebox, the console, and the back of the cab. Lou had reasons for that stuff being there — reasons that no longer matter. Except it feels like they still do.

On the way to town and back I worried how Lou might critique my driving and how I handled the truck. His truck.

It would be less trouble for me to sell the truck and camper as a package. Have it all gone at once. It takes four to six strong people to lift the camper. I know because I was one of those who helped get it onto the truck.

There’s a young guy thinking about buying just the truck. “I haven’t filed my taxes yet, so I don’t know if I’ll have the money right away. How long could you wait?” 

I’d rather get the rig in the hands of an aspiring nomad. The camper has a solar power system, heater and stove. It’s, um, “compact,” but roomier than a minivan. The pickup has 190,000 miles on it, but that’s only middle age for trucks. And a truck is better for going into the boondocks.

I almost got myself in the position of owning three trucks. Until I finally decided for the last time I was going to have an engine transplant done on the Rolling Steel Tent, I had been shopping for a replacement. I even had my brother-in-law in Salt Lake City go check out a very promising van near him. But besides the logistical hassles of getting myself to Utah somehow (begging a ride to Deming > taking a bus to Phoenix > catching a shuttle flight to SLC) to make the purchase and driving the new van back, I’d need to build it out, then divest myself of the other two trucks. Nah. As much as I’d like power locks/windows/mirrors and cruise control, the smarter thing would be to freshen the Rolling Steel Tent. (Is it smarter because it’s easier, or is it easier because it’s smarter?)

So Tuesday the final final FINAL decision will be made after having the Rolling Steel Tent accessed by a mechanic. Scan it, do a compression test and leak-down test, check other systems like the water pump… Then have them work up the estimate.

Stay tuned.

Friday, March 17, 2023

It feels very strange

I’m back at Lou’s. I'll be here getting things ready for an estate sale and preparation for putting the rancho on the market.

Everything is just like we left it six weeks ago. The tiny house, the cargo trailer and the shop are filled with things that were important to Lou but are now unneeded by us friends. I felt like I was violating something as I packed away his clothing and hung a few of my things in his place. Will a charity take six pairs of well worn shoes? There are framed photos and art on the walls. What’ll we do with that? So much of this will end up in a landfill. At least this is a one-room place, not a four-bedroom house Granny has spent her adult life filling with things she was going to hand down to the grandchildren. And at least there’s no family fighting over it.

Perhaps the weirdest thing so far was sleeping in Lou’s bed. The deathbed. I could’ve slept in the van, but it’s still chilly here and it’s more comfortable in the house. I could’ve swapped my mattress for his, but it was raining.

And the sad part is Lou not being here to ask him, “What do you want to do with this?”

Saturday, March 11, 2023

A history lesson from friends

After Geronimo was captured for the last time in 1885 he was imprisoned in Florida. To exploit his fame, he was occasionally loaned out by the federal government as a prop for parades and exhibitions, sometimes being promoted as a scary savage, sometimes being shown to have become all civilized and shit. But the central message was the same: We white people had broken and tamed the Indians. We are in control.

This photo of Geronimo in a top hat at the wheel of a car was one of those setups. Although the car is a Locomobile, the photo has come to be called “Geronimo’s Cadillac.” The picture is somewhat infamous, but I had been completely unaware of it and Geronimo’s life in captivity until I visited my friends Hawk and Sky at their summer camp in the Coyote Howls RV park. They’ve leased the same spot for several years and decorated it with all sorts of things gathered from the surrounding desert. As their chosen noms de guerre reflect, Hawk and Sky revere nature and indigenous culture.

Hawk asked, “Have you seen our version of Geronimo’s Cadillac?” He led me to the back of their lot, giving a synopsis of the Geronimo story. “We saw this old wrecked car up the wash there, and some friends and I hauled it here. That fender came loose, so we set it up to look like the cactus grew through it.”

It’s not known how Geronimo felt about being exhibited like a trained animal. Some accounts say he was cooperative, but was it because he was merely submitting to those who controlled his life? Was it a break from imprisonment? His thoughts were never recorded because, well, the red man’s opinions didn’t matter, right?

After seeing the photo, singer-songwriter Michael Martin Murphey wrote and recorded “Geronimo’s Cadillac.” The song expresses sadness about the way Native people were mistreated by the government. It paints a picture of Geronimo driving across the desert, the wind in his hair and sun on his skin, a free spirit, living on his own terms, the Caddy a symbol of his refusal to be tamed. The song had become an anthem of Native resistance and pride.

Here’s Hoty Axton’s cover of the song.

It’s that time

There’s that brief, wonderful period that’s only a few days long, when the desert is green from the winter storms; when the wind has calmed down; when the temperature is just right and you can leave the doors and windows open and your don’t need outerwear; when the wildflowers are starting to bloom but not so heavily that they trigger allergies; when the bugs and snakes aren’t out yet; when the snowbirds have started their migrations home, leaving more space. Aaaaaaaaaaahhhh...

It’s also a good time to try out a new-to-me boondocking area that has a nice washboard-free access road and a great cell signal.

Saturday, March 4, 2023


I do better with destination oriented hikes than with let’s-walk-a-few-miles-this-way-and-back hikes. And this rock formation looked like a good goal. I couldn’t really tell how far or large it was, so I’d go find out. And I’d walk there as straight as I could, without a trail.

It was about a mile across stony, gravely ground; over hills and down into washes and back out; finding the way between Saguaros, ocotillos, cholla, mesquite, and creosote bushes. The ground at the base of the formation was steep an loose, and the formation walls were essentially vertical, so there was no going farther. At least for me.

Friday, March 3, 2023

And no one else in sight

My favorite camping spot in Ajo was crowded so I had to search the area for an alternative. I think this will work very well. The silence is wonderful.