At the end of our fifth winter in Ajo, it’s easy for Roy and I to envision a life where we’d kept our home in Hillsboro, and purchased the adobe next door to our friends, Harry and Gwen. The one with the walled garden next to the wash where javelinas and coyotes make their rounds. It is not easy is saying goodbye to H&G and S&M and also J&J and SuziCruzi&L and a long list of others we’ve come to know in this quirky little town.
Tears sprang easily to my eyes as I hugged each of our friends. Instead of goodbye, I said, “See you down the road.”
It’s moving day. It’s time for us to hitch up our pony, to head down the road, to head east to Tennessee. It’s time to go home, to our new home.
A well-known truck rental company advertises ”Adventures in Moving”. ”Why would anyone want moving to be an adventure,” Roy asked me. ”I have no idea. Adventure is the last thing I want moving to be.” And we laughed.
A ferocious wind blew us out of Ajo and closed the highway between us and our destination for the night. We arrived as the sunset, Shakespeare Ghost Town – an off-the-beaten-path forgotten silver mine, turned gold mine, turned cattle ranch as the New Mexico sun sank below the horizon. And the next day, we traveled to:
Hatch, New Mexico:
Like a Johnny Cash song, “We’ve been talking ‘bout Hatch…” as a flying destination, but the airport in Hatch offers no services. Instead we back-tracked off the highway to visit like normal humans – by driving there. Eating and shopping are all hatch offers, and some fun, giant icons outside Sparky’s BBQ. The Hatch Chili-Cheeseburger was worth the side-trip.
After Hatch, we meandered north, farther off our direct route, to Truth or Consequences. The direct route is not always the most expedient and I needed to satisfy my yen for a nice soak at the Riverbend hot springs, followed by a thick Stout at TorC Brewing. From there, the wind blew us east to Texas.
Fort Stockton, Texas:
The wind blew so hard in Fort Stockton that we kept the windows closed in the Airstream to keep from breathing fine dust, despite the 80 degree temps outside. We checked in to Honey Badger RV park, instead of dry-camping someplace, to have electricity so we could run the AC. The proprietor of Honey Badger RV was a stout dark haired gal all of about 5 feet tall. Of course, I had to ask, ”Why is your RV park named Honey Badger? Did you name it after the YouTube video about ’Honey Badger don’t care’? I said this more than half joking.
She looked puzzled and shook her head. ”No, never heard of that. I named the RV park for my X-husband”
”For your X?” Now I looked puzzled.
”Yep, for my X. That man didn’t do nuthin around here. Roof falling down. He don’t care. Hook-up’s don’t work. He don’t care. That man didn’t care about nuthin. Lazy and mean as the day is long. So I called him Honey Badger. Honey Badger don’t care ‘bout nuthin. I finally sent him packing after 40 years of marriage. Fixed this place up. Started mak’in money. So I called it Honey Badger cause I don’t’ need that man. I’m do’in fine.”
”So you didn’t name it after the YouTube video?”
”Nope,” she replied. ”Never heard of that.”
I paid our tab for the night and side-stepped away while she proselytized on the short-comings of men.
Bravo Flight: Austin and Dallas, Texas
The wind abated and the temperatures dropped as we arrived in central Texas. We meandered north and south again, to visit our Bravo-flight friemily (friends that are family). Bravo flight consists of us in our plane, Taco and Cannon in their RV-7A, and Scoot and Cookie in their RV-9A (Homebuilt Aircraft). Our group of three planes, along with two other flights, flew to the southern Caribbean in 2017. The journey changed our lives and we’ve enjoyed many journeys together since then. No way could we blow through Texas without checking in with Bravo Flight. We lingered a few days with Scoot and Cookie and enjoyed beers around the fire-pit. Then braved the Texas interstates to see Taco and Cannon. We arrived at their place in AeroCountry in time for a special fly-over. The planes gathered took off from AeroCountry, then flew to McKinney to preform a missing man formation flight:
The temperatures warmed and the days mellowed in time for us to wander south to Al’s Hideaway, west of San Antonio, with the express purpose of hanging out with more friemily, this time our fishing buddy Mike. Mike hails from Orcas Island, and it is because of Mike and his kind generosity and time with his fishing boat that we’ve enjoyed a king and queen’s share of salmon and shell-fish from the Salish Sea. What we did not know, and learned by surprise over an Arizona camp-fire, is that Mike is a gifted musician. Yes, I insisted, we will drive a hundred miles off our route to hear Mike play. Roy did not take much convincing.
As if Mike’s music wasn’t beautiful enough, we also witnessed a miracle while at Luckenbach. A Mom and her two daughters went on stage to play, and afterwards sat at the picnic table with us. The daughters each opened bottles of root beer, which attracted some bees. “There’s a bee in my soda,” the younger one declared, and studied the contents of the bottle with one eye squinting. The Mom took the bottle and looked inside. ”She’s drowning in sugar, poor thing. But I think I can save her.” She extracted the bee with the earpiece of her sunglasses. The tiny little being lay exhausted on the back of the Moms thumb. ”I think she’s dying, but wait. She’s starting to move.” We watched, fascinated, as the bee cleaned herself off, and after a bit, flew away.
“I thought you were going to Tennesse?” a friend in Arizona texted me. ”Did you get lost?” I texted back, ”Not lost. Only winding down the road.” After I lost count of how many days and felt that Texas might go on forever, we finally made it across the border to Louisiana – this time to visit Roy’s cousin Ben and his Sweetie, Louise. Louise is from Cajun country in southern Louisiana. ”It’s crawfish season,” she said. ”Y’all like crawfish?” The smile on my face is the reply. It is worth mentioning that Louise made impressive short work of shelling the mud-bugs. A skill to aspire to. More practice needed.
There’s more to our journey, but I’ll close with a clip of the sweet, mellow music of our friend, Mike. I hope you enjoy listening as much as we always do when we have the opportunity to hear him play.