Reservation Life, Hippies, A Mine Inspector, And A Forest Fire

12 05 2011

This post is about three encounters from this past Sunday, and a forest fire. I’ll take you through them in chronological order, and intersperse some mostly unrelated pictures 🙂

This Thermometer Was Made For Phoenix (350° = "Moderate")

This Thermometer Was Made For Phoenix (350° = "Moderate")

Encounter #1: Reservation Life

After getting a ride into Superior and spending a couple of hours online, I’m ready to head back to Arvie and my campsite. I figure that the town’s gas station is a solid place to catch a ride from, and I start asking people if they are heading in my direction. There are a lot of emergency vehicles flying back and forth on US-60, which makes me think that there must have been a car accident.

The third person that I ask is named Mitchell and he says that he can give me a ride to the campground. I’m extra happy because he’s playing symphonic metal on his stereo. Mitchell is heading home – to the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation. He’s a Navajo, and I ask him what life is like on the reservation. I know that alcoholism and poverty are problems on some reservations, but I didn’t expect anything close to his response:

“It sucks. Meth, alcoholism, lots of violence and killing among kids in gangs, poverty, no education. My wife – an Apache – is a case worker on the reservation. I know how it really is.”

Encounter #2: Mine Inspector and Forest Fire

I’m back at the RV and four people are picnicking at a site near mine. They wave hello, so I go and introduce myself. They had been picnicking at the nearby arboretum, but were kicked out because of the ::guy points west:: – HOLY SHIT THERE’S A LOT OF SMOKE OVER THERE! – forest fire. So that’s where the emergency vehicles were heading. The fire is close but I’m not concerned, figuring that Oak Flat is a frequently-used Forest Service campground that would be evacuated if it were in danger. We continue hanging out.

I spend some time talking to the group and watching the billowing smoke. My knowledge of mining increases dramatically – from almost nothing to something – as they teach me about the many mines in the area. The older gentleman is a retired mine inspector and his son used to work in a copper mine one mile underground. How cool is that?!

Gettin' Smokey

Gettin' Smokey

Encounter #3: Hippies

Clay and Shay pulled into camp a few days ago. They and their dogs seem like a friendly couple, and I’d said hello to Clay once. I’m on my way out to practice cigar box juggling (yeah, really) and I say “Hi!” to them. We end up hanging out for a while. Clay and Shay are Rainbow Family people who are traveling on pennies, picking up work as they go and playing congos and making art on the way. They both wear sarongs. Clay is a thin white guy with blonde dreads and Shay is a black girl who likes to read sci-fi. They’re both from Little Rock, Arkansas. I share some soda and hear about their life, picking up on the fact that they are calmly but actively trying to figure out where to get money for their next large gas fill-up. Clay’s idea is to sell some of Shay’s homemade jewelry in Phoenix and then to do some landscaping work in Flagstaff. I like what they’re up to and consider leaving them an envelope with $60, but reconsider when Clay talks about his drinking habit. He’s trying to kick it, but it still has him in its grips and he talks about how he spends too much money on beer. We all come together in loathing a group of obnoxiously loud recent arrivals that Clay terms “desert rednecks.” Clay tries cigar box juggling and fails, and we play with the dogs.

Post-Hike: Can You Tell Where My Sock Ended?

Post-Hike: Can You Tell Where My Sock Ended?

The Pickett Fire was contained on Tuesday at 12:00am. It burned 1,336 acres and cost an estimated $220,000 to extinguish.

posted by yair




4 responses

12 05 2011

“almost nothing” is really already “something.”

12 05 2011

Hrmph. Got me again, G.

It’s kind of interesting to think about a topic that you don’t know much about and to try and figure out everything you know about it. Try it, it’s fun.

13 05 2011

Glad I got to the Arboretum before the fire! Hey, your tan line looks just like mine…

13 05 2011

I’m pretty sure that mine was 99% dirt, 1% tan 🙂

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