6.0 The Mountain Man, Update 3/24

Many people are following the story of Roy, the Mountain Man. I re-connected wth him this week by virtue of a pair of miracles of coincidence.  I had gone into Quartzsite and spent hours at McDonald’s freeloading their Wi-Fi. to post to the day’s  blog.  After my scheduled 5 pm upload, I was driving the two miles back to my habitual overnite spot.

Roy had abandoned the site where I left him almost two month before and, unbeknownst to me, was camping several miles to the north of town.  On the same day I was posting, he decided to return to his former site.  His route overlapped my route for two miles.  Nearly at the end of the two-mile stretch, Roy had a flat tire on his bicycle trailer about the time I was leaving McDonalds.  So when I rounded the last bend before turning off onto the hard pan of the desert, I spied a black-hatted man, his jumble of bike and trailer, and one wheel askew.  A few seconds later I recognized the three-inch red plaid hat band.

I stopped the Jolly Swag and walked across the road.  Roy said,  “Well what do you know.  I was just thinking where is Al when I really need him,” He said

We got the tube out of the tire and repaired it with a patch and prayer since the tube already had nine patches.  We pumped up the tube and it did not hold air.  A test of the tube in a pan of water confirmed not one but two leaks—one at the base of the valve—hopeless.

We got Roy’s cart emptied into Jolly Swag and folded the cart in as well and his bike onto my bike rack.  I took him the two more miles up the road to his spot on his dry wash.

Roy did not care to leave all his worldly possessions on the desert floor to go in to town in search of a tube for a 20-inch tire.  I took the wheel with me and left him there for the night.

Next day I went into town.   Pessimistic that I would find an odd-sized tube, I was working on Plan B, on the way to town.  But, unlikely as it seemed, I found a tube, bought a pair of them and got them back to Roy.  He was waiting in the same spot adjacent to a scrawny tree that offered little resistance to the sun’s rays.

We visited for a while in the cabin of the motorhome.   Roy shirtless was even leaner than I realized.  When I first met Roy and noted how loosely his clothing hung and imagined his frame to be slight.  His narrow face and wrists suggested he weighed less than 100 pounds.  Now I am thinking 70-75 pounds may be as far as he could tip a scale.

I have to tell you I believe Roy has lost a step in just two months.  He says he tires easily.  One bike ride into town with his 100-pound cart and he has to rest the entire next day.  Of course, he sleeps outside without a shelter so you have to wonder his sleep is restorative on a cold windy night.

He attributes part of his weaknesses to smoking cigarettes which, he knows he needs to give up, but “can’t” when he is worried or hungry—his usual state.  He buys cigarette tobacco by the pouch.  A pouch lasts three weeks when things are good, only two when they are not.

I brought up the subject of the stories he’d written.  He offered to tell me his stories but not to give me any.  I pushed for a promise that I could have one the following day.

9 Responses to 6.0 The Mountain Man, Update 3/24

  1. Dave L says:

    I suppose the life you are traveling leads toward a more humanitarian orientation, but even given that, reaching out to Roy is a loving act and I congratulate you on your kindness and generosity. Could this be an epiphanic journey or have you always been a Samaritan

    • allevenson says:

      As time passes, less and less do I take good fortune for granted and I remember to be grateful. And I have long understood that a small act to the benefit of one person can make a clear difference. I would not elevate myself to the rank of Samaritan. And dont forget that I am driven by curiosity and people’s circumstance and how that came to be. I believe as I think you do, everyone has a story worth some of your time. The trick is getting it. I also think some stories are lessons and others are tests.


  2. Joe Jones says:

    You have always had some humanitarian blood running through you veins AL, I still to this very day have some great conversations especially with my kids on my days spent living in the Jolly swag 1 down there at 400 Mola Ave FL. & Some of the fond memories just sitting and shooting the breeze out there on the veranda with you & Carol, and all the other reprobates like myself staying at your house.
    It’s nice to see that there are still some good folk out there who accept people for what they are and not for what they have.
    Keep up the good work it’s very inspiring to read.

  3. Isn’t life like this? In a way we’re all tiny men and mountain men at the same time trying to make sense of this life. Vulnerable but taken care of, most of us, yet knowing we could be out in the cold and (almost) starving. Tales to tell but reluctant to let go of them, not sure anyone really wants to know who we are. There are so many of us, so many tales. We all want the opportunity to help, to mentor someone, and to have someone mentor us. The Mountain Man is a universal story in a beautiful specific setting. This is what art is, taking life to a higher plane.

  4. karen wittgraf says:

    I am humbled. Al, this is a sweet story-one that makes me “sigh”. It really doesn’t make much difference what story Roy has to tell. You have told it with your compassion and kindness. The “circle” will come back to you, of that much I am sure.

  5. Excellent, AL. Moving and intense. Like you, I worry for the guy and wish him well.

  6. Michael and Marsha Joyce says:

    Al, when I read this it doesn’t really seem a coincidence that you found him again. With my doctor hat on for a moment, it needs to be said that cancer is the first thing that came to mind. And the second is wondering how soon might he not be able to care for himself.

    • allevenson says:


      I think your doctor hat is set squarely on your head. The thought was forming that that something debilitating was gnawing away on him. I have no experience with this except for the occasional person who had some dreaded diagnosis and prognosis. You will remember my friend, Jane, who joined me when we visited you at home for coffee wrote: “I hope you are not present to witness roy’s demise, but 75 pounds on a smoker is what happens at the end of emphysema.”

      I am going to see him tomorrow to take him into town for some water and some “grub”. I am contemplating taking him over to one of the truck stops and treating him to a shower and a wash machine. It has certainly been months and I would imagine the psychological effect of clean skin and hair and clothing–even for a few days– would raise his spirits.

      He has refused to let me have any written stories–he admits to paranoia. I have given up trying. The one story I read had some merit but would require a major rewrite to be publishable. He does not mind telling stories and I have listened to a few.

      But where to go from her with Roy, with his story? I dont know. And I think, soon enough, it will be time for me to move on.

      Thanks always for your insights.


  7. After you described Roy 70-75 pounds at, I wondered if he is unwell (I’m thinking cancer).

    The price of two inner tubes may be worth the stories that you will gain. If Roy tells you any, maybe you should write them from memory and save them. Every life has a book in it and Roy’s is unique.

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