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.