AZ. Forest Circle to Mogollon 5-28-2011

I realize my life’s pages proceed in a jerky fashion.

I fire up the Jolly Swag and go.  Who knows why the spirit moves?  Sometimes it’s  just time to leave, sometimes I really have a destination whose time has come, sometimes I have no destination other than the next wide spot in the road.

I have an instinct when I’m done with a place—at least for the moment.  I spend an extra day making a few notes, sorting through the clutter I make so easily, vacuuming the outdoors grit that wants to travel with me.  Setting out for a fresh place may not put me on the road for long.  More than once I’ve driven less than an hour and something caught my eye and halted my rolling home.  More than once, a half-hour stop turned into a half-dozen hours—or days.

I went to Quartzsite for a 3-day RV rally, and it took me two weeks to get away.  A month later I went back for a couple of days, and it took me another two weeks.

Lake Roosevelt intended as a 2-day wind-down before the next stop at my brother’s home 60 miles up the road in Payson.  I could not leave the study in blue that was the sky and the lake.

A 2-hour breather at Arcosanti inhaled me for another 6 days.

I visited my brother in Payson twice, each time for a week.  I hustled around doing spring housecleaning in the lockers of the JS—sorting, tossing, and unloading excesses into a storage shed.  I serviced my mechanical friend–zero-timing her oil, grease fittings, tire rotation.  I sorted my larder and noted that I’d hardly used the soup, baked beans, or anything else that was not in the front of my food cabinet.

When the last pencil is sharpened, I go.  I don’t make a big deal of good-byes because I don’t feel I am putting any distance between where I was and where I will be.  “I’ll see ya later,” is my standard parting quip–even when it is doubtful that I will.

So when I left Payson I was ready for the pendulum to swing toward privacy, toward solitude, toward hermitage. 

Show Low, 75 miles east, seemed like it would be another world, a last stop in AZ before finally crossing a state line for the first time in over two months.

A lazy hour drive of steady climbs and free-wheeling downhills through the wavy, green pine valley brought me to a seductive, sweet campsite.  I parked and stayed inside my cave for days, coming out for a couple of stretchy walks.

 On the fifth day I met my neighbor of 100 feet way.  I’d seen his dogs running free, watched his grandson frolic, and watched him cook over an open fire.

Jack was the campground host, there a few days early.

Campground hosts are as chatty as you want them to be.  In exchange for minimal chores and no cash, they are confined to a beautiful public campground for the best months of the year.  Their social life, if they are to have one, comes to them.

When he knocked on my door to register me, he wore the official uniform of a National Forest Service volunteer–the forest green jacket and matching baseball cap. 

He told me of a hard-to-find campsite in a nearby campground on the Mogollon Rim that had a 100-mile view. 

It was back 8 miles.  The 75-mile hop to Show Low was now in its sixth day and counting.  The New Mexico state line was receding like a wake-up dream.

It was Thursday, and the long Memorial Day weekend was upon us.

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7 Responses to AZ. Forest Circle to Mogollon 5-28-2011

  1. Irv Hamilton says:

    Al: I have diligently and enjoyably read your reports and reacted to them in many ways. Excitedly. Enviously. Thoughtfully. And comparatively.

    I am surrounded by people. And you are experiencing almost what Thoreau talks about. The effect of the absence of people. Around me is asphalt and the sounds of cars, and the wail of an occasional siren. You see uninhabited places and trees and cactus and rocks.

    So, by transference, I trade with you as I fall asleep in the night. I want to see what I am learning from your shared experiences and observations.

    Following is one lesson.

    We think of time in precise increments. A minute is broken into 60 precisely defined seconds (or nearly so). We measure time into 60-second minutes. Though we’re off a little bit.

    But as I have throught about time, and how you are using it, I realize that it is not at all what we think it is. Despite what the clocks and digital read-outs tell us, there is no such thing as a 60-second minute. Or a 60-minute hour.

    When I can’t sleep and just close my eyes and think, at some point I open my eyes and find that 2 hours, 47 minutes and 12 seconds have juat passed. I had no idea the world had moved so quickly.

    And when I am in line waiting to pay a toll , my dashboard clock says it’s 2:04 pm. And I wait. And wait some more. And then I check the clock. 2:06 pm.

    So the lesson I have learned from your trip (at least one of them) is that there is no measurement of time. Whatever one is doing will just take however long it needs to be completed. And seconds, minutes and hours don’t mean anything at all.

  2. Laila says:

    I love your style of describing your surrounding. I always look forward to read your postings. I lose time when i am traveling with you. Keep writing please.

  3. AL, you are tempting me to get out there . . . .

  4. Colleen Rae says:

    Al – Your writing is getting more colorful and spattered with great sentences; ‘ the New Mexico state line was receding like a wake-up dream.’
    I look forward to your descriptions as much as your adventures with interesting people, lovely landscapes and your own introspection. You are living proof that we never stop growing, creatively and contemplatively. (Is that a word?)

  5. Ed Kimmel says:

    Al – I add my “second” to all those who have been expressing their enjoyment of your reports and photos.

    Such names as Mogollon Rim, Payson, Pine, etc. recall for me my stay at Thunderbird (after a couple of name changes, now the Thunderbird School of Global Management; it was the American Institute for Foreign Trade then) in Phoenix in 1966-67 when I first became acquainted with them.

    I didn’t know your brother lived in Payson. I’ve never met him, but I remember the photo of that handsome young man in your old Hampton St homestead decades ago. I believe he was more than 4 years older than we, so we didn’t overlap at BHS.


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