A bird alights on a branch just above our heads. It sings a greeting, a morning song to us. It then moves on to more pressing business. The skies are blue and clear, the air wonderful. I climb naked out to stretch and take a bodily inventory of the toll of the past day’s activities. I’m moving well, and breathing in life deeply.
Today, we have another road to travel, one that I also spotted from the satellite. This one travels deeper into the mountain range. There are indications of forests and internet descriptions have backed that up. Wee shall see what wee shall see.
We take our time eating breakfast and packing up. I dread that gauntlet of the mesquite basque again.
We savor a delicious bowl of breakfast and some fruit as we watch some clouds rambling across the sky. They’re changing shapes and playing peekaboo with the local mountain face.
Rumbling on slowly in four wheel drive low, we meander through, dodging the obstacles. We come to the two persons required to operate gate, drive through and turn north toward parts unknown. One known is that I will be dodging sharp rocks and can expect a challenge or two.
We pass through a pretty spot, a tree lined wash with a vista looking at the mountains ahead. There is a bullet ridden sign stating “No Camping.” I’m having trouble with this. I’m able to decipher through the interruption of the bullet holes that it is illegal to camp within a quarter mile of a water trough in Arizona. A half of a mile diameter circle for cows? The lobbyist must have had a good day. Obviously, others have been disgruntled by the decision, hence the condition of the sign.
After traveling at this grueling pace for an hour, I’ve had enough. I have had to watch the road, missing much at a ridiculously slow pace. I’d rather just get out and walk, than ride around in a baby carriage.
There has not been a place to park or turn around, though. I do finally find a challenging spot, barely off of the road. DF watches and directs me from any damaging problems hidden in the grass.
Climbing out, it is a slippery step down, but I’m okay.
The road has many loose rocks. I slipped and nearly fell when I got out to survey the turnaround. We will have to be very careful. Stuff like this can take feet out from under us before we have had the time to be surprised. We take off our stiff sole flip-flops and get into our grippy five finger toe shoes, which is a vast improvement.
The walk is pleasant, a steady grade through the mountain vegetation.
The skies are delicious.
The vistas are wide and open.
I had plenty of sun the previous day, so I reluctantly place a long tail western shirt over myself to prevent serious burn.
DF cautiously does similar in her man’s white dress shirt.
Even she, who doesn’t burn, had peach/pink colored buttocks! We make our way up the trail of a road, walking along wherever there is a hint of shade.
It is noon day and the sun’s rays are most intense.
Eventually there is a heavy steel gate with a bolt lock blocking the road.
Lying down behind it, is a “private property, no trespassing” sign. We are in the middle of a National Forest and some yahoo has blocked off the rest of the mountains from the public, essentially claiming the whole place for themselves. Somebody must have an old mining claim to use to abuse the rest of us.
I notice that there is a steep climb to the right. I begin to investigate, but it is slippery. Motor bikes and quads have been bypassing the rude obstacle. I wouldn’t take a 4×4 jeep up this steep rocky slip.
We on foot continue, defiant of the brash pig’s gate. Stealing our grandfathered right of way indeed! “ Signs, signs, everywhere there’s signs.” I smile, watching myself grumble at the same time something about, “Let ‘em arrest me.”
Our inspection finds that the quads have been effectively bypassing the gate with that steep slip. I smile and something about revolution slips out from the back of my mind.
We continue up the hill. There is a fork in the road soon after that gate. To our right we see the continuation of the main road. We assume that the left fork heads into whatever this gate is about. Curiosity takes us to the left.
Soon, we see ourselves heading into the sun and it is evident that there is no more shade up there.
I’m concerned that my unprotected thighs might get pushed over the line and burn.
There was a compelling shady gully near the fork. We’ll see about a rest and hanging out awhile. Where water occasionally flows, it is filled with dead leaves. There are some good sized sit down rocks there. DF agrees to playing with the camera, she the model, as I direct her. Some experiments are in jest.
Some are less crafty, but the effect is interesting. It’s fun.
At one point a gust pops by and leaves fall. They are floating around us like snow.
About this time we hear the sound of two ATV’s! We absolutely thought that we would continue to have the entire southern part of this mountain range to ourselves. It is not so late on this Sunday afternoon, as we had thought. We watch from our spot as they climb up that steep bypass and stop to make a decision. While we are discussing whether to try to squat behind a rock, or just be ourselves, they begin to continue up the original road up toward the mountaintop. No worries. Some things take care of themselves.
We had met a couple in another one of these ATVs, as they were leaving, the day before. We pulled off the road to give them passage. They didn’t seem to notice our nakedness as we waved. Had they stopped to talk that would have been different. Polite people tend to make passage as quickly as they can to be safe and to not delay others.
Walking on a slippery rocky slope of a road, one tends to keep the head looking down and may miss a thing or two. We see that we had missed a hole in the side of the mountain next to the road. Closer inspection shows us an old mine.
The wire cover is no longer stretched across the two steel fence posts that had been hammered into the ground. DF decides to give a look. We have no flashlight, only the flash of the camera. After a slippery struggle up the embankment, she enters as herself. She is doing as best that she can. I take a snap as she poses. Strangely, a demon absorbs into her body while she is in there!
Fortunately, the awaiting sun exorcises her….
We make our way back to the truck.
It is best to be cautious with the Arizona sun on skin and our stomachs are ready for lunch.
We continue down the road. We find a nice spot on the side of the road, but someone has trashed it. DF pulls an old plastic bag out of her camera case and with her heart, packs it out.
We decide to find a pleasant shady spot down the hill. There are none. Finally, we make a spot as best that we can.
The truck is parked, but very much tipped. The tailgate, aka kitchen counter, is at such a tilt that the knives are sliding off. I have to make myself useful catching utensils, as DF prepares sandwiches.
Eventually, we are placed comfortably in chairs, our shirts replaced by the shade of a tree, gazing at the mountain vista and passing the time. The two ATV’s come back. We simply drape our shirts over us as we watch them pass and smile a greeting.
We walk up the wash, we explore, we sit again.
By this time, the sun has moved our shade into the middle of the level road. There have been no others in passing. DF reads as my mind and sings, “Why don’t we do it in the road.”
The sun is getting less intense. I strip off my shirt to take a stroll, while DF reads that National Geographic. There is a breeze coming down the canyon. Naked, I enjoy it fully.
On up the road it is calm. I find the bullet riddled sign and investigate. There is yet another sign. This one is yellow and addressed to me by the game and Fish Department.
I ignore the concrete structure on the other side of the fence. The fence creates a division where the short cattle molested grass meets the more natural local circumstance. The difference is like night and day.
It’s good to be naked in this world. They say, “As God intended.” They are so obviously correct.
We begin to travel out.
We have to pass two large pickup trucks out by the gates. They politely pull over to let us pass. DF has put on a sundress, but we notice after we pass, that the top of it has fallen down. No one seemed to make note of the “mishap.
A drape over for the border patrol stop is all that is required.
We arrive home just after sunset, which is just in time to unpack the truck in the fading sunlight.