Friday, March 31, 2006

1st Night in Tucson

I have been asked many times to tell this story so I thought I would share it. This tale is true.

I was camping across the states when I first came to Tucson twentyfive years ago. My fine little Jansport dome tent was set up in Gilbert Ray Campground. I had the tent area to myself as not too many are out camping in the winter. Having left a truly cold climate this seemed pretty enjoyable. I watched a beautiful January sunset while having some freeze dried something or other for dinner and then snuggled into my sleeping bag. My slumber was disturbed a couple of hours later by the sounds of a vehicle that seemed close. This was followed by a loud thump. This sounds close! Now the racing of the engine is accompanied by the sounds of spinning tires and the smell of burning rubber. It must be time to get up. I get out of the bag to get dressed and all the while the person is spinning back and forth. Now that I am outside, I can see that this clown had driven off the regular path and has the front end on a rock about 16" in diameter. He's stuck and gunning it like mad. I have just got to get rid of this guy so that I can go back to bed.

Upon my offer of assistance, he gets out of the vehicle and can barely stand. "Whanna rink", he says offering me a sip from his open fifth of whiskey. This I will pass on. I can likely get you unstuck if you get back in the car, put it in reverse, give it just a little gas and at the same time I will pick up on the front end while pushing. Now let me see you put it in reverse as I do not want to get run over. "NO! Don't floor it!", I shout as the tire squeals and the rubber burns. This goes on for a few times but he is finally unstuck. I am going to go to the restroom now to wash my hands etc before re-retiring. He decides that this is a good idea as he has to take a leak. I point out the way to the restroom but he decides to drive as it is quite a ways (50 yards). This guy is really loaded. About now I am wondering if it was a good idea to get him unstuck - oh well it's too late anyways.

"Whanna go forra ride?", he asks. I politely decline having great difficulty repressing the urge to laugh. You have got to be kidding. Off he goes on his trip to/from oblivion and I return to my sleeping bag. Thank goodness, now I can get back to sleep. A chuckle arises as I lay in my bag and mull over the recent events.

I am again awakened to the sound of a vehicle approaching the tent and then parking with headlights on the tent. It can't be! It isn't as I notice the strobing lights of the police rollers. I hear this voice, "Sir, I am a Pima County Deputy and I need to speak with you." I say OK but it will take me a few moments to get dressed. It is now 2 AM in the desert and full dress is required. Remember I said this was January. As I stand up from the opening of the tent, the officer says, "Yup, you're the right guy". I am now concerned. Thoughts race through your mind. Did something happen to Mom or Dad?

Me - What's wrong officer?
Deputy - Sir, I am sorry to disturb you but I need to ask you a few questions.
Me - OK - what is going on?

Now I am really awake but still clueless as to what is going on. This officer is all business so my level of apprehension is climbing.

Deputy - Did you help get someone unstuck this evening?
Me - Yes.
Deputy - Did he pick up a passenger.
Me - No, not in this area.
Deputy - Are you sure?
Me - I got him unstuck, we both went to the restroom, he asked if I wanted to go for a ride, I said no, and he left this area alone. What is going on?
Deputy - One second please, I need to report in.

He goes back to the vehicle and radios to dispatch that no passenger had been seen in the vehicle at the campground. The Deputy returns and now he is actually starting to laugh.

Deputy - I am sorry to disturb you but now that we have that business cleared I can chat for a moment. We picked this guy up on the roadside after he had been running through the desert. He was very scared and very very drunk. He said that he got stuck here and a giant came out of a green igloo and lifted his car off the rock and set it off to the side.

I'm am 6'7" tall and my tent is a green dome tent. So I am the giant in a green igloo! Now I start to understand the officer's first statement about me being the right guy. I would like to claim the strength to lift a full size vehicle but there is a slight difference between rocking a vehicle and dead lifting it. A few of us were known to make off with VWs and MGs but full size is difficult.

Deputy - This guys says that he picked up a rider here and went cruising. They stopped to take a leak and while standing outside he heard a gunshot and the other fellow fell down. He was scared and took off running. We found his vehicle but no body or blood or anything else but we have to double check something this serious.
Me - I understand.
Deputy - Now you have got to see this guy to believe it. He took off through the darkness bouncing off rocks, cactus and the ground. He is all cut up from falling in the rocks and has prickly pear and cholla stuck on him from head to toe. You really would have to see this guy to believe it. Boy is he gonna be in bad shape when he sobers up.

As the officer and I chatted for a while, we noticed that a few other campers were trying to figure out why we are just standing around talking, laughing and generally distrubing them. None came out to ask us to be quiet though since the rollers were still going. I knew that there would be some interesting conversation in the meeting room tomorrow. As we said our goodbye the officer asked, "Been camping here long?" To which I replied, "Nope, 1st night in Tucson." The officer laughed as he walked to his patrol car and said, "Welcome to Tucson." I thought to myself that this town could be interesting as I crawled back into my tent and the warmth of the sleeping bag.

1 comment:

heidi said...