Mrs. Weaver and I used to do a lot of rock hounding when we lived in Tucson. It was a great way to explore our new state, and provided both recreation and economic opportunities. One of our favorite spots was just a few miles from the Mexican border. Our first visit, on the way home, we saw an unidentified object in the sky. We had to follow it. We'd had grand adventures already that day, but we could not have expected what awaited us.
I bought a bundle of old west tourist booklets at the swap meet, and included among the mandatory “Death Valley Scotty” and “Lost Dutchman Mine” tracts was a book of Arizona Rock and Mineral sites from 1954. People would tell me these places had been picked clean years ago, but a generation later, erosion and percolation would present new material. We also found a lot of good rock exploring near well known areas. We failed to locate either of our targets for the day, but found so much more than if we had.
The page from the map book read “Patagonia Area” and showed two promising sites. One was an Agate collecting area, and the other was an old mining town that no longer existed. Pavement ran out before we were through Patagonia, but the road was very good until our turnoff to the Agates. The side road only traveled about ten feet before it dropped into a creek. We continued south toward the Ghost Town, hoping to find another, more viable side road but nope. That was the one.
I watched the odometer, guessing where this old mining town was, but at the proper mileage, we saw nothing to report. Another half mile and we came to a crossroads, but there were no signs or evidence of tailings or anything so we just kept driving. We were out of the desert now, into some big trees and lush vegetation. We passed moving water twice.
I loved driving the dirt roads. As a fugitive, any time I was behind the wheel was a nervous time for me. If I should get pulled over for anything, it could be my last day as a free man. I didn't sweat it on the dirt. It was my land. It was freedom. I was toking a lefty and just idling through the forest on a two rut track without a care in the world when we passed a small sign, square, just inches across. I backed up to read it.
“U.S. National Border”.
Shit. My illegal ass just snuck into Mexico.
I'd like to say I had the sense to stop right there and let Mrs. Weaver drive, but I didn't. They had to be watching the fucking border, right? This was a trick wasn't it? DEA Guerrillas in the trees (!) and facial recognition software and oh fuck just look natural and turn this car the hell around. Act natural. Pretend like the doobie is a cigarette. Don't look in the mirror! don't look in the mirror! don'tlookinthe mirror!
There were no Guerrillas in the trees. No Stool Pigeons. No Rats. It was fine. The paranoia passed. We doubled back to the road that dropped in the creek and I got out to breathe and look for dust clouds behind us. No Guerrillas.
The creek flowed north to south, and disappeared around a bend to the west after about a hundred feet. The creek bottom was solid rock, not gravel or sand, and the water was barely over my ankles. I sold the idea to Mrs. Weaver and downstream we drove through the creek, around the corner, and the road popped up on the other side of a low hill after about 150 yards. There was a 70 foot mud cliff where we exited, and I thought I saw something sparkling in the face of it. We got barely another mile, and the road took to a hill that was too much for our sedan to climb. It was made up of big goonie rocks like basketballs. I turned the car around and went to check out that sparkling cliff.
Still no Guerrillas.
Mrs. Weaver set up the picnic, and I set across to check out the geology. The sparkles in the cliff were Selenite crystals. Nice ones; nearly a foot long and clear with globular inclusions of the same clay that made up the cliff. (In years to come I would do well carving these and selling them as wands and athames in the new age shops on fourth avenue). It was a nice afternoon. I've returned to this spot many times. We even brought our daughter as an infant. I considered filing a mining claim there at one point. I still haven't ruled it out.
About two in the afternoon, we loaded up for the return trip. There were some spots at the base of the Santa Ritas I wanted to check out. This time, Mrs. Weaver drove, for legality's sake. North to Patagonia and then northeast to Sonoita. There was a gas station there with the best Broasted chicken, but we didn't know that yet and got a bag of chips and sodas for the ride home. I waited in the car while Mrs. Weaver shopped. That's when I saw it.
At first I thought it was a cloud, but there were a few other sparse clouds and they were moving in unison. This one just hung there. I thought it might be the moon for a minute, but the shape was wrong. Besides, the moon was over there. I forgot all about Guerillas. What the fuck was this? When Mrs. Weaver returned, I ran back through that train of thought and she was as bewildered as I.
It was obviously a mothership and we needed to follow it. Mrs. Weaver took back the wheel, and I commenced to navigating and rolling the stash. If I was going to be an emissary to otherworldly creatures, I was going to vibrate at the right frequency. Also it would be a good way to ditch the evidence before the Guerrillas show up, be they DEA or X-Files. Things were about to get stranger than we expected.
We took the 83 south of Sonoita until it turned to dirt, then just followed the mother ship.
Turning on one dirt road after another headed steadily southeast. This was scrub desert for a while; Creosote bush, Prickly Pear, Cholla. We dropped into a valley and suddenly thought we were on private property. It was an old Spanish Mission, with church, ranch house, and outbuildings. It was populated by little brown people in great striped shirts who stared at us as we idled through. I wondered for a minute if we'd crossed into Mexico again, but we'd gone much farther east than south at this point.
More scrub desert forever, then around a corner and there were Teepees! I was about to warn Mrs. Weaver that we were in Injun Country, when I saw the chuck wagon and about twenty cowboys on horseback riding toward us. We'd wondered into a roundup! They stared us down less friendly than the brown people back the way, so we idled down and waited for them to pass.
Another mile or two and a corner and we dropped down into a lush riperian area and an old covered bridge. Mrs. Weaver stopped on the bridge, and I asked what the problem was. She pointed out that the bridge only went halfway. The roof was all there, as were two I beams spanning the water. But the floor of the bridge only went about fifteen feet across then stopped. I got out to take a look.
The important part of the bridge was made up of two by tens laying across the I beams. After about three feet in front of the car, they stopped. I had an idea, but I thought it was going to be harder selling it to Mrs. Weaver than it was. She was a trooper, and let me move planks from the back of the car to the front as she inched her way across. I was very proud of her that night, she obviously understood the import of chasing spaceships in the Sonoran Desert. The local flora prevented us seeing the sky for a while. It was maybe another five miles before we could see the “mothership” and shortly after that we hit a roadblock.
The road ended at the base of some mountains in a wooden barricade. The barricade was facing the other way, so we couldn't read it. I got out and climbed the fence to read it. It said “Government Property: No Trespassing”. We were on the wrong side! How did this happen? What about the cowboys and little brown people? They didn't look like Feds? Fuck! Now we had to go across that goddamned bridge again! Guerrillas! Guerillas!
Still no Guerrillas. But the mothership was right above us. I scanned the perimeter one more time for Richard Dreyfuss, Teri Garr, or Spielberg, then we headed back. We crossed the bridge in record time (#MrsWeaverisatrooper) and didn't stop until we caught up with the last straggling cowpoke. Exasperated, I implored him for an explanation, which he was happy to give a couple of Hoosier greenhorns like us.
The “mothership” was a spy balloon, one of several watching the border, and monitored by an army base just north of us. Turns out the Guerrillas were watching us. They were just much higher than the trees.
So was I.
So was I.