Since I began my “aware” life in
|On Allen Spring Road. Dad could|
not move boulder but we
A bit later, when I was about six, my dad got a “Jeep”, one of those little four wheel drive vehicles the military had developed for use in World War II that became commercially available once the war ended. Today's Jeeps are right in there with the other SUVs, often quite luxurious but this one was the bare bones stripped down model with the emphasis much more on utility than sport, comfort or flash!
|The first Jeep with a homemade|
'cab' to replace canvas top.
We even maneuvered down the aforementioned
Allen Spring Road with a four wheel farm
trailer loaded with jack pine logs a number of times and had to make hairpin
turns. A few times when there were washouts, we had to jack the trailer over as
far to the inside possible so it would not slide off the edge of a tight loop.
I was glad my dad was driving there but rarely was really terrified. We’d just
make it work.
When I finally began to learn to drive, I did it on dirt roads first, out to an area where we kept many of our horses and mules for awhile. Next it was down to
to get hay, on a partly paved but narrow road in the valley that crossed many
canyons and arroyos, and finally over
on Highway 89-A. Oddly, it was my mother who mostly taught me. Dad was an
excellent driver but by then he was not in good health and lacked the patience
to deal with me grinding gears and jerking to a start or stop. Yes, it was a
standard four speed stick shift truck, no longer a Jeep but an early 1960s
model Ford F-100 pickup. For years I scorned automatics as sissy cars real
drivers would not need! I’m a bit spoiled now but can drive a stick shift if need-be. Mingus Mountain
A few years later when I got my first real job and then bought my first car, a 1971 Ford Pinto, I had no concern about driving on mountain roads. I zipped around from
Sierra Vista to Tombstone
and Bisbee, on gravel roads to Parker Lake and Coronado
Monument and back up to Flagstaff some weekends Since
that had been home for four years while I was in college. The little car hugged
the road well and I never even seriously scared myself.
However, once in
Flagstaff I drove up on
and managed to get lightly high centered on a big flat rock when I turned
around. That was a new challenge. I did not want to rip the oil pan or tear any
lines loose so I jacked each corner up and put rocks under the tires, making a
path to ease down off that spot and back onto a better road. I drove back to Mount Eldon the next day down I-17 and I-10
with my little car none the worse for wear, just a little proud of my
inventiveness! Cochise County
Once I had moved to Bisbee and commuted to
Huachuca daily for work, that road
over the became very familiar. I guess
it could be called a mountain road without much exaggeration but it never
seemed threatening to me, even a few times when it was a bit icy. Mule Mountains
I did encounter more ice and snow when we moved to
and came to fear that much more on a level straight road than I ever had a dry
highway or even gravel road in the desert, high desert or dry Arizona mountains. I did a 180 degree spin
once with studded snow tires on a dry road in Colorado Springs—that time I was about as scared
as I have ever been! No, the studs may give traction on ice and snow but they
slide like a banana peel on dry pavement!
This past week I made a visit back to
after a train and bus trip from Williams to the Grand
Canyon I took my travel companion and friend down to my old home
area. We drove up to Jerome. This time I had my little red pickup and with four
brand new tires it too hugged the road very well. Still, at once point I bumped
on a bit of broken asphalt at the edge of the shoulder-less road and my
companion almost turned green. From then on she shut her eyes until I parked
and said it was safe to look!
She had even been worried driving on I-17. To me those are very gentle curves and although the grade is fairly steep, you can either gear down—even most automatics have a lower range that will help control speed--or use cruise control in a different way to keep your speed down. However the steering on her SUV wasn’t quite right after some recent repairs on the front end so I could understand why she felt challenged.I admit I get frustrated at times following “flatlanders” on some of the old fashioned two lane highways where there are few safe places to pass. They creep along, clearly scared spitless, and I have to poke behind them, grousing that they should stay on the freeways! That was especially bad in Colorado in the summer time when there seemed to be a zillion huge motor homes wanting to go up Pikes Peak or some similar other unlikely place. Of course southern