I open my eyes to find myself alone. I figure that must mean The God of All Ropers has arrived. From the mouth of the cave I see him about a quarter mile away. He's brought a beautiful, Conestoga rig, pulled by two strapping mules. For those you don't know this little tidbit, it was mules who really were the engine of exploration and settlement by the white folks out here. Horses were far too delicate for the heavy work of farming and pulling wagons. The mountain men like Bridger, and Carson all swore by mules for their riding. More surefooted, tougher, able to eat rougher forage. These are a couple of beauties. There are big, balloon tires on the wagon instead of the iron rimmed wooden ones, that's a very nice touch which I'm sure will help smooth the ride. I walk down to where the Germans and Silas are waiting and prepare to make introductions.
Right after I have introduced Silas, before I can say anything about our German friends, The God of All Ropers takes over, in what, to my ears sounds like pretty damned good German. He sees the look of astonishment on my face and he says "My family came from western Missouri, they were all squareheads. I grew up speaking German with my grandpa Kirchenschlager who was from Hesse." The Germans are totally transported by the circumstance of seeing this guy who looks like the spiritual son of Hopalong Cassidy who drives up in a covered wagon and starts out speaking German.
Without any further ado he breaks out with the goodies. There is a five gallon water cooler, and a big ice chest that is full of cantelope and watermelon and big bottles of Gatorade. These are torn into greedily by all of us. I tell my friend and neighbor that after three days of hardtack and jerky this is one of the most welcome sights that I could dream of. He smiles and points to the bootbox at the rear of the wagon and says "I brought a couple salt blocks too."
This really excites the horses. You'd have thought it was made of cotton candy. I thank him again. He tries to play it down, being a rough tough man of the west and all, but I don't allow him to minimize what he has done for us. I tell him that if he hadn't been able to come out we most likely would have had to call the rescue units out. He mutters some stuff about his wife giving him crap about laying around the house all day and wanting to give a workout to his new mule team. I admire them appropriately. He tells me they are "Walking Mules" meaning the horse component of their heritage comes from Tennesee Walkers. I ask him if he wants to unhitch them to take them to the water. He says no, they aren't all that trustworthy yet but he's got some canvas nosebuckets that they would love to have filled.
I ask him if he happens to have a spare bridle laying around his gear box, because I'm figuring that since we have a wagon and all it would be a nice break for Sally to have the pack saddle ride in the wagon, but with a bridle she could manage a bareback rider. He thinks a bit and says no, he didn't bring any gear like that. Silas hears this exchange and chuckles. He points over to my McClellan rig and says "Bring me that reata when you're ready to rig her up. I'll tie up a bosal
." This intrigues the hell out of The God of All Ropers. He wants to see this done. He remarks that a lot of the folks in the western riding arenas are starting to come back to the mecate and bosal rig. That the horses seem to love it.
We water the mules and I start washing the mud off the horses. Schatzie and The God of All Ropers join me in this. We get them scrubbed and dried while Hans, Eva and Silas bring down our stuff from the cave. In good time we are loaded up and ready. It's still pretty hot but the sun has almost gone behind the face of Superstition Mountain and we are in blessed shade, rested and ready. I ask Schatzie which horse she would like to ride and she points to Sally. I give her a leg up and soon we are on our way.
The rest of the ride out is like a rolling party. All told it takes about two and a half hours but it flies swiftly from us. We reach the trailhead without a hitch. The Germans have a reunion with their friend from ASU who has come to pick them up. Introductions are made all around and more invitations to my place for next week are given out. When I take the McClellan off of Rosalita I toss it into the back of my cousin's pickup that Silas was driving. I tell him that I am grateful he came out to find me, that the next time he borrows a horse he shouldn't have to borrow a saddle too. I take the bosal Silas tied off Sally and hand it over to The God of All Ropers saying again that he came in the nick of time, just like the cavalry always used to do in the movies. He admires the six strand braided rawhide reata and says some cliche stuff like "Shucks buddy, wasn't nothing, you'da done the same." He says that Silas has promised to teach him how to tie these up next week.
Before they take off to drive around the wilderness area and get to their car I explain to the Germans about the concept of the medicine gift. How when we feel a spiritual debt to someone we make a gesture of thanks by small gifts. I tell them that the traditional healers like Silas will only accept gifts of tobacco, food, and clothing for their services. We exchange phone numbers and goodbyes. I ask Hans how restrictive a vegetarian he is, if things like dairy products or eggs are OK with him. He gives me a puzzled look and I say "Menu dude. Menu. When you're a guest in my house I want to serve you food you will eat with gusto." He laughs and says that some of his friends call him "Frenchy" because of his love for cheese. I tell him that I have some beautiful eggplant growing in my truckpatch and I'm leaning toward Moussaka. He beams. Schatzie comes over and says "How can we ever thank you?" I start to mumble as bad as The God of All Ropers did with me and am finally able to spit out something along the lines of "Just say 'Thank you masked man' as you drive off."
It's obvious that she doesn't get this bit of western cultural history but The God of All Ropers and Silas are about to die laughing.
As they are about to leave Schatzie runs back over to me gives a quick hug and a peck on the cheek and says in her delightful German accent "Danke mask-ed man." I say "Weren't nothin' little lady" and blush bright red.
I finish helping getting the horses and mules trailered and am about to walk back to my truck when Silas says "I'll just follow you to your place, I don't feel like driving all the way up to the rez tonight. Your cousin won't miss the truck for a few more days will he?" I say of course not, I would be honored to have him stay as long as he wishes.
The God of All Ropers says "We're standing around burnin' daylight cowpokes."
Again, the Arizona sunset paints a brilliant final frame to the day.Big Brass Blog
Labels: Superstition Ride