Journeys. I’ve been on a lot of journeys with Hubs. I’ve already shared one, the Seymour Arm Incident. I thought about some of the others and I will probably blog about them at some point. But the one that really stuck in my mind when I saw this prompt did not involve him. In fact, it was way before I’d even met him. It was a journey that I took on my own, by myself although… I had companions. My cat, my dog, and my snake.
We were all in my single cab pickup truck. The year was 1983. I was 24, almost 25. I’d always thought that when I turned 24 something magical would happen. Like I’d have a fabulous job, training horses for someone who appreciated my work. Ah youth! As it turns out, being sprinkled with fairy dust and flying would’ve been more likely. Not that I didn’t bust my ass to make it happen. I truly did and I was still doing it when this journey came about. That dream was still alive at the time and is a big part of why I took the journey. I was working two jobs then. I worked two and sometimes 3 jobs most of my young adult life.
Anyway, I digress. My best friend had moved to Arizona maybe a year before. She had ended up on an Arabian horse farm there. When I talked to her on the phone she said they were looking for help, and did I want to work there. To shorten this story up, I said yes, gave my two weeks notice and talked to her again maybe a week later. Turns out she didn’t remember anything about that conversation and had no idea that I thought I was hired. ( I had no idea that she’d been doing drugs the whole time she’d been in AZ.) So of course I’m freaking out. She talks to her boss who agrees. I will have a place to stay on the farm, which is common, and $350 a month. Now, even in 1983, that was barely anything, even for working on a horse farm, that was barely anything. I found out later that it was even less than what she was making. With my truck payment, that left very little to live on. I felt desperate and committed. Everyone knew that I was going to AZ, especially the guy that I wanted to get away from. So reluctantly I agreed.
My Mom was not thrilled. She trusted me though and knew that I was level-headed and wouldn’t do anything stupid. So I sold what I could and packed up the rest in the back of my pickup. I didn’t have much, but it was a truckload. I threw a tarp over it all and tied it down. Got all of the necessaries in the front. The dog on the seat. The cat in a carrier on the floor, and the snake in aquarium tank on the floor.
About the snake… he wasn’t very big at the time, maybe 2 feet long. He was a red-tailed Boa Constrictor and I’d had him for probably 3 or 4 years. They’re very docile and only bite if they’re really hungry. They don’t eat all that often either. One mouse would last him 2-3 weeks before he got hungry again. He had an aquarium with a wire mesh lid that was strapped down so he wouldn’t get out. I had him for a long time. I think he was 5 foot when I sold him.
I was glad that I had the dog. She was a F.O.R.D. Found On the Road Dog. She was big and looked kind of wolfy. So I knew I could use her for some kind of protection. She was pretty sweet, so I don’t know if she would’ve protected me or not. But, being a young woman, out by herself, in a strange land, I was glad I had her.
So waay early in the morning, like 3 am, I headed out. It was still dark. It was close to 24 hours to get to where I needed to go. About an hour out, I let my cat out of the carrier. She was scared and I thought she’d calm down if she could be in my lap. She promptly peed on my lap. Then she went back behind the seat. I had so much stuff in the cab that I couldn’t flip the seat forward to get her to put her back in the carrier. (I finally did get her back in the carrier some hours later on down the road.) Here I am, with a wet lap/crotch and I have to pull over.I need to change my pants. I find a gas station and of course it’s one where you have to get the key to the bathroom from the employee. Of course it’s a dude. Not that it mattered. It’d have been embarrassing no matter who was there. I tell him that my cat peed on me. He looks at me like “Yeah, right.” and hands me the key. I change and continue on down the highway.
We stop every four hours or so, for both me and the dog. Her name was Dezi. I called her Dezi the Desert Dog after that. I tried to give my cat some food & water but she wasn’t having it.
The scenery was beautiful. I got a lot of pictures, but since they didn’t have digital cameras back then, I have scanned them into the computer.
I drove straight through, without any sleep. Took me 22 hours. The last part was in the dark and it was storming. I could see the outline of the mountains in the flashes of lightning. I wished I’d have gone through there during the day so I could see them better.
It turned out that I drove straight to an epic shit storm. My friend was doing drugs and sleeping with the owner’s son. The second or third night I was there, they had a big drug induced fight and got his dad involved to mediate. I just stayed out of it and in my room. She got all sorts of privileges and didn’t work if she didn’t want to. Which means I was doing most of it since there was only the two of us. She even told me that I’d have to do all of the heavy labor because she just couldn’t do it (although we were about the same age) and she said she was my boss. This was someone who had been my best friend for years. On top of that, the vet that they used was a complete wack-job who did more harm than good. Like telling the owners that the horses needed to have gravel floors in their stalls, and not to clean & cover a wound. To just let the mud & dirt & waste cover it to get it to heal. Crazy stuff like that.
With all that being said, I still loved the horses. I loved the area that I was in, although it was desert and if you were out at the barn at night, and walked to the trailer house you might step on a rattlesnake. I would run at a high rate of speed and be really light on my feet to get there. There was only one night light so it was pretty dark in between the barn & trailer house. It was also right on the Mexican border. So illegals were always passing through.
I didn’t stay long. I didn’t know anyone to get another job out there and everything was so far away that I couldn’t look. I’m ashamed to say I only stuck it out for 6 months. I had hoped to be there much longer. Stuff was going on at home too and my mom needed me. I didn’t leave before telling the owner what was going on. He really wanted me to stay and offered more money. Like $50/month more. Wow. Right? I barely had enough money to feed myself, was doing most of the work taking care of over 50 horses, without a day off and he would give me $50 more. Plus he already knew what was going on. Uh. No. I’m out. Maybe it goes without saying that I wasn’t friends with that girl after that.
I barely remember the trip home. I know I did stop & get a hotel room though. Snuck all of the animals in with me. The whole thing was a journey that I’ll never forget. Both good and bad.