Saturday, May 10, 2003

May 10, 2003
I have lived in Arizona for 47 years and here’s a phrase I thought I would never say: “Better get some gas in Flagstaff, it’s mucho cheaper than the Valley.” From the moment in 1956 when my father opened Al Bell’s Flying A on Route 66 in Kingman, Arizona, gas was always 20 cents higher than in Phoenix. When we were at 49.9 a gallon, it was 29.9 in the Valley. For some reason that has now reversed itself and we filled up yesterday in Flag for 1.67 a gallon and it’s 1.87 in Phoenix. More proof that the world is ending (or at least the one I’ve been living in).

Yesterday Kathy drove me down to get my shot at 7:40, then we took off in the pickup for Flag to help Tommy move out of his dorm. Horrible traffic all the way up to Carefree Highway, The only relief was after Cordes Junction when it opened up and was semi-serene. Got to Flag at 10:30, loaded out T’s stuff. Treated his roommate and suitemates to lunch at Martan’s but when I went to pay, the owner said, “We love Tommy. He has brought us so much business and we are going to miss him. This last one is on us.” We took a photo outside for old time’s sake (T is going to Spain this summer to study and won’t return for a year).

That's T.Bell on left, with Jake (from Oregon), Paul (Eager, AZ) and Ben (from Kansas City).

Needed to shoot some photo reference for Turkey Creek Canyon shoot-out and so I had the boys follow me up to Northern Arizona Museum. Snuck all of my guns out of the truck in blankets (two pistols and two Winchesters) and dressed them up, dropped into the canyon next to he museum and shot off two rolls of film. Also shot some video and digital stuff. Got away with it (carrying guns onto government property, etc.).

Took off for Phoenix. Got back at four, unloaded, went up to the office. Got a six page letter from Jeffrey Burton, the English expert on the Turkey Creek fight (he has no computer or even a telephone). He was very gracious in answering my many questions, but, as usual, some of the corrections get in the way of a good story.

Here’s my original lead: “Members of the Hole-In-The-Wall gang are going into camp when they are jumped by a posse out of Cimarron, New Mexico.” This is not technically correct. Jeff recommends using “The Folsom train robbers,” or even “the suspects in the Folson train robbery” and of course it is more factual but it just isn’t as sexy sounding. To boot, they had been in camp most of the day, so the opening line is downgraded to “Outlaws suspected of being the Folsom train robbers are in camp when they are jumped by a posse out of Cimarron, New Mexico.” Kind of makes me want to write fiction, if you know what I mean.

Got a quick one-hour turnaround on the film I shot ($23 Sue debit), picked up Kathy and went down for my evening shot. Found ourselves back on the 101 coming home exactly 12 hours later after a huge loop of 375 miles. Somehow, in spite of the grueling drive it seemed productive.

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and a powder blue T-Bird.”

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