It’s summer and we’re off to Granma Merrill Patterson’s cottage outside Red River New Mexico with Jim n Katie Patterson. Last year’s Rotary Exchange Student to South Africa from Ardmore OK, the delightful Dottie Moffett comes along thanks to Katie’s generosity and insight! Whatta lady, Katie; and whattgal, Dottie!
Jim had a birthday. From the size of the fire it looks like it was a big ‘un!
There were five jeeps: the Patterson’s Old Red, the Hrbacek’s Old Green, the Payne’s Old White, the Mindemann’s semi-old White and the Manar’s New Blue. We explored the dirt roads and mountain passes in the jeeps with ice-cold Coors and bloody marys in hebcoolers full of ice tied to the tailgates.
We rode the back roads and fished the streams – to no avail, so we went to a place that guaranteed a catch in their trout ponds! Felt like cheating.
One night it was partytime in town! The wicked metropolis of Red River! Jeff Manar drives us there in New Blue. He’s 14, but its summertime, its a holiday town, this is the wild west, no cop would ask, surely? And anyway Jeff doesn’t look 14. He looks, like, 15. At the smoky dance under the loud music in the wonderful vibe in a big barn, we meet a petite girl who asks me n Dottie how old we are and doesn’t believe we’re 18 so I show her my passport: 1955. I ask how old she is and she laughs and shows us her ID: 1946! She’s 27! She looks 16. She’s tiny. She’s dancing on her own having fun, free as a bird! Probly high as a kite? A real-life hippie on the road in the USA. I’m smitten, and I think so is Dottie!
She tells us where she’s staying and says we should come and visit.
The next day Jeff drives us out in the blue Willys Jeep to where she’s staying in the tiny village of Arroyo Hondo in a communal adobe house. I’m really looking forward to seeing her again. I’m like a puppy. We ask a housemate, a guy on the porch who is watching the Watergate hearings* all day while filing down a Ford flywheel one tooth at a time to fit his Chevy and then hit the road again one day. Coulda been his Chevy flywheel to fit his Ford, of course. He just told me, I didn’t see the car. There’s a sweet herbal smoky smell about the place.
“Sally? (or was it Cathy, or Janis? True love fades) Oh, she hit the road. Hitched off to California early this morning to go catch a rock concert out there”.
Oh! Darn. My heart broke, but I was fine a few seconds later.
Off to Taos and the Taos Pueblo where Dennis Hopper hung out.
Hopper starred in Easy Rider, filmed here and elsewhere in 1969:
Hummingbirds at the cottage; Walks in the high Sangre de Cristo mountains; Drives on the jeep tracks, Fly fishing in the streams:
* The Watergate hearings were on TV from May 17 1973 to June 27 1974, broadcast live during the day on commercial television; Some 319 hours were broadcast overall, and 85% of American households watched some portion of them. They led to President Tricky Dick Nixon’s resignation on 9 August 1974 a step ahead of being impeached.
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