In 1951 I made my first trip from St. Louis, Missouri to Los Angeles, California. Highway 66 was the straightest route and offered immeasurable opportunities to pull off onto the shoulder and observe the surrounding countryside.
During those years, times were significantly more simple. For one reason, there were a lot fewer people. And that included the number of travelers on the major highways of America. I was eighteen years old and en route to California to make my first million.
In both New Mexico and Arizona there were distances as far as 65 miles between gas stations. You could pull off the road and gaze at the scenery for as long as 45 minutes before another car would come by in either direction. The only dual highway on 66 between St. Louis and LA was located in the Texas Panhandle.
During that particular trip, somewhere on a long stretch of highway in New Mexico, I got the urge to go Number two. After parking my car I listened carefully to determine if another car was approaching. All appeared to be quiet, except for the soft rustle of a gentle breeze that flowed across the rugged barren land. In that area, Highway 66 was surrounded by beautiful high mesas decorated with huge natural piles of volcanic rock.
I felt completely at ease in what was obviously a completely private spot. I pulled down my pants and completed natures requirements. Suddenly, for some unknown reason I had the feeling I was being watched. As I pulled up my pants I slowly turned a circle looking up and down the highway, listening for any sound. There was no indication that I was not alone.
Walking back to the car I noted that somebody had put up a fence that made its way from the highway in the direction of a long high mesa. Being a former farm boy I was intrigued by the fact that there was no connecting fence. I thought how in the world can you contain cattle unless you box them in.
My eyes followed along the mesa rim for a short distance then I saw something that gave me a temporary shock. Along the rim, facing in my direction were what looked like hundreds of mounted horsemen. They were all facing me. I stood there and looked at them for several minutes before I raised my arm and waved. At that, they returned my greeting by waving back. Then without further hesitation they turned their horses and rode away along the mesa rim.
At the time I failed to realize that I was the butt of an Indian joke. They were out on a cattle roundup and spotted me. They gave me a show to remember.
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