In my preteen to early teen years I had a friend named Rattlesnake Sam. He was an old time prospector. I met Rattlesnake Sam in an area where there used to be natural hot springs in the desert. Now the natural springs have been turned into spas of one sort or another.
Ever since a very young age I have loved the desert. I remember my parents once ask me where I wanted to go and I said the desert. They said where in the desert do you want to go? I remember saying I wanted to go to the Sahara Desert. I was probably around five or six years old at the time.
I don’t remember a whole lot of the stories Rattlesnake Sam told, but I do remember a few. I was always fascinated to hear about gold prospecting in the mountains that are now off limits to the public. He would tell stories of quartz veins, natural springs, and water tanks.
I am always interested in hearing about water supplies in the desert. When I would get back to the house I would take out a topo map and try to find the places he told me about. That was in the days before GPS and Google maps. We actually used paper maps and compasses. As I got older I would think about sneaking into the area and looking for the fabled water supplies.
Back then the bombing activity in those mountains was quite heavy. It was during the Vietnam War. Every day the ground would shake and the windows would rattle. At night the sky would first light up with flares then the bombing would begin. Man made thunder and lightning.
That was one big ground shaking light show. Every once in a while someone would drop a flare on our little community. After these more personal in your face light shows I always wondered if it was an accident or if they were using us for some harmless training exercise. Whatever the motivation, it was always exciting to have that flare slowly parachute down as it illuminated the surroundings. Each time the flare came down it was also a little scary. Because we know what happens after the flare is dropped. I can’t exactly remember, but I think that was before our community had paved roads or water. While we didn’t have water or paved roads we had electricity and a phone in ever bar.
Rattlesnake Sam also had some great fishing stories involving life south of the border. That is a story for another time.
I am wishing you the very best in life,
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