On our last day in Arizona we enjoyed another day of random people interactions. The morning started with a lady who had some personal issues and probably boundary issues as well and ended with a lady named Healing Wolf at a wolf-rescue-sanctuary at the end of an unpaved road in Rimrock, AZ. If it sounds a little out of the ordinary, good because it was.
Before diving into that I would like to assure everyone that our decision to drive into the desert to sit around apex predators was not our first questionable act. The day before, we visited the Grand Canyon and walked all along the South Rim. There were several points that stuck out into the canyon a bit and allowed tourists to take great pictures of the canyon. In one of these locations there was a trail that had been worn down by the footsteps of fools and risk takers. Several people were hiking out to this perilous point and taking part in the almighty selfie. The whole trip looked manageable until I was standing out on the rock at the edge of a several thousand feet drop. Supermom completely lost her mind and ventured out further than I did. She got a better photo out of it too. Dammit.
Whatever. We both survived. That is the important part.
The next day was planned to be more laid back. Just some shopping and leisure walks along the local creek sides. Shopping was cool. There are lots of fossils and rocks which keep me entertained for hours. Local Native American crafts were abundant and we happened upon a Navajo craftsman who sold us a nice dream catcher.
We passed by a neat looking toy store and decided to drop inside. A man in his mid-forties was purchasing a trinket and trying to make small talk with the cashier. In a matter of seconds he was wishing that he hadn’t. She had a brace on her right arm and was trying hard to perform all the cashier duties with her left.
Man: So how did you hurt that arm?
Cashier: I fell down.
Man: Took a little spill did you? You weren’t drinking were you?
Cashier: No I fell and broke my arm, ankle, and three ribs on the sidewalk.’
Man: That must have hurt.
Cashier: I was raped.
Man: I’m uhhhh sorry to hear that. That is awful.
Cashier: Yeah I know who did it. He is an old man who sits at the same bar in town.
Cashier: He always hit on me and then one night I woke up raped. I think he put something in my drink to make me forget who he was but I didn’t. I don’t go anywhere anymore. My life is basically over.
Man: That is terrible. Do you have to see him?
Cashier: No he is at a bar. If I saw him on the street I would have him arrested but he stays in the bar. So I stay at home with my boyfriend and come to work.
Man: Well I hope things get better for you.
Cashier: Have a nice day.
You. Just. Never. Know.
We didn’t engage in small talk mostly because I didn’t want to provide any therapy. She had some serious issues going on and I’m not totally convinced they were all on the surface. The toys were really cool though.
The next stop got us pointed on our journey towards the wolves. It was a small rustic-looking shack up on a hill; called Clear Creek Trading Company. We walked inside and immediately knew the shop was unique. It was stocked like an old-time general store or western outpost. Like an organized hoarder. All of the normal trinkets were there but there were also animal hides and several rooms with oddities like teeth and bones from animals; bobcats, beaver, raccoons, foxes, coyotes, bison, deer, turtles, and wolves. The front desk had a basket of “coon dicks” or raccoon penis bones (didn’t know lots of mammals actually have bones in their boners) which were for fertility. There were colored beads and wooden carvings. The owner of the trading post came around the corner and asked if there was anything we were looking for and unable to find. “Honestly, I didn’t know you could buy most of this stuff”, was my reply.
“Oh yeah, I have everything. Just try me.”
I thought for a second and asked, “Do you have anything to do with wolves? My oldest daughter is always leading her sisters in a wolfpack and is really interested in wolves.”
He got a funny look and opened up his shirt to reveal a leather medallion with a red wolf. “All joking aside. That is some strong medicine my friend.” He looked at me in a way that was more serious than the jovial thirty seconds prior. “My Indian name is Red Wolf and the calling of the wolf is no joke.”
“I’m not really joking. Jane loves wolves. Animals in general, really. She has a way with them and wants to be a veterinarian.”
He put his hand on my shoulder. “That is awesome. Children have a strong connection to what they want. I have to make you something… may I?”
“Okay. Sure.” At this point we had picked out a wolf claw and had it sitting on the front desk.
“The wolf is a teacher, protector, and a leader. They persevere and are very loyal.” He picked up the claw. “I want to make her a necklace that she can wear and remember what it means to be a wolf.”
It went from browsing in a neat store to being a little surreal but I was enjoying it, “That sounds really cool.”
He shared some folklore about the other animals and Native Americans in general. I feel like I better understand their emphasis on animals and how that is useful in their culture. We looked around and picked up a few other items that matched the other children’s spirit animals. Don Threeto is, of course, the fox. She got a nice fluffy fox tail. Red Wolf returned carrying the newly threaded necklace. He paused after handing it to me and said, “How long are you in town?”
“Just until the morning, why?”
“I have a friend that you need to meet. She will want to hear about your daughter. She rescues wolves and uses them as therapy animals. They are healing wolves and you can sit with them. They are big powerful animals and it is really special.”
Supermom had seen a brochure earlier in the week and was already interested. We had run out of time to schedule things but the afternoon had opened up so we figured, why not? We thanked Red Wolf for all his information and his gift of the necklace at wholesale price. I called the lady, named Healing Wolf, and she sounded very excited to hear about the whole situation. We found out in just a few moments that we are originally from the same state. She made room in her schedule and gave us directions.
Now. The drive to the wolf sanctuary gave us a while to reflect. Here we were, driving forty five minutes into the Arizona desert to meet a lady named Healing Wolf on the good word of a brochure and a man named Red Wolf who runs a shack that sells animal parts in the same way a junkyard sells car parts. This has all the hallmarks of a good decision. Each mile made the trip a little more curious.
The directions required the following: After leaving the interstate turn right beside a gas station onto a dirt road; stay right at each fork; the road will cross a creek, it looks like you can’t drive through the water but don’t worry, you can; keep going until you see a fall themed display and our gates with the sign; park around the side and walk up to the house.
We crossed the flowing stream boldly, because the car was a rental. We dodged boulders and ruts down the dirt road and found our way to the parking area beside a small double gate. The only neighboring house was under repair or perhaps being upgraded from a trailer to a more permanent trailer. A lone black dog stood watch over us as we locked the car and walked through the gate back to the house. An older man in a cowboy hat greeted us with smiles and a big hug. His name was John and he immediately started giving us a tour of the house by inviting us inside. For those of you who wonder how Hansel and Gretel felt. I know.
They were uneasy but curious enough to go inside anyway. Curiosity did kill the cat, you know.
John pointed to the right wall of the house which was made from smooth stone and informed us that the house’s previous owner was none other than Morgan Earp, younger brother to Wyatt. John purchase the house about fifteen years ago and renovated it to be livable with modern conveniences like a non-leaking roof and non-dirt floors. He also had a really cool picture.
It was taken at a hunting club and is pretty strong evidence that the villains and the heroes of the west were probably friends. Hollywood messes up everything trying to sell a story. Also, not too different from the main characters of today’s political scene. Don’t think for a second that they aren’t all friends. John also had lots of pottery fragments, fossils, and old pictures that he had collected from the property. All of this was really cool but I had never heard of John and I still hadn’t seen a wolf. Just as I was about to ask, Ms. Healing Wolf emerged from the back room with a wide smile and warms hugs. One thing about genuine “animal” people is that you can tell if they are sincere right away. Ms. Chris who sold us the wallaby was exactly like this lady; dedicated to her animal of choice. She really loves wolves and enjoys helping people through their interaction. We got lots of stories of people overcoming fears and pre-conceived notions. We saw firsthand how the alpha differs from the beta and how they really are all about the pack.
We never were afraid because they all looked a lot like Chester. Who could be scared of a teddy bear who just wants a belly rub? One of the wolves had been part of a fur farm and watched his family members be beaten and killed. He was still wary of humans and I don’t blame him. Humans can be awful sometime.
After a good two hours of talking and sharing stories we had our way to the door and exchanged another round of Tennessee hugs with our new friends. She sent us home with a gift of some wolf fur for our own little wolf pack to hold and remember all the good things they can be. This whole trip has had an underlying theme of connection and while I may not buy-in to the theory of energy vortexes and spirit animals, it is good to know that everyone holds something close to their hearts and they all want to share.
The scenery, at the end of the day, is just scenery.
If you enjoy a good adventure, this post is for you. You’re welcome. If you are a grandparent, we couldn’t have done it without you. Thank you for helping us celebrate 10 years!
-Underdaddy to the rescue.
I soooo want to go to a wolf shelter! Sounds awesome!
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How awesome! The wolf shelter looks and sounds like a fantastic place to visit!
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It was really cool. I learned a lot about wolves.
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That picture really was cool. Also I dig the belt dangle you have going on in the Grand Canyon pic my man.
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Middle school AF