Call of the Wolf

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.



I think that shirt makes my ass look fat. 

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.

Man: …

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.

A Long Walk Home

So today was our first day on a vacation to celebrate Supermom tolerating me for a decade. It was a very long day that started around 3a.m. Central Standard Time and after a five hour flight and a five hour drive, ended with us getting settled in our room at around 6:00 p.m. Pacific Coast Time. I know the time math probably doesn’t work out but “Frankly Scarlett, I don’t give a damn.” The trip out here isn’t really what I wanted to share tonight. It was what happened at the end of the day.

After a drive through the most beautiful stand-still traffic in my life…


We briefly made it out of the resort to grab a bite to eat in the lively downtown district. The town we are visiting is a little Upper Middle Class Cali Style so all of the places to eat that are unique and different didn’t seem like a place I should go with my standard issue cargo shorts, tennis shoes, and Master Yoda T-shirt. We chose Chipotle and quickly finished our chicken burritos.

On the way back to the resort we stopped by a local grocery store for some essentials; Honeybuns, Full Throttle, water, and Gatorade. I know you are thinking we are totally out of control party animals with vacation priorities like that but, they are essentials. As we were waiting to check out, I talked with an elderly gentleman who was having a hard time with the new chip reader device. He had to put on his glasses several times to read the menu and press the corresponding buttons. It seemed like a lot of effort for the 12V flashlight that he was buying. The cashier and I had a discussion about our eyesight and how quickly it could go bad. The elderly man made the comment that he was lucky his had, “been pretty good for a lot of years.” He finished his purchase and moved over to an empty checkout counter to assemble his flashlight. We chatted with the cashier a little more and, once I had paid, Supermom and I went back to the parking lot to leave.

As we walked away, I was curious why an elderly man, who couldn’t very well see, would be assembling a flashlight that he just purchased. I felt like he might have had car trouble so I told Supermom that I wanted to go back inside just for a second and make sure this man wasn’t trying to work on his car by himself at 9 o’clock at night.

I walked back inside and found him in the same location trying to figure out how to get the flashlight assembled. He had purchased a new LED model and thought the bulb was missing. I showed him that it would work just fine and asked if he needed help with car trouble or anything.

“Oh my car doesn’t work anymore. I was buying this to walk home. I missed my bus because I got off work late and I can’t see the sidewalk at night.” I noticed that his nice knit shirt was pale blue and had a Walgreens logo. He looked every bit of late seventies if not eighty. He hardly seemed threatening or dis-genuine so I offered him a ride home. He thought I was joking at first and when he saw I was serious he was that sort of mix when you are embarrassed/excited to get help. In the three mile ride to his one bedroom, second floor, motel style apartment, I learned that Alan had been born in Arkansas in Jonesboro. He went to Oklahoma State University and realized that the further you moved out west the more the humidity dropped so he ended up in San Fransisco. He lived there for twenty five years before moving to Sedona and continuing a career as an artist. He was an avid hiker and mentioned enjoying hiking with his wife; who I can only assume is no longer with us. His eyesight became an issue with his art and he says he found himself working at Walgreens to try and make ends meet. He also let me know that his eyesight continued to be a problem at his new job and that he was moved to the liquor department because he is a nondrinker and therefore the most trustworthy to watch over the wares. He still struggles with eyesight and has even tripped over a curb and had titanium pins in his femur. I could hear pride in his voice when he talked about surprising the doctors with a quick recovery.

He gave excellent directions and within ten minutes he was home and walking up the concrete steps with his new LED flashlight lighting the way.

We were parked beside his old convertible which has a leaky roof and a broken transmission. It was draped over with a dust cover that has been in place long enough to be discolored by the sun. He can’t decide if he wants to fix the car or let it go. I don’t think he can very well do either.

Before he got out of the car he insisted on giving us a list of tips and tricks on what to see in Sedona. I could tell he felt indebted and wanted a way to repay the small favor. He totally did because we now have the inside scoop on how to get up on one of the big mesas that overlooks the valley, and the location of some ancient native civilization ruins that predate the native tribes of the area. I guess that would make those ancient tribes Super Natives. He had lots more to tell but waved us goodbye and insisted on not taking up any more of our vacation.

I felt bad. I could tell he enjoyed telling his stories and that he probably didn’t get to very much, anymore. Here is a man who is trying with all he has to work an entry level job meant for a teenager to survive as his body keeps throwing curves. He had to work late, missed his bus, and instead of looking for help he went to buy a cheap flashlight to walk three miles down a four lane highway to get home. And he felt bad for imposition on a couple who had the big plans of eating a couple of honeybuns and going to bed.

I didn’t write all this to say I did a good thing. I think I did a normal thing and if you think any different then you need to examine your own charity. We spend a lot of time in our own worlds and don’t stop to look around. I have been trying to do better with that.

We have to do better with our old people. As a society. There is so much knowledge and interesting stories. Some much life experience that would help other people who are young in similar careers. (Here is where I go out on a political limb which is rare for me but purely a curious discussion. Nobody get their panties in a wad. Or boxer shorts. Or if you go commando and accidentally get that one hair caught in the zipper and turn just right. Jesus that hurts. Don’t do that either.)

I wonder if we could do retirement like we do every other career?

When you reach a certain age then you retire and get social security benefits right?

Well, what if being old was a treated as job.

Upon reaching that magic age you get notice that you have been hired to just be old. Enjoy life and by-the-way, here is a salary. Performance meetings will require that you are active with younger people in some fashion, sharing wisdom and life lessons. Maybe that includes hurling insults at them for driving too fast and listening to crap music. I count that as wisdom and experience. Furthermore, if you excel at being old and make it through our five year internship period you will get a Professional Elderly Certificate and a salary increase. Feel free to spend this increase on rising costs of living, in home assistance, or a new Masserati. Who cares, it is your money and us young people need goals. In fact, after another five years of successful aging you can be granted tenure as an old person and get another raise. If you make it ten more past that, I vote you get the title Professional Elderly Emeritus and you get the highest designated salary that a really skilled old person should get. That will also get around that pesky problem of the fixed income where within the first year people learn how to spend every dime and when something unexpected occurs (like a busted transmission) or food costs increase they are stuck in a deficit. Maybe this isn’t a fiscally sound or rigorously tested policy but meeting people like Alan makes me wish there was something more to be offered to someone who lived a full life and served his community well. If we as a nation can send billions of dollars in aid to countries that we also sanction and bomb then it seems like we could reshuffle and make a couple of win-wins at home. Who knows it might help morale of the working age group to know there is a light at the end of the tunnel and it isn’t a train.

Maybe I get too caught up in the people I meet. I want everyone to be my friends and I want to be a problem solver.  Alan’s eyes were tired and I could feel the weight of his life as he told me the details but at the end of the car ride he was smiling and telling us both how nice it was that we all met. And that people from the south help one another even when they are across the country. I agree on both points.

So if your momma taught you to be nice to people, this post is for you. Mine did too. You’re welcome.

-Underdaddy to the rescue.