Wednesday, August 19, 2009

A Night In The Desert Alone at age 4!

We are not alone.

Before we moved to Hawaii, living in Albuquerque and my grandmother living in Hatch, New Mexico, we had several occasions to visit her. Hatch, New Mexico is a small little town in southern New Mexcio almost directly south of Albuquerque. Albuquerque being almost in the middle of the state. Pat, my oldest sister has fond memories of spending summers at Grandmother Palmers Hotel. She said it was like living in Mayberry. On these family visits we would drive down for a long weekend to stay with her. Perhaps the Memorial Day weekend, Labor Day weekend, or Thanksgiving. From Albuquerque it would be about a 4 hour drive. Of course now with the interstate I-25, just a little over 2 and a half hours. But back around 1952 is was 4 hours at best.

It was on one of these long weekends that we took off as soon as my Dad drove into the drive way after work. We were all ready to go. We loaded up the car with our personal effects and a meal to eat on the road.

Of course some where along the way having eating and drank these refreshments we had brought, it was necessary to, you know, make a nature call. Back in those days, the route to Hatch was a two lane State Highway. So, in the darkness of night we would pull off the road where it was convenient to do so, jump out, do our business, everybody jumping back in and taking off again.

Everybody that is except me.


A dark moonless night in the desert. My family car tail lights fading away, fading away, fading away, fainter, fainter and finally gone,


I should explain how this was possible to have happened. I certainly paid more attention to situations like this from ‘that night’, forward as I ‘thank God’ grew up. You see, Pat was very much like a second Mom to me. As a child and Pat being 11 years older, when I was like 4 or 5, she was 15 or 16. Already grown up. I would just as likely hold Pat’s hand as I would Mom’s hand when we went anywhere.

So, in a situation like this, I might have been in the back seat with Pat and BJ when we stopped and then gotten into the front seat with Mom and Dad when we left, had I done so. Yes, I certainly paid more attention to these little situations from that night forward.

A dark moonless night in the dessert of New Mexico, 1952.

It was quiet, now. The engine of our car had also faded into this peaceful quiet. The sky stars were my only light. My only companions where my surroundings and the heavens above me. The clarity is what I remember so clearly. Some time before this on an occasion that I can not place, my father on his knee, in our front yard in Albuquerque, pointing out in the night sky, the big dipper and the north star, the little dipper, Orion, Aries, the seven sisters, and the Milky way. Now they were above me in such perfect clarity against a backdrop of heaven and endlessness. Now on this occasion I had them for myself and they me. It was as if I had risen up and swam through the sky. It was as if I had found my place among them.

The time and space passed…

Not obviously being in the car, I am told first hand from Pat, Jeannie and in a certain way that can only be told by a mother, her head hung down, slowly shaking it back and forth, in recollection, who has had such an experience as this, as a Mother, the following account. At some point along the way my mother suddenly responded to an inner thought. She, sitting in the front seat, in the quiet darkness, rolling along the highway, next to my Dad casually says to Pat in the back seat, “Is Bob asleep? He has been quiet for a while.”

Pat: “He is not back here; I thought he was in the front seat with you.”

It is the one time in all my families’ collective experience that they simultaneously experienced a 180 degree turn. Screeching brakes. Jarring jolt first from back to front with the brakes, then from left, then suddenly right. Wham!

The time that had passed was a guess by all accounts. Each person, my Dad, my Mother, my sisters Pat and Jeannie to this day could not be sure. It ranged from 20 minutes, possibly, to 45 minutes, possibly. The conversation in the car was near hysterical, I am told. ‘What was the place that we had pulled out?’ ‘Do you remember any landmarks?’ ‘What! In the desert! It was dark!’ They of course wanted to get back as fast as possible but not so fast as to suddenly come upon me standing in the Highway and at a high speed run me over or so fast as to drive right past me. ‘What if another vehicle comes along and runs him over?’ ‘What of Lobos?’ ‘Or Mountain lions?’ ‘Or SNAKES, says Jeannie!?’

It was quiet suddenly, but the atmosphere was sheer panic! ‘What if he is hysterical?’ ‘Or wondered off into the dessert?’ ‘How would they ever find me?’ ‘Or who knows?’ It was sheer panic in the car.

Meanwhile out in the desert, it was, ‘who knows’ that won the night. We are not alone. ‘check!’

Later I became aware of a light on the horizon. It became slowly brighter and then it became two lights, then I heard the engine and it with the now visible two lights came brighter and more louder. Coming directly at me.

Suddenly the two now bright lights and loud engine came around and stopped suddenly near me. My father was the first to my side. Picking me up and looking at me. My mother and both sisters were crying. I was fine. What ever it was that ‘got me’, still has.

So, by the time I was 12 years old. I had crossed an ocean in the midst of a tumultuous winter storm; I had experienced a tsunami, first hand, an erupting volcano, first hand and a night alone in the desert. Well, I won’t tell you with how many hands.

Wow! What’s next?
Or should I say whoa.

Shortly after this trip to Hatch something very interesting occurred. Certain strange events were reported in Southern New Mexico. Visitors to earth from another world? What were they looking for?

‘He was about this tall. He was very friendly and…’

Grandmother Palmer sold her Hotel. My father built her a room at our house in Albuquerque. No more trips to Hatch.

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