The weather is cooling and Tal was the first one up. He lit a fire. When I climbed out of bed it was warming up nicely and I put a pot of fresh homemade soup on the wood stove to simmer. I sat at our small table and sipped my hot caffeine-laced tea while checking emails and Facebook posts. What a delightful way to start the day – with many more to follow!
We have just visited the friendliest town we have come across in Nevada. The population is almost 50. Deep Well as it was once called is located on the edge of the ghost town, New Boston.
We were parked there just over a day when curious town residents came by to see what was going on. The usual statement was, “I thought this truck might have been hijacked.” Terry was the first to show up and is a friendly guy living in a camper next to his sister’s house at the end of a nearby block. He told us she was a full blooded Blackfoot Indian. Since she was his sister and didn’t share what looked like some of Terry’s good Scottish blood (he had a full beard of red whiskers), I assume she was a sister by marriage, friendship, or whatever. He gave me a very old purple glass bottle (one of his finds) when I mentioned all the broken purple glass I was seeing everywhere on the ground around town.
Carl was the second to show up, a Vietnam vet. While we were still talking to him Willy stopped by. I would call Willy the town father as his family has been in Luning and the surrounding area since the 1800s. He proceeded to tell us his family history which made my head spin. There were too many names to start with. He rattled off the histories of great grandparents, grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, sisters, brothers and children who were all a part of the story, whew! Willy gave us a huge bag of tree picked pears from his 160 acre ranch.
Carl stopped back by a couple of times to bring us bags of veggies right out of his garden. I steamed up some beet greens and chard for lunch. I served them with onion and cranberry brown rice with his garden fresh basil leaves on top. It was so good.
When Carl stopped by a few days later with a friend I served them soup I had made with some of his garden tomatoes. Though we had a table and chairs sat up, he squatted on his haunches, Vietnam style.
Terry invited us to fill our water tanks, and his Native American sister gave us a dream catcher she had made.
Later, Willy gave us a tour of New Boston. The ghost town was located on the side of a mountain. You could see where men had stacked rock to build a den to get out of the wind. They would have covered it with a tent or canvas, and then crawled in. Farther on, a shack had been burned down. Willy and his brother knew the guy who had built it. They were real upset about that. His brother, who was twelve at the time, found the old man dead. Soon after vandals had set the fire. Unmarked graves dotted the acres of land in front of the old town.
Back in Luning, there is a trading post painted a garish purple. It is filled with a whole lot of rocks. The owners inherited the place five years earlier. I talked to them for quite a while even though it was cold in the shop, and they turned on the lights in the displays only as needed. We shared stories.
I told them how I had lived in Mexico in my twenties and built a hut on the beach. The woman had lived in a car in her twenties, “following the fruit.” She and several others would stop by an orchard after the main picking had been done and would get paid a small amount to pick what was left over. The man talked about how they were retired and would be spending all their time on the road, but they were “stuck” taking care of a shop that hadn’t seen a dust broom in at least as many years as they had owned it.
A small bar made out of a mobile home was open, but we didn’t go in. Unless there were a lot of town drunks, and there could have been, I don’t know how they could sell enough booze to stay open. There was a For Sale sign in front. I could understand why.
I didn’t see any place to buy bread or milk. I know not everyone had vehicles. There was a lot of ride sharing going on. The closest town was six miles away, and I don’t know if they had anything more than a quick mart. That was all I saw. The next closest town was Hawthorne which was twenty-five miles away and they did have a very expensive Safeway. We had to make a trip there for supplies and a new battery for the truck. A tire on the truck also needed repair. It was $35 for a patch, the going rate anywhere for a semi-truck tire.
Perhaps the saddest part of the “friendly town” was its bigotry. A retired black couple had moved there to enjoy the peace of the countryside. They were hated by their neighbors who heckled them constantly. They had no barking dogs, though their badgering neighbors had 8 large “constantly barking” dogs and a 5-day old litter of eight more dogs in the house.
The African American man was a retired prison guard who had spent his life among criminals. Though I don’t think his neighbors were criminals, one of them had just returned from spending a month in a mental hospital. It made me wonder at the karma we create in our lives and what we attract to ourselves along the way. He might have thought he was leaving behind a world of insanity only to find he had moved in next door to more of the same.