Freedom Beat Across America: In Search of America's Heartbeat

Aug 3rd — Day Two!

Picacho State Park

We had high hopes for today.  By mid-morning we’d received no call-back from the local VFW, so we moved on. The next stop was Picacho Peak State Park, the site of Arizona’s westernmost Civil War battle. In 1862 a dozen Union soldiers defeated 17 Confederate cavalrymen. The site is stark, quiet and interesting, but the excessive heat of summer is definitely OFF-season. The gates were locked, and the hot wind whistled through the saquaros and the sagebrush. Even the nearby tiny restaurant and the Arizona Nut House were closed up and tired-looking under the burning sun. I don’t blame them, but I really would’ve liked to see the nuts. Dottie, Skylar and Melissa, of course, wanted to visit the Civil War site and settled for a magnificent view of a looming black peak.

the Arizona Nut House

So we moved on, down the Pearl Harbor Memorial Highway. On impulse, we drove up to the Western Army National Guard Aviation Training Site (WAATS) at the Pinal Air Park in Marana, Arizona. The officer in the little (very hot) guard shack was very kind and called the main base, but they couldn’t allow us on the premises, not without a lot of time and paperwork – like a couple months worth, sounded like. So we thanked him and moved on, understanding their reasons, but saddened to think that not so long ago we might’ve been allowed in and maybe even taken on a tour. Thank you, Bin Laden and all the other creeps.

the Jefferson Davis Highway!?

We hit the road again and didn’t pause until we pulled in to the Yucca Plains rest stop in New Mexico and found a small monument to Jefferson Davis, placed there by the Daughters of the Confederacy. I don’t think any of us had realized before this trip just how far west the effects of the Civil War had spread. We tend to think of anything West of the Mississippi having nothing whatever to do with the war between the North and South. I am learning already, and it’s only the second day!
We thought we might make Albuquerque, but the sun was going down and the heat was making everyone drowsy, so we pulled off the road north of Las Cruces. Found a wonderful Towne Place Suites by Marriott at a price comparable to any other. A wonderful guy named Connor even let us film him checking us in. The room has a small kitchen complete with the most adorable dish washer! (And I don’t mean me – I don’t have to wash any dishes until September, halleluiah!) Tomorrow we head for points north. Adventure!
Here is Skylar’s statement:
“I plan on learning a lot on this trip. Instead of reading about history, I will actually get to go to the historic sites. I also plan on getting experience out of the trip. Not very many eleven-year-olds get to go on a road trip for a month with their Mom.
It will also be fun to go on a road trip. I have been on many road trips before, but this one is the longest and a lot different than the ones I have been on before. It will be interesting to see how each of us will react to each other and to being in the car for a full month.”


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