After my hike of Colonel Devin was done, I headed East along the Mogollon Rim trying to find my resting spot for the night. Young, Arizona, has the self pronounced claim of being the place “Where the WILD WEST lives“, which is a claim that piqued my interest. Can one place in Arizona really stand out more than the rest of this State as being more WILD WEST?

I find the almost hidden dirt road, and slowly lumber along for almost twenty miles, seeing nary a soul. Eventually I find myself at the base of the Mogollon Rim in a open valley. This must be Young, I think to myself. The entire population can be no more than 750 people, spread out amongst large ranches and RV trailers parked on any open space where one can find comfort and solitude.

Rainbows End is scrawled into large logs that hang over the entrance to the Ranch. A home with a wrap around porch can be seen up ahead. I pull up and get out, stretching my legs in the warm afternoon sun. A cheerful woman in a cowboy hat the colors of the American flag runs up and gives me a welcoming hug. I guess we aren’t social distancing out here.

“Welcome to the Wild West at the Rainbows End ranch, I’m so glad you made it here!”

I get settled into my upstairs room. Normally I prefer to stay in locations where I have the entire place to myself, and so staying in a room with other guests on the property was new for me.

The other people staying here were there for the elk hunt though, so I hardly saw them on the property. I sip my cocktail on the porch as hummingbirds glide from one feeder to the next. Elk start bugling in the trees on the edge of the property. I feel like a child again, remembering when I would go to my Uncle’s ranch. It truly is the Wild West out here.

I walk out towards the trees to see if I can see the elk. I find a hammock swaying gently in the breeze, and climb inside just like a youngster would into the lap of a parent, feeling safe and warm. Protected.

The woman here doesn’t believe that Covid is all that dangerous, and that’s ok. She isn’t a bad person. I can only try to be a good example.

My Uncles are dying as fast as flies in the hours before winter. Their spirits and memories seem to be living out here.

I’m not sure I can keep going solo in this life.

The moon rises with the brightness of a mid-day sun, temporarily blocking out the shining stars in the darkness of night.

I haven’t thought about the TV show The Walton’s for years. As I am watching the moon dance across the night sky, lights slowly go out at Rainbows End, one room after the other.

“Goodnight John-Boy”

Wench, bring my ale, what say you?

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