the Wanderling

"A few days later we went to a local comic book shop we frequented regularly with me and my buddy perusing through the comics, used ones in boxes and new ones on spin around racks. In the process a book on a new comic rack titled Adventures Into the Unknown with a drawing on the cover of an Aztec era Aztec in what appeared to be an ancient temple along with some guy carrying a modern day transmitter type radio caught my eye."

Anybody who is familiar with or has read any amount of my online works knows that as a young boy I was really big into comic books. It seems like a large portion of almost everything I learned came from reading them. Over and over, even today any number of things I write about I often refer back to something I read at one time or the other in a comic book, that is, except maybe for one major time when there was not just comic books involved, but the coming together of comic books AND Saturday afternoon matinee movies of the day. That time I flew diagonally across a busy neighborhood intersection well over two-stories high in a Da Vinci-like flying machine I built myself with my uncle's help after seeing the 1947 black and white Johnny Weissmuller Tarzan movie Tarzan and the Huntress combined with a comic book also released in 1947 that I read about Da Vinci's attempt to build and fly a machine in a story titled 500 Years Too Soon.

However, if you stop and think about it a moment, in the end, mostly because of the theme of the matinee movies in those days, most of the content wasn't much different than reading comic books than being more like an extension of it:

"Like so many young boys growing up during my era I loved cowboy-western movies and the actors that showed up in them. As well, right up there with westerns were Johnny Weissmuller Tarzan movies, especially Tarzan and the Huntress, Warner Brothers cartoons, Leonardo Da Vinci, astronomy, the cosmos, rockets to the Moon and Mars, Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon, along with a myriad superheroes, especially the 'mortal' type such as the Spirit and Captain Midnight. But still it remained, the cowboy western movie stars and heroes such as the Durango Kid, Lash LaRue, Gene Autry, and Roy Rogers, their horses Champion and Trigger, and their sidekicks Smiley Burnette, Gabby Hayes, and Andy Devine were the ones that in the end interacted in my life in real life."

Cowboy Code of the West

When I was in high school a buddy of mine who lived a few houses up the street from me loved Mad Comics. The only thing was his father wouldn't let him read comic books, let alone Mad. I had a whole collection of Mad Comics in those days and from time to time he would borrow one or two to read. Six months or so after graduation he had taken Mad #5 home and was upstairs in his bedroom reading it when his father walked in. There was a hole in the wall right next to his bed where he was sitting and before his dad could catch him in the act reading a comic book he dropped the Mad Comic into the hole thinking he could get it later. The thing is, the comic fell way down into the wall someplace and we were never able to get it, shifting the whole thing from a hole in his wall to a hole in my collection.

A few days later we went to a local comic book shop we frequented regularly with me telling the owner my sad story. He had an even sadder story. It seems Mad #5 was the rarest of the Mad comics up to that point because a printing error or some such thing caused the publisher to recall all the copies they could get their hands on.

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Taking the comic book guy at his word, although he didn't have a #5 we struck a deal for a good price if he got his hands on one and if I included in the deal a couple of extra of Mads I had. With that he started calling around while me and my buddy started perusing through some of his comics, used ones in boxes and new ones on spin around racks. In the process a book on a new comic rack titled Adventures Into the Unknown with a drawing on the cover of an Aztec era Aztec in what appeared to be an ancient temple along with some guy carrying a modern day transmitter type radio caught my eye.

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Inside the comic book was of course, the story Secrets of the Aztecs. As you may recall, a group of explorers using a raft made up of balsa wood logs were trying to prove that people from Africa could have crossed the Atlantic to South America long before the advent of modern sailing vessels by using existing ocean currents. Somehow the explorers, after crossing the time barrier into the past, end up in the civilization of the ancient Aztecs. Just before they leave the Aztecs one of the explorers gives the chieftain his gold watch as a gift. The explorers head into the Atlantic returning to normal time. Nobody believes their story so the explorers put together an expedition into the jungle and discover the now lost city. One of the artifacts found by the diggers is the gold watch.

Several years before any of the above comic book events took place found my uncle and me sleeping overnight on the raw rolling landscape of the New Mexico desert floor on our way to Fort Sumner to see the gravesite of Billy the Kid as well as for me to learn about the the 1862 forced relocation of the Navajo and Apaches called The Long Walk. Exactly three years to the day before the night of the Fourth of July weekend we were sleeping in the desert I had been a passenger on the all first class Santa Fe Chief on my way from Chicago to Los Angeles, traveling with who I do not know. Around midnight the powerful Baldwin built 4-8-4 Northern with 80 inch drive wheels and clocking out at over 90 miles per hour, hit a marked 55 mph speed limit curve, with the the Santa Fe Locomotive #3774 derailing and sliding in the dirt on it's side off the tracks for nearly the length of two football fields before coming to a stop. The rest of the 14 car train ended up in various stages of derailment and wreckage on and off the track, some cars remaining upright with two actually staying on the tracks undamaged. The fireman and three passengers were killed. 113 passengers along with 13 train employees injured, among them the severely injured engineer.

Back to the moment though, we had gone to visit the site of the crash for me to pay homage to the dead and injured and pay thanks to my well being. Actually, although it's much more complicated, when Billy the Kid came up we included seeing his gravesite during our trip. While I was fast asleep on the desert floor my uncle was up pondering the stars and possibly his place in the universe when a meteor blazed across the sky all the while leaving a dissipating stream of quickly extinguishing glowing debris or particles in it's wake.

The next morning, because it was a fresh meteor strike he put in a phone call to his friend the famed meteorite hunter Dr. Lincoln La Paz. In those days it was long before cell phones so all he was able to to as leave a series of messages. Eventually the two caught up with each other and La Paz told him it wasn't a meteor he saw that night but an object of unknown origin and whatever it was had left a string of debris across a large swath of grazing land between Roswell and Corona. La Paz also told my uncle he heard some of the debris appeared to have hieroglyphic-like writing on some of the metal scraps. With help from La Paz it wasn't long after that my uncle showed up on the debris field in search of some of those scraps. He never said anything about finding metal scraps with hieroglyphic on them but he did find something else of value he didn't want any of the so called authorities to know about so he buried it some distance away from the debris field. Not knowing when he would ever come back for it he suggested I bury something of value I had with me too, calling what we buried "time capsules."[1]

During many of the road trips my uncle and I went on together similar to the one described above we used Route 66 as our main thoroughfare. In doing so Meteor Crater was always within striking distance, of which we took advantage of many times of which I'm sure we did as well on the above trip. Except for a basically unrecorded layover along the rim in the summer of 1972 related to the death of movie actress Rochelle Hudson, the last time I had visited the crater was in 1989. As my uncle was nearing the end of his life he had called me to his side and given me a huge black feather that, as young boy, had once belonged to me that I thought had been lost forever to the ravages of time --- and of which, as I remembered correctly, was nearly as wide as the span of my hand and as long as I, a ten year old boy, was tall.

Without my knowledge he had kept it carefully wrapped and tied in soft buckskin, hidden away from prying eyes all these years. He told me he "was getting up there" and wanted to ensure the correct "passage" of the feather. He said for me to secrete the feather away and arrange to have, upon my death, someone very close to me take it to the crater and in a certain rite, burn it. Instead, not for me, but in deference to my uncle and his legacy, unbeknownst to anybody, including any crater authorities, on a windy night at exactly midnight June 19th, on the closest full moon to the Summer Solstice following his death, using a special box kite based on a design by Leonardo Da Vinci, as the cold wind howled down the crater wall and up the other side, I tied the feather to the string as close to the kite as I could and ran it out hundreds of yards into the night sky. As the full moon passed directly overhead and the pull of the kite and string was taut and nearly straight up, I let the string slip from my fingers, eventually allowing the end of it to pass from my hand. The design of the kite soared the string and feather high into the silver illuminated black sky, beyond the horizon of the crater rim, carrying it aloft higher and higher until it disappeared from view, following backward toward the southwest the incoming trajectory of the meteor those thousands of years ago and replicating in thought and deed it's original wind-swept loss from me as a young ten year old boy.

Finishing my almost ritual-like task I gathered up what few things I had stuffing them into my shoulder bag then began wending my way back up out of the crater the best that I could in the dark. Cresting the top I noticed in the still dark, yet relatively well lit full moon night, some distance away along the crater edge, what appeared to be the flickering red-orange glow light from a fire dancing off the stone remains of the ruins of the one time long ago visitor center.

After making my way closer to the ruins in the dark I could see a man who appeared to be a quite old sitting by himself in front of the fire on a log-like one time roof support beam, with his back toward me. As I entered the structure carefully making my way around the rubble from the mostly collapsed building as best I could, the man turned slightly in my direction making eye contact. Startled, I could easily see a man I was sure I recognized as a long ago neighbor who lived next to me when I was in the third grade or so that I knew as a Curandero. The man of the foster couple I was living with at the time got so frustrated with how much trouble the curandero and I got into he shipped me off to my grandmother until my father was able to figure out what to do with me.

Meeting the curandero at the crater that night, rather it was impromptu, on purpose, or fate, was many, many years later, with me no longer a little boy but a grown man. The two of us crossing paths at that particular instant in time put into motion a whole series of events that eventually involved me, the Colorado River and an island in the river in the middle of a lake called Cottonwood Island that was known to have been inhabited in historical times, at least as so recorded by the scribes of the early Spanish explorers and the Conquistadors as found in the following:

"Through the great canyon a large river flows from the north to the south and falls into the northern end of the Gulf of California. Now, in the useful translations of the Spanish authors of 1540 AD we find that the scribe of the Conquistadors placed near the Colorado River, in a small island, a sanctuary of Lamaisra, or of Buddhism. He mentions a divine personage living in a small house near a lake upon this island, and called, as he says, Quatu-zaca, who was reputed never to eat."

The Mystic Aztec Sun God

Putting all of the above together, leaving Quatu Zacca and Cottonwood Island I decided to once again make and bury a time capsule. Since I knew Cottonwood Island would one day be submerged I knew what I buried would have to be up and away from the island and the river. Looking eastward out across the the outwash plain and the mountains and rock outcroppings from Cottonwood Island and seeing there wasn't much change that occurred over the centuries I decided to hike the distance between the lake and the outcroppings to see if I could find a secure spot that was distinct enough to leave a time capsule where I could find it but would be beyond the prying eyes of others.[2]

"One of the things I learned in the Peace Corps and the military is that just about everything in the tropics disintegrates rather quickly if left unattended, especially paper. Even though the reasons for my being in Jamaica were considered to be highly humanitarian in nature, humanitarian or not, when you travel, you are still only who your paperwork says you are. Because I was planning on living in Jamaica a couple of years some people concerned with my overall well being insisted I take my old military dog tags with me. That way, since I always seem to find myself in places I shouldn't be, if I ended up rotting away someplace, so their theory went, at least my metal dog tags might survive long enough to identify me."

The Wanderling's Journey

Inspired by the gold watch in the Aztec story and knowing full well something made of paper might not last as I so learned in the Peace Corps and the Army as found in the above quote I knew I would need something that wouldn't deteriorate over time. One of the things I just so happened to have with me, at least on this trip, was a stainless steel collapsible cup similar to the one pictured below. I also had my stainless steel dog tags with me, and together, with some modification to the cup to allow one of the tags to fit inside and still be able to close the lid and seal it as a secure container from the elements I figured they would last forever, or at least until I returned to search them down.


The rest of the story, the going to, searching down, and finding and retrieving the time capsule, is found by clicking the image below:


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As to the subject of donations, for those who may be so interested as it applies to the gratefulness of my works, I invariably suggest any funds be directed toward THE WOUNDED WARRIOR PROJECT and/or THE AMERICAN RED CROSS.

Footnote [1]

When I was at the Roswell Debris Field it was years before any of the handheld electronic gizzmos we have today, so to entertain myself I carried a toy red-and-black plastic-bakelite film strip viewer, along with a few extra filmstrips, with me. My uncle told me one time if the Earth ever blew-up and formed an asteroid belt around the sun like the one between Mars and Jupiter some far-in-the-future space explorer would still be able to find pieces of plastic imbedded in the rock-chunks --- because plastic junk lasts forever. Well, I didn't want to part with my pocketknife, compass or matches, so for my time capsule I buried the plastic film viewer. With that I took a gas station paper towel I had in my back pocket and using my most favored gift from my Stepmother, a Reynolds Rocket ballpoint pen that could write underwater or out in space --- which I wish I still had --- and made a treasure map.


Years passed and I forgot all about it. One day I was moving stuff and ran across my pebble grained faux-leather high school graduation certificate holder. Inside was my diploma along with an official looking "deed" for one whole square inch of land in Canada's Yukon Territory from the Klondike Big Inch Land Company dated January 4, 1955, a really good copy of Uncle Scrooge, Issue #14, June 1956, with a story about Scrooge, his deed and dealings with one inch of land called Faulty Fortune, AND the treasure map I drew for my time capsule.


The next time I saw my uncle in Santa Fe I took the map along. When I showed it to him and expressed the possibility of the two of us going to look for my time capsule he put his hand out in an open-palm "halt" fashion and told me to wait. A few minutes later he was opening a cardboard box he had pulled from the attic and started rummaging around in it. He pulled out a bag and dumped the contents on the table. There in front of me was what was left of a broken to pieces red-and-black plastic film strip viewer. My uncle told me right after meeting with UFO advocate and radio commentator Frank Edwards, about ten years or so after we had been to the debris field, he went back. He walked the old debris field as well as the hill we had observed from. He also tried to find the hay shelter and water trough, but to no avail. Walking the area where he thought it should be he spotted pieces of red plastic in the dirt. Looking more carefully he was eventually able to find most of the viewer, including parts of the film strip. Apparently what happened, and it was just speculation on my uncle's part for the lack or any other explanation, it looked like a disc harrow may have been pulled through the area and one of the discs must have ran right over where I had buried the viewer, scattering it into pieces along a straight line over several feet. As for what my uncle may have found, buried, or retrieved please click the following image:

Footnote [2]

The graphic below is a view looking northeast from the top of 5,643 foot elevation Spirit Mountain, Nevada toward present day Lake Mohave, having been created by the waters of the Colorado River after the construction of Davis Dam. The full length of the left shore of the lake is the state of Nevada while the full length of the right shore is Arizona. Cottonwood Island has long been submerged by the lake waters. Clearly seen in the graphic is the so mentioned north south length of the lake five mile wide outwash plain and eastward across that five miles from the lake and the now submerged Cottonwood Island are the mountains and rock outcroppings unchanged over the centuries used as the location to bury the time capsule.

Clicking the graphic then clicking it a second time will take you to a much larger than full screen view.



Footnote [3]






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