Not all of our adventures involve hiking
over ten miles and having sex in wilderness areas. In fact, sometimes we find
adventures in other parts of the world, and other times, adventures find us
and chase us down with red and blue flashing lights.
Our adventure took place during the Rocky Point Skydiving Boogie, an annual
Skydive Arizona event for which Larry Hill brings the Super Otter south of the
border for three or four days of skydiving fun. Manifest is operated out of a
tent in the Playa Bonita RV Park, next to Sandy Beach. After manifesting for a
load, the skydivers are shuttled to the Rocky Point Airport via cattle truck,
which is quite the humorous sight because they do look like a herd of cattle!
To add to the effect, as they are driven through town, they actually "moo" to
the people on the streets. Finally, when they arrive at the airport, they
board the Super Otter, which takes them to an altitude of 13,000 feet before
dumping them over the ocean. Their landing area is on Sandy Beach, in a large
area that is roped off for that purpose, amid awed spectators and vendors
trying to sell their wares. For the average "wuffo", it is quite an amazing
sight to see twenty or so skydivers landing next to their beach chairs. There
was cheering and applause all around as each group landed, despite the fact
that many of the skydivers failed to stand up their landings on the first day
because of the wind.
We made the trip down to Rocky Point the night before the boogie began,
bringing with us John's friend Rob Hollrah, who was going down there for the
same purpose. The entire trip took us just over three and a half hours,
despite the fact that the winds were howling at us, blowing the van around the
highway and forcing us to keep our speed at seventy-five miles an hour. By the
time we arrived in Puerto Peñasco, the winds were screaming fiercely, so we
sought refuge in the Verleys' RV. John and Rob began to worry that the winds
weren't going to calm down -- the winds were too strong for skydiving --
however, at four in the morning, their wishes came true when the wind stopped
We awoke at 6:00 a.m. Friday morning to a beautiful day, with cool, calm
breezes and plenty of sunshine -- a morning I didn't want to waste! John had
told me that we were going to Shell Beach that morning, if weather permitted,
so when he tried to sleep in, I pouted and said, "I guess we're not going to
Shell Beach then."
It worked. He crawled out of bed and drove us to Shell Beach.
We got there early enough that we had the beach to ourselves, giving us the
opportunity to "play naked" in a new milieu -- one that wasn't a wilderness
area, a national forest, or an Arizona county. (Surprisingly, we have yet to
be caught during our "expeditions", however, we had to stop and look around
several times because the squawking of the sea gulls sounded like people!)
Hours after we returned from Shell Beach, Manifest opened, and the boogie
began. Over the next three days, John made six jumps, his father made five,
and Rob did nine! While John jumped, I sat on the beach with Erika and Mary
Green (a skydiving widow who was John's "surrogate mother" when he worked for
Skydive University as a tandem packer). The three of us also went shopping at
"The Mall", where Erika purchased some ironwood, which she will use to make
the centerpieces for our wedding reception tables.
Then, after the last load
landed each day, the festivities began. On Friday night, all of the skydivers
went to La Curva for dinner and drinks. Then, our small group (John and I, his
parents, Mary Green, and Rob) plus Malcolm (one of John's teammates) went to
the Pink Cadillac to go dancing. Saturday night, there was a barbecue, at
which Tecate (who sponsored the event) supplied the free beer. Our group
decided to forego the barbecue, stating that last year's wasn't that good, and
instead opted for dinner at Latitude 31, one of the newer restaurants in Rocky
Point. The food was delicious, however, Erika got sick, probably from the
grilled fish. She ended up going home early on Sunday morning, having stayed
up all night vomiting.
Sunday morning, after breakfast, John signed me up for an observer ride, so
that I could see Rocky Point from the air. I had been reluctant to do so
because of my injured tailbone (from the
Hell's Gate Trail). Having been in
the Skyvan twice, I know what it is like to fly in jump planes. John confirmed
that I would get to sit in the co-pilot's seat, which is padded, however, at
the last minute, the pilot announced that he was bringing his girlfriend along
for the ride. So, I had to ride on the bench -- which was not good for the
tailbone at all! However, I did see some of the most breathtaking views of the
city. The desert surrounding the city is quite ugly, but the shoreline and the
ocean are very beautiful. At one point, just before jump run, we passed over
one section where the water was shimmering, bathed in sunlight. After all of
the divers were away, the plane dove towards the ground and landed at the
airport, where I waited for some fifteen to twenty minutes for the cattle
truck to pick me up.
Fortunately, the weekend went smoothly, without incident (well, except for
Erika's illness). In years past, injuries and fatalities have haunted the
Rocky Point Boogie. If something had happened this year, we all knew that the
Mexican authorities would never let Skydive Arizona hold a boogie there again.
The commandant was even checking USPA cards at the airport to ensure that
everyone there was a licensed jumper. On each load, the divers had to be
manifested under their full names, not under any aliases or team names, in
order for the authorities to keep track of those jumping. Larry Hill also
promised to ground anyone who did anything stupid, like trying to land on top
of RV's. Though there were some rough landings -- and some rough openings --
during the weekend, there were no serious injuries, much to everyone's relief.
So, Sunday afternoon, after our traditional lunch at Manny's Beach Club, John
and Rob and I headed back to the US...and that was when the adventure began!
We left at 2:45 and drove up Mexico Highway 8 to Sonoyta and the US border,
where we met up with our first obstacle: there was a line of traffic backed up
for two miles from the border! We waited in that line for what seemed like an
eternity, and what made matters worse was that some of the impatient jerks
were driving down the shoulder to take cuts at the front of the line. (I guess
they didn't pay attention in kindergarten when the teacher said that taking
cuts was a bad thing!) That only caused the line to stop moving, so John
decided to put a stop to it by pulling his van halfway into the shoulder. No
one else could get around us, so they were forced to keep their places in line
-- and that pissed off the guy behind us, who kept revving his engine in
Eventually, the Mexican police decided that it was a good idea to make all of
the gringos drive in the shoulder, which would leave the streets open for the
locals. To enforce it they drove up and down the lane with their lights
flashing -- very few people dared to defy the cops after that! Having been
forced to wait their turns, the lines actually started to move again; and, an
hour and fifteen minutes later, we were finally allowed to pass into the
Our next stop was the gas station in Why, Arizona, which is a tiny town just
outside of Organ Pipe National Monument along Highway 85. We were getting low
on gas, so we decided to stop there to buy $20 in gas -- enough to get us
home. John handed me a twenty dollar bill and told me that we were on pump
number six, so I went inside and paid the cashier. The cashier took the money
and turned on the gas pump, indicating that we had to stop the pump ourselves.
"Fine," I said to him; then I asked, "By the way, where are the restrooms?" He
told me that they were outside, to the left, but when I got there, I
discovered that there was a line. At that point, I was a little too impatient
to be waiting in another line, so I went back inside and purchased two
six-packs of Diet Coke for our journey. At that point, John was finished
pumping gas and was in the restroom, so I returned to the ladies' restroom
only to find that the line had grown. "Screw it," I said, "I'll wait until we
get to Ajo."
We left Why and continued on SR 85 towards Ajo, which is only ten miles from
Why. The speed limit there is sixty-five miles an hour, so John felt that it
was safe to go about sixty-nine m.p.h. About seven miles later, though, we saw
a Pima County Sheriff's Department car coming towards us. When he saw us, he
did a U-turn and began to follow us. Seconds later, he flashed his lights at
us and made us pull over. John was convinced that he had pulled us over for
speeding, so he pulled out all of the necessary information and prepared
himself for the ticket he knew he was going to get.
The police officer greeted us with a friendly smile and asked John for his
license and registration. After taking a quick glance at the information, he
then asked, "Where are you folks headed?"
"Phoenix," John answered.
"Where are you coming from?"
"Rocky Point," John replied.
"Did you stop for gas in Why?"
"Yes, we did."
"Did you pay for it?"
Immediately, I frowned. "I paid for it!" I replied, a little suspicious. "I
gave the cashier a twenty dollar bill, told him twenty dollars on pump six.
"Well, the cashier is saying that you left without paying for your gas..."
I know that the policeman believed us, but he still had to do his job, so he
made us drive back to Why so that I could jar the cashier's memory. Naturally,
he remembered me paying for the gas and for the Diet Cokes, so he apologized
profusely and let us go. The policeman apologized, too, but we told him that
he wasn't at fault, that he was just doing his job.
We left Why again continued on SR 85 until we came to Ajo. It wasn't until we
had come to the last gas station in town that John remembered that I still had
to use the restroom, however, the cashier had just given away the restroom key
to the lady in front of me, who seemed lost. Still impatient, I gave up and
told John that I would hold it until we got to Gila Bend, at which time we
were planning to stop at McDonalds for dinner.
About ten miles before Gila Bend, we saw another police car coming towards us.
Again, John was doing about five miles over the speed limit, so he backed off
of the cruise control just in time to see the car flip a U-turn and begin to
follow us. "I don't believe this!" John exclaimed.
The police car followed us for a long time without flashing his lights at us,
which made us very nervous: what had we done this time? We figured that maybe
he had heard about the Why incident and that he was on the radio, trying to
see if the situation had been cleared up. Then, as he sped past us and got
ahead of us, we were convinced that that was why he had pursued us. Suddenly,
he slowed down again, changed lanes, got along side of us -- obviously
checking us out -- and finally pulled into the lane behind us to flashed his
lights at us.
I had all of his information ready by the time the DPS officer approached the
window, and as he handed the man his license, John asked, "Is this about the
gas incident in Why?"
"Don't worry, sir, you're not in trouble," the officer replied, taking John's
license. "I just needed to check something. I had a report about a brown van
with long windows -- these seem like long windows to me."
"That must have been about us," John explained, and he began to relay our
story to the policeman. The DPS officer didn't seem to know anything about it;
he told us that he had a report of a brown van that had done something -- God
only knows what! -- but now that he had checked us out, he knew that we
weren't the ones he was looking for. He sent us on our way, leaving us a
little confused but very relieved.
After stopping in Gila Bend for dinner at McDonalds (where I finally got to
use the bathroom!), we met up with Bill, who was driving the RV, and we told
him about our adventure. He, too, had gotten pulled over for nearly hitting a
border patrol vehicle while trying to pass a slow truck on the highway -- an
adventurous day was being had by all, and it wasn't over yet!
For the last leg of our trip, we decided to take State Highway 238, a.k.a.
Maricopa Road, which is basically a shortcut that goes from Gila Bend to
Maricopa, just south of Phoenix. Eighteen miles of it is an unpaved, all-weather
road that is "super-slab", meaning that John can easily drive along this road
doing seventy-five m.p.h. The other twenty miles is paved, but the speed limit
is only fifty-five m.p.h. To make up for lost time, John found himself
speeding, but as more and more cars passed by us, he began to get a little
paranoid, so he slowed down to sixty-two m.p.h....
...And suddenly, a police car coming from the opposite direction flipped a
U-turn, and began following us. Although John had slowed us down to fifty-five
mph, the police officer had already clocked us doing seven miles over the
speed limit, and he pulled us over. We were convinced this time that we were
getting a ticket because the first thing the cop asked us was, "Do you know
why I pulled you over?"
"Yes, Officer, I think I was speeding a little," John confessed.
Unbelievably, the policeman let us go with a verbal warning after running
John's drivers license through his computer and finding that his driving
record was clean. We drove away, keeping the cruise control set at the speed
limit -- never higher or lower -- all the way home. When we finally got home
-- six hours after leaving Rocky Point! -- John and I cracked open a beer and
rested, both of us still laughing that we had been pulled over three times and
had not gotten a single ticket. We were also thankful that the adventure was