Summer along the lower Colorado River is hot. Come July or August, 123 degrees in the shade is common around Lake Mohave. And that Lake Mohave country is as treacherous as it gets.
You can be riding along and suddenly the ground will just open into a canyon or a cliff that takes you hours to get around. Then you look back and you aren’t 100 yards from where you started three miles before. But in the back of your mind, there’s always that cool blue water that keeps pulling you to get a drink or have a cool dip. So when riding that country, I take every chance I can to get down to the water.
Now you can’t get to the water just any old place. There are a lot of spots where you can spit in the lake but you can’t get a drink. Ever so often though, you’ll find an ancient trail and if you’re lucky, alongside it will be a black malapai rock with Indian writing on it. This is how the old fellows marked their streets, so if you find such a rock, you’ll know the trail goes all the way down to the river.
Well, I happened to be riding along about two in the afternoon on a summer day, and it was so hot that if I stepped off for a call of nature, I had to leave my hat on the saddle so I didn’t blister my butt when I got back on. It had been quite a few miles since I left camp that morning, so when I crossed a faint trail heading down country and a flat black rock with Indian pictures, I couldn’t resist. My pony and I plodded along, looking forward to a cool sip of lake water tasting faintly of fish, and perhaps a short swim. The trail took us out on a long flat-topped ridge covered with black shiny volcanic malapai rock that blasted the heat back into my face. To say I was miserable ain’t the half of it.
When the trail came close to the cliff’s edge, I saw a sheltered cove filled with cool lake water 75 feet below me. That dang lake was so clear I could see fish swimming on the bottom.
Around a point of rock, I saw a houseboat. Probably no more than 10 men in the last 100 years had been on this trail, and these boaters most likely thought they had moored on the moon.
The houseboat had a short fence around the top, right handy for blocking the view from another boat, but not worth a dang for preventing some cowhand from staring straight down from above.
Laying facedown on top of the boat were two of the prettiest and nakedest girls I had ever laid eyes on. Frankly, up ’til that time I had NEVER laid eyes on anything as fine. So, I just had to pull up and appreciate it. The good Lord gives a man a gift every now and then, and I figgered it would be disrespectful not to say thanks. So I did, for about 15 minutes. But it was still hotter than the hind-side of hell, and I was getting choked up. I knew I better get a drink since my pulse was now well over a thousand beats a minute.
I’ve always been kind of a horse’s ass, and a bit of it broke out in me right then. I just couldn’t leave those two lovely gals without some kind of good-bye. I thought about whistling to ’em. I thought about jumping off the cliff and swimming over to do it in person. (Actually, I thought about that one a couple of times.) Then I happened to glance down by my feet and there was one of those big black lava rocks about the size of a watermelon. Now this cliff went straight down and I always had good coordination, which was a good thing because if that rock had hit the deck instead of five feet to the side, I am sure it would have sent my sweethearts to the bottom. As it happened, that rock made the biggest splash you’ve ever seen. I swear that water shot almost all the way up to me, and when it came down, it soaked a couple of the prettiest bare bums a man ever laid eyes on.
So what did they do? They flipped over to see what had happened, and what did they see but little old me looking back at little old them. And if I am lying, I’m dying. They were sure enough worth looking at. I gave them a smile and a wave, and they gave me the finger and a solid cussin’.
Suddenly that hot desert was a pretty cool place. And while I don’t believe in Santa Claus, I’ve got to tell you, on that summer day, Christmas came early in the Mohave.