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From The Beginning - Part 01

  • Like any good story starting from the beginning leads to a better understanding of what is to follow so whatI thought I would do is start from the beginning, and try to set the stage for each of my blogs as I release them, I think I do fare job at writing my story a lot better than I do at videography and editing of those videos, I do take good pictures and have good composition of those pictures that make them interesting, but I seem to express myself better in writing even though English is a second language for me..


    The Beginning - I was born in the US, but after my mom's failed marriage to a Navy guy who was out to see most of the time, my mom packed up her belongings and drove me and my younger brother (4 and 2) to Mexico, (this is a recurring theme in my life as I grow up) this was in early 60's, she did not know anyone in Mexico, nor did she have a clear plan, but as a newly single mother of 2 she made it work, no she is not Hispanic either, this was during the Cold War between Cuba and US there was a lot of tension.


    I think it was a bold move one that my mom made time and time again over her life, she did not worry about what ifs she just took action, I don’t know if she had a strong faith or just a strong sense of adventure.


    Now the last place I would have imagined she end up would be.... wait for it, she settled in a small town in the state of Oaxaca.  On our way there in her station wagon, and the back filled with a volume of several books of encyclopedia and our other belongings, we go stuck in a low water crossing, as we sat there not knowing the language, people started to show up and hang out just slightly out of site, they had machetes and other farming implements, a guy later showed up just before dark and said we needed to go with him as it was not safe to be here at night.  The story that mom told us was that there was a lot of unrest going on in the area and that we would have been probably killed if we stayed there.  This man that rescued us helped get our car out the next day it was not harmed, and we continued on our journey.  We settled in a small town where she purchased a farm, yes a farm, I remember as a young child playing in the river that ran by the farm, there was black clay and we made all kinds of things with this clay. She decides to raise chickens as a means to support herself, I remember the long days and nights bringing up those little chicks with the heat lamps.


    The Farm venture did not last long, she sold the property and moved on, we moved to Guadalajara, in the state of Jalisco, she met my step farther and they had several children, I went to Mexican schools and Spanish became my native language as that is what I learned, my step father ended up being a drug lord and was very abusive towards me and my brother, we took some bad beatings over our life with him, he ended up in jail due to drug trafficking and we then moved to Chapala, a small community of Americans lived there, I was sent to Catholic school, and kicked out because I would not conform, I ended up going to regular school like all the other children we wore uniforms to school, but it was very poor, the bathrooms where pits in the ground and it stunk to high heaven.


    Grandpa would come visit, yup, he and grandma would come visit us in Mexico, they lived in Canada, they drove hauling a 30+ feet Airstream with a pickup, and on top of the pickup was an aluminum row boat.  Today is so different but can you imagine in the early 70 driving to deep central Mexico pulling your rig?  To this day I have a fascination with Airstream RV's, I don't own one but I love the nostalgic image and feel.


    I don’t remember much about Grampa Waterfall, but he was a tall man, and very kind hearted, he used to work for Kellogg’s whey they lived in the US.   Sure wish I had spent more time with him and Grandma, I would have learned so much about RVing.  I was so ecstatic the first time I walked into their RV it looked huge but at my age everything looked big.  I do remember the smell of Zest soap in the RV, they told me they had several bars of the soap in their drawers to help keep bugs away.



    Fast forward mid 70's - at the young age 14 I decided that I wanted to meet my dad, I had not seen him since I was 4 and we left to Mexico but as far as I was concerned I had never met him.  My mom arranged a meet up and I would go live with him for a while.  I left home on my own and traveled via train from Guadalajara Mexico, being there was no train that went to Tijuana, I had to get off about 50 or so miles before Tijuana and find the bus station and purchase a ticket and get on the bust to Tijuana, this but was carrying pigs, chickens and it was packed with people there was not seat, so I sat on my suitcase in the isle, when it arrived in Tijuana I was to find a specific hotel and check in and wait for my dad whom remember I have never met or remember meeting.  He and my step mom came over the border to pick up this blond haired young kid who could not speak, write or read English, all of my schooling and learning had been in Spanish and my history lessons and culture was about Mexico, Benito Juarez, Miguel Hidalgo and the likes, learned about the Spanish American war from the Hispanic point of view....  His advice to me was when they ask if you are an American citizen say "Yes" do not say anything else.  I remember driving across the border and seeing those wide highways, and clean....


    Would you let your 14 year old travel by themselves on trains and then self-transfer to a bus and check into a hotel?  Life has changed a lot…


    Life in the US – I was enrolled in school, I attended classes not knowing how to read or write in English, I was working on speaking English, but had a heavy accent, was bullied a lot because I was blond and could not speak English, but those that did the bullying where Latinos so it did not make sense, I got discriminated in Mexico because I was blond gringo, and in the US because I was a blond with Hispanic accent.  After about a year, my mom moved back to the US after leaving the states in the early 60's, this was mid 70's, she purchased a hotel in Chula Vista called El Primero Hotel, I went to visit my mom but ended up staying. I was always the one that got things done, and the oldest of 6.  So I stayed and helped clean rooms, and do minor maintenance.


    1976 - She sold everything she had... sound familiar? Packed up all 6 kids and our St Bernard dog into a pickup camper, this pickup camper was one I have never been able to find again, the back end of it pushed out and turned into a queen size bed, the door was just behind the back tire.  There was this large area over the cab of the truck also a queen size bed, and the dining table turned into a twin bed, full kitchen (stove, fridge and sink) and full bathroom.  (To this day I can't ever remember dumping the gray or black tanks)


    Summer 1976 RV Trip - Mom, 3 Boys, 3 Girls and a St Bernard, which sounds like a book title or a TV Travel Show does it not!  LOL 


    We traveled from Chula Vista CA all the way up to Mid Oregon, I remember the feeling of entering Oregon, while mom looked for a new place for us to live, the Oregon motto on their welcome sign was "Thank you for Visiting" and they meant that, they did not want you to stay, just come and spend your money and move on..... They saw this ragged bunch of hippies looking for a place to live they all turned up their nose.



    We moved on, we traveled back down and came across the US remember stopping in Las Vegas we stayed in the parking lot or camper lot behind Circus Circus, it was hot, I remember traveling across the desert, we had no A/C in that truck so we put wet towels in the windows and it helped stay cool.  Most of us traveled in the upper area of the Cab over camper, along with the dog, we with switch places riding shotgun up front with mom, we could crawl through the boot that joined the truck and the camper.  Somewhere in New Mexico or Arizona we headed north towards Iowa, mom had a friend that lived there, we much docked there for a bit while mom looked for a place to live, nope nothing there for us, she got wind of Arkansas and headed in that direction, we ended up in a town called Damascus AR at the end the Summer of 1976 it was basically a trip from the time school let out to the time school started we traveled and ended up in Damascus AR a small town of 200 people population.  This US indoctrinated (been in the US for 2 years now) city boy learned to milk cows, haul hay, catch chickens and back woods driving on dirt road.  Did some Ozark Mountains camping and fishing with cane poles, learned how to dip snuff and chew Tabaco, this was all new to this city boy!  In Mexico I never did any of the aforementioned, and we did not use a fishing pole, we wound our fishing line onto a coke bottle and had 6 or so hooks and a weight, we sling it in circles and let is fly into the lake, hauling in your catch was not too bad but you made sure you did not trample over your fishing line as it was piled up at your feet.  


    1977 - After graduation from High School big graduating class of 18, yup 18 students in the 12th grade, I came from a high school in California that had 800 students in the 11th grade,  I got a job in Conway AR, working for Virco they made modular furniture, This was my first real paying job aside from hawling hay and the such, it was my introduction to adult hood, the midnight shift of factory work boxing tables for shipment.  I quickly learned that I needed to do something else with my life so I joined the US Air Force and started Active Duty on 7 Dec 1977 Pearl Harbor Day.


    My job in the Air Force was a ROMAD, (Radio Operator, Maintenance and Driver Specialist) 275, today they call it TACP's (Tactical Air Control Party).  I was promised outdoor work and that is what I wanted, yup, outdoor work stationed on Army Forts providing Close Air Support, we get to go "Camping" with the army and play war.... I could not complain that is what I signed up for.....


    As you can probably imagine my mom was a very strong independent woman and as far as I knew she had Gypsy blood or the FBI was after her, just kidding about the Gypsy blood, (LOL) don't know which one it was, but she moved around a lot, we got used to it and learned to adopt to new schools, friends and places.  Then I joined the AF and yup you guessed it they moved me often, annually to a new duty station so moving has always been in my blood, getting used to new places and seeing new things has been easy for me.


    Hopefully this was intriguing enough that you will want to catch the next Blog. It will be about the day my life made a big change.  Hope you follow along.