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True Stories by Steve Keely
Hobo Memoirs

One for Galton

Someone once asked how much desert land I own, and I answered, ?I step out my trailer door and can walk 1 mile south, 4 miles north, or 8 miles east before finding the a neighbor, or 1 mile to the west where the Coco Mountain bombing range begins. I own the nucleus of ten acres. Yesterday before sunset, I set off through a small mountain range that fences the bombing range, and thought to return home in a big loop. The expanse is road-less, albeit on this hike alone I stumbled across three 1910?s U.S. Geological Survey steel mile-section markers. Five hours into the hike I admitted to the stars and desert owls that I was lost, slowed the pace and thought, ?What would Francis Galton (19th century British explorer who contributed enormous intelligence including survival insights) do?? There was no moon, the Big Dipper and North Star were obscured by a haze on the horizon, and I was buck-naked in 45 F. except for 10-lb. of ankle weights on each foot, and a pair of gloves each into which a General Patton-era shell ? found in the sand before sundown - hung like dew-claws. Taking the shells, I clang them 3-times, and waited. Desert dogs are funny about sounds, and I know the near neighbor's well, having been bitten twice; they sleep through commotion but answer the odd noise. They barked just a second from a few miles off, but enough to get a bearing on my trailer. I made a bee-line and in an hour was home reading a good adventure story.

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