Just outside of Tucson at a Texaco gas station, a weathered Caucasian man who stepped out of an old Ford Bronco approached the driver side door where Ben was sitting right as we were about to leave. The man's skin was redder than a Ferrari and his attire consisted of a Vietnam War Veteran trucker hat and a "BigDog" t-shirt with it's graphic bearing a dog sitting on a chopped motorcycle whilst sporting an American bandana on his head. There hadn't been a better definition of this stereotype in my life until this moment. His belly stretched the graphic to a comical shape, but I decided that it'd be best to pull away since both Ben and I are Asian-American and the last thing we wanted was for this 69 year-old redneck to have flashbacks and mistake us for Vietcong. However, we were blocked. He had strategically placed himself to force a conversation in an obtusely aggressive yet friendly demeanor.
"I saw you guys earlier! How slow you guys going?" said the man.
"Umm... as fast as we can haul this camper, so around 65?" responded Ben.
"Yeah, I thought I noticed you guys! Where you guys headed?"
"What exit are you getting off at?"
"We don't know, we're just going to play it by ear. Just a couple of good ol' boys traveling across the country."
"Ah, hell, I'm just some old redneck with too many guns."
As the conversation continued, we realized he might not be completely coherent. He had no signs of intoxication, but his social cues pointed to an altered state of mind. He claimed to be a sniper, and when Ben mentioned he shoots long distance as well, his speech dropped in volume. As I nudge Ben's arm to help me engage in the conversation, Ben questions him about "D-O-P-E" and ballistics co-efficiency; the "former sniper's" answers were stuttered mumbles at best in comparison to his ability to name guns he owned. He just seemed like someone who buys all the toys, gear, or clothing in attempts to pass himself off as a master of skill, but he was nothing more than a phony; an un-legit, mainstream alt. boy with tattoos who's actually store-bought wanna-be-hipster-sheep. We had just spotted our first, desperate, elderly loon who not only wasted an hour of our time with lies, but imposed his beliefs upon a younger generation that could careless what happens. As Bob Dylan once said, "All of you I see sitting with very little hair on your head. You're very close to the ground. I got a lot of hair on my head and I'm trying to be as high as I can be."
Eventually, we cut the conversation and told him we had to leave and said our cordial goodbyes. Perhaps, we exited kindly because we were raised in California and we were taught to smile in order to avoid confrontation; or perhaps it was because he was a racist man who lied about being a sniper and about training the Oakland Police in the 1970s where he was subsequently laid off due to his tactics, dubbed as Tactical Response because his tactics were too harsh. Either way, he then went onto claim that he and his men shot down 19 Black-Americans in Oakland on a street in downtown Oakland during the race riots and that was why he moved back to Arizona to train snipers in the Marine Corps.
As we continued towards our first stop, we checked the freeway to make sure no White Ford Bronco was following us. An hour later, we arrived in Tucson around midnight in search of a place to park our camper and sleep. However, after circling the town for quite some time, we settled on an apartment complex where we got little sleep due to paranoia of getting towed. Thankfully, we woke up early, got breakfast and headed to Sabino Canyon to see Seven Falls. Though we started one day late, both my brother and I found it extremely hard to leave our parents behind. I would be lying to you if I didn't say I miss them both, but right now, being with my brother and searching much like the Beatnik generation is all our minds can and will tolerate at the moment. The only things that matter in this life so far seem to be truth, love of family, support for those who support you, and the unaimed search that hopefully leads to greater fulfillment.