Milk of human kindness sours on Hunt Highway - East Valley Tribune: Sidewalkstories

Milk of human kindness sours on Hunt Highway

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Posted: Tuesday, April 4, 2006 6:53 am | Updated: 2:15 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

I have greatly overestimated human charity. I spent Monday on a dustchoked stretch of asphalt that is known as Hunt Highway.

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Read Slim's blog entry for Day 2

No offense to the folks who live along that stretch of road between Florence and Queen Creek, but I’m glad to be heading north.

Aside from breathing dust for 10 hours, there was nothing particularly remarkable about Monday’s 15-mile jaunt from the Magic Ranch community in Florence to Queen Creek. Of more interest was my efforts to find lodging for the night on Sunday. It was a fruitless, yet interesting enterprise.

I met a Cyclops and one of the most hard-bitten ex-Marines you will ever have the displeasure of running into. I will get to them shortly.

But some background is in order before I proceed.

There aren’t many lodging options in the 25 miles between Florence — where this journey began Sunday — and Queen Creek. The plan was to find a place to stay the night halfway between those two points, which I realized would be tricky since A. I don’t know anyone who lives in the area and B. there aren’t any motels along Hunt Highway.

I viewed this as an opportunity to play amateur sociologist. I wondered if anyone would be willing to offer a weary traveler a night’s lodging. It’s not that I didn’t realize this would be a tough sell. Ring enough doorbells, I thought, and somebody will come through.

But I was wrong.

All along Lush Vista View, one of the major streets at Magic Ranch, I rang doorbells. Some people simply shut the door in my face. Others listened patiently, then offered their apologies.

Even so, I did get to see a Cyclops.

OK, I can’t prove she was a Cyclops. But I didn’t see anything that ruled that out, either. Hers was about the fifth doorbell I rang. She opened the door about two inches. All I saw of her was one big, dark brown eye which viewed me with great suspicion as I explained the nature of my journey and why it was that I was ringing her doorbell.

“So,’’ I said, after a fiveminute explanation of my journalistic endeavor, “I just need a place to stay the night. OK?’’

The big dark brown unblinking eye simply stared at me. “Not here, you’re not,’’ she said.

A while later I walked up to a house that seemed a cul-desac contradiction: The lawn was covered with flowers and the driveway was filled with a pickup and car smattered with Marine Corps stickers and slogans along the lines of “Kill Everybody.” I was hoping to get the lady of the house as I rang the doorbell. Instead, a pot-bellied man of about 60 with a distinctly military crew cut and a pouch of chewing tobacco in one hand answered.

“What do you want?’’ he growled.

Consider my position at that moment. Explaining why it was that I came to ring his doorbell required a fair amount of explanation.

Clearly, he wasn’t in a listening mood.

“Uh,’ I said. “I’m just looking for a place to spend the night.’’

“No,’’ he said. “Hey, why don’t you try the guy across the street?’’

There was an unmistakable tone of sarcasm in his tone. I looked across the street. In the driveway sat a Pinal County sheriff’s cruiser. On the back of the cruiser was a decal: K-9 Unit. That was the one doorbell I didn’t ring. Sufficiently demoralized, I hitched a ride into Queen Creek and spent the night at a friend’s house. I got another ride back to Lush Vista View on Monday morning. I beat the dust off my shoes and continued my journey west.

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