We left Farmington, NM and headed west to The Grand Canyon in Arizona. We left fairly early, and with a stop for breakfast, made it to the canyon in around five hours. We travelled the south rim and drank in the gorgeous views. I love Yellowstone National Park and Niagara Falls among other places, but for sheer “knock you back on your heels” grandeur, nothing beats The Grand Canyon. It was the first time that I had been there, but it won’t be the last.
I wish that we had been able to spend more time there, but it was not to be. We knew that we couldn’t go any further west or spend more time at the canyon without running the risk of not getting back to Indiana before our honeymoon time was up. So after spending a few hours at the canyon we headed back east and then north in search of a place to spend the night. After around two hours on the road we came to Paige, Arizona. And now we enter a somewhat surrealistic portion of our trip.
Paige is on the border between Arizona and Utah, and it appeared to be our best chance of finding a place to stay before nightfall. We passed two or three motels, all of which had NO VACANCY neon signs lit. Then, on the eastern edge of town there was a motel without a NO VACANCY sign. Hurrah!
I went into the motel office and enquired about a room. The fellow behind the desk looked somewhat startled and said that they had no vacancies, and then realized that he had not turned on their neon sign. I told him that I was surprised that there were no vacancies in the entire town. He explained that a movie was being shot on location just across the State line and the movie crew had taken all of the rooms in town.
He then said that he had a friend who occasionally rented rooms in her house. Would he like me to call her to see if she was willing to take us in? She would only charge as much as the motel would charge us. I knew that Cindy was tired, and I didn’t want to drive strange roads for hours after dark, so I said I would be grateful if he would call his friend. So he called her and was told that the rooms she normally rented were filled, but that she would give up her master bedroom and bath to us. She could spend the night with her boyfriend. I told him that we would take it.
He told me to get in our car and that he would lead us to the house. When I got in the car and explained what was happening to Cindy, she was dubious, but agreed that we didn’t want to get back on the road. She almost changed her mind when the fellow came out of the office and climbed on his bicycle to lead us to the house. Shades of Ciudad Juarez!
The house was just a few blocks from the motel, in a nice section of town. It was a new, two-story house. Like all of the other houses in that area, there was no grass, but landscaped gravel and succulent plants. The motel/bicycle guy took me in to meet the owner and to see the room. She was a pleasant person. I looked at the room and bath on the second floor and was pleased. There was large, comfortable looking bed in the room, as well as a love seat and chair, and a largish television. The bathroom had both a shower and a tub. I paid for the room and in return was handed two keys, one for the front door of the house and one for the bedroom. She explained that the other two bedrooms were rented to a couple of construction workers who were in town for a few months. They would be coming in later. They were usually very tired and didn’t make much noise.
So I went to the car to collect Cindy and our luggage. The motel guy came out, climbed on his bicycle and rode away. The owner got into her car and drove away before I could introduce Cindy to her. We went into the house and settled in. Cindy wanted to call home to check on how the kids were doing, and since this was a time before we had cell phones, we went out in search of a telephone booth.
We drove back to the west side of town where we had noticed a large supermarket and drug store. Sure enough, in front of the store was a phone booth. Cindy got out of the car to make the call, while I stayed in the car and read the local newspaper. After a few minutes Cindy came back to the car in an agitated state. It seems that while she was in the booth she had looked over at some men sitting at a nearby picnic table. One of them looked back at her and licked his lips, and made other suggestive gestures with his lips and tongue. Of course I should have been there to protect her honor, but instead I was reading a newspaper.
She calmed down a bit over dinner, but her calm evaporated after returning to our rented room. Cindy decided to open the French doors in our room and to step out onto the balcony. Luckily it wasn’t yet dark so she saw that when she opened the doors there was no balcony. Disaster averted. We tried the TV, but there was nothing on that either of us wanted to watch. We started talking about our trip so far, and that we would be getting home soon. We talked about how strange things had been in Paige. (Here’s the foreshadowing) The strangeness wasn’t over completely.
We were ready to go to bed when we heard the other renters enter the house and come upstairs to their rooms. That’s when Cindy decided that they weren’t construction workers, but were really drug dealers who would attack and kill us in our sleep. I don’t know; maybe she thought they had trailed us from Mexico and wanted the purse she had brought through customs. At any rate, we couldn’t go to bed. We must stay up and be vigilant in order to protect ourselves. She broke out a deck of cards and we played Rummy until early in the morning.
Around sunrise the next morning, while the construction workers were still sleeping soundly, I lugged our luggage to the car. When I stepped out of the front door I was greeted by the owner of the house. She was holding a hose and was watering the gravel. She said good morning and then explained that she was having sod laid in the next week. I was pretty sure that the water would be evaporated by then, but what did I know? Besides, I didn’t have to pay her water bill. I returned the keys to her and thanked her for letting us rent to bedroom and bath.
Cindy came down, got into the car, and we drove away. We shall never forget that stop in Paige, AZ.