We sauntered into Cerrillos, NM at high noon and it seemed as if we had taken a step back in time. Ghost towns were a regular sight on our expedition, but this one still had a pulse. Antique shops that were antiques in their own right and hole in the wall cantinas lined the main street. Staring down the middle of that dusty road it was hard not to envision the spirits of gauchos and gunslingers facing off in wild west shootouts. The team spotted a watering hole with an open door and we went inside to find something that could calm our nerves. The bartender wasn’t much for words, but he understood what Trouble meant and told us a few routes out of town that might provide us such a thing.
Following a short discourse amongst the team we agreed to put our maps and navigational equipment aside and began to explore on instinct alone. We hit several dead ends with little sign of Trouble and spent a lot of time retracing our steps back to the main road. One of the men joked that Trouble might simply be hiding from us. We pondered the possibility for a moment, but considering the Black Boar doesn’t exactly provide for a subtle approach we were left with little other choice.
We traveled down another gravel road and started to lose hope that it would lead anywhere worth the effort. Suddenly we began to make shapes out in the distance of what appeared to be a parking lot. Locals had informed us that long exposure to the sun would cause travelers to often imagine things that they wanted to see. This however was no mirage, but we proceeded forward with caution. When we drew closer we found that there were in fact many vehicles parked, but mostly ones that hadn’t been mobile for decades.
A man pulled his head out from under the hood of a truck he had been working on. We slowly waved our peace flag out the window to signify that we were friendly. He laughed at our timid gesture and waved us forward past the cattle guard. The team piled out of the Black Boar and we asked him what he was doing out there alone at the end of a road. Before he could answer a young woman sprang from the house and turned the question back onto us.
We briefed them on our mission, and they seemed genuinely supportive to our cause. Don himself was an explorer in his younger days, and looked favorably upon our strategy of finding Trouble. By happenstance his daughter Marissa was visiting him and she currently resides in Portland, OR. This is the home of most of our team, where Gerber began producing tools and knives in 1939, and the very place where the American Expedition all began. A surprise memoir of our roots while out in the middle of nowhere. We told them about some of the things we had experienced thus far on the trip. When we asked them to tell us a story about their experiences with Trouble they were happy to oblige with a few tales of their own.
Don gestured towards an old rusting baby blue school bus that sat as a focal point on the property. He told us how he had ventured across the greater United States in the early 1970’s with the vehicle. Originating on the East Coast, it seemed as if Don had a story from nearly everywhere. We told him about the lands where we each grew up, and the places we had just explored on this expedition. He replied with excerpts of his own travels from those same areas, and it reminded us just how small the world can truly be sometimes. A memorable encounter with Trouble from those days happened on the route to the very place he stood before us. Don had blown a piston inside the engine of the blue bus while making his way across the Midwest. A forward thinking man, he was prepared for this form of Trouble, and had been carrying a spare big block engine with him. He made makeshift repairs to the bus on the side of the road as best he could before slowly limping the large vessel to Boulder, CO where he had a friend with the necessary tools to change out the engine. After four days of mixing and matching parts, he was able to fire up the bus and make it to New Mexico. When Don arrived he asked some locals where a good place around there was for him to park the bus for a little while. They recommended to him the road we had just driven down just moments before ourselves. Forty years later, he remains at the spot to this day.
Marissa explained how she had been born on the property and lived there with her father until she graduated high school. She then made her own way towards the Northwest territory of Oregon where she currently resides. Marissa manages environmental restoration projects along the Willamette River and is making a career out of dealing with the Trouble involved. In this line of work Trouble often comes from the irresponsible negligence of human beings and the impact that we often have on the adjacent flora, fauna, and water supplies. She told us how her job isn’t just grappling Trouble with her own two hands, but teaching the future generations how to use their own to make a positive impact on the world. Trouble to her isn’t just a physical hardship, but one that begins when our children are growing. We admired how she spoke of using natural solutions to solve the environmental Trouble caused by mankind. We thanked them both for their insight and hospitality towa rds strangers and offered them their choice of tool from our Gerber Gear to use on their future endeavors. The mechanic in Don lead him to select a multi-tool, and we’re still not exactly sure what lead Marissa to choose the machete.
Regardless, we left the two feeling that we were parting with more than we had arrived with. The next stop on our itinerary reads Texas, and we will report back as soon as we’ve established a Field HQ.