Since history adventuring is a journey of imagination, it really doesn't require traveling IRL (In Real Life), but every once in a while I like to do it. And I recently went to Bouse, Arizona.
If you're wondering what Bouse has to do with Phoenix, or Los Angeles, that's exactly what I was trying to figure out. To me, Bouse was just a mostly-abandoned little town way out in the middle of nowhere, on the road to nowhere, and although I was right about how the town never really took off, I was wrong about it being in the middle of nowhere. It was along a main route, between Phoenix and Los Angeles.
|1910 ad for Bouse, Arizona. On the road between Los Angeles and Phoenix, southeast of Parker, on what is now Highway 72|
There's really only so much that you can do in cyberspace. I read about Bouse, I looked at Google images of Bouse. But I wanted to "put my feet on the ground", so I asked around of my history adventuring friends if they'd like to go on a road trip.
|1916 map showing the route across Arizona from the Colorado River, including Bouse.|
It takes a different mindset to go history adventuring with me. Since most people get all excited about being able to get from point A to point B as quickly as possible, what I'm doing here makes absolutely no sense to them. There are big, fast superhighways nowadays which make as straight a line as is possible between, for example, Los Angeles and Phoenix. I know, as I've driven back and forth more times that I can count, and it's dull, dull, dull. Even though I've always tended to stop regularly, the thought of staring at the dots on the freeway, with the only entertainment for hours on end being the annoyance of having to pass trucks, is something I've done, but I've hated it, and hope to never have to do it again. To me, that's no fun.
|Historical marker for the Bouse Homestead, Bouse, Arizona.|
The photo at the top of this post, of me standing next to something that really amounts to nothing, is what I want to do when I history adventure in real life. That's the original homestead of Thomas Bouse, who came there in 1889. And he was there when the world started to change around him, and "motorcars" started to appear in large quantities. And that's what fascinates me, imagining the first cars doing the Los Angeles to Phoenix trip.
Of course I only like to imagine "roughing it". When I'm history adventuring, I'm in the cool comfort of an air conditioned car, and always bring along plenty of food and water. I consider providing food for my fellow history adventurer, who is driving, and putting miles on their car, to be the absolute minimum that I can do. And whatever money I get from my Patreon subscribers I give to offset the cost of gas. The budget doesn't run to anything fancy, but I can do that, maybe buy a cup of coffee or two along the way. And I got a senior discount at the Burger King, and got a cup of coffee for 55 cents! I'll take that!
I also used to resist having to fiddle with a camera, but now that I carry one around in my pocket, as part of my phone, I'm taking more photos. But I have to show some judgement. Getting back home and trying to go through 100+ photos isn't really what I want to do, so I actually try not to take too many photos. I like taking pics of historical markers, so I can refer back to them later. And I like to do a "selfie", with myself next to something I'd been looking for, like that chunk of concrete that I'm standing next to. I have a wonky ankle, so in these photos you'll see that I'm always leaning on something, trying to look casual.
Once I get back home, and start writing about what I've seen, a thousand more questions open up, and become the basis for future history adventuring. And the IRL (In Real Life) history adventuring makes me want to do more history adventuring in my imagination, which in turn makes me want to do more IRL stuff.
So that's a little bit of behind the scenes. Thank you for riding along with me!
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