Destruction Aftermath, Book 4
Copyright© 2011 by radio_guy
We stopped before Phoenix. Lake Pleasant Regional Park beckoned. We pulled off I-17 and went there. The idea of warm and water was appealing. The dam was still there and the area looked relatively untouched. We found some cabins and RV's and moved in for a while. We decided that we would check Phoenix out from here. Jim's memory, confirmed by Dad's records, was that Phoenix was not well watered. We wanted water for us to drink and play in as well as for the horses. Jen and I settled into a cabin with George with our wagon parked to one side. Janice and Bennie moved in next door on one side and Jim and his wives were on the other side. It was cozy.
When we entered, we were reasonably careful to hide the tracks of our horses and wagons. It looked like no one had been there in a long time. We wanted to meet people but did not want them to know where we were until after we met them and got to know them a little bit. We moved into the lake area and took it easy for a few days before thinking about going into Phoenix.
It was so nice to be warm again. Jen and I set up housekeeping in a cabin that was fenced and set back from the lake. We wanted that for George so that he would be able to roam outside without us having to watch him every minute. He didn't lack for someone around him. We enjoyed our young son as did his three grandparents who set up close to us and were over almost every day. Janice and Bennie set up closer to the lake and we used a marina office close by for a radio room and meeting place.
There was a bit of gas and plenty of boats in usable shape after tuning. It was a different sensation to ride on a pontoon boat. Jen and I had experience with canoes and large boats but this was our first time like this. I had always understood Dad's insistence on Preservation being able to function without gasoline. However, our friends in Texas and now this experience did help me understand the benefits of having motors.
After a week of tanning, swimming, and boating, it was time to think about next steps. The Flagstaff folk were not familiar with conditions in Phoenix. Janice and Bennie had found an observation point and could see the city. It seemed in good shape except for one area to our west. That area looked to have been burned. We could see signs further out also. Janice and Bennie reported that they had seen smoke from campfires in the evening. There were no lights and nothing to suggest that there was any advanced technology being employed.
Our radios were silent. Dad did some research and found a repeater for two meters close to us. Jim, Bennie, and I rode over and looked it over. We decided that electricity would get it operating and give us an additional method of communicating. We gathered boat batteries and chargers and even found some solar panels that would provide some charging ability since we only needed twelve volt power after reconfiguring a few items on the repeater station. I'm glad Jim was with us because it was a more difficult project than I would have thought. We tested it out and it worked well for us locally and should have good coverage through most of northern Phoenix.
Janice and Bennie were itching to go and, to my surprise, Claire, the Flagstaff leader, and June, another woman from that group, wanted to go. I left that decision to Janice and Bennie who, after a lot of discussion, approved the idea though reluctantly. June worried them since she just wanted to walk in and see what might happen. She knew the risks but felt that it might show us results more quickly. Janice and Bennie vetoed that idea but kept it in mind.
It was April Fools' Day when the four of them left on foot with radios, supplies, water, and guns. I hoped it wasn't an omen!
This is Bennie writing an addendum to Mike's journal. We entered Phoenix from the north being careful to watch for signs of people, current or a while ago, and to listen for sounds. My sight is good but my hearing is particularly acute. We were tense but overly so. We walked spread out across the road. Janice and I talked with Claire and June explaining that we didn't want a confrontation with anyone or anything. On the other hand, we wanted to make peaceful contact as we learned more about where we were.
As usual when we've scouted, Janice and I found it to be tedium broken by moments of terror. Though my wife didn't act it, she was a very cautious person and has a second sense about danger. Her eyesight is phenomenal and her hearing is good just not on the same scale as mine. We made a good team. On top of that, we had been husband and wife long enough to know what the other was thinking most of the time.
We had moved over to I-17 and Janice and I were going down the north bound side as Claire and June were following the east bound side. Janice and I were walking on the edge and keeping low. Claire was adopting our method but not as wary. June, on the other hand, was walking down the middle of the road. We walked a few miles until we came to a creek which I realized was an aqueduct. We continued on south looking and listening. We were coming into a developed area but kept going. We finally came to a large intersection with a different type of ramp system. To our left were shopping areas and we stopped and were going to inspect them. Their condition would tell us much about any people living in the area and might attract attention.
We cut across the ground to enter the shopping area on the northeast corner of this intersection. We had still seen and heard no one. The birds were busy and we could see a couple of hawks or the like floating high in the sky. They weren't circling the mall which usually was good. It was a long way to the stores and the asphalt was hot under foot. There were few cars parked around which was typical of what we had found on earlier trips and even close to home in Atlanta. We kept going.
We came up close and could see that a number of windows were broken in. Someone had been in these stores though not lately. The area around a missing window had been cleared to give better walking for people as they carried loads out.
Janice went inside for a quick look as we waited in the shade of the building. She came out a few minutes later and said, "It's been pretty well cleaned out. It doesn't look like anyone has been in there for a while, probably a couple of years. Let's make a quick check of a few more stores though I don't imagine we'll find anything different."
She was right. The one I checked looked like no one had been in it for many years even though it was a men's casual clothing store and still had clothes that might be worth having. You never knew how things might preserve. My guess was that, in this hot, dry climate, things might last a while. I noticed that the winter coats were not disturbed. Even in early April, it was hot!
We gathered together and compared our findings. Rather than explore this one mall more thoroughly, we decided to go back to the main drag and continue following I-17 south.
We continued to walk quietly down I-17 and saw a sizable hill on our right. It was Adobe Mountain. We had found a map of Phoenix in a store and that's what it said. There was also a recreation area further west with a dam. I wasn't sure what that would be worth and we decided to give it a miss for now. The smoke Janice and I had seen was further east and probably south.