Our second full day in Arizona and first day out on a photo shoot was blessed by sunshine, missing for nearly a week in Phoenix.
Our host and old friend, Ben, was showing us the sights. We hit pay dirt with our first sunset in Phoenix. I didn’t have to move much to capture scenes that reminded me of one of the first westerns I saw on the big screen, 1950’s “Winchester ’73”.
The cactus and looming mountains brought back memories of Jimmy Stewart’s “Lin McAdam” chasing after bad guys like Dutch Henry Brown and Waco Johnny Dean in the austere country that now gleamed in burnt color.
As I slowly made my way through the hardened mud, dodged piles of horse “residue” and other clutter, the echoes of “Winchester ’73” and other beloved westerns raced through my sense memory.
So many images….”The Last Sunset”, “The Bravados”, “Arizona Raiders”, “Ride Lonesome”, “3:10 To Yuma”, and all those other oaters shot where I now roamed.
I could feel the presence of John Ford, Robert Aldrich, Delmer Daves, William Wyler and all those other legendary directors who shot classic westerns here.
Somewhere in the shadows between the cactus and the mountains were the ghosts of characters played by Duke, Clint, Randy, Mitch, and all the other silver screen cowboys.
Halfway through this particular “shoot” we met two locals, Crockett and Jim.
Crockett is the lean, four-legged Arizonan who checked out the pilgrims taking pictures before a bond was forged. Crockett probably saw the dog hair and smelled familiar odors on our clothing before deciding we would do.
Jim, Crockett’s pal, was quicker to offer friendship. He spun a few stories, sang some songs and swapped a few lies once we told him about our love of the west. I probably cemented things by telling Jim about my encounter with John Wayne back in the early 70’s.
We had burned daylight as the sunset presented itself in natural wide-screen beauty.
Then, a long goodbye with Crockett and Jim before we rode away to dinner and plans to see more of Arizona.