Day 2 – Tucson to Las Cruces: American Individualism Is Alive and Well

Last night, when we arrived in Tucson, there was a sense of lethargy among the riders. The heat had indeed taken a toll. However, this morning, thanks to a good night’s rest and hydration, there was a pep in our step at breakfast and we were ready to go. I was met by a very nice young man named Troy who got up early, allowing me to shake his hand and offer my thanks.

The theme for Day 1 was “HOT,” but as I rode the Day 2 route, the theme that came to mind was “rugged American individualism.”

After a short trip to Littleton, AZ, for fuel, we were off to Tombstone, AZ, a place rooted in American history and folklore. I remember as a little kid watching Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglass in Gunfight at the OK Corral. I loved that movie. My favorite modern day depiction starred Kirk Russell, Sam Elliott, Bill Paxton, and Val Kilmer in Tombstone. Sorry, Kevin Costner. The movie Tombstone is the ONLY western movie that the West women will watch over and over. Me thinks they fell in love with ol’ Doc Holiday! (Val Kilmer should have won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in his superb role as Doc Holiday.)

After exiting I-10 East at Benson, we began the trek to the famed location. As we traveled, mounted upon our Iron Horses, I pondered what it was like for those pioneers who set course and headed on the same path years ago. What did they expect to find? What challenges did they face on the way? What was it that made them so resilient, resolute, and unrelenting in their pursuit of happiness? That was when it hit me. The answer was rugged American individualism. It was an attitude captured in a simple Horace Greeley maxim, “Go west, young man” — and the women went as well.

After climbing to 4,540 feet, there it was. The first thing I saw was Boot Hill. I was under the misconception that this would be a built up area, but no; it is just a simple rustic town that has preserved the infamous Allen Street (I kinda like that name), which was the center of activity in historic Tombstone.

Pioneers came west because of a mineral boom, but where there is good, there is also evil. I found it interesting that the narration at the OK Corral mentioned that the cowboys and the corruption that came to Tombstone was a result of southern Democrat migration. Some things never change.

The Earps came to Tombstone for a fresh start on life, but as fate would have it, circumstances changed their plans. They once again took up the law man’s mantle and made a principled stand against the mob of the day. It cost them, but their legacy lives on today. It would have been easy for them to say, “Nah, not my business,” but they realized that law and order play an important role in our quality of life. When small business owners and entrepreneurs built the West, and indeed they did “build that,” they required security for their success. When you look into the eyes of the folks there you see that rugged American individualism.

One thing though, that was one close quarter gunfight. How were the Clantons and McLaurys such bad shots? I took lots of pictures there and sent them back to my girls. They were ecstatic.

We left Tombstone and headed to Bisbee. After going through Mule Pass tunnel, there we were in Bisbee (5,300 ft.) built on the side of the mountain. The lucrative Bisbee copper mines are still in existence today. The mine’s excavation hole is so deep that I could not see the bottom. Although we did not stop there, once again, I was reminded of that special quality of rugged American individualism. We continued on and stopped in Douglas, AZ, for fuel and lunch. There are no special amenities there, but what lovely people! Their faces beamed with a certain pride, so much so that we stopped and spent time with them. That is my America. That is what we, as Guardians, must stand to protect and preserve.

As we headed out from Douglas, AZ, towards Lordsburg, NM, there was a very simple nondescript monument/historical marker on Arizona Hwy 80, just 7 miles before crossing the border into New Mexico. I slowed down a bit so I could take it in, and lo and behold, it was the place where the Apache War Chief Geronimo surrendered. Upon his surrender, Geronimo was taken to Ft. Sill, OK, my first duty station in the Army. He is buried there and I visited his gravesite as a young lieutenant.

For the next few miles, I considered Geronimo’s rugged individualism and commitment to his people, especially after his mother, wife, and three children were killed by the Spaniards. What impressed me most, as I traversed the southern US desert, was the ruggedness and a certain hardiness that still resides in those who occupy the land. Just as their forefathers and foremothers did, they forge ahead.

That was what I saw in the faces at Lordsburg and Barnett’s Las Cruces Harley-Davidson. Veterans, riders, and just great Americans who came out to share hamburgers, hot dogs, and bratwurst with us weary riders. I was so honored to meet so many great Americans and see that rugged American individualism.

Too often I have seen the opposite: the look of subjugation of the individual’s indomitable spirit to the whims of the collective welfare nanny state. I look upon our cities and instead of seeing that burning spirit, you see despair, despondency, and dejection. You don’t see the spirit of “Go West, young man.” You see who is going to pay for my cell phone? Where is my EBT card? Who is going to clean up our section 8 housing? What am I entitled to?

Americans have stopped migrating to rural areas seeking their own individual goals, dreams, hopes, and aspirations. Instead, they are concentrated in urban areas, with higher populations, and higher dependence on government largesse. Even the once proud Native American tribes were forced into collective reservations and promised largesse from the government under the guise of quasi-independence.

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Americans have been sold a bad bill of goods that is counter to the essence, the fabric of who we are. Those pioneers who answered Greeley’s call did not stop and ask for the government to give them a map, flour, horses, or wagons. They did not arrive and ask, “Where is the government subsidized housing?”

Yes America, you did “build that” — a great country. Be proud of your legacy and what has been accomplished in 237 short years. However, in the twinkling of an eye, lies, deception, and bumper sticker slogans can rob you of your birthright as Americans: freedom and individualism — not dependence and collectivism. I can just hear the explosion of liberal progressive socialist detractor’s heads, but what I saw is a testimony to what we were, and can be once again.

Tomorrow we head for Texas. We have three days in that great state with stops in Midland, Austin, and Beaumont. I am quite sure I will find that same rugged American individualism in Texas. But, let me warn you Texans — as you seek businesses to relocate from states like California to the Lone Star State — tell them to leave their liberal beliefs and politics.

And have you all heard? California is thinking of instituting an “Exit Tax.” Liberal progressives never saw a tax that they did not like. Wonder what the taxes in Tombstone were when the Earps arrived?

Steadfast and Loyal!

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16 Comments on "Day 2 – Tucson to Las Cruces: American Individualism Is Alive and Well"

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Roger Schaetzel
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Your description of Day 2 brought back many fond memories of when I was stationed at Ft. Huachuca, AZ which is not too far from Tombstone and Bisbee. I wish I could have been there.

Miles Reese
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Congressman West. There was a rally in Stuart Florida yesterday and we need you to be aware of the STOP the All Florida Railroad land grab and money grab. Wish you where there to speak. http://www.ac4pr.org/rsvpmaker/stop-big-choo-choo-rally-stuart-fl-2014-5-4/

The_Patriot
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Okay I have read quite a bit about what the railroad is doing and have a few questions for you. The Florida East Coast Railway already has rails that go from Miami to Cocoa and only needs to be upgraded. They are buying land for the right of way to Orlando. So the question I have for you is 1) where is this “Land Grab you talk about? 2)Money grab? It does cost a lot of money to upgrade rails and buy land and a loan is just that, it gets paid back. 3) Why did you make it sound… Read more »
KJinWTexas
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Rugged American individualism is right, especially in the West. Where will you be stopping in Midland and Austin?

GTaylor
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I ride a lot, and never have I thought or had the energy to write this much after a long days ride. Just give me a cold one….Props to you sir!

MotherBatherick
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LTC West is the kind of leader that would not only take that 3am call but the one waking up an entire team of people in the nite, telling them to ready their butts for some work. Won’t ever find him asleep at the wheel and lying to the American people.

Chad Getz
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Colonel West it was truly an honor to meet you yesterday in Las Cruces. I do have to say that you warning about, incoming businesses leaving their liberalism where the come from, should be taken extremely serious. Las Cruces was named #3 in the nation, by Forbes, for places to retire. This has brought many transplants to our area. I have noticed in my short life that when people move, whether or not from another country or another area of our country, they tend to expect the area to change to suit them. I told you yesterday that I was… Read more »
Vinny Bolling
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Please run for president, you are the only hope this country has.

urbanvrwcmom
Guest

That’s for sure, Ovomit’s killing us!

James Paulitska
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I wish all of you were stopping in Pensacola, FL at 5 Flags Speedway.. It’s about 1 mile off of I-10 and MOST of the racers and crews have been there..

GiGi
Guest

We bought 6 acres and built, the best thing we ever did…stop by sometime! Right outside of Athens, Ga.

urbanvrwcmom
Guest

Make sure you take lotsa pictures!

urbanvrwcmom
Guest

It’s

MotherBatherick
Guest

LTC West, overwhelmingly it would be an honor to shake your hand.

Debbie Arnold
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LTD West, I would love to see you as THE PRESIDENT of The United States. Your integrity, leadership abilities, and LOVE of this Great Country is the only hope I see for my children and great-grandchildren! My father served in WWII, his brother was killed in the Philippines, and then my father went to Korea. A lot of people do not understand or appreciate the sacrifice you, my father, uncle, and step-son have made for freedom. I want to thank you for all you have done, are doing, and will do for this Country. Thank you for your Honesty! I… Read more »
Paul Deckelman
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An “exit tax”? I seem to recall learning that among others, Nazi Germany imposed such a confiscatory tax on people (particularly Jews) looking to flee that repressive regime. The progs touting this goofy idea in the no-longer-very Golden State out of pique that some people have finally grown fed up up with their progressive paradise and want to leave it are certainly in good historical company. What’s next? A national executive order (“I’ve got a pen and I’ve got a phone!”), along the lines of the (so far) fictional Directive 10-289, to ensure that nobody can vote with his or… Read more »