MuleShoe Memories


In summer 1972 when I was working on that ranch, there was a tremendous thunderstorm. Lightning all over the place. So I took my camera and dashed to an old shack just outside the ranch house. I had barely set up the camera on the tripod, when I lighning bolt struck a tree just to my left.

The explosion was so loud, I was scared to death and ran back into the house.

The next day I discovered, the tree has been split lengthwise by the lightning strike.

In summer 1982, meanwhile I was married,  my wife and I had left our kids with our grandparents and visited my former boss in Arizona. He had sold the MuleShoe Ranch, but since I wanted to show the area to Rita he drove us out there. Nobody was home, so we picknicked outside the Ranch Headquarters, next to that little creek, underneath the tall cottonwood trees.

It was a peaceful scene. We sat 3 meters apart from each other in a triangle. Above my head there was a noise like a bird flapping its wings against branches. I said "Everything is so quiet and peaceful here". Alvin and Rita nodded with their mouths full.

Again there was this noise above my head. This time it sounded more like chestnuts falling out of the tree. From my crouched position I jumped up and leaped like a cougar into the river, rolling over when I hit the rocks. And while I was leaping I wondered if I didn't overreact a little. That landing alone could have killed me because of the boulders in the riverbed.

BUT at the very same moment a limb crashed to the ground, out of the tree, onto the very spot I had sat. The limb was 4 meters long, thick as a pumpkin and heavy like a TV-set.

I got up, and played it real cool. I said "No Alvin, this country don't get me!" My boss and Rita were still under shock. When I lifted up the limb, two things happened. I saw my 1340 DM camera shattered between the limb and the rock I had been sitting on, and I had about a hundred tiny little ants all over my arms.

This is when I started to understand..... The house, the shack, the lightning, the tree, ten years had taken the ants all this time!

That lightning bolt almost hit me 10 years after...

It took me hours to understand the immense luck I had. And it took hours until the shock really got a hold of me...