Pinon Nuts

I lived in Utah, a long time ago, in the way outback, working on a construction site. There were a lot of native Navajo Native Americans working as welders. As you were talking to them, they would constantly be cracking and crunching on pinion nuts. Kind of like pistachios, but you had to crack them open with your teeth. Being the curious soul that I am, I asked were they got these nuts. I was told that their wives harvested them. I visited a neighbor/Navajo, while he was there, and asked his wife for directions. She told me how to get there and it sounded real simple. I’m simple, it should work.

I didn’t have a four-wheel drive and set out on roads for which there are no maps. I drove through massive canyons, just following the tire tracks. I must have missed a turn. At one point the road followed an old chopped up river bed and ran into a series of small ledges that got bigger the farther I got. One particular ledge made me aware that I would not get back up the same way I came. I met up with a small river I would have to cross. The tire tracks I’d been following could be seen on the muddy hill on the other side. I would have to get a running start, cross the river, shoot up the hill and make a sharp left turn.

A herd of cows were blocking the way. They weren’t disturbed by the sound of my horn. I got out and chased them away to make a hole, but by the time I started again, they had closed the gap. After a couple times of getting out and moving the cows only to have them play the same dirty trick again, I just drove like a maniac straight at them, and they parted like the Red Sea at the last minute. Scared? You bet. Lost? Of course. Several hours later I found the main highway, got out and kissed it, and headed home.

As I was driving back, I remembered that they sold pinion nuts at the general store. Not wanting to come home and lose face, I stopped and paid about five dollars for a handful of pinions. When I got home I showed them to my wife to show her that if there are pinion nuts that need finding, I’m your man. I also told her what I’d gone through to find them. She figured out where I got the pinions after a trip to the general store and after I broke under questioning.

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