Sunday, December 26, 2004

Of a Viking Ship in the Desert

Odd enough is the legend of Yaquitepec, home of the Souths (Marshal, Tanya and their children), who lived a unique wilderness adventure in the Anza-Borrego desert, at the top of Ghost Mountain. Fourteen years in near complete isolation! They left civilization for their kind of RobinsonCrusoeish, sort of nudist experience in 1932. It had to end in Divorce. And Survival, of course.

Today, ruins of the house speak only of a distant past of efforts and dreams. Yaquitepec is again a lonely rough place, save for the occasional cult tourist. This forgotten shrine of one man's Utopia is disappearing fast, swallowed by that Silent Giant Rattlesnake - the Sonora desert. Anyway- perhaps in one of his trips to the nearby towns, Marshal had made a friend, the librarian lady from Julian, California. Her name was Myrtle Botts. A few years later, in 1948, Marshal died in Julian. And then in the late 60s, West writer extraordinaire Choral Pepper interviewed Myrtle at her house. Myrtle confirmed that on a 1933 weekend trip, while camping with her husband Louis Botts at Agua Caliente Springs, Arizona (somewhere between Phoenix and Mexicali), they had been approached by a lone miner who asked to share their fire and conversation. It appears that at some point he showed them some old photographs of a wreck of a "ship of some kind" that he discovered while exploring the canyons near the Mexican border. The worn and tattered pictures showed something protruding from the canyon wall -something that appeared to be a Viking ship, with a snake carved on the wooden bow. Ms. Pepper writes in her book 'Mysterious West' (co-written with Brad Williams) that the Botts had found the wreck based on the old miner's directions. However, when they returned (this time with a camera, perhaps?), the ship got lost under rocks as the canyon was hit by the powerfull Long Beach earthquake of 1933.Lost! The Rattlesnake's Belly is full of crazy tall tales and wild true stories. Somewhere inside of it, you'll find the dry skeletons of a man's love for freedom and his family, and a half-buried Viking ship that lies hidden, waiting to be discovered...
You can read more about it here, and here.


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