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We were driving the last hairpin curve section of Route 66 through the red mesas of Arizona that lead up to the California border. It was late afternoon and the sun was setting, creating beautiful silhouettes on the horizon but blinding my wife, Gwynne, who was driving. I was checking our way on GPS when I looked up to see we were 50’ away from a ledge on a sharp curve. Gwynne was not slowing down nor turning.
“Stop!” I screamed.
The car came to an abrupt halt, our stack of souvenirs tumbling into the front seats.
We were dangerously stopped right in the middle of the road coming downhill where other drivers would be blinded by the sun.
“I was trying not to hit the donkey,” Gwynne explained.
What donkey, I was wondering, then I saw it; there was a donkey out of nowhere less than 6” from the front of our car.
The donkey nonchalantly walked over to Gwynne’s driver’s side and put its nose on the window.
“Drive,” I told Gwynne.
“It’s still in my way,” Gwynne answered, concern in her voice.
I didn’t have any shoes on so I rolled down the window and yelled, “Shoo!”
It must have been a Mexican donkey that didn’t understand English because all it did was walk slowly in front of the car, came around my side and stuck it’s head in the window.
I pushed on the donkey’s nose and opened the door, getting out of the car in my bare feet on the eroded asphalt.
The donkey came over to me. I delicately stepped to the side of the road, leading the donkey, then I tried to hurry back over the gravelly road and shut the car door but the donkey had followed me and he again stuck his head in the window. I pushed hard on the donkey’s nose but he pushed back.
“Drive! Drive!” I ordered Gwynne.
“But the donkey is still in the car,” she complained.
I put both feet against the seat and pushed the donkey with my back.
“He’s out,” I exclaimed, short of breath from the exertion. “Drive.”
Gwynne slowly edged forward leaving the donkey behind. The donkey looked at us forlornly then walked off the road into the mesas.
We drove really carefully after that, eyes searching this way and that for donkeys. When we finally got to a town, Oatman, it smelled like donkey dung and there were donkeys wandering the street. One poor guy in a truck had a donkey in front of his car blocking him, and another with its head through his driver window. I stopped to get a picture of the aptly named “Jackass Junction” saloon. There was an Oatman police car parked in front of it.
“You got business here?” The officer asked me.
“Only donkey business,” I answered before we drove away.
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