San Pedro River
by S Martha Montevallo ©2003

The San Pedro is my river. During the dry season many places are narrow enough to step across. During the wet season sometimes it is as wide as a football field. Since it rises in Mexico and flows north it is repeatedly littered with trash from Mexico and from illegal immigrants who follow it north in search of paradise. It is one of the Nature Conservancy's Last Great Places. Now it is the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area, managed by the BLM, the first such national conservation area.

Years ago the river was a playground for any and all. Some found it a place to party and drink beer. Some a place to hike and picnic. The area was littered with trash, abandoned cars, mattresses, gypsy camps, and cut with dirt tracks left by off road vehicles. When I took a photography class at Cochise College we went there for pictures. Now it is cleaned up, open to hikers, birders, botanists, and anybody who wants to enjoy its charms without harming it.

This is a true tale of something that happened before the river was protected.

A very young couple, motorcycle enthusiasts, got married in Sierra Vista in a noontime informal ceremony. With their friends they formed a motorcycle procession to the river to party. A reception of sorts. All afternoon they celebrated, drinking beer, having a good time. Their friends honored the bride and groom by pouring motor oil on them and rolling them in the sand.

When evening came the newlyweds went to the motel room the groom had reserved. In the corridor he found that he had lost the key, so he left his bride by the door and went to the office to get a key. While he was gone another guest came by, saw the young woman with oil and sand on her, and, with some concern, said, "What happened to you?" Miserable, she replied in a small voice, "I got married."

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