Surprise, Arizona didn’t start where it is today. Back in the day there wasn’t much here but tumbleweeds, cactus, rugged mountains, ranches, farms, a few dirt roads and lots of dreams. The Happy Trails Resort was once nothing but a set of plans for RV lots, park models, a clubhouse and pool, and a golf course. It is now a place for those who have achieved the American dream to move to the desert from cold states that don’t see much sun in the winter. It has become a place for relaxation, socializing, barbecues, dances and ice cream socials. Roy Rogers and Dale Evans lent this resort their aura and promoted it. In the Chuck wagon dining room, off in a lonesome corner, is a display of mannequins wearing authentic costumes worn by Mr. and Mrs. Rogers, and cowboy memorabilia from an era when Roy Rogers was as big a star as Hollywood could create. Looking at the costumes one is struck by how small a man Roy Rogers was, and how petite a woman was Dale Evans. Watching them ride the range on TV they looked  larger than life.They fought evil on every episode and there was always time for a song around a campfire with the boys, a helpful hand for neighbors and friends. In the end, bad guys got what they deserved and good prevailed. Their costumes seem flamboyant, even now, but cowboy’s have a style all their own. Happy Trails is more than a song and more than a resort. It is a philosophy. It is a wish for good luck, a wish for the best for all, a hope that at the last roundup we really all will meet again under the best of circumstances, under a broad starry sky with a roaring campfire to gird us against the cold, some hot coffee and tasty jerky for a meal, and a good blanket to throw over us as we nestle our head against a saddle. At one time Hollywood gave us real heroes, real role models. Now, life has become more gray, more conflicted, more questioning, more rebellious, more edgy. Looking at Roy and Dale, I resolve to dig out a few old colorized westerns. I resolve to eat buttered popcorn and think about the fall of Rome.
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