Finally. Finally we are packed, and ready to go. Dave Hoyt and his brother-in-law, Vinnie, have been so generous with their time and energy, flying out from Albuquerque to come help my dad pack, and then drive the RV out to Wisconsin. (Dave Hoyt was involved with us in Jesus People Europe, and was in the original cast of Lonesome Stone.) But my dad just got out of the hospital, and is still quite weak. He will need to spend a lot of time recuperating on our trip across America.
I've done this once before, in the most beloved vehicle there is, my old VW Bus, a year older than I am. But the trans broke in St. Louis, on the way to Dearborn, Michigan, and broke again later, and sadly I had to sell it, for the payments were too great. I am hoping this trip will be a bit less eventful, as we head out in an overloaded '83 RV, towing my Saturn.
We got a late start out of Orange County, saying goodbye to Surf City around 11 AM, after a brief tutorial session by our mechanic to make sure we understood how to operate an RV.(Sorry. Couldn't resist poddy humor.)
Immediately, upon leaving the city, the heat increased. All across South-Eastern California, it was hot. Getting into Arizona it was hotter. For some reason the rear air conditioner wouldn't work off the car battery while it was in motion, and the front air conditioner only works off the running generator. That would be enough, if it wasn't 115 degrees outside. I tried an hour spell of driving the RV, but the hot air blowing on my feet began to literally burn them. I spent most of the journey coated in sweat, applying ice to my face, wishing it wasn't Ramadan.
Our goal had been Tucson on the first day, to spend the day with Bill Lowery of Christ is the Answer, one of the groups that came out of Jesus People Milwaukee. But our late start, heavy load, and small engine dictated that we were far too tired to continue, and ended up settling for the night in Quartzite, Arizona, known for it's mineral deposits. It was a nice RV site, and we were finally able to hook up to 30 Amp electricity to run both air conditioners, and get some water in the RV for washing. I took great joy in taking a shower, though there was no cold water. When I asked, I was told no one has cold water this time of year in Arizona. When they want cold water they jump in the Colorado River, where it gets down to 70 degrees. So I decided to skip the option of a jacuzzi there at the campground.
The next morning, for some reason I woke up at four. I took the dog out in the early morning, spent some time praying, watching a movie, and checking the internet. I was amply rewarded for waking up early with these visions.
There's a wadi, a dry riverbed, right next to the campsite. It fills up once every seven years or so. Evidently, that's what this overhanging fishing pole is waiting for.
As I waited for everyone else to awaken, the distant mountains burst forth showers.
The previous night Vinne, Dave, and I had discovered a giant soyyoro, as well as a 100-year-old way station. The station even had animage of a camel, probably hearkening back to the ill-fated Camel Corps of the Southwest, lead by "Hi Jolly".
A few hours later everyone else woke up, and we packed up and headed out. An hour East of Tucson we picked up some bad gas, we think. We had also gained sufficient altitude for the RV and my Saturn to have difficulty starting, both being set for sea level. As such the engine became flooded from receiving too much gas. In the distance we saw a small, rather cute dust devil. Then the sky shifted from day to night. An acrid desert smell filled the air. A fierce wind blew up in under a minute, and the freeway was occluded by a dust storm, so thick you could see only two cars fore and aft. The RV ground to a halt, and we were stuck on the edge of a busy freeway, in the middle of a dust storm, as cars sped past at 80 mph, unable to see us.