It’s been a journey of stops and starts. We started on Thursday, leaving town around 9:30 AM, full of mixed feelings – hope, sadness, failure, expectations. Aggravation at having to leave a good part of our belongings behind – some of which just would not fit in the uhaul trailer, and some of which were taken out to lighten the load and limit the stress on the engine. Uppermost in my mind was relief that the car was fixed and we were good to go. The cat miaowed incessantly to begin with but the kids and dogs settled in and our route through the inland agricultural area was smooth – flat and on a slower road so we weren’t the ones holding up traffic. I’ll admit to feeling melancholy as we passed orange groves, and avocado orchards.
Eventually we left the fertile fields behind and entered into the desert. I dislike the desert. I know people who are great desert fans, who wax poetic about the beauty of the place but I don’t see it. As a college student I travelled from San Diego to the desert with a roommate who decided to take her VW bug convertible off road so that we could watch a meteor shower. The stars were great, but when we were ready to get back on the asphalt the soft sands below the wheels became a sand trap and we spent the night in the desert, awaking to find ants and a scorpion had joined us in the night. We hiked some miles – and even early in the morning it was hot – until someone showed pity on us and gave us a ride into Barstow to find a tow truck.
Even if I hadn’t had that memory in mind I would not have found the desert an agreeable place. It is a parched and punishing place with an endless landscape, dry and brown with stubby little thorny plants and unpleasant creatures. And it’s darned hot! We stopped in Victorville and gassed up the car and it was over 100 degrees in the shade. I was thankful we had working air conditioning. Due to a combination of a slow route, road work and the limitations of pulling a trailer it was getting to be late afternoon by this time. We were looking forward to getting over the border and into Arizona but still had more than 150 miles to go. It was looking like it would be a late arrival in Williams. And so it was – 2 days late!
We were about 25 miles outside of Barstow, stopped at the rest stop just after the sign warning us that there were “No Services for 79 Miles,” when, upon starting up after the restroom break for kids and dogs, the car started shuddering and the check engine light went on. We limped, slowly, back to Barstow, arriving at 4:55 just as garage doors were being lowered and locked and lights turned off in auto shop after auto shop. We were stuck. One injured car, one uhaul trailer with two-thirds of our worldly possessions, four bored and hungry kids, one hot and bothered cat, two dogs, a somewhat limp lucky bamboo plant and a very worried mom.
to be continued…