Sorry to go so long between posts but things are a bit crazy right now. School is really heating up, we are down 1/3 of our staff at work, we are refinancing one of our houses and attempting to sell the other (the rental) and Jacks been working overtime too.
The next day I woke up and I really had to pee. I jumped up and opened the sliding door on the bus a little too vigorously and it fell off. Thats right the door just fell off. The noise woke Jack up and he sprang in to action. After a good 30 minutes of wrestling with a 100 pound door we managed to get it back on the track but we had nothing to keep it there, all the jostling from the terrible roads had shaken a few screws loose and they were long gone. Did anyone ever participate in that science competition in grade school where you were given an item to produce or task to perform with a limited amount of stuff like pipe cleaners and styrofoam cups? It was like that. We had limited tools and Jack searched all over the bus to find supplies, he even stole a screw from a out house but to no avail. Nothing would work until I suddenly remembered a barbed wire fence we had hiked past yesterday. Armed with a pair of make-shift wire cutters Jack set out to “harvest” some of the fence and we used it to tie on the door. All before breakfast I might add.
We packed up the campsite and made plans to stop in a near-by town on our way to Joshua Tree National Park to find real parts to fix the door. We all piled in the bus and headed out, but we didn’t get far. Right outside of the campground we heard the sound that strikes fear into any right thinking person…metal on metal. Shit! Jack got out and went under the bus, he came back out covered in transmission fluid. We had popped loose a seal in the transmission and the only way to fix it was to drop the engine. With the metal on metal sound we had no idea how much damage was done or how far we could make it. So we pulled back in to the campground, swallowed our pride and called for help. His parents would grab his Tahoe, rent a trailer and come pick us up. We were stranded in the campgrounds for 2 and a half days while we waited for the rescue to arrive.
There wasn’t much to do, there was one nature trail near by which had a beautiful cacti garden, so thank god we had stopped at Trader Joes in Vegas and had stocked up on beer and wine. We spent most of the time reading, relaxing and drinking. Not the vacation I had envisioned, we didnt visit any of the national parks we had planned, but it was nice and relaxing anyway. The best part of the vacation happened after we had loaded the bus up on the trailer and were leaving the campgrounds. We came upon a golden eagle (sooo gorgeous) eating a road kill bunny. He sat there and ate the whole thing, refusing to leave the road and staring at us defiantly until he had finished. My camera was in the bus on the trailer and I couldn’t get to it…damn.
Sorry for the long delays between posts, I’m writing a mock grant proposal and cost benefit analysis for implementing an exercise program in my dialysis unit. Whew its a lot of work, but totally something I am excited about and I am contemplating trying to implement in real life after the project is over. Without further ado Drinking and Cacti Part 2..
We woke up the next morning and the puppies were eager to get out and explore so we grabbed our stuff and went for an early morning hike. The hike was great, the temperature was perfect (early morning hikes are the only way to go in the desert) and the cacti were blooming. There is just something about cacti flowers, you know? Something so delicate and vibrant on something so tough and harsh… its almost… poetic. We hiked for about 4 miles before we learned that Willow’s hiking limit was 3 and a half. She started to lag and get really hot so we doused her in water and she was carried out by her own personal Sherpa (ie Jack.)
Mom, hurry up and let us out…so much to smell..
Now that it was daylight I was able to determine that we had attempted to reach the wrong campsite. One campsite in the park had paved road access and without knowing I had picked the wrong one. However, in order to reach the right campsite, we had to travel over 10 more miles of badly washboarded roads to get there. These were so much worse than the roads last night, so much so that Jack had to stop and check the bus several times to make sure the tires in the back were holding up. We started developing some confidence in the toughness of our bus, he was truly an adventure bus and was handling these roads like a champ.
We safely reached the new campsite intact and spent the rest of the day setting up camp and exploring our new digs. Thank god there weren’t too many people around since our dogs are not big fans of people, it meant they could relax and enjoy smelling all over with minimal howling (ahh the joys of beagles) and freak-outs. We cooked a delicious dinner of soy or chicken sausages and s’mores and turned in early, ready to go exploring the park the next day.
The next day we decided to check out the massive sand dunes and the cinder cones (small volcanoes) that seemed to be the main features of the park. I was really disappointed in the park, however, because the park seemed to be geared towards 4wd vehicles and most of the cinder cone part was inaccessible to us in the bus (must do better research next time) We did see 2 desert tortoises though which was awesome. However since I was feeling disappointed and emboldened by how well our bus had been doing I made a fateful mistake. I told Jack I wanted to take a chance and travel down only 3 more miles of washboarded roads to see the sand dunes up close. How could that hurt? We had done so well so far. I asked Jack point blank if he thought we should since we had done so well do far and he uttered the most prophetic words. “I think we will be fine, but if we keep going down these type of roads, at some point, something is going to just fall off” (to be continued)