Why did I think I’d no photos with ORANGE in them?
For more entries in the Orange multi-photo challenge, click here:
California roads had put us in a predicament and would be our complete undoing without an on-the-spot repair to our trailer.
We were halfway to a campsite in northern California about to enter the wilderness of the Siskiyou Mountains. Our water tanks were empty-ish in preparation for mountain climbing and our batteries were big dead weights barely capable of lighting one light. Our only company for miles and miles and miles was trees.
Our bed slide was out, the runner was broken and the slide wouldn’t go back in.
As the California sun shone down on our tin box house we grew hotter and hotter trying to affect a makeshift repair. Our hearts were hammering and we were gasping and shaking with exhaustion.
It had occurred to me that we could be stranded for days with no electricity or water while help was summoned and parts ordered from Hoboken or Timbuktu though that thought was not articulated.
Nor did Jimmy share his bleak thoughts with me. We’d pulled the slide out possibly for the last time ever.
With the slide pulled out we couldn’t tow the trailer. If we pushed it back in the runner would break causing more damage.
We took the only option open to us.
We let bloody-mindedness take over.
The decision was reached by mutual unspoken assent.
We tried again and again and again. We just needed to unscrew one screw from the ceiling and put a washer on it.
Again. Gasp. Gasp. Gasp.
“Take a break,” I begged Jimmy. He was bright red in the face. I was probably the same but we each think we are invincible and don’t easily accept our limitations.
We tried again. Pull runner, engage screwdriver, grunt.
And again. And again.
“It moved!” Was I hallucinating? “Try it again!” I said excitedly, holding the screwdriver in place ready for Jimmy to put some muscle into it. The screw head moved a miniscule amount.
Each monumental effort, with both of us poised awkwardly and straining produced only about and eighth of a turn before the screwdriver would jump out and skitter across the runner. The screw head was acquiring a nice polished sheen and losing its sharp cross threads.
Seeing me shaking with exhaustion, heat and anxiety Jimmy called the next break and I sat quietly with my head and arms flopping down at rest.
“I took the screw out of the other runner last week. Do you want to know how long it is?” Without raising my head I let my eyes swivel round to his hand where he held his thumb and forefinger four inches apart. Needing eight colossal attempts from both of us to turn the screw one revolution, I wasn’t sure we’d survive the repair.
We let despair replace any stabs at conversation or conjecture and stared vacantly until the panting slowed, then resumed battle.
As long as the screw moved a tiny amount we were motivated to keep trying. The sight of a whole inch of screw poking from the ceiling turned the tide of the war and we got a second wind. The next inch was easier and I twiddled the screw out the last two inches with my fingers.
It only remained to put the washer on and screw the runner back to the ceiling. Flush with triumph, Jimmy decided to take the next screw out and put a washer on it as well. So pumped up with success was he that he put three washers on it.
It was a good idea, in theory, until we tried to push the slide in but the extra washers blocked the slide. It wouldn’t go in.
A cartoon of my expression is appropriate at this point:
It was a minor blip as it happened and easily remedied. Victory was ours.
Our reward for perseverance was Sequoia National Park and among other BIG trees the General Sherman Tree – the largest tree in the world – not the tallest or the widest but the largest in volume.
The top of the General Sherman Tree:
And here’s General Sherman’s bottom:
See the little people above for perspective.
If you’re worried about us we had the runner replaced. And after a few more bruises I gave the hula hoop to Goodwill and took up yoga.
For a bit of light relief from my airport security issues (for you and for me) I have joined in a Travel Theme: Close Up with Ailsa of Where’s My Backpack by way of Hey Jude of Travel Words. All are welcome to join in. Visit Ailsa’s site to see how it’s done.
My close ups hail from Florida, California and Arizona.
I’m always drawn to pelicans. Hold that pose Mr P.
Flowers draw my eye and my shutter finger. This orchid in Florida is one of hundreds of flower photos or as himself would say, “More bloody flowers!”
The Portuguese Man O’War is a jewel on the beach but don’t touch!
Smile please! You’re on “Carol’s Camera!”
Who can identify this? it was on a recent post.
Thanks for stopping by.
We’ll be back to the regularly scheduled program tomorrow.
It has occurred to me that Jimmy and I may not be thinking along the same plane or are even on the same planet. We rarely do are should our Quest be any different?
“The List” of requirements for the perfect place to live, which we had agreed on, has been thrown out as being ridiculously unattainable so now we’re drifting aimlessly, mentally and geographically. We each speak longingly of our nirvanas but these potential home bases may be more pie in the sky than pie on our plate and his is probably apple and mine is pear.
When I say Let’s live in California he says I don’t think we can afford it. When he says Let’s live in Florida I say I don’t know if you can stand it. And that’s the end of the discussion. If you can call that a discussion.
As we’re not the best at communicating, at least in any constructive way, it seems appropriate at this point to put into writing our options. Perhaps the unspeakable possibilities will spur us into taking action about settling down. These are our realistic and unrealistic prospects:
There. That should focus our minds. There are some pretty scary prospects there.
Even more worrying is that it is only No. 12 that we would both find completely alarming.
I’ll get back to you when we’ve had a proper grown up discussion about it.
Though I am a bit of a lapsed American, I’m always amazed and proud when we drive through rugged and inhospitable landscapes, like Death Valley or the Rockies, and know that my country’s early explorers and settlers trekked across blistering salt flats, over snow capped mountains and many miles of dust or mud defended by rightly indignant Native Americans just so that I could sing “from sea to shining sea.”
Some of these plucky adventurers were gold crazed 49ers looking for a short cut to a fortune. Others, like the family in James Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath, were driven in the 1930’s by poverty, desperation or a simple quest for the security that owning arable land could bring.
As we drove over a rise in the road in our comfortable car in Death Valley, a wildly patterned mosaic mountain range in layers of gold, red, brown, black, even green was displayed before us, and we exclaimed, “Oh, look at that. Isn’t that incredible?”
An early settler on foot, horseback or pulling a wagon at the very same spot may have thought, “Oh, please God not another mountain range.” Every place we stopped to gasp in awe and take a photo, the intrepid fortune hunters would have stopped to gasp for breath and pray for a flat piece of fertile land with a source of water so they could quit their journey through fierce, sterile, rocky territory.
Leaving Pahrump, Nevada, we struggled through the Spring Mountain range and sneaked between the Funeral Mountains, the Greenwater Range and Amargosa Range lining one side of Death Valley, because someone had thoughtfully put a road where the terrain was relatively level.
Once past the salt flats of Death Valley which are five miles wide in places and peaked at
134° F one summer, we were faced with the Cottonwood Mountains, the Panamint Range, the Inyo Mountains and the Argus Range. Two steep climbs and wild rides down with our trailer in tow resulted in our engine overheating on the way up forcing us to stop while it cooled. On the way down the oil pressure rose dangerously high with engine braking assisting the brake braking because the brakes would fail if overheated. Minor problems compared to thirst, hunger and Indians defending their land rights.
A few miles west of Death Valley the Sierra Nevada foothills looked low and doable. Faced with a life-or-death situation and a back-up team carrying food, water, blow-up bed, tent, sleeping bag and my special soft pillow I might have been able to climb one foothill. But the snow-capped ridgeline just beyond the soft brown hills appeared as a near vertical face. I could see no peaks and troughs, just a massive wall the highest point of which was Mt. Whitney at 14494 feet, twenty miles to the north.
“You couldn’t drive across here could you? Or take your team of horses across? Or even climb them without special equipment?”
“You’d have to go north or south.”
“How would you know which way to go before there were roads?”
“You wouldn’t. We’d end up in Canada or Mexico or in a ditch and never find California.”
The mountain barrier directly in front of us at a t-junction where we were considering our options joined the Cascade Mountain range which meanders up into Canada. A glance at a topographical map before our trip may have had us heading back east again possibly to Florida where sand dunes are considered mountains.
Once we proceeded the Sierra Nevadas still made themselves known to us and we began the overheating, brake-smoking, white-knuckles-on-steering-wheel, cliff-face-on-my-side-of-the-car ride again. Jimmy became exhausted merely by hauling the car and trailer around switchback after switchback. I became tired with the effort of fending off terror.
To get to a lush California valley we battled two more Coast Ranges of mountains with our 5.3 liter 4WD comfortably leather-seated car.
Our predecessors were made of sterner stuff. My hip ached from sitting for so long in the car. I had to go lie down after a hard day of being a passenger.
After completing 5/8 of a life on the edge of each other’s nerves – we had towed the trailer 11,654 miles and put 20,122 miles on the odometer in the car. In a country that is 3,000 miles wide by 2,000 miles top to bottom that’s pretty good going. We’d drawn a very drunken diagonal line down across the U.S. map from Washington State to Florida and back along the southern border and west coast. A two-year-old with a crayon could have scrawled a tidier route. But in the process we perused 26 of the 48 states on our agenda of looking for the perfect place to live in the continental U.S.A.
Some states only merited a quick drive straight through to the next state. I won’t tell you which ones as all us patriotic Americans are proud of and proprietorial about our own states and I am sure we didn’t do them justice by not stopping to poke around. Other states kept us fascinated for days, sometimes weeks. But we were just tourists. Visiting The Everglades, Monument Valley, Mount Rushmore or San Francisco for the first time is a real kick but they are not areas we would consider living due to weather, remoteness or cost of living. And we were just so enthralled with the sight-seeing sights in this diverse and stunning country, we often didn’t bother to do our homework on towns as potential homesteaders.
The next stage of the route would take us east across the top of the country, up into New England and down the east coast with a bit of the inevitable to-ing and fro-ing. Getting in the way of the search was a spacious apartment in sunny and probably-too-expensive California that was calling us.
I was longing to get our furniture out of storage and put my underwear in a drawer instead of having it stuffed in a shoe box and to hang up my clothes instead of playing lucky dip in a jam packed locker. Jewelry was tangled up in a box and fine chains and long necklaces formed a monkey’s fist of silver and gold, beads and crystals. I doubted I would ever wear them again. I wore the same jeans and hoody for days out of sheer inertia.
The same rotation of clean clothes came off the top of the stack day after day rather than create an avalanche of tee shirts to put together a new look. We dressed, hobo unchic, in cotton clothes that were washer/dryer-ready-to-wear. And I’ll let you in on a little secret. Unmentionable articles of underclothing aside, we sometimes scrutinized and sniffed our outerwear for an extra day’s service before consigning it to the laundry bag. My prissy nature came out when faced with dirty laundramat machines that may have seen dog blankets, greasy overalls, muddy trousers and almost certainly much worse.
Books and files were hidden deep within a hell hole under the bed instead of being to hand on a bookshelf. Wrenching my right shoulder to lift the mattress and locker lid and hold it up, I then wrenched my left shoulder to haul out the printer, two sleeping bags and a bag of wrapping paper and ribbon (yes, of course ribbon is essential on an RV) to gaze at a cardboard box of books through a gap just big enough for my head. As I grunted and strained with the weight of the mattress and locker lid on my shoulders himself would ask, “Can I help you with that?”
“NO!” I would bellow in frustration and risked decapitating myself with the trap door of the dungeon. A feeble flashlight that doubled as the oven light barely glowed much less illuminated the book titles so reading choices were often made by feel. Sometimes I thought oh stuff it and lay on the bed listening to my iPod until whatever inkling of motivation to do something creative or productive or even vaguely educational passed.
Should we stop somewhere to live in an apartment and try to regain our sanity or continue to play happy trails?