Well. We bolted.
Monday noon we were compaining about the miserable rainy Pacific Northwest weather. Late Wednesday afternoon we rolled our little motorhome into a small RV park near Mojave, California. When we got up this morning, it was to squint at the sun and admire the fluffy clouds in the blue sky. I’m sure I could hear and feel the dampness leaving my body. The carpets in the car were dry for the first time in months.
It’s mid November. It’s pleasantly cool this morning here in the high desert and warming up nicely. Even though the area has a reputation of always being windy (there are windmill power generators all over the hills around here) this morning there’s only an occasional light breeze.
My first ever visit to Mojave was in ’60 or ’61. I was on a California camping trip with my parents and we were heading into town, our canvas tent, Coleman cooler, and assorted camping gear packed inside and piled on the roof racks of a 1957 Pontiac Safari station wagon. As was the custom, we had a water-filled canvas bag hanging from our front bumper – just in case the radiator boiled over.
Hardly anyone had air conditioning then, especially if you were from “up north”. Even though it was insufferably hot, we had been driving across the desert with the car windows closed. It was far worse if we opened them. Then the hot air roared through the car like a blast furnace.
We rolled into the gas station at the crossroads. (Ding-ding.) The guy who pumped the gas (remember those guys?) was hosing down a big thermometer hanging on the front of the station.
My dad cranked down the driver’s window. “How hot is it?”
“Too hot,” came the answer. “But I’ve got it down to about 105 now.”
I don’t know what it is about the desert. I crave the desert. I feel like I belong here. I actually like tarantulas. (Cute fuzzy little guys.)
Where does that feeling come from? Is it genetic? Can’t be. I have no family history in desert country. All of my ancestors, as far back as I am aware, come from cold, wet, snowy climates. I was born, grew up, and spent most of my life in Vancouver, BC, (one of the nicest cities anywhere when the weather is nice) but never ever got used to that long, grey, cold, damp, drizzly stretch that runs each year from October to about March.
Sometimes I think it was all those TV westerns I grew up with as a kid. Bonanza. Gunsmoke. Have Gun Will Travel. Those guys were always riding their horses across the dry scrub and desert, worrying about how empty their canteens were and who was gunning for them or rustling their cattle. Sitting, watching, impressionable, in front our black-and-white RCA, I must have developed a sense that this kind of countryside was the right place to be.
Soon I’ll be back home, changing wiper blades and cursing the lousy defroster in my car. I think I have it all backwards. Instead of working all year in order to vacation for a few weeks in the sun, I should do it the other way around: fly up for a few weeks of lousy weather when I begin to miss it.