Sometimes when we’re in a mood to reflect on our history, we dig back in the photo archives. For years, at least since our transition from film to digital, we’ve had easy access to pictures. Just fire up the computer, click away, and watch history unfold. It’s funny how your memory is jogged by those images—you suddenly remember things that you thought you never knew. We catalog those memory joggers year-by-year, and months within years. Usually, there are scads to look at. But not this year.
From mashed gas pumps to cut power cords
The January 2022 file opens with an image that either tells the story of a mighty poor driver—or a mighty ticked fuel customer. The end result was a very much mashed gas pump at a station in Parker, Arizona. There are only four images for the entire month. Compared to a “normal” month, it’s downright poverty.
Then we click the mouse to head over into February. No file. March? Nada. April yields a single image: An electrical plug with about four inches of cord left on it. “Proof of death,” for a warranty claim on a bum appliance. May and June similarly are AWOL. No images. No memories. That’s a lie. There are too many memories, and too many of them painful.
A visit to a doctor early in the year shoved the male of the species into a hospital for an unexpected surgery. A couple of weeks after a lengthy stay, yet another hospitalization. Mind you, these unpleasant visits had their own predecessor. Late in 2021, the lighter side of our writing pair herself had been sidelined with a serious burn injury. She had barely returned to some “normalcy” when the hospital turns stood life for us on our heads.
The summer of a discontent
It seems like we took turns hobbling and rolling around our big travel trailer. We were either limping or rolling about on a knee-scooter. Endless 150-mile trips to doctors or therapists ran up an outsized fuel bill, and as summer approached, a time when we’d normally be “on the road” chasing stories, we spent our time chasing our tails.
The image files are blank until July. A few photos show “my girl” playing rounds of solitaire, with a headband wrapped around her dome. The inside of the place is fairly dark—all the windows are shaded with Reflectix. July in southern Arizona is fit for rattlesnakes and lizards. Humans really don’t have any business here—the inside temperature of our rig hovered in the upper 90s during the day—the best our roof air unit could do under the circumstances. But at least at night, we could get the place cooled down into the 80s.
A welcome break comes
But the photo archives jump in September. Wounds heal. Doctors relent. At a time when some snowbirds were actually heading into Quartzsite, we headed out. We packed up a new-to-us “research travel trailer” and “Got out of Dodge.” Within a few hours, we could actually roll the truck windows down and breathe in non-air-conditioned breezes. Saguaro cactus gave way to pine trees. Pines gave way to trees with—what are those? Those are leaves! At night we listened to coyotes chatting, rather than the endless rumble of fans and air conditioning.
Our film files from that brief period show tall hills, lake beds—actually filled with water. Wildlife—from bears to mountain goats, wolves and bison. We have no question our species is truly “at home” on terra firma.
And our species has an amazing ability in other ways. A stop in a tiny little burg, made famous for its entry in the Guinness Book of World Records, left a good taste in our mouth. Delgadillo’s Snow Cap Drive In on Route 66 holds the distinction of having served the largest number of flavors of milkshakes. Thanks, Chuck Woodbury, for giving us that lead.
Looking forward to more silence
To be sure, the six weeks or so that we “got away” weren’t without their own share of trials. Life in this system is just that way. But we did manage to get away from our own post-COVID lockdown. It was a badly needed break, and “Ishah” made it possible. That’s the dub we’ve given the new trailer. We’re looking forward to getting her on the road soon. And next year—”the good Lord willing”—we’ll forget all about what an air conditioner sounds like.