Rebecca Wilks

Rebecca Wilks; Photographer, Teacher, Yarnellian, Do-Gooder

Saturday, March 2, 2024

Getting Over It


Getting over the cold, paddling on Alamo Lake in February

Travelers know that, if a trip is long enough, there will be those moments.  You’re tired and things aren’t going your way.  If we’ve been around long enough, we recognize the situation, take a deep breath, and know that it will pass.  If we can, we get away by ourselves or settle down with loved ones and refrain from addressing anything important until it passes.  Some find that alcohol or sugar helps.


Windstorm at Ibex Dunes, Death Valley National Park

The first examples that pop into my head are all about wind, whipping the camper around so I can’t sleep and sucking my stuff out the door as I try to get the pop-top down.  The van is so much more stable than the Four-Wheel Camper (“Lurch”) that was our previous vehicle, but winds to over 40 MPH will take the fun out of most camping trips.  Most of that has been in the Mojave Desert, where there’s no escape (joy), but there were a couple of monsoon storms at viewpoints on the Grand Canyon’s North Rim when I packed up at 2:00 AM and headed into the forest.  Trees are a big help if you can find them.  Parking nose into the wind is a good plan, too, if you can manage it and the wind direction is more or less constant.


The morning after from my haven in the Mojave National Preserve

This last Mojave trip had relatively tame winds at around 35 MPH, but I was already grumpy about the cold and getting tossed around on the highway when I pulled over for fuel in Pahrump, NV (so very much cheaper than CA).  I managed to choose the wrong pump and before I knew it there was fuel spraying out around the nozzle.  This messed with my attitude.  I was too grumpy and tired to drive home for 5 hours, so I headed for the northern part of the Mojave National Preserve, tucked into the downwind side of an abandoned corral, and popped a beer.  Voila, Attitude adjustment.



Then there was the time at Kofa National Wildlife Refuge when my last dog, the perpetually grumpy one, backed into a cholla and came up covered with cactus balls.  She let me take exactly two off and lost what few manners she had.  We drove the three hours home and our local veterinarian put her under anesthesia for the win.  We both had better attitudes then.


Yankee Fork Salmon River.  The hot place.

Last August’s epic circle included some sublime time in Idaho.  We’ll be back. One issue with summer, even at altitude, is that sometimes we can’t escape the heat.  We don’t have A/C. The biting flies were relentless and DEET was useless, so shade was not the answer.  That was a long day in the black van.  There was nothing for it except to wait out a very long day.


Not my favorite camping moment.  Death Valley.

Long-time readers may recall that Lurch had an electrical issue.  Eventually I traced it to a fuse and had lots of spares around for replacement before the battery charged down completely.  The first time, before figuring it out, I was in Death Valley.  Long story, but the rig stayed at the Toyota Dealership in Las Vegas (a warranty tow, thank goodness) and I went home. 


Gypsy warming up after a night without heat, Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument, Utah

Sometimes I think that eventually everything will shake loose in a rolling house.  I’ve had lots of minor mechanical issues like a (sink) water pump failure, heat failure, mobile phone booster failure, and a still mysterious blown-out rear window.  These were not my best days and come to think of it they always seem to happen when my mechanically inclined husband stayed home.  But I’m not superstitious.


I’m sure there will be more since that’s the nature of travel.  The trick is getting over it.


Best of luck to you in your adventures and failing that I wish you a prompt attitude adjustment.

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