A Grand Canyon finale to my first six months of Gypsy life

Still no camera cord… But the trip is even more beautiful geographically – the complete opposite of how I feel! I am a miserable companion on the one hand. On the other, this is the trip of a lifetime and if ever you get the chance to make it, I would thoroughly recommend it: a road trip from Texas to BC via Arizona and California.

Stayed in another good KOA RV park and after a swim in their indoor pool (it gets cold here at night) we carried on to the Grand Canyon. We made camp about 3 miles from the rim but I was feeling tired and unwell so S hiked off to watch the sunset and have a few beers without me. Hopefully tomorrow I’ll feel a bit brighter.

There’s a definite correlation between the psyche and the body and I am so curious about it. Several days of the most difficult emotional stress I’ve experienced for years followed by  a resolution in my heart and some bland sadness/tiredness and look at what happened!  Until the moment of resolution, I felt well, athough painfully distressed. Immediately following resolution, I was exhausted and slept well. In fact it was the one and only night I’ve slept well since I left Corpus Christi. It’s what happened then that is so exciting…

I expected  a sore throat and woke with one… A sore throat and neck;  gripping pains in my stomach;  mild aches in legs, feet, arms and hands! Sort of flu-ey but I didn’t expect to get too sick and I shouldn’t be contagious. S worried that he would catch my germs being as it was cold and raining and the windows were shut. I assured him I wasn’t contagious. Feeling unwell lasted the best part of 3 days, getting easier. I used my zapper and took Neo-Citran each day, knowing that they would both reduce the intensity (making it easier to enjoy traveling) at a cost of extending the time I felt unwell. It was exciting to know that I had control of what was happening to me – in that I could predict it?  And that every sneeze was one step closer to the new me!

Our camp that night was in the forest in another KOA – this time without any services – and I awoke to a warm sunny day: a lovely calm day. I still hadn’t seen the Grand Canyon but later that day we were booked to go on a helicopter tour and we had a short walk to Hopi House on the south rim and watched a few minutes of Navajo Indian fluting and dance. It was a lovely song and dance: warm but dramatic,with a body language that spoke ‘actively’ and said  ‘welcome but watch it: I’m fit and ready for any action’?

The helicopter ride was no doubt exciting and the thrill of a lifetime – S loved it and took lots of photos and can’t wait to go back in the air. Me? Well, not so much! To be honest I don’t even like rides at the fair and this was like the mother of all rides. Add to that the loud Guns ‘n Roses ‘we’re gonna have a great day’ music blaring through the headphones they put on our heads, the PFD strapped to our waists, the smell of jet fuel, walking under razor-sharp rotors and the panoramic glass doors I thought I would fall through below me and I would say “I had a challenging time”! I think we saw some amazing natural scenery but to be honest I need to look at S’s photos! I couldn’t seem to get my mind off inventing an airbag that would open underneath our seats if we fell out of the sky. (I will post photos later – S’s photos!)

After hovering onto our little landing pad, a young guy in baggy shorts, his cap on backwards and a tee-shirt that said ‘ground crew’ stripped off whatever straps I hadn’t already taken off and looked worried as I walked zombie-like from the helicopter. That night we stayed in dusty, noisy truck stop -not helpful to my sore throat!  This was a real desert-looking Mojave desert, with hills that looked like huge dunes made of black and beige coloured sand. I loved it and felt sad to be passing through it.

One tire on the trailer had a slow puncture, although it looked fine due to its twin. (Thanks to Daniel I check my tires every morning with a hammer and discovered it!)  In Ludlow California we had brunch and got the tire fixed and carried on to another amazing place: desert and funny looking ‘confused’ trees on one side of the road (they’re not sure if they’re cactus or trees); dust blowing over the road; low cloud far over on the left and behind that alpine mountains with snow! A real crossroads…

The weather flip-flopped from hot and dry to grey and cool as we skirted to the north of Los Angeles and the terrain reminded both S and I strongly of Wales with scrubby hills and grey clouds hanging low over us. We paused to look at the map at Santa Clarita, unsure of where to go. I was not happy at all in the change of weather: Texas is definitely calling to me! I think we’ll go inland a bit to both my aunts and give the coast – cool and cloudy – a miss.

We drove over the grapevine  – a road that criss-crosses over itself as it climbs up increasingly large hills. Getting-greener and cooler with every mile and like a giant’s stubbly beard. As we drove north, the countryside grew more and more pretty and green.

We visited my aunt P and her husband B – who I hadn’t seen for years and who looked wonderful and were fantastic hosts. After a yummy meal followed by an sumptuous Peruvian flan – like creme caramel with a little more substance – I did some laundry and had a long bubble bath. Bliss! Next day we visited Yosemite Park and had lunch at a roadside cafe owned by the rock climbing family who ‘opened’ much of this area. Amazing photos and our server was a muscly, rock-climbing dude with long hair?! The roads were very twisty and windy with huge, rugged mountains and as it started to rain and as I felt nauseous anyway (and with a constant feeling of dread in my tummy) we turned around.

Drove solid for about 20 hours as it got colder and rainier (whine, whine, whine!). S has been nothing short of a gold star friend and has done all the driving, never complaining about my sad face. Over the border in Abbotsford we had another flat tire  – same tire, odd? S helped me transfer all of my storage locker (everything I have, so a full day’s worth of lifting boxes) to a slightly cheaper, smaller lock-up and then we left for the ferry. Both of us look (and smell) like refugees – what does a refugee smell like?! Hmmm!

Off to sleep with the sound of rain on the trailer…

As I go further into the cool, green, north, the feeling of dread in my core grows. I remember my early childhood in the Middle East with hot weather, yellow sand dunes and endless good times on the beach. Perhaps that’s why I love Texas – despite its right-wing politics and redneckness?

I remember going to England and seeing green hills and having grey rainy days and being a little surprised that everyone seemed to wax lyrical about such things? The only good thing I could see was that you could drink the tap water without getting sick? Other than that I thought it sucked?! Then at age 10 I went to boarding school – also in ‘the north’ – which was harsh. From then on I never left the north and the damp cool weather – except for the odd holiday – and I spent decades searching for ‘kind’ and ‘gentle’ and ‘fun…

There were short holidays when life felt light and I was able to laugh again: each year, as a kid, when my Mom took my brother and I on holiday to Spain; in 1982 when I took my kids to The Gambia on holiday;  summer ’88 in Ontario was hot and holds mixed memories for me; a short family holiday in Florida in ’94, after which I had the same feeling of dread in my gut and didn’t want to come home. And 1997 in BC, when I spent two weeks with my Mom and my kids at Long Beach here in Canada and it was hot and sunny and we camped on the beach. Beautiful.

This would explain the goldfish-in-a-bowl feeling I had in Victoria. I never felt settled or contented despite getting to the point where I liked my life and loved my job, house, friends, Cadboro Bay beach: it was still cool and green.

It would explain my hanging around warm, sandy Southern Texas and the Gulf all winter when I intended to visit several states. And it would explain my powerful resistance to leaving Texas and returning north.

As we drive towards Canada, the weather gets cooler and the windscreen wipers fight with the rain. The fat bugs that splattered all over the windshield and dried within seconds have been washed clean by the rain and are now just a faint ghost on the glass. The desert has gone and the hills get greener. I feel this icy cold finger twist and spread into my whole core.

Life was good when I lived in the Middle East. My parents were reasonably happy most of the time. School was OK especially when I wasn’t being told off for sticking up for the kid who couldn’t do his sums and got his knuckles rapped with a ruler. Or allowing the much-teased very-overweight kid to catch me in our game of kiss-chase because I felt sorry for him. We spent almost all of our weekends on the beach with friends in a fairly large group with lots of kids and happy adults. Deep down my survivor learned well: sun + beach + humidity = pleasant life. Cool, green, rainy north = hard life.

It was also a city on and island. Like London, where I almost died…

I’m still mistaking this ‘love’ and anxious feeling in the pitt of my stomach with the love of a man… Or maybe it is?  Time will tell. Girls are ‘programmed’ to believe that only a man can cause such feelings of love and anxiety. Only men feel such a love for the land or for their country. Maybe that’s not true.

Things may not be quite clear yet. But I was right about not being contagious: S is still well.

1 thought on “A Grand Canyon finale to my first six months of Gypsy life

  1. Love isn’t logical, that’s why it’s called an emotion…and we rarely fall in love with the logical choice, although in the end you usually end up knowing your heart was smarter than your brain….this time.

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