It was hot all night and hard to sleep at the North Joshua Tree BLM site where I had been camped out for about thirty-six hours—like ninety-five degrees hot when I got up. For the most part I had gotten away from my every other night wake up at 2am thing and was back to my regular schedule but it was so unbearably hot during the night in the van I got up and sat outside in just my shorts for a long time without much relief. I did doze off in my chair for bit and was awoken by the sound of howling coyotes—I think they were saying: “We got a fat one here. All hands-on deck.”
I went back inside and slept restlessly for a few more hours. When I got up my pillow was wet with sweat. I opened up the van hoping for a little respite from the inferno that was the van. The shade was there but unlike the previous day there wasn’t a trace of coolness in the air. Like with the flies outside I was going to have to accept the heat and be Zen about it. I again got on my jacket and skull cap and sat outside to fend off the bugs. That didn’t last long though because the heat was just unbearable.
But I soldiered on doing my work to the best of my ability. Despite being in the direct uninterrupted sunlight the lithium batteries that powered the van weren’t recharging all that effectively. My capacity was down to about sixty percent. I guess in the heat it was taking more juice to run the fridge and the Maxx air fan that sat on top of the roof. To extend the life of the batteries it was essential that you never let them run below thirty percent. So really, I had like thirty percent capacity left which was more than enough to get me to the next morning when I was going to be moving on.
It should be noted also that to extend the life of the of these expensive lithium batteries—about $1K per hundred-amp hour battery of which I had six— you had to drain them down to thirty percent at least once a month. I had done that at with the van sitting partially sitting in the shade at RJ and Karen’s and now it was about to happen again.
To break up the day and try to retain my quickly fading Zen countenance—I was feeling the vibrations of the universe and the universe was really starting to piss me off—I went for another walk. I couldn’t possibly sweat or be more uncomfortable than I already was so maybe a little stroll would help my disposition. Again, I stuffed my backpack with water, loaded up on sunscreen which seemed kind of pointless given the way I was sweating and grabbed the very gross hand towel I had been using to mop up for over twenty-four hours.
Instead of walking out along the dry expanse that led to where the teenagers drank, and spray painted the rock formation I went along the dirt road designated as Cascade. Power lines ran along this road right out to Rt 62. It would be hard to veer off course here. I was able to maintain direction fine, and as much as I tried to empty my mind and just look at my surroundings it was hopeless. Peace and comfort eluded me and all I could think about was the sweat pouring off my body and the fucking heat.
|Just prior to toddler explosion|
When I got back to the van I still had a sliver of shade from the awning and the breeze finally picked up providing a bit of much needed relief. I barely noticed the flies converging on my dripping wet body in that sweet breeze. But then it started to gust and lift up the poles that were propping up the awning. I had them staked securely in the ground, so they were fine—until they weren’t. All of the sudden a gust of wind tore out stakes and ripped off the magnet that secured the awning to the van and the whole thing collapsed on me.
In that heat, covered with those flies, sopping with sweat, I had a toddler moment cursing and kicking over my chair as I tried to untangle myself from that mess. Though I was quite embarrassed at my response I made some quick decisions. Rather than wait till the morning to put the awning away I would do it now and be done with it. Its usefulness was gone anyway. I also swept and folded up the plastic travel rug and my little end table. I was just going sit in the hot van and sweat it out until dusk when God willing it might cool off a bit.
When that didn’t happen, I closed the van door and turned on the AC unit. I was still at about sixty percent and thought I could run it down to fifty percent which would give me twenty percent capacity till the morning, It was nice half-hour sitting beneath the AC unit, but once I reached fifty that cool air evaporated like the dreams of one armed girl who wanted to be a juggler.
I was miserable. And if I was a real toddler I would have cried uncontrollably.
|Good riddance cruel day|
How we got here...
An Ode to Fire and Donna
Chronological Posts From The Road
Going Mobile: What We Learned
Our Rig: A Pictorial Essay
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