Friday, December 5, 2014

to Death Valley (Part 1)

This morning is our intended departure date, and when everything is packed and the trailer is attached to the car, we say our goodbyes.  Otis is determined not to get left behind and stakes out a spot in the car when I open the door to put our coats on the seat.  

With my aunt and uncle and Polly in the rearview mirror, we wave a final goodbye and pull out of the drive.  

Then the check engine light comes on.  

Less than a mile from the house, we stop the car and pop the hood open.  Yup, there's the problem.

Some smarmy rat-faced git has been gnawing on the wiring for the cam shaft sensors during the night.  

We turn around and limp back down the hill where my family graciously welcomes us back and even calls the auto shop for us.  

By the end of the day, our car is back in the driveway (although parked on the other side) with the chewed wires soldered back together and the check engine light off.  We spend another night in the opulence of a warm house, wood fireplace, delicious food, kind family, and a hot bath, and are ready to try again the next morning.  

Oh, the promise of a new day!  The sun rises bright and warm, and Hubs goes out to check on the car.  He opens the hood, and guess what he finds.

That same stinking wire has been chewed again by that same stinking pack-rat during the night.  Words cannot describe the loathing and desire for slow, torturous revenge I feel for Smarmy Rat-Faced Git.  

Over breakfast I mentally build a very tall scaffold for Smarmy Rat-Faced Git.  

Hubs is ever the encourager, especially when he sees that Wifey is about to have a full-scale meltdown and tear through the wood pile where SRFG lives in order to personally see it drawn and quartered.  He points out that SRFG only chewed through the electrical tape, wire insulation, and a few threads of copper on each wire, leaving the electrical connections intact.  The check engine light isn't on, so we can probably hitch up and drive to the auto shop on the way out of town.  His plan goes smoothly, and the guys at the shop don't even charge us for checking it over and putting on some more electrical tape.  

Our next stop is at Kmart where I stand in the rat-dispatching aisle and cackle with maniacal delight when I see all the possible ways of poisoning, squashing, suffocating and otherwise maiming rodents available to me.  I choose a four-pack of glue-filled trays where I envision SRFG securely mired, feebly waving its twitching legs in the final throes of death.

The lady at the checkout mistakes the wild gleam in my eye for Christmas cheer.

Back on the road, we make our way through the last podunk town of Lone Pine, gas up, and make our way toward Death Valley.

Passing Panamint Springs "Resort", we notice that they are kindly vending Premium gas for $6.30/gal.  Our tank is mostly full, so we keep right on driving.

Joshua Trees on the march.
The road begins flat, and we pass two coyotes begging for food.  

In the distant haze, I see a road winding up in the mountains and pity the poor suckers who have to take that.  

Rounding the bend, I realize that we are the poor suckers.  Darn.

Our route is marked in green.

Half way up, we stop and give our faithful, panting tow vehicle a rest.

Up and over the first mountain we go, then see another looming ahead of us.  It takes over an hour, but we make it over both mountains and down down down into Death Valley.  

The Stovepipe Wells campground is nestled in the valley with a gas station, a small motel, restaurant, and general store which sells nothing but t-shirts and cactus jelly for $6 for a thimble-sized jar.  Good thing we are fully stocked with food!

When we are all settled in for the evening, I place sticky traps all around our injured wire just in case SRFG hitched a ride with us.  

Death Valley is such a terrible name for this wonderful place.  It is November and I am wearing short sleeves!

Loafing about in our camp chairs, Hubs spots a large beetle scuttling across the ground.  Of course I have to go over and poke it, and it defends itself by sticking its little beetle bum into the air.  

Worst. Defense. Ever.