I'm clawing, digging, scrapping the dirt from underneath the tires of the RV with my bare hands. The Arizona sun is pulsating on my stinking, sweating back and there's no hope in sight. It's 2:30pm and as I spit and pant I raise up on my knees from under the RV and look into the golden brown plains through my cheap sunglasses to a now common horizon, leading endlessly into one of the most beautiful oncoming sunsets my eyes will ever see. Even in the most dire times this landscape of our great west can stop you in your tracks. The Gaylenium Falcon is stuck in the dirt on some crud-hell side-road just feet from the freeway adjacent. We are completely screwed. Our transport, our lifeblood, our home... stuck in the dry Arizona desert dirt and I'm on my stomach ferociously trying to dig us out, a real last ditch effort. And It's all my fault. Kind of. Let me tell you what happened.
We're on route 40 west towards New Mexico, Shang-high-nooning it out of Arizona as fast as our feet will walk us. I can't quite explain it but... Well let's just eloquently say *EXPLITIVE* this stupid state. We're Down a crew member, Flagstaff was a bust and Jack, A.J. and I are on a mission from God to hit that New Mexico border on time. A.J. Is walking behind as Jack and I are approaching exit 203 when Holy swear word! Wouldn't you know it, a Petrified wood slash Navajo antique center slash Mannequin Vignette museum slash ostrich farm stands right in front of us!
So naturally I park the RV, interview the Ostriches for the film, who by the way are essentially the last of the dinosaurs and a surprisingly supportive faction, and get some great footage of the 'scene' presented in front of this nowhere land tourist trap. There is a huge dirt lot in front of the petrified wood shack with 1950s cars, forgotten ivory handless mannequins with strangely nice figures sexily posed in front of a landscape of unsellable blech. In the distance surrounding the lot are gigantic life size dinosaurs overlooking this fallout shelter of absurdity and a whole backyard full of pottery and petrified crap and God knows what else.
To stay safe on our walk, we do as best as we can to stick to the side roads, dirt roads and whatever comes up on the 'walking directions' platform from lovely google. It isn't always up to date. Jack and I leave this Jumanji of wonder to hit our meeting point with A.J. two miles up. Now, I know what our RV is capable of and believe me, this bird likes to fly. So we trounce through some fun dirt roads, a jolly chuckle the whole way, coasting aside the freeway not forty feet to our right. The road gets bumpier. The waning hills we drive deeper and steeper. Soon it is evident, we're on an 'off road path'. Screw It let's drive! Not so much...
Two miles past the creepy radiation field of sexy mannequins, 1950s super cars, dinosaurs, petrified wood samples and ostrich farm Jack and I find ourselves at a halt. In front, a half road divided in two by a sinking hole on the left side. No place for a 28 foot RV. To the right, a 15 foot tall rocky dirt mound supporting the whizzing freeway ahead. Behind, a hilly dirt road that quickly snuck up on us as we were jollying about the ostrich farm behind. To the left...ahhhhhhhh to the left...
"We should turn around" Jack says in a voice that hits the tenor of 'we really shouldn't be driving here'
"O.k." I say, in a heroic voice of 'we really shouldn't be driving here'.
To the left is a steep dirt road incline, a mile long 'driveway' with typical Arizona golden nothing brush to either side and a ridiculously misplaced blue house standing alone in the panorama of it all. Who lives there? I make the turn, oh so carefully, and see ahead lays a dirt trench in the dirt road. Dirt. Shit. Dirt.
"K-Turning It" I confidently state as the RV begins her steep descent on the long driveway of 'we really shouldn't be driving here'. Quickly I see yet another trench ahead and pull the truck to the left into a flat clearing of brush. "Whatever, we've done this before" I claim from nowhere and in an instant I feel her sink. I accelerate and she moans further into the dirt. I stop and reverse. Nothing. I jerk it into drive immediately and we are moving. Then we are not. Drive, accelerate, nothing...
Reverse, accelerate, nothing. Drive accelerate, nothing. Reverse, accelerate, nothing. Drive accelerate, nothing. Rev! Rev! Rev! Nothing! Nothing! Deeper deeper deeper we go. Dear bazoinking god nothing shit holy hell Jesus no in the lord of all things no shit hll balls and all sorts of other obscenity! Not here! Not now! Please do not let this RV be stuck in the dirt in a made up un-map-able road in the middle of Arizona when we are so close to being out... It Is. It really is. We are stuck in the dirt. Our Ride, our lifeblood, our home... So, I make a call:
"Hello Triple A, this is Stacy, you have been referred to us, how may I help you?"
Please keep in mind I have already been on the phone with Henry Kim, my personal AAA agent that I signed up with a month earlier, for twenty minutes before I actually get through to a towing service. Henry soon realized that I don't have RV insurance per se...and is on my side, per se...
Henry - "I'm going to transfer you to roadside but DONT say the words motor, home, or Motor Home ok? Oh or RV ok? Because you are not covered under that."
"I thought you insured the person not the vehicle..."
"Well yes, but, well, not exactly"
"I read you loud and clear Hank". Yeah I read him, like I read O.K. Magazine
Sweat drips down my face while I am on hold for AAA roadside assistance and I'm starting to enjoy the early spring benefits of desert heat loosening up my muscles. A woman answers and I'm on my game not to spill the RV beans. It went a little something like this:
"Thats right ma'am, the corner of washboard and wanalanca...a big truck.....stuck in the dirt.....well it's a Ford E-350, technically....what do I mean technically?....yes that's right...well yeah, sort of, I mean she's a big truck...nooooooooooooooooo not an RV...define 'Motor Home?'...uhhh we sleep in it?... ...nooooooooooooooooo that's not us, nope. Not a motor home....See, what had happened was...uh huh...well yes we are within 100 feet of a paved road, why does that matter?....uh huh...ohhhhhhhhh, yep right of the highway I can see it from here...well no, you gotta take exit 303 and drive east on the west side...no, EAST on the west side...Yeah it's past this radiation field of sexy mannequins, 1950s super cars, dinosaurs, petrified wood, meteorites and ostrich farm...hello?
So AAA eventually screwed us as every insurance agency is want to do because they apparently only provide 'Road Side' assistance to paved roading customers only. So here we are so close to getting out of this miserable state with our R.V. Stuck in the prettiest damn field you've ever seen. I suggested we claim the land and just live out our lives there but Jack and A.J. Differed in they're enthusiasm. So after a few more phone calls Enter, Williams and Son Towing.
The sun is fading fast when the hulking black tow truck arrives, hours longer than expected. He was driving aimlessly east on the east side of the highway instead of east on the west side. J. Williams Sr. Called me from the shop saying he couldn't get a hold of his son because the diesel engine was too loud to hear a cell phone ring. Given our predicament I'm glad we were getting some diesel help for this dirty disaster.
So out steps J. Williams Jr. With his beat up flannel, big rimmed glasses, greasy hands and sun leathered red face grinning with a great big toothless smile. He's almost sixty years old. I wonder if he got his dads good looks. We shake hands.
"Thank God you're here." I say in my best manly garage talk, guy voice. "Sorry about all of the direction confusion. We're really in the shit here!"
"Oh no don't worry getting here is our responsibility". I like him already. He doesn't use the words "Can't" or "Per Se".
So he drives down and ahead of us on the dirt driveway, stops inches before the trench and begins to let out some good old fasion American steal line. The truck is noisy and greasy and old school and I am glad as hell this is our rescue vessel. I ask if can use helpnlet out the cable. I can feel the Torque of the old girl as I take over holding down the metal lever and watch it slowly drag out. I'm like a kid at the fire house again. J. Jr. Is hooking the front of the R.V. But I know we are not out of this yet.
After ten minutes we are ready to go. I take over the drivers seat from A.J., put her in low gear and enter the zone. Work, work, work, work, work I keep repeating in my head as I feel the cable tighten and accelerate. The falcon starts to move but I realize it is dragging not driving. I rev slow and hard and inches at a time freedom comes closer. Then it hits flat ground, speeds immediately and I haul ass another ten feet over the ridge and back on the driveway having to slam the breaks before I single handedly turn the tow business to just J. Williams Sr. Towing.
J. Jr. Darts out of the way and we stop inches behind the truck, now fully on the driveway. There is minor celebration but I know that I now have to reverse this baby up the steep dirt hill, cut it tight enough so as not to hit the rock wall and stop short enough so as not to back into the gap. It strikes me we very well could get stuck again, blocking the tow truck and requiring a third truck to get us out in the dark. Not gonna happen. I know there is only one way to do this.
"Here we go!" I cry as I nail into reverse and slam the gas. The old girl starts fighting valiantly up the hill backwards. I'm cutting left, I'm cutting right, I'm running over grass and rocks and avoiding the dirt. I'm screaming, willing with every inch of my being.
"C'mon baby, c'mon baby, c'mon baby. Hit it! Hit it! Hit it! Push! Push! Push!
I sounded like an overly enthusiastic gymnastics coach or a Lemahaze teacher. We make it to the top and I hit the breaks right before the wall. After an intense series of pulling forward and reversing and damn near running over Jack who is operating the classic hand movement signal ground control game, we got it. There we are, completely in line on the dirt road and ready to get the explitive out of here.
Jr. Makes it up the hill just fine and is trailing us back to the highway. The horizon is warm and welcoming as we drive back past the old radiation field of sexy mannequins, 1950s super cars, dinosaurs, petrified wood, meteorites and ostrich farm. Of course we have to follow him back to the shop to pay dad the nearly $200 dollars this mistake cost us. The AAA membership for the year cost $97 total. I guess you get what you pay for.