The Continuation of the Last Huge Update

Trip Start Aug 13, 2006
Trip End Aug 12, 2007

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Flag of Canada  , British Columbia,
Monday, May 7, 2007

Sorry folks, I guess trying to upload 25 typed pages was a little too much. Here is the continuation of the latest installment.


You were just about to hear one of our most trying moments in the trip. Enjoy!

Losing a little patience and running out of used part options I headed for Douglas Arizona the largest and closest centre where I could buy a new radiator. It was a 60-mile drive. I had planned to eat dinner on the way back but I thought that there might be a little light left so I could get the new rad in before dark and we could leave first thing in the morning. Boy was I wrong. I should have stopped and eaten and taken my time. It would have saved April a lot of pain. Yes April. Why April you say? Well here is how it played out. I got back to the campsite around 7ish and it was already dark. I was starving and April offered to make me some dinner, it had been a really long and frustrating day for me.

Five minutes later I heard a blood curdling scream come from our van. I didn't know what to think but I ran over as fast I could. April had slipped coming out of the van. Missed the step in fact and landed badly on her ankle. I swore that she had broken it, she was in shock, cold and I knew that we were going to have to get her to a hospital. I guess better that it happened at the campsite and not at 7000 feet on a snowy mountain, but the van was also disabled. 7:30 at night the temperature was going below freezing and I had a dilemma. The closest hospital was 85 miles away.

There was no way we were going to leave people behind in our un-drivable van. The only thing to do was repair the radiator in the dark and cold. pack up the campsite and get on the road. Fortunately, I had already taken this rad out four times and reinstalled it once. I was able to do the job with the headlights of Gladys' van and Evelyn as my assistant. Garrett and Gladys packed up the campsite and April shivered and shook in bed. She was in a ridiculous amount of pain.

I managed to get the van back together in less than an hour and we were on the road shortly thereafter. We had her in the emergency room 85 miles away somewhere around midnight. I have never had so many cuts on my hands. OK it is not about me at this point. April was really in a lot of pain. Gladys and the kids bedded down in her van in the parking lot of the hospital and April and I got on with activities in the hospital.

We were in Wilcox, Arizona and the hospital staff were fantastic. Fortunately it was not a busy night and they were able to take care of April right away. Josh Dopko was the physician on duty and Ceil Geyer was the RN. The care was second to none and they told us that April had a severely sprained ankle. Actually she had torn all of the ligaments very badly, but it was not broken. Fortunately, she had been wearing good hiking boots at the time of the injury and I think that saved her from a more serious injury.

We were out of the ER by 1:30 am and we finally put a very long day to rest. It was the only good night sleep April was to have for several weeks as they had given her an injection of toradol a very potent muscle relaxant. I nursed my shredded knuckles back to health too in the coming weeks and we headed for Arivaca Arizona a day later where Gladys' good friends Gail and Phil Bastien have a winter home where we could stay for a while. A gods send with April laid up the way she was. We needed some room to spread out and they had some. Phew. It would have been a living hell for April to try and manage in the van with her ankle. It wasn't broken but she really was a hurting unit. Thanks guys.

We arrived in Arivaca, Arizona the beginning of March and stayed almost until the end of the month. What to say about the coolest little town we stayed in on the whole journey. It is the only place that Evelyn said she would like to come back and live. I felt pretty comfortable there too. The place did have its oddities though, considering that we were only 23 miles north of the Mexican border. The drug running and illegal immigration were very evident there and so was the presence of the Border Patrol.

Oh ya, speaking of the police state that Americans seem to tolerate all the time we did get stopped by Boarder Patrol coming out of Big Bend back in Texas. I know that was a few pages ago but this is a good one. Just because we look like hippies does not make us druggies and the boarder guys found that out pretty quickly the day they pulled us over. Yep we had to go through a checkpoint and they brought out the dogs for us. They were really serious about the whole thing too. We all had to get out of the van and go sit on a special bench. The dog handler came out and was walking his puppy around the van when he came upon the Say No To Drugs sticker that was produced by the Canada Customs Drug Dog Division. He had a really good laugh and let the other Orwellian Thought Police/Boarder Patrol know that we were clean.

Back to Arivaca, we really did enjoy ourselves there and the people were second to none. It was truly an artist's community and perhaps one of the last stands of true hippies. Yep I said it hippies. Some of whom had guns lots of guns, a rather weird combination but hey it was Southern Arizona. It really was a lot like the Wild West. I was later told that the hippies with guns could be considered retired bikers. LOL!!!

Where can I start, Gail and Phil were the most gracious of hosts as they were able to tolerate us and the kids for so long. Gail is very talented with computers and was able to help as the laptop was acting up a bunch. Phil took me in and out of Tucson for van parts to get the fridge working better and they generally accommodated us in every conceivable way.

I did get to repay their kindness and took the time to put a new layer of cool coat on their roof. In the desert people commonly paint their roofs with a rubberized white paint to keep things cooler. Phil is at the point that these types of tasks are getting more difficult and I was more than happy to help out.

Both kids were had a great treat while we were there. Other kids lots of them. Gail knew of an after school program and made sure the kids got there every day they could, great socialization time for them. Added to that there were kids right in their neighborhood that they got to play with.

There was a particularly special treat for Evelyn. One day coming back from a hike on crystal hill, a place Gail took us where you can pick up really clear quartz crystals right off the ground, Evelyn mentioned that she really wanted to go horse back riding. Well Gail and Phil had friends that own a horse ranch where they teach children how to ride and they owed them a favour. As it turned out they were hosting an overnight horse camp that week for March break and Evelyn could go for the whole week. That was some favour. Evelyn was ecstatic I don't think that she touched the ground for the days leading up to the camp and definitely not for weeks after. It was a seriously wonderful gift and she learned so much at the camp. She made some great friends and as it turns out I had recently taught her how to punch well and she beat the 12 year old boy that was there black and blue. That's my girl. Just like daddy taught you.

We did all kids of cool things in Arivaca; the list includes regular poker games that Phil brought me to. I learned how to play Omaha a variation of Texas Hold'em that at first I lost a bunch but I managed to clean up the day before we left and broke even. I got to do some drumming with Ari and Peter. April was able to take part in a Yoga class regularly. There was a really great film festival. We were able to set up a table to sell Norwex products every Saturday on the main street and there was a St. Patrick's Day party that was great. We did receive one of the best Norwex endorsements of the trip in Arivaca from Chris. Here is his Email:

Hey, Cliff & April.
It was wonderful getting to meet you and be a small part of your big
trip. Cliff, thanks for coming out tonight to play music with us. I
planned on going home and going to bed, but when I brought my package
of Norwex goodies in, I knew I had to try them out. My bathroom is
pretty much spotless right now! I was most skeptical about how well
it the enviro cloth would work on the bathtub scum, but it performed
marvelously. I went ahead and cleaned the rest of the bathroom just
because it was so much fun! I was very impressed by how easily and
perfectly the window cloth cleaned the mirror. It took about 20
seconds to make it look incredible. Thank you for bringing your
business to town and sharing it with us, we are very happy.
Have a wonderful journey and keeping blogging. (I checked that out,
And now, finally, I'm going to bed...
Chris O'Byrne

I have to make a special note of the Art Co-Op which had some really fantastic stuff. Ellen one of the artists who also ran the after school program gave us all tie die shirts which we have worn very proudly ever since. And I got some work with one the guys at the poker game. Kent needed some one to remove tones of gravel from his back yard and I happened to be qualified on the banjo and wheelbarrow. That was seriously hard work at nearly 4000 feet above sea level in the desert. But I got it all done and with some extra gas and food money to boot.

I came to the conclusion that hand guns really are just very volatile security blankets for people that are full of fear and not much faith. Harsh statement from a judgmental Canadian eh? But I still can't see how anyone is safer with people strapped with handguns legally obtained and otherwise. We don't have the level of gun violence in our country and surprising we don't have the same access to these types of weapons. Just for example if I had the desire I could have picked up a couple of guns almost anywhere for gods sake. Crazy. All right now back to our regularly scheduled trip report.

There was also a fantastic spring equinox concert that Gail and Gladys performed in. I am told that it was a great show I did not go to see it as there was a poker game going on. But April and the kids said it was great.

Overall there was such a diversity of people in Arivaca and such an acceptance for that diversity the town was a very comfortable place to be. It is nice when you feel so warmly welcomed and not judged by people. I really hope to get back there some day and win more of my money back at the poker table. I don't carry a gun but I think I could retire in Arivaca for the winter months. The only other thing to mention about Arivaca was the fantastic coffee shop where they roasted their own coffee. It was some of the best coffee I have ever tasted and I know my coffee. Kent does all the roasting for Tom who owns the coffee shop and my hats off to you guys Juan Valdez is turning in his grave and saluting you for a great cup of coffee.

With April on the mend three weeks and a bit later we were ready to push on and I think that our hosts were starting to notice the guests going stale. I have always maintained that houseguests have a best before date and it is good to get out before expiry. It leaves a much better taste in everyone's mouth and our date was quickly coming up.

I did fail to mention our hard drive failure in Arivaca. It is a bit of a sore point for me still. I had brought along an external hard drive to put a back up of our pictures on, copy compact discs to so I could sell our music collection and we got a copy of all of April's sacred dance music on it too. Well the dam thing had a fatal mechanical failure and all the data was lost. 60 gig of music and 5 of pictures, the photos were not so bad because there was a back up on the computer. The music was gone. I would have to start copying over 300 cds from scratch and I had to ask our friend Alynn in New Hampshire if he could help with the dance music library.

It was hours and hours of ripping cds. Alynn agreed to help out with the dance music and my dad forwarded a new external hard drive to him, which caught up with us in California. This by the way is the single best excuse I have for not blogging while we were in Arivaca. I was all consumed with getting the music ripped again after purchasing two new externals myself. I copied all my cds after several days of work and then made another copy just to be safe. The plan was to sell off our CDs when we needed the cash. Well now that out trip is almost over, anyone need music? We need the money now. Have any of you seen gas prices?

I think that covers Arivaca, one of the most memorable stops on the trip. Thank you everyone that we met there and especially Gail and Phil for playing host for so long.

So the plan was to head for the Grand Canyon straight north of Arivaca, going through Tucson and Phoenix. We did not stop in the big centres as we really had no particular interest. We got as far as Black Canyon City that day and now there was radiator fluid coming from Gladys' van. Woo hoo!!! We were stopping for repairs again.

We did stop at an Amish restaurant for supper and had some of the best home made pie since I ate my mothers last. The dinner was one of the better on the road and the dessert was close to mom's and that is saying something. We decided to push on a little further as it was night and Gladys' van was not over heating too badly. The largest centre close to us was Cottonwood, Arizona so we went for it and made it to Dead Horse State Park.

The next day we were able to determine that it was Gladys' water pump that was the problem. Now I can fix a lot of things but I have never done a water pump on a 318 Dodge and there was not the same urgency as our radiator. So her van went to a mechanic that could get the job done in about one-tenth the time it would have taken me and we got to explore Cottonwood a little.

We found a great little shop called the Hippie Emporium which was rather cute. We were all wearing our Arivaca tie dies and the owner went nuts for them. We gave her the coordinates for Ellen in Arivaca who had given us the shirts and I really hope that they were able to hook up.

We also stopped in a coffee shop to do some internet work and while we were there I did my best to sell the shop some Norwex products. Oddly enough a guy that overheard my presentation was the one who bought something. Turns out he wanted a good cloth to clean his gun collection. I do not know how well Norwex works on gun oil but I did not make any outrageous claims about the product just in case. He did end up getting a car cloth though to keep his truck clean. I felt a whole lot safer with the sale going that way. Americans in the southern states sure like their guns.

Gladys' van was fixed in almost no time and soon enough we were back on the road headed for the Grand Canyon. With a quick stop in Sedona a very pretty place where the yuppies now rule. It is a really built up version of what I think Arivaca still is. The rock structures there are stunning though. We got a couple of cool pictures then we boogied on to Flagstaff.

Flagstaff seemed like a really nice place, but we did not stay long enough to find out. It has been tough to really explore a city when we do not have a place to stay so we spent the night in the Wal-Mart parking lot there and started to head out. We did make a stop at a National Park head office though and had a small discussion about what happened to us in White Sands, New Mexico and our little parks pass problems. This time we talked to a woman Ranger and she could read English. In fact, she apologized on behalf the Park Service and gave us a plastic card that has caused us no grief since. Thank you soooooo much. I never wanted to go through another scene like that again.

Then it was Grand Canyon time. We arrived the day before Evelyn's 12th birthday to a complete blizzard once we got above 5000 feet. Evelyn was totally bummed that there would be snow for her birthday. She was pretty convinced that for the first time in her life there would be no snow for her big day. Sorry dear, it's that darn altitude. At least it was sunny March 30, 2007.

The snow and clouds were so thick that we could see absolutely nothing of the Canyon as we drove along the edge. We got a campsite for three nights and settled in. The snow stopped once we got set up and the sun came out briefly so we decided to get our first glimpse of the Canyon. It was one of those perfect moments on the trip, the sun came out and the clouds were lifting out of the Canyon in great white wisps. We were catching bits and pieces of the Canyon through the clouds and the crisp white snow accented it all. Pictures cannot do this moment justice at all. In fact I think it is very difficult for a camera to capture the scope of the Grand Canyon at all. Not to say that I didn't try: I have tones of shots.

I am going to take a break here to post all of this. I just got notification that we are to be featured travelers on the blog site, 25 typed pages should keep you all up to date. We are currently in Vancouver BC and I promise to get caught all the way up before we leave.

I hope you enjoyed this installment.
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