We left town in the evening, attempting to get through Phoenix under the cover of darkness. We beat the heat and started the hill climb into Flagstaff in around 2 AM. We were heading to the dark sky city of Flagstaff to observe the Perseids meteor shower. It was going to peek at 200 entries per minute in 2016. We had our first mechanical issue about 50 miles outside of flag. I was climbing into the forest in third gear, and suddenly realized I no longer had first or second gear. There was no way I was going to get through the rest of these mountain roads without use of those gears. So I pulled over in a clearing and climbed under the bus.
Because of the way that the shifter was acting, my first thought was to check the shift linkage. On closer inspection I found the issue. After coming off the transmission boot on the nosecone, I discovered that the small brass bushing that rides along the shift rod, had come out of the nosecone, it was worn away so bad on one side that it would tilt on the shaft. This jammed up linkage when trying to get into first or second. I pushed the brass piece back into place and not just the edge of it with a screwdriver and a hammer to keep it retained. As I pulled myself from under the car I saw a fiery volley of 15 to 20 shooting stars all at once. We stood there in the dark on the side of the freeway, and watched the sky fall. In about 10 minutes we had seen several large clusters of meteor rights into the atmosphere, we decided to push through to our destination so we could set up a camera gear and capture some of it. Nature wasn’t in on this plan.
Everything we had read before our trip had to shower peaking on the second night of our camp. Well sometimes these things are wrong, it had about 24 hours early. We did not know as we were setting up camp, that we were seeing the pico on the side of the road during our break down. If we would’ve known we would’ve stayed much longer. We arrived at our destination right at daybreak. We watched the morning sun generate steam clouds off the lake. Large water birds we’re on the hunt for breakfast snatching fish from the water and swallowing them down. We set up camp, and not a moment too soon. The sunrise brought with it in Arizona monsoon. Shortly after we got our camp set up we had to batten down the hatches and hide from the storm within the walls of the bus. Monsoons last longer in the mountains it seems, it wasn’t the 10 minute downpour were used to in the desert valleys. The downpour lasted little over an hour. The rain to drop the temperature by about 10°, and we set off to explore the woods after their recent bath.
That night was clear. The rainstorm of the day had pulled the dust from the air, it had cleared the sky to show us the stars. I laid in my hammock staring off into the Milky Way galaxy. The density of stars was incredible. Every now and then I would see a streak of a meteor trying to catch up to the Perseid shower. I set the camera on the tripod for long exposure photography, I wanted to capture the sky.
The next morning had a surprise for us, because of the rain the day before, the hillsides were covered with bright red mushrooms. Camping in Flagstaff has one thing that I normally don’t get in other places. Full bars on my cell phone. We were able to identify the mushroom through a local Flagstaff mushroom hunting site. The mushroom was edible, and we foraged the hillsides packing them away in bags. We made a large spaghetti dinner, and retired into the bus for bed.
Camping in Flagstaff is relaxing. There’s many places you can campus complete seclusion, knowing that you are 20 minutes from the grocery store. I typically try to get as far out into the wilderness as I can, but camping with a safety net has its perks.
We packed up early Sunday morning, and begin our trek back to Tucson Arizona. We took a different route out of the mountains, a road that I wish I had pinned on a Map. We cross through a patch of extremely tall red bark trees. One of these days I’m going to scour Google Maps and find that road, and camp alongside it. After a few days in flag, we had forgotten about the heat that we had escaped from the lower Valley. As we begin our decent into Phoenix, we watch the temperatures rise. We went from 72° to 111° in a 45 minute drive. It was hot. It was really hot. And we had barely The edge of Phoenix, it was 6 PM, rush-hour. I hopped on my cell phone and called a friend in Phoenix that I knew had a pool. Luckily we had caught him at a great time. He was about to get in the pool himself. We took the next exit off the freeway knowing we were minutes away from full relief, away from the heat. It did not take long for us to change into our swimwear, And dive into the cool waters of his backyard pool. We visited and floated until nightfall, then started our trek back to Tucson.