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LogoTheScream.jpg, 6.8kB LogoSunCity37.jpg, 10kB a story...
"Another Sun"
LogoMachuPichu.jpg, 14kB

Another Sun

It was late in July in my mobile home park. The senior park requires every person to show a burden of years: you must be 55 or older. And, it seems, for every person to suffer the burden of summer heat. Relentless heat is near 100 degrees, day after day. Old people slowly shuffle in the heat to the mail boxes. And grotesk hands fumble and grasp at paper. Every day the expectations of the park are the same. The high point of existence: to walk to the mail boxes. As each morning progresses, the sun again advances high, and the sun commands the same dance. Slightly past noon, the flag is raised on the pole: a signal that the mail has arrived. It is the same ritual, repeated day after day, without variance. In the heat of the sun the people wilt over, with bent backs and blank stares. Hunched over their walkers, they shuffle down wavy hot sidewalks. Every day is the same: same heat, same mail, same shuffle. This sun smothers everything in a thick stagnation.

But there is another way and another life, and my RV is designed for it. I keep my travel trailer in storage where it is prepared to escape. My little travel trailer is really a big RV in my mind, escaping at will, any time. I designed it that way.

BenTruck1997.jpg, 40kB My brother, Ben
My little trailer does not compare to what my brother Ben once drove. Every year, Gordons would give my brother an award for no accidents or tickets. He never talked about it, but I am proud it, and will not hesitate to mention it. My record is as good: a perfect record. 35 years pulling snow cats with no tickets or accidents, but plenty of demanding situations. We had a lot in common, and have sat for hours dreaming of a better way, a better road, and a better place. We both have ridden motorcycles all of our lives. Although my brother is younger, we both pull things, and with my little brother pulling the biggist of all. And, most importantly, we both ride for a fun-filled paradise beside an ocean somewhere. We dreamed of Maui, motorcycles, and a different sun.

I keep the little RV packed at all times. There are cans of stews, peanut butter, olive oil, salt, pepper, paper towels, magazines, drawers of underwear, closets of sweaters and pants. It is all here. It is loaded, ready to go. It is self contained. It is solar powered. It has electrical power: both 12 volt DC and 120 volt AC. I designed it all.

It has both solar and propane hot water. It has all highly efficient LED lighting. It has central air furnace heat, infrared heat, and modified stove heat. The shower has been modified with temperature controls to give a pleasant shower. It has a sky light in the bathroom, and a real porcelain commode, and electric toothbrushes.. It has an Entertainment Center with LED TV, all of my design. My RV is mine. I planned it.

Even in storage, it lives and breaths with electronics of my design. Intelligent microprocessors control everything. At work, I was a Design Engineer of control devices. It comes easy for me to design an intelligent RV. It never sleeps. I designed it that way.

My RV is unique. It is not as big as the big 5th Wheels or Motorhomes, and, as a model, the Springdale is certainly the cheapest of trailers. It may have a small area, but has a very big yard. It is designed to live in the fog and to chase a playful sun. That is it's element - as planned.

A-Loadup.jpg, 29kB Last minute checks in the driveway.
July 25 was the day that I brought the RV out of storage, and pulled it around to the front of our permanent stationary modular home in Casa De Flores. The old people here, walking their dogs, stop and look.

Linda and I give it last minute additions:
Two more sets of underwear for me, several more sets for Linda. And what does not fit in the drawers can be put in bulk storage under the bed. As we pull drawers in and out, we are busy mumbling to each other, and thinking out loud.
In the bathroom, in the medicine cabinet, I was already good for my meds. I had already stocked spare pills in the medicine cabinet. I had another complete set of everything in the RV in original bottles with labels. These are called RV-Meds. They permanently stay here, and are part of RV planning.

Linda took stock of her meds, and headed back in the house to get more.
In her absense, I was appalled to find her RV toothbrush with bristles smashed down and out sideways. It was wore out. I put, in it's place, a brand new pretty red "RV" toothbrush. Everything in this RV has to be perfect; Drives Linda crazy. But that is the way it must be in an RV, it is the design of traveling.

Linda is in charge of the house stuff. We had no idea when we would return, so Linda told me to carry the watermelon out of the house refrigerator and put it into the RV refrigerator. It was a heavy thing. Also, she had me transpose some corn, eggs, and milk. She likes my muscles.

Linda's son came by, unexpectedly, and did not like the idea of leaving in the heat. It was late morning and already the temperature was in the low 90's. It was getting even hotter, and getting there fast. I must admit that I could not wait to get in the air conditioning of the van. But while Linda talked with her son, I had to check a few more things, all from an RV list in my mind. The way of the RV takes a certain mentality.

I had a full gas tank on the van from the night before. Check!
The oil on the dip stick was good. Check!
Radiator water level was at the top. Check!

The air shocks were a little low at 22 lbs. I judged it as OK. Not a game changer. After checking, I released the button on the tire gauge with a puff.

Safety chains OK, And Connector Plug securely latched in.
The van was ready to roll.

Now to the RV...
RV tires were 47 lbs on both tires on the left side. I released the air with a puff for each tire. 45 lbs and 44 lbs on the right. A little low on the right, but definitely OK, I thought. And punctuated the decession with another buff.
My trusty gauge I safely stowed in it's place. Everything has a place. It must be that way in an RV. It is a law.

Refrigerator is set to "automatic".
I reached in and placed my hand in the freezer. It feels cold. Decidedly, the freezer section is working. Check!
Lower down, the refrigerator section is beginning to get cold. The refrigerator meter reads 51.4 degrees on the external meter. Linda comes around and behind me and turns all the ice trays over from their stored positions, and refills each with water. We work good together, and with such a close encounter, I am able to catch a "feel". She does not notice.

Solar panels all look good on the meters.
About 90% Solar Flux.
Batteries full at 13.45 volts each.
Cupboard doors shut. Closets closed. Antenna is down. Bathroom Vent is closed. Battery straps good. Outside Hatch doors shut. Cap on sewer outlet OK. And I thump the Spare Tire on my way to the other side.

I then turn on the left blinker, and run to the back of the trailer to get a look. Trailer blinks red in unison with the van, on and off. I only have to watch a blink and a half on the Right to know it is good too.

Now a check on the Tanks:
The tanks do not change in storage, but still one needs to check again. A recheck of the tank gauges: Black is empty. Grey is 5%. But the Fresh is designed to always have some water. I measured 44% of full fresh water in the RV. The fresh water tank capacity in the RV is 60 gallons. So, 44% is 26 gallons of fresh water, and at 8 lbs per gallon, that is a little heavy for what I like to travel with. But that is OK, because that means we can stay more days at unexpected locations, like boon-docking at parking lots and casinos. I can not - and will not - predict where I will be. And we do not know when we will be back either! The design is incorporated in the RV. I designed it that way.

Callie20150627.jpg, 29kB Callie
One more thing: the most important thing, besides getting Linda in, is to throw in the two woofers. The woofers have been jumping up and down, chomping at the bit, ever sense they saw the RV. Their excitement is as big as the RV. They somehow know that they are going somewhere cool, and they can not wait. I gently whisper "OK, lets go"; My voice barely audible. The two woofers instantly spring into action. A whisper does no good to minimize the reaction. The reaction is explosive and can not be contained. They tear down the ramp with Callie pulling on Lexy's ear. Lexy is 13 years old, and Callie thinks she needs extra help in going faster. Faster is never fast enough. Callie has learned from a baby that if Lexy goes anywhere, then she gets to go too. So, it is to her advantage to make real sure that Lexy is going somewhere, even if it means pulling her along.

The doggies run to the van in a furry. Linda and I eagerly grab door handles to get in. Within seconds, doors are opened, and doors are all slammed shut. Everything is done. Everything inside grows silent. And all four of us are loaded in a hot and still van.

Poised in the thick heat of the van; We hesitate. We only breathe.
As I sit in the drivers seat, I have a happy Callie in my lap, panting away. Full of anticipation, her gaze goes from looking out the window to looking up at my face. She repeats from my face to the window, again and again. Her gaze switches back and forth almost as fast as her tail swishes back and forth. My hand touches the key, but I hesitate. I feel I am about to command a big 747. Before turning the key, I ask Linda: "Do you suppose, Danny is right? We are going to run into trouble?" With one hand on the key, I hesitate, and polish the key with my thumb for awhile. But at the same time, I can not wait to point this thing west, and just simply press on that gas peddle. Just go! What is so hard about that? What wins, of course, is to turn on the key. Not that there was any dought. An unstoppable force quickly turns on the key. It is done; And now things are in motion. Then quickly that first step is followed by another: the air conditioning lever. And then another, and another. Cool air, full blast! GPS on! Brakes off! Gauges lit. Mirrors perfect...

We slowly begin to role, and the side of the RV brushes my hydrangeas just a little. The sun may be high in the sky, but we are finally on our way. We are rolling out of the park with three happy ones up front, and one happy one in the back. Lexy, the happy one in the back, being older, is up on the bed, and she is settled in to comfortably looking out a side window. She has a plush ride. She deserves it, she is a good pouchy.

The GPS is busy showing all roads up ahead, technically perfect, complete with labels. The roads on the screen are animated as we move along. I press a button - and we are now taking Hwy 45. Simple as that. After the fact, I tell Linda; "Lets go by your old stomping grounds." Linda agrees excitedly to the decision that was already in motion. "I just told it to go through Ord Bend, you can see your orchards and where you used to live." There was a lot of "Look at that...", "I remember when..." as fingers point to old buildings and new.

In the van, I had already put in extra gauges. You can not be an engineer for over 35 years without it bubbling over and showing in some way. In my case, gauges pop up and grow on the dash.
A-Gauges20150814.jpg, 24kB The red display is outside temperature: It is 94.2 degrees.

The blue display is transmission temperature: It is 131 degrees. Normal temperature around town is 150 degrees.

The top display is Engine Coolant temperature: It is 186 degrees. The stock gauge in the dash cluster is BEFORE the thermostat. The green gauge is AFTER the thermostat. And when using the Heater Core inside the van for additional cooling, the pre thermostat temperatures can be dropped further still; below the thermostat temperature setting.

The bottom gauge is RPM: It is 4.93 k. Max torque for my 5.2 liter Dodge is 4.4k RPM. When heat is an issue, and when pulling hills, I like "4.4k". I drop the gears down and increase RPM to 4.4k or a little higher, perhaps 5 grand. I must make sure fan is pulling plenty of air threw the fins, and the water pump is moving plenty of coolant. Maximum engine efficiency is at 4.4k, and for this engine is it's best torque range.

I then push on the GPS with my finger, and select "Colusa", so that we can stop at the City Park and give the woofers a pee-brake. Besides knowing my guages, I know my family, and know their needs. I know that Linda will also have to pee too. This is my family. I know that the RV has such a clean bathroom, a private bathroom, and Linda has it all to herself. She appreciates it too, as she tells me again, as she has many times before, that she likes her own bathroom that is "anytime", and "anyplace". I can pull off the road anywhere, and she can use the bathroom, and I can get a cold drink out of the frig, to boot, at the same time. It is a great invention, my RV. And I did all the modifications myself. For an engineer, it does not get much better than this.

We still do not have a "big" destination. It does not matter with this paticular RV; it does not demand a decision that big. Through all my work on the RV, I planned it that way.

I already very well know the way to the Colusa Park; That is not the point. The Garmin GPS likes to talk, and makes me feel connected and in charge:
The Garmin keeps me up to date on Miles To Destination,
the Names of cross streets,
the Name of the road that we are on,
the Speed Limit of this road,
my Speed,
and another important parameter: Elevation.

The Garmin now has a pleasant female voice. The old voice was much like a neutered old woman - or man, or thing. I don't know which. In any case, it reminded me of an old person with a rough gravel type voice, and I could not stand to have it in the same car with me. It was much like the screetching of finger nails on the blackboard. God made women to have soothing voices, and not to suddenly spike blood pressure.

As an Engineer, I have it made; Expert guidence, and good gauges:
Outside Air: 95.6 degrees. Transmission:167.8 degrees. While I study gauges, I also check for ripeness of the figs along the sides of the road. The carefree distraction and the immaturity of this behavior makes one younger by several decades. But once an Engineer, always an Engineer; And returning to the gauges, I see that we are loosing one and a half degrees as we ride the levy road. The cool down is caused by the water of the cool and wide Sacramento river on the left, and cool fresh and green orchards on the right. The van has no trouble at all pulling the trailer on the flat and level farm lands of Almonds, Walnuts, Sunflowers, and corn. Besides the beautiful scenery, the van has a great air conditioner, producing a measured 25 degree drop. And it is on...

Linda, the two woofers, and I decide on our next destination. It is a family decission, but I am in charge; probably because I have all the gauges. We decide to stay the night in Clearlake. A decision, despite the fact that we must climb to over 2000 feet in brutal heat. We have done it many times before, but to do it, I must pay careful attention to my van. I will not let anything hurt my van; I treat it like a baby. As hwy20 leaves the flat land of planted fields, the road starts to climb and twist, fun now turns to seriousness, I am riveted to my gauges. No more looking at figs.

I have a haunting in the back of my mind. Before the hwy20 curves, while flat and level, sometimes the the engine temperature would rise, ever so much above the normal thermostat setting of 196 degrees. Just a "twitch", like a stuck thermostat. This slight movement is unusual. The normal operation for engine heat is to come up to 196 degrees - and never go above. And while there, it should have no sudden movements! I realize that the demands are high. With outside heat at 95 degrees it could gradually rise slightly. But, I have not seen any "twitching" before; It worries me. It is just a nagging persistence in the back of my mind; of that and also the voice of Linda's son: "Don't do it". But the decision was made; The way clear.

As we begin to climb, I expect the engine temperature to go up. At first everything is as expected: engine temp climbs to about 215 and transmission temp to 220. I don't like it, but it is manageable. I keep the Air off, and I keep Overdrive off. On the downhills, I turn the air back on. I use more brakes and less transmission drag. I down shift only to keep good oil flow in the transmission lines, not so much to slow the rig. Too much down shifting actually makes the transmission temperature rise. It is the transmission temp that is the major problem - not the engine temp.

Also brake temperature is a concern. I stopped to check and measure with a hand held IR gun. Ideally, the front and back van brakes should be about the same. Twice before, in years past, I have lost my brakes while pulling trailers at work. The experience will age you many years, and produce excess grey hairs. The amount of heat is a direct measure of stopping power, and how hard each brake has been working. Also, when going downhill, and all brakes are beginning to get hot, I alternate manually between trailer brakes and van brakes, to give more time for air cooling to the pads and drums. I know how to baby my rig - I am an Engineer you know. I am not as good - and can not compare - to my Big-Rig trucking brother Ben, but I make up for it in shear caring. I care a lot.

A-TurnOutFar.jpg, 38kB 13 miles from Clearlake Oaks.
The turn out is in the shadow on the right, just past the hill, and before the white sign.
I somehow managed to see it in time.
We were about 13 miles form the Clearlake Oaks on the worst climb to Clearlake. The summit is in view, elevation is about 2100 feet,
Transmission temperature is 238 degrees, which is very hot
Engine temperature is 3/4 scale; also hot.
Temperature outside is 99.9 degrees.
I heard a dull muffled "pop". I could smell ethylene glycol; A bad sign. Perhaps a hose broke! I took the speed way down to 25 MPH. Increased the fan and engine speed to over 4 grand to compensate for the less air through the grill.
I continued to gently "pull" a few hundred feet more to the summit, continually giving it less and less gas, continually slowing, but enough to still make the summit, and start down. I could not tell exactly where the summit was located, but the speed started to come easy. The speed picks up. The transmission starts to cool as expected. But the Engine Temp is not budging, the Engine Temperature is staying the same! Something is bad wrong - not that I did not already know it from the smell. If the engine temp is not going to go down, on a down hill run, then it never will. The situation has turned fatal. This is the end of the line.

A-CallBox.jpg, 40kB 13 miles from Clearlake Oaks.
This picture was taken in Jun of 2012 by Google.
You can clearly see that the Call Box, and that it was clearly there before I pulled in the rig.
You can also see the need of an extreme turn to the right if one has a trailer in tow, more than 90 degrees upon immediately leaving the pavement. Then a sweep around the edge, being careful not to let the rig stop to early. I had to keep it coasting until the nose of the van is pointed back out to the pavement.

There was no engine power, little brakes, and little steering. It took all the strength that I had.

The tail of the trailer was out of the margin and at the edge of the pavement; Later, the Highway Patrol would ask how well I was off the road.
I am desperately looking for a place to get off the road. I see a small dirt area ahead. I fear it is not big enough! I fear that not enough room to get both the van and trailer off the road. But I have no choice. I make a dive for it anyway. Down in the peripheral vision - down toward the dash - I see several gauges go "red", indicating the engine has died, or at least is no longer turning over. But I can not take time out to directly look at them; I am about to hit the gravel. I am kind of a buisy man at the moment with my elbows a flying. But that changes: When I sense that my steering and brakes are fading, I take the time to take a quick look down at my gauges anyway. In a desperate fraction of a second, I see my oil and alternator are definitely lit red, and then know that my engine is dead. I continue to manhandle a heavy steering wheel, and the brakes are as hard as a rock. I press really really hard on the brake to just barely stop just before a small guardrail.

After we came to a stop, I looked back to examine the end of the trailer. The tail end of the trailer is just barely off the road. I have the rig in the shape of an "L" with the van partially pointed back to the road. As a final gesture, I remember thinking that it seemed so strange and trivial to turn off the key when the engine was already dead. Never the less, I turned off the key. It was done. It was over. And we were OK.

A-RadiatorCrack.jpg, 39kB 13 miles from Clearlake Oaks.
Why did I not see this?
I opened the door and greeted my dust still lingering all around.
I popped the hood to discover there was no steam. That is strange... I placed my hand on the radiator cap. This was so odd: it was not hot. I discovered that I can take the radiator cap off too. That is really strange! I poured a bottle of water into the empty radiator to only discover that it runs out all over the front of the radiator faster than I can put it in. Then I see a huge wide crack in the top plastic of the radiator. How could anyone miss that? The magnitude of the damage is overwhelming. That is the end of that; for sure. Quite definite! I know the score.

I dismiss the state of affairs of the engine. It is fatal. I totally abandon those concerns, and turn my attention to Linda. I must get Linda and the dogs out of this heat. And I also must get a tow truck here. But there is no cell coverage to do that. However, back behind the trailer, and back up the road, is a hill. If I can climb that hill, I might have cell coverage. I manage to get about 10 foot up the hill and loose my footing. Back down through the stickers and rocks I slide. I land back down on the pavement accompanied by a trail of rattling stones. All the cars are just missing me. Surprisingly, I have a new perspective. Because, when I look back at the trailer and van, I see an Emergency Call Box. And it is only 3 or 4 feet from the van. I don't know how it got there, because it was not there before. When I originally came tearing into the gravel, it was not there! But a phone is just what I needed, and there it is in a yellow box.
It is like some magical Being said: "Here! Here it is, just for you. Take it!"
I don't know how much effort it takes to make a Phone-On-A-Pole appear, but I was too hot to worry about it, and oh so, so, so grateful. My brother Ben would never believe this one!

I opened the yellow box, took the phone, and pressed the button. The Highway Patrol answered and had me read off the numbers on the call box. Then she asked how far from the call box is your vehicle located. I explained that I was right AT the call box. She told me they had two tow trucks on the way. I could not explain it very well because I did not understand it myself: How a call box can be planted wherever you land! I had no place to hide from the sun and no place to think about it, nor figure it out.

If that was not enough, Linda came to me and said something is wrong with Callie. Callie is not responding and is lethargic. Linda had placed her in front of the open refrigerator and freezer. She had wetted both dogs down with water. When I came in, the temperature read 110 degrees inside the trailer. But the coolness from the refrigerator was a good place to be for the doggies. A 110 degree inside is still cooler than 102 degrees outside where there is no shade. She had saved them. She had stole them back from a merciless sun.

An hour later a tow truck arrived, and immediately there were problems:
Only one tow truck arrived; but the highway Patrol said they were sending two.
My insurance company said the tow company was going to be "All American"; but the tow truck had "Enterprise" on the side.
And further, the big truck could not get into position unless we could move the van backwards.
I jumped into the van, and it started. It not only started, but it ran perfectly well. I knew that I could only run that engine for a few precious moments. I began making a scary maneuver backing the trailer back out into traffic. But in no time, we had chains attached to the front of the van, and could pull it forward again. What a relief! They wanted the trailer disconnected there. I said "No", and asked them to pull the van part way up the bed of the truck before disconnecting the trailer. That would give me another four feet or so off the road. They complied, all the while explaining to me that the one tow truck was going to do double duty, and was going to load the van on the flatbed, and at the same time tow the trailer. In my overheated brain, I was preparing for two tow trucks. To make matters worse, the tow drivers said the trailer was not covered, and that they would need $340 in cash or credit card. I said "No". I had just talked to the insurance company, and it WAS covered as long as the towed trailer went to the same destination as the towing vehicle. They said the van was not covered either, because it was 15 miles to the destination of "Enterprise". I was told the opposite: I was told it WAS covered because it was only 13 miles. But I think that was to "All American". I told them don't worry about it, I will pay the deference! We had to end all these damn problems in the heat! And nobody had cell coverage to get this whole God damn thing sorted out!

When we arrived at the garage, I had to stand out in the sun making calls to the insurance company. At the same time as I was talking on the phone, the tow drivers wanted over three hundred dollars in cash or plastic for the towing of the trailer. They practically had their hands out, and could not wait any longer. They felt sorry for me and settled for $220. I could not fight with people on the phone anymore, and tried to make it to the shade. No sooner than I got to some shade I began to pass out. I fainted to the ground, regained control on all fours. I used my palms to stop the ground from meeting my face. I felt like throwing up. My whole body ached; every joint, every muscle. I thought for a while that I too would be a casualty of that damn hot sun, and would have to ride in an ambulance. From out of nowhere, Linda gave me some cold water from our melted ice cubes. Sure was good. I drank all of those, and she quickly brought more. The ice cubes were not solid, they were only thin walls of ice, and I swallowed them hole along with the ice-cold water in which they were floating.

The Highway Patrol called me with a Courtesy Call. And wanted to follow up on our situation, and asked if everything was OK. They wanted to know if we were not still in the heat along the highway. With that phone call - Someone cared! The nice lady cared! The Highway Patrol really cared, and they showed it!

The garage owner said we could stay in our trailer for the night.

Linda opened the door of the refrigerator, and had me take out the watermelon. I never will forget the moment when we sliced into that cold watermelon. We had the most delicious, the most cold, the most bestest watermelon of my entire life. It felt like it came from heaven, and was brought by an Angel. ...And I had thought that she just wanted to see my muscles.

I am an engineer, and have thermometers all over the place, inside and out. The temperature drop was painfully slow: sometimes only a fraction of a degree. Disappointingly, sometimes even a very slight increase. The temperature inside the trailer was way too hot to rest, until after midnight. Until then, we sat in our lawn chairs, constantly sipping tea bottles, and watching the cars go by. The temperature gradually dropped, degree by degree, to the low 80's about midnight, and then we could finally go inside and sleep.

The new radiator arrived early the next morning. The shop owner had his mechanic drop everything else, and install the radiator for us. The sun was rising fast and so was the heat. We left Clearlake when the sun was about straight overhead. And vowed to not stop for anything until we got to a cooler place. That place turned out to be a rest stop in the Redwoods about 15 miles west of Willits. There is an old steam driven Donkey there, from years forgotten. The coolness of the ocean could be felt coming through the tall trees. After a lot of dog sniffing, here and there, which was all for nothing, we continued our journey to the ocean. Normally, my RV does not have too big of a purpose. We had one now.

The ocean is a pretty general place. Linda said that we better choose exactly where on the coast we should stay. I said "Why?" She informed me that the 4th of July weekend was coming up in a week. I panicked because quietly inside I knew Linda was right. Comming from a girl, that was hard to swollow. All the RV places were booked: Van Dam was full up. So was Mackerricher State Park. But we have a friend that manages an RV park overlooking the Bluffs. I pulled in the rig, and parked in front of his office. He too was nearly full, but would manage to put us somewhere. Now that is a friend! We were in the back, but at least it is "somewhere". Later, Billy my friend and Manager, knocked on our RV door, and said that he had a cancellation, and could put us in the front row if we liked. If we liked? Wow, this was great! And my great big back window is designed for the love of a view.

The 4th was about a week away, but already parties were underway in the front row. There were tables and chairs, barbecues and laughter, ice chests and beer bottles, kyacks and bicycles, and laid out rugs with dogs on them, not to mention lots of extra cars and trucks parked amid this stuff. Now, how was I going to back in amongst all this stuff on both sides? I am trying to stick a cheap 21 foot trailer in a hole, surrounded by huge luxurious 5th wheels bristling with expandos. If it goes to plan, my old 1997 Dodge van will be even with two big Dodge diesel duallies; one was new, and both bright red. In my eyes, I belong there too. I could picture it in my mind.

As I was lining up my humble trailer, for the back-in, when a man from the second row of RVs came over to my driver's window. Said his name was Mike, and wanted to offer his help. He was retired now, but had been a trucker for over 35 years, and was quite used to this sort of thing. He gave me little pointers, like "Don't turn the wheel so much." He talked to my like a brother. "Make smaller changes..." I felt like I was talking to my brother who also had been an Interstate Trucker. My brother Ben loved to help, and in particular was always eager to help me - because we were brothers. Mike was soft spoken, the same as my brother Ben. As far as I could tell, it actually was my brother Ben telling me "a little to the left" and "straighten it" and "easy - four and a half feet to go." I found out that Mike had lost his son at the same time that I lost my brother last summer. I lost my brother Ben almost exactly a year ago at this time. Mike's son died of natural causes: a heart attack. And my brother Ben was killed while he was riding his motorcycle. I sort of see or hear from Ben, from time to time, in matters just like this. And it seemed that this was one of those times.

But there I was, perched side by side with wealthy people. Non - absolutely NONE - had a bigger smile or bigger window as I. And none owned a bigger piece of that beautiful ocean out there. The ocean is huge! You can view the water span a full 180 degrees: all the way North, to all the way South. Linda and I looked for years to find a RV with a big back window that could fit an ocean.

A-Ferns-in-light.jpg, 133kB
My brother Ben and I would together dream and talk about Maui. The best that I can do is pull this thing to the ocean where there is a totally different sun. Notice here that the sun twinkles down through the bows of the Redwood trees with a wink of perfection. And notice the big ferns bath in it's light. Notice also that the lively stream giggles in laughter. And notice the cool breeze eagerly rushes through ferns to greet you with a soft and gentle welcome. Notice how all the living plants talk to each other in beautiful harmony. There is rest, peace, and tranquility. There is activity, sweat voices, and a pleasant change every moment. My brother Ben has described this scene as Paradise.

In contrast, Chico is the opposite: The sun takes away the greenness and replaces it with brownness. The sun takes away - never gives. The sun has a solemn business of oppression; With a steady and mighty hand, day after day. Useless to fight it, you will only manage the anguish. You can not even protest, or the sun will sting your eyes with heat and sweat.

Little did we know, the Mendocino Fireworks were going to be held in Fort Bragg. Just a coincidence that that is where we happen to be! According to the news paper, the Fireworks will be held off the Noyo harbor entrance, in the bay. That is exactly where we are staying. Obviously the front row - and that is where we are at - will have an unobstructed view, all thanks to Billy. Of course, our RV with the big window will have a splendid view. I planned it that way.

The rest of the inhabitants of the town began arriving with their lawn chairs from about noon on. Streets were choked off from blocks away. There were barriers and yellow tape along side of the roads, here and there. Walkers spilled from abandoned cars, and in mass converged near us. Squatters of all descriptions soon populated the mustard fields of the bluff. And still more were walking across the bridge with arm loads of blankets and chairs. By the evening, Linda and I had a couple hundred people sitting in front of, and under, our picture window. I opened the refrigerator door, and retrieved a tea, and sat down at the dinette. I looked at the growing crowd below, full of crazy hats, red white and blues. Young mothers, assorted men, children, grandpas, and shaggy friends mingled with strollers, and bags. I wondered: What kind of miracle is this? What kind of kings are we to deserve this front row seat! There is no way we planned this.

At sunset, we walked around outside with the crowd. That was fun too. The view of the boats in the harbor was better outside, and we could feel the breeze. In places, the breeze would wash away the occasional smell of marajuana. At sundown the fog started to come in, resembling a broken wall. And looming over the water, the fog was a persistent menace that threatened the show. But in the darkness, the white fog changed its mind and retreated back to a few miles off shore. Remnants and foggy patches, however, would still drift over the top of the fireworks. At times, high in the air, smoke trails swirled with the fog, and married into one.
A-WindowView.jpg, 23kB
Actual view setting at the dinette table.
Our view from our dinette table in the RV was spectacular. At times the entire window was full of explosions; bursts of reds, greens, and blues that would live for a few dazzling moments, and then dim, and cascade down like rain. The shocking booms would leave lingering echoes up and down the coast. The booms would frighten the woofers, and the light would fill the RV. Originally, Linda and I had no designs to see the fireworks, but never the less, here they were, vivid and real. And for both Linda and I, fireworks had never been closer, or any more up close and personal. We had no plans for such: We simply loaded the woofers, and headed west to the ocean. I designed the RV to be serendipitous, going on a whim. I planned it that way, and my designs seem to be working real good.