Posted January 6, 1998, DULUTH, MN--I can picture her face right now, after the second day. Her smile will have taken on a subtle look of panic. Her panting will be labored, her eyes, a bit crazed. The passenger seat on which she has been pacing will no longer be large enough.
Her repeated paws on the dash, paws off the dash, nose to the windshield, back and forth, dog snot accumulating, smearing the window as it dries, will have worn her down. The fact that, for one dog-reason or another, she simply refuses to sit while the van is moving, will have by now taken its toll. Nor will she, for that matter, have eaten or drank from her water bowl while the van was in motion. She will step arduously off the seat and rest her head on my thigh, burying her nose under the dash. I will tell her to get a grip and return to her co-pilot seat, and after receiving a good thorough head scratching, she will-- for a while. For Zelda, the traveling dog, traveling ages her.
|This is our fourth trip to Mexico. 3000 miles. Its always the same. Entirely predictable. Zelda can go two days until she begins to break down. Me? I can go three days, 12 to 15 hours of driving, sitting in a very poorly General Motors designed drivers seat. Its my lower back, knots in my neck and shoulders. Pain shooting down my arms. Cruise control would help. Then I could put my feet out the window. But cruise control is the one indulgence I have denied myself in customizing the van. Its a beat-up 1985 Chevy van with over 180,000 miles. (I disconnected the speedometer last year in LA because it was making an excruciatingly irritating noise. New cable-- newly greased. The grinding always remained. The van has acquired, no doubt, another some 20,000 miles since then.) It is a "yellow" van, blistered with primer-red pockmarks and chafing rusted metal. It is the perfect camouflage to deter intrusive curiosity, for the sympathetic-looking creature actually houses some groovy electronics.|
|There is a voltage
inverter that transforms the 12 volts from the battery to
110 volts, enabling me to plug in a coffee grinder or a
battery charger. There is also a battery isolator, which
allows a second battery-- in this case, a big honking
deep-cycle marine battery--to be installed, utilized, and
charged. This feature enables me, while camping on the
beach, to play the stereo or light up my string of hot
chili pepper Christmas lights until the second battery is
dead, dead, dead. The next morning, using the unused main
battery, the motor fires to life and Im off down
the road to see whats around the corner. Out in the
middle of nowhere, desert all around, the existence of a
fully charged second battery makes for sound sleeping.
Although, remote and inhospitable as is most of the Baja,
I am fully confident, misplaced as this might be, that in
a situation of need, there will suddenly appear Bajians
to the rescue. The Baja is, after all, magical.
a shovel (to dig the van
out of the sand, keep my camping area "tidy.")