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Adventure Plans Change, But Love Prevails


January 17, 2019

No matter how hard you try, sometimes the best-laid plans go awry. Our campervan, Clarabelle, was ready to roll. Yellow highlighter mapped the routes of the road atlas. Our backpacks were packed and the cooler cooled.

The Better Half and I had been talking about this adventure for a couple of years. Convert a van into a home on wheels, drive to Las Vegas to get married, head back to the Arizona desert for some restful and rejuvenating winter sunshine, and then go visit the Better Half's family in Los Angeles. My inexpensively simple wedding dress was at the bottom of a plastic tote. Our zero degree sleeping bags were aired out and two empty five-gallon water jugs awaited filling. Nothing left for us to do but hit the open road as soon as the weather cleared.

Within days of our departure, all plans changed when my future mother-in-law took a bad fall in California. Thankfully, the Better Half's sister and family were there, but we knew what we needed to do. Family comes first. Plans can easily be changed. We put our wedding on hold and set off for the West Coast.

Even with an emergency awaiting us, the beauty of this country could not be ignored. As we drove west on I-10 into New Mexico I couldn't help but be awed by the arrow straight road in front of us that appeared to drop off to nowhere in the far distance. Flat-topped mesas sloped downward to a plain of scrub brush and cacti interspersed with a growing number of Junipers as we traveled deeper into the state. The highest peaks of the San Andres Mountain Range disappeared into the clouds as freight train after freight train rumbled across the flatland below.

Ochre and turquoise adobe structures dotted the land while semi-trucks and the ever-omnipresence of border patrol officers dominated the roadway. We passed the "World's Largest Pistachio" in La Luz and a huge Hatch pepper in Las Cruces. I felt as if I were in a John Waters movie starring John Wayne. Surreal, yet spectacular in its scope.

As soon as we crossed into Arizona the scenery changed to red and rocky. Huge cayenne-colored rocks, marginally balanced boulders, and snow-capped mountains accompanied us across the Grand Canyon state, although we bypassed that wonder by half a state. Desert Ocotillo cactus sent spindly arms sunward as if grabbing onto a little bit of sparse winter warmth. Yucca plants, Mesquite and Prickly Pear cacti joined the giant Saguaros (pronounced se-war-o) on the desert floor. Cinder cones from long-past volcanoes sprouted across the horizon. Each time I blinked the panorama changed hues.

Through mountain passes where winds whipped the van from lane to lane, we made our way carefully into California and dropped into the Los Angeles basin along with millions of other drivers. I could see the Pacific Ocean many miles ahead!

With a sigh of relief, the Better Half parked Clarabelle in his family's driveway. We'd safely crossed three and a half states. His mother is doing much better, although we'll be staying in California for a while to help her at home.

The wedding? Well, we were married here, far from home, but still surrounded by people we love. So, even though the best-laid plans can unexpectedly change, it may all work out for the best, because family should always come first.


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