The Summer of Rain
A rainbow after one of many summer thunderstorms in the Kaibab National Forest near Flagstaff, Arizona
After a few weeks of being less-than-impressed with the Leadville, Colorado area, it was time for a change. I had an opportunity to upgrade from the Toyota Camry sedan that I had been living out of for a number of months to a cargo trailer that was already partially converted and equipped with solar electric. The only catch was that the trailer was in Pahrump, Nevada and I was in Colorado.
On July 14, after roughly two weeks in the Colorado high country (punctuated by two separate trips to Wyoming), it was off to southwest Nevada. Since the temperatures in Pahrump were forecasted to be 106, the plan was to arrive at night, pick up the trailer first thing in the morning, and escape to cooler weather before it was too hot. The first half of the plan worked.
The first challenge turned out to be a quirky hitch coupler. The trailer would couple fine - it just would not stay on the ball. It took a bit of hot work under the desert sun, but I finally managed to fix the problem. (It turned out to be a temporary fix.)
The next challenge appeared to be simple. One tire was a bit soft, so I inflated the tire and everything seemed fine. Alas, I noticed half-way to Las Vegas that the tire looked soft again. I finally found a gas station with an air pump, only to discover that the air pump was broken.
Apple Maps provided directions to the “nearest” tire shop which, as it turns out, was north of Las Vegas and would require taking I-15 through the city. Unfortunately, if somewhat predictably, the tire was not going to last that long. It was nearly flat when I looked in the mirror while approaching downtown Las Vegas. The nearest off-ramp exited just a few blocks from the Las Vegas Strip.
At this point, I was expecting to drop the trailer in a parking lot, find somewhere to buy a jack and tire iron (the trailer had neither), remove the tire, and then need to take the flat tire to a tire shop. In a twist of fate that I could never have anticipated, I looked up to see a tire shop right on W. Charleston Blvd. A few minutes later the defective tire valve was replaced. Total damage was only $15.
After escaping from Las Vegas, the next stop was in the Kaibab National Forest near Flagstaff, Arizona. What I did not know was that I was about to set up camp on a forest road in monsoon season. A few minutes after setting up camp with a great view of Humphreys Peak the skies opened and unleashed a 30-minute hail storm. It was a baptism by fire as it then proceeded to storm nearly every day. The nice little forest road quickly came to resemble a lake.
The rain was bad enough, but as I was hauling the trailer up the hill to this camp the hitch coupler on the trailer also started acting up again. Not only was the weather making it difficult to get out of the forest, but the trailer could not be towed until it was repaired.
Family commitments in Wyoming compelled me to leave the trailer in camp while I headed north. Eventually, some friends were able to fix the coupler and I made a quick trip back to Flagstaff to get it out of the forest during a brief break in the near-daily rain storms. As soon as the trailer was out of the forest it was time to head back to Wyoming for the rest of the summer.
It seems there is always something to learn - or re-learn - on the road.
Vehicles break. Usually this happens at an inconvenient time. Carrying some basic tools is essential, while carrying as many tools and spare parts as you reasonably can may prevent you from being stranded somewhere you do not want to be (like Las Vegas).
One of the challenges of traveling perpetually is that the weather is often quite different than it is at “home.” Monsoon season in Arizona is an excellent example. Had I been aware of this weather pattern, I could have avoided considerable stress by not setting up camp several miles back in the forest during monsoon season. It pays to understand the weather where you will be traveling.