We raced down the wash, trying to maintain enough speed to keep us from sinking into the sand. The headlights on the old Jeep could only fend the night off as far as the next wall of brush. Every turn concealed obstacles: ruts to straddle, banks to ride and rocks to dodge. The sand was forgiving but rocks the tires met refused to give. Each one was jarring, swinging the occupants from side to side and bouncing the various camping supplies we had entrusted to the storage area in the back of my ’92 Cherokee. We continued to roll deeper into the canyon, away from the lake.
Eventually we crawled out of the wash and up onto a ridge. When it leveled off and we found a spot in the gravel trail sufficiently void of large rocks, I decided to do what I should’ve done before we left the Butcher Jones recreation area and entered the wash. I climbed between the oversize tires and under the lifted unibody with a box of tools in one hand and the front driveshaft in the other. Eight bolts would reconnect the front axle to the transfer case and give us the option of four-wheel drive. This recess from the tumultuous bucking of the rough trail also afforded us a bathroom break. While I finished the installation we discussed politics and other things which our discourse or opinions could not possibly affect. It’s fun to talk about important things that largely don’t matter. It’s also refreshing to be able to try forming and expressing ideas with people that will challenge you on them but won’t think less of you because of them. After the driveshaft had been bolted on, I emerged from beneath the vehicle and evacuated the gravel from my garments. I took a moment to enjoy contrast of the lights from the valley of the sun to the west and the light from billions of suns overhead. We were back on the trail again.
After crossing a few cattle guards, we happened upon a relatively well kept gravel road. On a whim, we took a right. We followed this road less than a mile and discovered what our headlights suggested to be a large camping area. We set up camp across the road and as far away as we could from the vehicle that was already there. We had made it. It was uneventful other than a brief stint of violent “death wobble”steering oscillations on the freeway after collecting everyone. We unfolded our camp chairs, table, tarp, and bedding and enjoyed the dinner Rachel had selected. It was the end of our day and the beginning of a great adventure.