Great Expectations

When you travel to new places a lot, you know to abandon your expectations — things usually don’t go as you planned and the places you visit often aren’t what you thought they would be: the great outdoors is more crowded with people than you imagined it could ever be, the city you’d heard so much about turned out to be just another conglomerate of traffic and tall buildings populated with shysters with their hands out.

Even so, you realize you had expectations anyway, though you couldn’t have described them. You just know you thought it would be different.

So I’m not sure what I expected when we made the drive from Williams, Arizona, north toward our next destination, Zion National Park.

I did imagine spectacular scenery, which was all around us:

But what we didn’t expect to see was this:


We could see them looming in the distance… great clouds of sand and dust. And we knew we’d be driving through that wall before long.

These blizzards of sand made the world look foggy and dim.

At one point we drove past a culvert where we spotted a bicyclist who’d stopped to take cover while the sandstorm blew through.

On through Navajo Country we drove, hoping to see one of the roadside stands open, but it was early in the season and the middle of the week. Light traffic for us meant little business for them, so no new turquoise earrings for Ellen.

The Marble Canyon Restaurant had ample parking along the road for the rig, and it turned out to be a great place to have some fry bread and take a break, because whatever we might have been expecting ahead was *not* what was waiting for us!

The Vermillion Cliffs were exactly the color of the vermillion Crayola crayon from the box of 64 colors Santa Claus brought us kids every year. Etched by wind and rain, this wall of gorgeous rock bordered our journey for many miles.

This menacing bank of clouds ahead made us wonder if the sandstorms were the only bad weather we’d have to drive through.

As we got closer, we could see it was still winter in some parts of the country, even though the calendar said May.

As we neared Jacob Lake, snow started to fall. We’d heard that the North Rim of the Grand Canyon hadn’t opened yet, and now we were starting to see why.

I say “starting” because those flurries were exactly that: just the start. As we climbed the mountain the snow came harder and faster. What started as a pretty snowfall in the mountains…

…quickly turned into a blizzard!

We’d had some snow in Williams, but not while Bob was driving! This was a new experience and a little more than nerve-wracking.

Even when the falling snow eased as we made our way back down the mountains, the roads were wet and the temperature hovered around freezing. We did *not* want our rig to turn into the biggest ice skater the world has ever seen.

With a steady hand, keen eye, and well-honed driving skills, Bob delivered us, our truck, and our RV through the storm and eventually back to an elevation where we could enjoy the beauty of the snow without worrying about driving on an ice rink. And it was gorgeous!

We had passed through the eye of the storm, even though our next home would be in a town named Hurricane, beyond these etched ridges and snow-flecked hills.


About Ellen

Fiction writer and photographer, I travel the country with my sweetheart of a husband as a "full-time RVer."
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4 Responses to Great Expectations

  1. Levonne says:

    What an experience!!! I’ve been in the Arizona sandstorms and they are frightening not to mention dangerous. And snow at the heart of summer!

  2. cindycindy says:

    Wow, you guys are quite the adventurers. I’m impressed, not only by all your hiking stories, but driving your RV in the snow ! I don’t know which I’d handle better, the snow or running away from a hurricane. We have not had to do that yet, but we realize the potential.

    • Ellen says:

      If you’ve run from a hurricane, I want to read that post! We’ve never had to do that in our RV (although Bob has fled his share of hurricanes during years of vacationing in the Outer Banks) and it’s not something we want to add to our list of accomplishments… We do try to avoid the snow, but sometimes it just finds us. It must know that we’re Northerners by birth!

  3. Pingback: UnWinter | Bob and Ellen's Great RV Adventure

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