Below…Zero?!? Part 1

Quite a few posts ago I promised to tell you what made this past winter unusual for us. Normally we meander south, the turning colors of the leaves our trail markers, settling into southern California and southeastern Arizona for the deepest, darkest months of winter.

This past December, we didn’t things to be any different, spending our time in the warm sunshine of southern California, hiking, taking care of RV chores, and spying on birds like this male Hooded Merganser…


…and its mate:


Then we got the call — a Christmas present we hadn’t expected had arrived. We’d ordered a new Jeep; it wasn’t due until the spring. But it was ready and waiting for us at the dealer.

In Rapid City, South Dakota.

Ikes! We spend so much time avoiding all the hazards of winter travel, and now we were facing it anyway. Well, the good news was we didn’t have to take the RV. Bob watched the weather patterns the way an NFL coach watches films of the upcoming competition: where are their weaknesses? How can we get through their line? Except he was watching the lines of storms moving like opposing players across the map.

We saw our chance, a break in the weather, and took off (after packing too much stuff; that’s what happens when you’re used to carrying it all with you) on the second day of January.

We left on the heels of a major snowstorm that left several inches of snow at the higher elevations. By Flagstaff I was taking photos of snow as if I’d never seen it before in my life:


And we watched all manner of tourist come-ons, like this tall dinosaur in northeastern Arizona, pass by our windows:


We drove long hours, which meant the sun setting behind us gave us stunning views all around:


[Next time… our winter adventure continues!]

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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5 Responses to Below…Zero?!? Part 1

  1. Ingrid says:

    Perfect analogy…. I can relate to dodging storms – been there, done that. Congrats on the new Jeep.

    • Ellen says:

      Love the new Jeep! — will have adventures with it to post in the future, for sure. And glad we’re out of snow and storms, at least for now!

  2. Quite the adventurous types, you two. When I got out of the Marines (way back in 1969) I bought a VW bus, put in paneling, a bed and storage areas, and headed for California. Left So. CA & headed north through the Sierra Nevadas in January (young & dumb). I’d never driven in snow before. Visited Sequoia & Kings Canyon NPs, then on up to Yosemite. Then on to Sacramento to meet my best friend who’d moved there from Florida. Tried to find work for six months. No one would hire me (I’ve always wondered if the Vietnam vet thing had anything to do with it). Headed back home via Yellowstone & Grand Tetons NPs. Lots of snow still around.
    Love those duckie pics! We get Hooded Mergansers on our small lake every year. Just passing through. Looking forward to the next installment (Will they make it or … ? Tune-in to find out!)

    • Ellen says:

      Talk about adventurous!! The Sierras in winter…?!? It’s great to see things in the snow, without so many people, but it’s so gosh-darned COLD then!! Don’t know if it was the same pair or not, but a few weeks later we saw them with a little duckie, then a couple of weeks after that I didn’t see the female anymore, just the male and the small one. One year we saw a cormorant with a broken beak…. 😦 and a quail with one leg 😦 Nature can be savage.

      • Adventurous? Nah, young & stupid. How right you are about Mother Nature. I won’t go into details, but I’ve seen plenty of bad stuff. Breaks your heart. Enough of that. On to Part 2.

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