|Imagine this with 1-10 inches of snow on it.|
"The kids have a week off school for spring break," I said. "What shall we do? Where shall we take Harvey? I've always wanted to see Death Valley."
"Sounds like fun," Hubby answered. "But I can't get that week off. It's crisis time at work."
We stared at the map and the snow outside.
"We could go somewhere closer this weekend. Leave Friday as soon as I get home, come back late Saturday."
"Topaz Mountain. It never has snow. And the high is supposed to be 50°F on Saturday. It will be warmer out in the desert."
"We could do that. Hey, kids, any of you have plans for Friday or Saturday?"
We packed Harvey, found food, loaded dogs and kids, and started off late Friday. I was a hesitant. I'd been fighting a migraine for two days and had just barely gotten my head on straight again. We left as the sun set. The drive was uneventful, until we got close to Topaz Mountain. White patches appeared along the sides of the road. The temperature dropped. It was so dark, we couldn't see much. We reached the turnoff for the rockhounding area. Six inches of snow covered the dirt road. Another truck and trailer sat about 25 yards along.
"Let's go a bit further," I suggested. "You wanted to look for rocks on the west side anyway."
We drove farther, in the pitch darkness. The stars were brilliant overhead. We found another dirt access road, this one not covered in snow, and pulled off the highway. We settled in, getting the kids settled in the beds. Silliness happened, because it usually does. The dogs were in heaven, running up and down the road, peeing on all the bushes and snowbanks. The stars glittered, brighter and more numerous than I've seen in years. The Milky Way streamed across the sky. That alone made the trip worth it.
"I have to go to the bathroom," one child announced.
I pointed out the door. "There's a knee-high bush not far that way."
He peered out the door, then shivered. "I'll hold it."
Harvey has a bathroom, but we haven't got the water working yet. The system is still full of antifreeze.
"Why is the heater blowing cold air?" another child asked.
Hubby checked the propane and the furnace. "We're out of propane. Everybody bundle up." We pulled out extra sleeping bags and blankets.
Morning dawned. We ate a cold breakfast before heading back to the main road. The minerals we were interested in were on the west slopes. We drove until the pavement ended. The dirt road that continued looked a little scary. Snowdrifts covered it in patches.
"Harvey can do it," Hubby said. Famous last words.
We ended up stuck in a snowdrift up to the hubcaps. But with a bit of digging and some creative maneuvering, we managed to get Harvey free, only to get stuck ten feet up the road. More digging of snow followed. Hubby and the two teenagers pushed while I gunned the engine. Harvey plowed free. I kept going up the hill and around the bend. The look on Hubby's face was priceless as I drove out of sight through the snow.
I stopped where the road flattened and the snow was less than an inch deep. By then, it was starting to warm up. Melting snow plus dirt road equals mud, which is much worse to be stuck in.
"We're going to drive until we get to pavement. Then we'll look for rocks." I insisted. Hubby agreed when I pointed out the risk of getting really stuck in mud. Snow was nothing compared to mud.
We found a few garnets and some really funky purple rock that I still haven't identified. It was a fun trip for lasting less than 24 hours. Now to get the roof vent repaired...