Posts Tagged ‘listen to your wife’

My son asked several friends & family members to write down memories of him (he claims he can’t remember anything, but I really think he just wants to know how we remember things vs, how he remembers them). There are quite a few stories that are classics, like the year we took some of those air “pillows” they use for insulating breakables in shipping cartons and wrapped them in pretty Christmas paper. We put them in my son’s stocking with a straw and “Air Head Refill Instructions”.

He was not amused.

This story falls under “he was not amused” also, but in the retelling, it is funny.

The year was 1999 or maybe it was 2000. I think 1999, because my sister’s recent death did not haunt my memory and because I think we made the drive down to Ely in 2000 to see how my dad was coping in the wake of the loss of my sister. I also think it was 1999 because I am fairly certain my oldest was 15. She was enroute to Mexico for a missions trip with our church’s youth group. It was the first big trip out of country for her and the first family vacation without her presence.

Levi was still at the age when he asked me everything and conversations in the truck went:

“Mom. You know what, Mom? Mom. You know what, Mom? Mom. Mom.” We took to answering him with the same questions.

One night, we camped in a draw just outside of Bend, not far from the highway but hidden to the world. Sitting in the draw, we watched a big airplane fly over, headed south from PDX, at approximately the time our oldest would have been enroute. We waved, pretending it was Arwen.

Another night, we drove up to Glass Butte, just west of Riley, Oregon. We’d been there before but with Arwen. Glass Butte is a volcanic hill comprised of molten rock, obsidian of every hue, dust, pumice, sagebrush and low junipers. It is a favorite rock-hounding destination: you can easily dig several varieties of obsidian in varying degrees of quality. There are pits next to the road where rock hound have scored large rocks or collected enough to make their own arrowheads for events like Rendezvous. It’s a haul-your-own-water in, no amenties, public lands destination that is close enough to Burns to also invite the keggers, parties, and covens.

The average tourist rarely encounters those events as the locals know when the desert is empty and when the tourists are likely to be there.

We parked on the northern slope after a grueling search for a good place to rock hound that also had plenty of shade. The roads that wind around up there are jeep trails for the most part and ungraded. Shade is provided by junipers with low hanging branches. Open range Hereford-Angus mix cattle graze in the sagebrush and fight for the shade, so there are also plenty of dried cow patties, ticks (in season), and grumpy range bulls eager to take on citified dogs that try to chase them.

My husband is more obsessed about rocks than I will ever be, and I have a bit of an obsession about them. I pocket agates and pick up small rocks, always adding to a collection that will be eventually left behind the next time we move. He picks up rocks that fill the pound quota per person. I think (I could be wrong) that the pound quota is something like 50#s per person? Donald has been known to haul a 50# rock home “just because”.

It was easily a hundred degrees farenheit. The cattle hugged the junipers in the draw. We worried about the ice in our cooler melting although we could refill it the following day in Burns. We had not discussed where we would put up our tent should we decide to camp on Glass Butte (where nothing is flat – or soft).

Donald and Levi hopped out of the truck, eager to get to the business of digging rocks (well, I think Levi just wanted out of the truck and was sort of interested in watching his father toil in the hot sun). The dog and I were more reluctant. I was not going to toil in the sun. This is where my obsession with rocks does not equal that of my partner’s. I had a good book, my journal, and a lawn chair. I intended to make as much use of the shade of the California juniper we were parked under as possible.

Except that I heard this noise. And I looked under the truck. And I observed water – very hot water – streaming out of the engine.

“Don. Don – we have a leak.”

And in what will be remembered as a classic “ignore your wife at your own peril” move, Don waved me off. “Im digging,” he replied – or something to that effect.

“But…” I started.

And he gave me this irritated gesture, a shrug of the shoulder, a “go away, you’re bothering me” turn of the back. Levi was too busy looking for lizards on the hot rocks to care.

I thought about getting mad. I considered storming over there and getting in my husband’s face. I considered several alternatives. But I was very, very angry at being ignored and I took my book, my lawn chair, and my glass of iced tea to the shady side of the tree where I could look down on the highway far below and watch semi trucks roll on past. Several hours passed. Okay, maybe two hours, three onĀ  the outside. My husband retrieved a lawn chair and made iced tea for himself. Levi pulled out a chair and a juice drink.

“I think the radiator has a leak,” I said, casually.


As it was, the radiator was empty, water and antifreeze poured out into the desert, steaming and evaporating away.

“Why didn’t you tell me?” my dear husband stormed.

“But I did,” I recalled, calmly. I told him how I had called out to him and he had shrugged me off. And he remembered.

We were stuck. We had to unload the camper while Don searched for antifreeze to put into the tanks and a temporary fix to the hole in the radiator. The temperature rose and the shade got shorter.

Levi threw up his hands and took his day pack. “I’m going to go get help,” he declared.

“The highway is five miles or more away,” we said.

“I don’t care. I’m walking out.”

The dog sat on her haunches and watched him go. We pulled out lawn chairs, poured another iced tea, and watched him hike down the draw, following the road, shooing red Hereford cows and calves out of his way. The big range bull sounded a mournful “Muh-muh-muhuh” at him but was reluctant to leave his shade. Levi climbed the opposite ridge and stopped. He looked down at the still very distant highway and the ant-sized truck and trailer units that rarely occasioned it. He scratched at the sweat on his neck.

And he turned back, silently trudging down and up again.

“It’s too far.”

In the end, Don put some temporary plug in the hole and we waited for sunset and the cool of night. We reloaded the truck. We ate dinner. And when it was finally dark and all we could see of traffic below was the headlights, we headed out. We made it to Riley. It was deep black out and we had to pay for a gravel campsite where we put up the tent for a few short hours of sleep.

We were up before the sun, loading the truck and heading to Burns, hoping the temporary fix would hold long enough for us to make this outback town where we would wait for the hardware store to open. And there, in an empty parking lot, Don soldered the radiator tank and we refilled it with more water and antifreeze. And we continued our vacation secure with the knowledge that Levi was ready to walk out on us and he was not impressed with marital spats.

We did have a lot more fun – just this was more fun.

I just Tagged this “listen to your wife”. HAHAHA

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