We met a hobo back in New Mexico in a Walmart parking lot. He was headed for Yuma, Arizona and said that folks were finding gold there in the Colorado River. We finally made it to Yuma this week and got settled on the side of Mittry Lake. It's public land used for fishing, hunting, 4-wheeling, and camping. For the most part it's quiet and peaceful. There are no facilities close except for the lake. Tom is parked next door from Wichita, KS; the first person we have met from home. He has been gone since the end of December taking his time and enjoying retirement.
Oh yes, the gold at Yuma! Time to start looking for gold....
You may be wondering what life is really like for the Bowmans on the road. Well, it's for real! We have been living in this motor home for a month and 11 days. It's fairly snug inside when we are all on board. We are learning what CLOSE family really is. From the table I can reach the sink, fridge, stove, oven, couch and everything on the table. Three on one side and three on the other and sometimes Meg is squeezed in between or on a lap at meal times. The hallway from the bed/bath end to the kitchen/living end is one lane only. If Heather and I happen to meet in the hall its a good time for a smooch, then one of us backs out or turns flat against the wall to let the other pass. We have 60 gallons of fresh water that can last 5 or 6 days if we really go easy on it. No, we don't shower every day and when we do they are very quick; no relaxing in there! Seems we are always on the lookout for a RV dump station and fresh water. The lights, furnace, water pump, leveling jacks, and the fridge all rely on batteries. When they get too weak it's usually sometime after midnight. Then the low voltage beeper on the fridge wakes me up because the furnace has quit and the generator won't start. The first few times this happened I had to go outside and jump start the generator with the van. The generator would then charge the batteries. I purchased some solar panels at a Harbor Freight store in Las Cruces. After installing them on the roof we are using all this warm sunshine to keep the batteries charged.
A couple days ago on the way to Tucson, Arizona, we were rolling down the road on a warm afternoon. As we started pulling a hill I felt the engine lose power and yes that sinking-heart feeling of being stalled on the side of the interstate. I fretted around for a while, then unhooked the van for the I don't know how manyth time. (When we want to drive somewhere in the van it's not as simple as backing out of the garage. The hitch has to be folded up, the windshield cover removed, light wire unhooked, and the breakaway cable disconnected. Then re-install it all and make sure the transmission is in neutral and steering wheel unlocked. Think about it next time you push the button on your visor to open the garage door.) Sooo, Cora and I took off for Autozone, 16 miles away, to test some ignition control components. Everything tested fine, so I drove back scratching my head. The motor home fired right up and has ran great, ever since. That was a week ago already. I'm guessing its the in tank fuel pump. Theory says if you keep the tank full the gas will keep the pump cooler and less chance of problems. My rationale computes it this way: If I have to replace the pump, the less fuel in the tank means the less weight I have to drop down in order to get to the top of the tank. Another factor is that we are on the California border and I am supposing gas to be at least a dollar higher over there.... so two birds, one stone... fill up the tank in Yuma before we pull across the state line, save money on fuel, and use that investment to keep the pump cool. Isn't that life? Every day has choices that have consequences, and there is grace in every moment. Father is encouraging us to relax into His reality and enjoy every moment. Paul said,"It's in Him we live and move and have our being."
Oh yes, the gold we are sifting out along the way...
Here is what's happening in the family. Riley is exploring every inch of his surroundings, skipping rocks, chasing birds & lizards. He likes learning about all the different animals, plants, and their habitats. All his research has drained my phones monthly allowance of data. He likes riding down the road letting the miles roll by and enjoying the scenery. Its that sense of freedom; I like it too. Annie is a real lady of virtue, she can handle meals, Meg, and most any domestic duty. Its a real treat living in the same family with her. She enjoys completing the junior ranger programs at the national parks and getting her badge and certificate. That feeling of accomplishment is a real delight for her. She also likes adventure.
The other day our neighbor Tom offered us the use of his small one man fishing boat. Caroline, Cora, and I took off for the other shore. When we returned I asked if Riley and Annie could take the boat themselves. Tom said it was up to me so we pushed them off from shore. The motor is a small trolling motor with a 12 volt battery...What could go wrong with Riley at the stern? After a while Tom was worried that the battery may have let them down so I decided to walk up the road in search for the missing sailors. I was just ready to leave when they appeared around the bend. As we pulled the boat up on the shore I noticed they were soaked. Riley kinda grinned and said "it got away from us." They had went up to the dock and tried to tie off and get out for a minute. When they both went to one end to grab the dock, the boat did just that...got away... leaving both of them in the water. After retrieving flip flops and the boat, they took off with a very concerned observer asking, "Where are your parents?" This homeschooling is out of our control. God's classroom is anywhere in any way he chooses.
Another learning experience the other day was a Mexican fiesta. Four men and two women spent the afternoon on a little peninsula right out in front of our campsite. They had brought plenty of buds and the Spanish chatter grew louder as they soaked up the suds. We got a break when half the party left for a bit, only to return with chips, sunflower seeds, vienna sausages, and yes, more booze. They were soon jumping in the water with squeals and laughter. As the afternoon wore on things finally began to settle down. Our neighbor Tom had to help two of the men haul one of the women out of the water. She thanked him and staggered off to the car. Some were in the vehicle blowing the horn and others seemed to be lingering in the weeds. They finally moved on leaving trash scattered from the parking lot to the waters edge. We had some good discussions as the children sorted through the events of the 'never to be forgotten' afternoon.
Caroline wants to stop at every playground we drive by. She enjoys exploring and collecting rocks, flowers, shells, and whatever treasures she can find along the way. She likes to ride on daddy's back when the trail gets long or the going gets tough. I am helping her with her math lessons, learning about money, it's value, and adding & subtracting. Kent gave each of the three older children twenty dollars before we left. Riley put his in the bank, Annie has hers in safe keeping, and my sweet little Caroline is investing hers in little treats for the family. You know the good stuff: cheese puffs, blow pops, gummies, and sweet slushies. The taste of the treats is far more thrilling than the tight clamped fist on a few dollar bills. Cora is the one who knows everything about what's going on. She has something to add to every conversation and situation. She will be included in every event and she wants to sit beside of daddy at every meal. Every time she sees a twenty five cent vending machine, she runs up, tries to turn the handle, and lifts the door looking for any little goody she can find. A few weeks ago at a laundromat she hit the jackpot- the skittle machine was giving free hand fulls! Nothing could have been better in her mind! Our little Meg is sitting up and interacting more every day. She won't remember this trip, but we won't remember it without her. It's her cries we hear, her diapers we change, and it's her that we carry every step of the way. These are the good bonding times and we love her every minute. Heather is managing like a jewel, optimizing every moment and stretching our resources to the max. She is thriving in a kitchen the size of a girls playhouse, gets along with a bathroom the size of a telephone booth, and sharing a bed with Meg and I. She is Queen of this motor home, walking with me on a journey that I never dreamed could exist. Yes, we are having the time of our lives, moment by moment, by the grace of Father. Of course we have discouragements and tensions arise but when you are looking for gold... you let every thing else rinse on down the sifting screen. You save only the gold- a little sliver here and a small nugget there add up to an abundant life.