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Something’s bugging me…

January 5, 2014

Two days ago we took delivery of our motorhome – the vehicle that is to be our mode of transport and accommodation for the next two weeks, and to deliver us through three states to our final destination, Seattle. It’s BIG. Everything’s big over here – the pancakes, the parks, the people. But especially the cars, and at 12 foot tall, 10 feet wide, and a frankly ridiculous 25 feet long, our des res on wheels is a monster. So far I’ve counted 23 cupboards, and lost my hair straighteners, moisturizer and at least one pair of shoes ten minutes after unpacking them. It has seven seats and three beds – for two people – and the wing mirrors are bigger than the main mirror I have on my wall at home. And it’s only the medium-sized model.

However, despite such luxuries, I have so far not been a very happy camper. On New Year’s Eve I came down with a cold the like of which I have never experienced before – a woman-flu of biblical proportions – which has seen me deplete the van’s stores of toilet roll within 24 hours, and accrue a working knowledge of California’s over-the-counter cough and cold remedies in the same period of time. (In short, none of them work, all predict swift and terminal liver failure if you dare to actually take them, and attempting to purchase them along with a quarter bottle of Jack Daniels will lead to even tougher questions than those experienced at Immigration.)

What started as an itchy nose and sore throat (which I attributed to the flight) and an inability to sleep (jetlag and holiday excitement?), has since turned into major tissue fest, featuring such delightful symptoms as hacking cough and continually weeping right eye, pounding headache and malfunctioning nose, to create a compendium of snorts, wheezes, grunts and splutters – my facial region is experiencing not so much congestion; more like full-on car crash.

Of course, I’m dealing with all this admirably, with great humour and grace, barely mentioning each new symptom that presents itself, chortling over the fact I’ve not had a cold or a holiday in 18 months, and the amusing coincidence that the two should conspire to occur at the same time, and greatly sympathising with the sickly taxi driver who decided to bring her cold with her to work when she picked us up from the airport.

None of my symptoms were made any better by a 50 dollar cab ride to pick up the van, and a 90 minute shop for supplies around a WalMart so huge it had its own micro climate.

To take my mind off this sorry state of affairs we have been driving through the most amazing and spectacular scenery, and spent our first night parked up just outside Joshua Tree National Park, in the Mojave desert. Named by the Mormons, and made famous by Bono, the joshua tree is a crazily spindly-sharp weapon of a tree, part of the agave family, and prolific in this 800,000 acre park, strewn with granite boulders the size of buildings, ferns and cacti, and apparently rattlesnakes, although the fact my snorts and gurgles announce my presence a good 30 seconds before I arrive make my chances of stumbling across one pretty slim.
Today has seen us navigate 50-mile long stretches of highway in a perfect straight line, visit a ‘ghost town’ that seemed plenty alive with tourists, and complete the day’s journey as the setting sun turned the mountain-edged valley we drove through a deep rust-gold.

The azure-blue skies and high-20s temperatures have been keeping us smiling (as much as my cracked lips allow – am I overdoing this whole ‘I have a cold, please feel sorry for me’ bit?), with the promise of more to come as we head north to Death Valley tomorrow (which seems appropriate – alright, I’ll stop), before heading back to the coast for more Californian fun-in-the-sun after the weekend.

Thankfully, Ben has not yet come down with my lurgy. I think it might be the American Marlboros that he is chain-smoking that are doing the trick, as my germs have nothing on those toxins. Plus, if he gets sick, he knows I’ll have to drive the van, which is probably more than either of our nervous systems could bear.

Hopefully in a day or two I’ll be a bit better and ready for the next stage of our journey – 1,000 miles of pacific coastal highway. Should give me enough time to find my straighteners.

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