Friday, June 1, 2012

On the Road--Doc Gets a Taste of the Desert

Doc and the wind turbines of West Texas

            Remember what I wrote earlier? About our family's uncommon habit of having bad vacations? Well . . . uh . . . but wait, I'm getting ahead of myself.
        It is late Sunday afternoon and we have left the family reunion behind and headed west. Joining my family of four on the cross-country road trip is my sister-in-law Diana and  her husband, Russell. They are traveling in their Winnebago, affectionately called "Winnie",  and we are right behind them in a borrowed Rav 4. Together the six of us are on our way see my husband's brother, Dell Jenkins in Mesa Arizona. We've never taken this journey by car, so the excitement of a road trip is in the air.

     The route is planned and everything is going as designed.After a good three hours on the road, we are starting to relax. We should be close to El Paso by nightfall and have an RV park as our destination for the night. "Should" is the operative word here because . . .
      It never happened that way.

      Just outside of Colorado City, TX,  Russell and Diana pulled off at a roadside rest stop to examine their tires, but we couldn't find a problem. We snapped a few pictures of Doc with the turbines. He was pretty pumped about it all and said the platform he's on, reminded him an outdoor amphitheater stage--the kind rock-stars like to sing on in the summer. We didn't have the heart to tell him it's actually the lid of a smelly trashcan.

      Only fifteen minutes down the road, the first bit of tread flies off Winnie's back passenger side tire. Another big chunk sails through the air and we are slowing to a crawl as Russell looks for a safe place to get off the road. If you have never changed an RV tire, there's probably a good reason--they come in pairs and it is nearly impossible to do without the right tools.
The cactus adds a forlorn touch to the deserted cafe lot. 
         We roll to a stop in front of a long-deserted cafe that rests beneath a large, colorful billboard advertising all the glorious amenities of Pecos, Texas-- almost taunting us in a way. It is hot and windy and and we are miles from any town. Diana manages to find a tire shop that has someone on duty this sweltering Sunday afternoon. While we wait out the next hour, we sort through the sprawl of  junk that litter the cement around us. The cafe has been turned into a junkyard garage of sorts. We peer through the dust-streaked windows and find the remnants of a kitchen that has been taken over by a tire collection, hubcaps and a desk with a chair. It all makes for an interesting story, but we are much more concerned with our current plight.

         After the first hour, we wonder out loud if "Marvin" exists or if the garage might have been yanking our chain. Perhaps "Marvin" is a codeword the garage uses when all the personnel have gone home and are sitting in their recliners and laughing at those goofy travelers stuck on the side of the road. Yeah . . . . Yeah . . . I'm kind of pessimistic that way.
Blowout on Winnie
     We are excited to find Marvin does exist and just to prove it I got his picture. Nearly three hours after the initial blowout, we are on our way again, but we are hopelessly behind schedule now.
Marvin , our tire hero.
        Adjust and regroup! Our new destination for the night is a Monahans State Park in Texas. (Yes we are STILL  in Texas.)We arrive at nightfall and after doing the self-check in, we realize the park only has about 12 camping sites. Thankfully there is room for us. This  place is so cool--literally and figuratively!  Everywhere we look are hills of white sand and in the moonlight it almost looks like mounds of snow. I suddenly remember I have been here once before as a child of 7 or 8 yrs old. Our cousins lived in Kermit, a nearby town. (Yes, Kermit,  like the Muppets) We had come out for the day and played in the soft white sand and had a blast.
Love this shot of Doc in the sand
        The next morning we plan to get an early start, but we can't resist playing in the stuff. Neither can Doc. We giggle, draw our names in the sand, hike the hills in bare feet and giggle some more. Doc was the only one who didn't sink into the shifting granules as he climbed the hill. Our departing time is pushed back as we  play, act like kids and make warm memories.

Writer's Reflection:
You know the old phrase: Humans make plans and God laughs. Sometimes I like to think his laugh isn't sarcastic but joyous. "I know the plans I have made for you," God tells us in Jeremiah. What He has in mind is so much better than our simple plans and agendas can forecast or achieve. If not for the distressing flat on the RV, we would have missed all the child-like fun of playing in the beautiful, white sand. We would have missed  His unique handiwork.

1. Don't be afraid to "sidetrack" your characters and expose their deepest fears and insecurities. ("There is no Marvin, is there?")
2. Allow your characters to be uncomfortable, uncertain and understandably anxious. We have all been there and can identify with characters faced with similar difficulties.That's what makes them interesting and makes us relate to them. We  care about them and what happens to them.

3. Adjust and Regroup!  In the end your characters should see that they were detoured for a reason.  God has a plan for their lives, as He does for ours. They should take a moment in a reflection scene and connect the dots of the ultimate journey God has plotted for them and how they have changed because of it.

4. Think of your own life's detours and locked doors. Where did God lead you after that? To something better? Something you would have missed otherwise? Use your own life story as a teaching tool for your readers and for others.

BONUS: If you stayed for the credits . . .  I mean writer's reflection, then you earned the bonus pic. This is a behind-the- scenes shot of stage-hand, Dalton as he prepares for Doc's photo shoot. Notice the one legged look that Doc is sporting before our CG department airbrushed the photos. Ahhhh , the magic of media!
The making of Doc Goes To the Desert

Coming up: Doc Goes to Mesa, Arizona


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