Bertha, You’re Going Down

file0001383361696I’m sitting on the bed in the Best Western here in Las Cruces, New Mexico.  Izzy, our pup, is sighing contentedly (or else she is just bored) beside me.

Bob sits at the room’s desk with his laptop – mine is open on my lap (d’oh! It’s a LAP top, not a DESK top).

We’re a couple days into our trip, and tired at 4 p.m.  Part of it is the landscape.  I-10 is, at least at this point, a very boring drive.  I think we have one more day of boredom, across the Texas desert, until we get to San Antonio and then as we advance east, as the land gets greener and there are more rolling hills, it should be more interesting.

However, this is my land.  I was born in Phoenix at St. Joseph’s Hospital and I lived for about eight months in El Paso, Texas a million years ago.  I think I was 19, maybe 20.  That shouldn’t be so remote, but once you reach your 50’s, your late teens and early 20’s start fading a bit.  I’ve lived most of my life in Southern California and since I live in a beach community, I cannot complain at all, but the desert still draws me in.

I still have an elderly aunt and two cousins who live in the Phoenix area.  We were just passing through, so no contact this direction, but we may see my aunt at least on our way back.

The temperatures have been surprising, but I’m not sure why – the days are nice, in the 70’s although here in New Mexico, the high seems to be in the low 60’s.  The nights are cold.  Winter in the desert is exactly like that – which means it’s actually cooler than my beachy home by the Pacific.  I’m so used to scorching temperatures over 100 (but it’s a DRY HEAT) that getting out of the car at a rest stop, we had to grab sweaters to walk the dog around.  I guess that’s my surprise – the truth and the facts do not match my expectations and memory.

Because there hasn’t been much to look at through the car window, we’ve been listening to a podcast that Bob somehow found, The RV Navigator.  Ken and Martha do the podcast and you can tell they always have a good time – not that they’re boozy or cracking jokes, but in the quiet way of a couple who are truly enjoying their retirement and each other.  They love to travel all over the world, so not just in an RV; they refer to cruising as “RVs on steroids.”  Never would have thought to put it that way, but I guess you can justify that you’re just going to travel in your steroidal RV when you hit the cruise line or fly to India.  I’m not sure I’ll ever be quite that ambitious in my travel plans.

Nine years ago we went to London – it was Bob’s first time and my second.  On the advice of a friend who traveled a lot, we bought a massive Samsonite suitcase which we named Bertha.  Bertha has been our go-to piece of luggage on all our trips, as she basically carries anything and everything for both of us, so we only have to worry about one piece.  However, she’s big and unwieldy, and wedging her into and out of the trunk of the car has proven to be just too much.  “No more,” Bob has already declared, as she is threatening to throw his back out in one of these machinations.  The final straw, though, came today when the handle at the top of the luggage snapped off.  Now, he has to wrangle it kitty-corner-wise to lift it up and over the lip of the trunk because it has no handle.  Let’s face it, Bertha’s a bitch.

And she’s going down.

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