We would be nomads for that summer of 1995. Our camel's name, Stella Blue.
Electric blue even. A 1970 Volkswagen Microbus ('71 perhaps? details fuzzy at best). She technically belonged to Nat, but was happy to serve as home to whomever hopped aboard.
Loving the open road, she carried her family south from the Great North to the desert without complaint.
She waited patiently on the shoulder as her passengers, catching first sight of actual cacti, just had to run out and have a lick. And lick we did. And brought her back a sprig and placed it lovingly on her dash.
Skip and Myself at the healm, Nat's foot as co-pilot.
Again she waited as her castaways romped about the Painted Desert.
She endured dust storms in Las Vegas. She listened to the music from the lot and forgave the dirt.
She gulped pint after pint of oil, her friends buying it by the case. Thirsty engine that Stella.
The Grand Canyon happened to pass by. She felt small, and blue, sitting on its edge.
Somewhere between the dry desert and the wet northwest, Stella decided to stop starting. Oh, she'd GO, but refused that pesky key.
If her passengers were going to push her north, we were actually going to PUSH her. This determined trio would devise a system; Nat would sit at the wheel and tell Stella to stay neutral while Skip and Myself with arms outstretched at her rear, pushed and pushed, and gathered speed, and ran and ran, until Nat could pop that clutch to the sweet sound of Stella's heartbeat.
We pushed that girl all over the country.
Stella's favorite spot; prime real estate on Shakedown Street, Seattle Washington.
Seattle also brought Stella new precious cargo in the form of Gromley Grumpet, Border Collie/Australian Shepherd Extraordinaire.
Stella lost her steering column on a windy road in Seattle and was towed to Portland Oregon.
She made it to San Fransisco, was cheered on by many as her doting daughters nudged her along a parking lot, and spent the night in the foggiest rest area in the country.
Trouble in Boise was fixed by the capable hands of Eric, whose first question when she rolled into his shop was;
"What's her name?"
Somewhere in Colorado, a most pleasant fixer of vehicles offered Stella's occupants a much needed shower.
The red tape outlining her great sliding door served as a reminder to all that if one tried to open it, it would fall. off.
Something went awry in Kansas. Her transmission shit the bed at some point. Her brakes, near Albany.
Our threesome spent the show at Giant's Stadium out in the lot hanging with our pooch, keeping Stella company. We didn't mind missing shows. The notes wafted out and reached our ears anyway.
Rain in Pittsburgh. Lightening in D.C. Clear sailing to Chicago.
She couldn't have known. None of us did. That the last leg of this Summer's journey would be the last of a much bigger, longer trek.
Maybe I've been told and blocked it from my memory, but I don't want to know what became of Stella after that final box of rain landed on her roof.
In my mind, she's proudly perched at the heart of Shakedown, her interior ripe with the stink of her humans, her back end blackened with oil, the smell of garlic grilled cheese sandwiches floating all around her.