On The Road: Whiskey Can’t Stop A Mounting Storm in Tucson

Tanner Efinger is blogging about his two-month U.S. road trip before skipping across the pond  to England with his partner, Nick. Follow their adventure from Los Angeles to Vancouver to New Orleans and up the Mississippi River.


To catch you up: We’re just a week away from a two-month USA road trip, before we skip across the pond to the United Kingdom.  This week we drove to Tucson to visit with Nick’s family before taking off for good.

The drive from Lancaster, California to Tucson, Arizona was dry desert and brittle wasteland shrubs surrounded by mountains of red rock. We passed a handful of dust devils creating vortexes of sand and dirt. When we finally saw Tucson on the horizon, it was a very different sight than the nine-hour drive of constant clear skies and beating sun. Tucson was covered in a dark cloud with bursts of lightning that forked across the skies. It was monsoon season and we were driving right into it.

Nick and I both had a lot on our minds: My visa, for our move to the UK, is still up in the air. Despite our domestic-partnership paperwork, we’re having problems convincing the British Consulate that we are indeed in a substantial relationship. While it doesn’t feel like discrimination, we wonder how things might be different if we were a straight couple with a marriage license.  Our plan was to visit with Nick’s parents in Tucson, store some things at his mom’s house, and then hurry back to Lancaster for a final week of California living. We still have to rent his house, pack, ship boxes, sell the remaining furniture (including a piano), survive a bon voyage party, and do a few dozen other things before the big move. Excited? Yes, of course. But also stressed, anxious, lacking in sleep, and a touch on edge.

Though we were under a massive thundercloud, it wasn’t even raining. There was just a dark nimbus hanging above the city and a ceaseless 114 degrees of stomach-turning humidity. Sleeping that night was difficult. In the moment between slumber and heat, I stared into the ceiling fan wishing I were in England already.

The next day came with a pulsing headache. The humidity still hung above us as we unloaded the car, ran some errands, and began drinking whiskey at noon. There was still no word about the visa, and the car had started giving us trouble, so I started getting moody. My headache worsened and the whiskey wasn’t helping.  The pounding, the heat, the stress…

And then in a dramatic movie moment, the skies broke open. We were in Applebee’s taking advantage of happy hour with Nick’s father when the monsoon season earned name. The natives seemed indifferent to the sheets of water pounding on the windows, the flickering lights and the radio going out. But I was transformed.  The temperature dropped 30 degrees and my headache vanished. The mounting stress that tangled in my guts released and I felt unbound. The rain lasted for about an hour—enough time for several fingers of Jack Daniels, as it turns out.

Then my phone beeped to tell me I had an e-mail. It was from the British Consulate. My visa was approved. It was a cleansing rain after all.


Image via deansouglass