This is the story of ArVee the tree. This story goes back many years when my wife and I bought this old 73 Dodge Pace Arrow class C motorhome. After a year of use in the paciﬁc North West we decided to take a trip to the Southland. Well as many here in the Northwest know we don’t do so well in the summer heat of the southwest and for our motorhome it was no different. Our trip started by heading south on I5 then taking the northern pass across California to northern Nevada then south to Arizona and the Grand Canyon. So far everything seamed to be ﬁne but after spending the day at the Grand Canyon and as we headed west to California our head lights began to dim. Then the engine sputtered and quit. I determined that the charging system had stopped working. It was getting dark and we where stranded in the middle of nowhere along side of a busy road in Arizona. This brought back memories of a childhood trip with my grandfather. Fortunately I had brought my battery charger and so I ﬁred up the generator and using an extension cord I ran it out the window. I lifted the hood and hooked up the charger and plugged it in. As I waited for the battery to charge up I looked at a map and noticed that the town of Kingman AZ was about 80 miles further down the road. I had to make a choice. I could wait out the night and fully charge up the battery. Then drive in the morning through the desert in the hot morning sun without any air conditioning. Or I could drive all night with as much of a charge as I could get. So I used a bungee strap and strapped down the charger, started the RV and with dim head lights and the generator running, I drove until the power level dropped too low to go any further. I just sat back in the chair and closed my eyes for about 15 minutes then took off again. I can’t remember how many times we had to stop but we rolled into Kingman just as the sun began to rise. As fortune has it we left the highway right in front of an auto repair center. The family explored the surrounding town while I took a nap waiting for the shop to open. Oddly enough it was an easy ﬁx. The voltage regulator which was bolted to the transmission had come loose and was not getting proper ground. All was ﬁxed and we were on our way to continue our trek to our ﬁnal destination. But that was not the end of our troubles as we made our way out of Arizona and into Death Valley California and over the pass into San Bernardino. The engine began to smoke and I lost oil pressure. So we made another pit stop. I drove to the nearest auto parts store and took a survey of the engine. I noticed that there was a lot of oil around the intake manifold so I made a judgment call that I needed to replace the intake manifold gasket. Fortunately I did bring all of my tools. Those that know me know that I always try to “Be prepared”. At the auto parts store I bought a new top end gasket set. Hours later we were back on the road. Sad to say the rebuild did not ﬁx the problem. Through all of the heat and stress that was put on the tired old motorhome the rings failed and now we where looking at a full engine rebuild or replacement. I still had to get the family back home to Oregon and we did not have the money to repair the motor. So I just bought a case of oil and limped all the way back to Oregon adding oil as we went. We made it home safely and I parked the RV in the back yard next to the shop with hopes to ﬁx it when time and funds came available.
So what does all of this have to to with a tree named ArVee? Well let me go on with the story.
It was an unusually hard winter and we had a silver thaw. For those that don’t know what that is… it is when it’s cold but not cold enough to snow and it rains. The rain freezes to everything. It its very beautiful but it plays havoc with trees. They tend to drop branches and even fall from all of the added weight. A medium sized tree came crashing down and fell across the motorhome punching a hole in the roof. The temperature rose and the rain continued to fall and by the time it stopped the entire motorhome was soaked inside and out. The debris was cleaned up but the motorhome was beyond salvage. So there she sat for many years. Over the years a small seed found its way into the hole of the roof and took root in the rotting plywood and insulation and there it grew. It did not get very big do to the fact that it was not planted in soil and it was getting all of its nutrients from the rain and the rotting plywood. Finally came the day when we were able to ﬁnd someone to haul away the motorhome. You would not believe how hard it is when no one wants an old motorhome that is mostly made of wood. We ﬁnally found a metal scrapper willing to disassemble the motorhome and take away the metal leaving the wood for me to deal with. Not ideal but better then looking at it for more years to come. As the the crew of scrapers began to tear the motorhome apart they where amazed at the tree growing out of the roof. The crew had to go to another job and left. I stood there looking at the old motorhome, its frame bare like a huge beast stripped to its bones, and the small tree that had been growing there for years. I admired the tenacity of this little tree and how it had grown there defying all odds. It was not a great tree for it was small for its age and stunted from having to live off the little nutrients it could get.
It reminded me a of a parable about sowing your seeds. “Some seeds fell beside the road, and it was trampled under foot and the birds of the air ate it up. Other seed fell on rocky soil, and as soon as it grew up, it withered away, because it had no moisture. Other seed fell among the thorns; and the thorns grew up with it and choked it out.…”
“This seed fell on an RV and there it grew.”
Well who am I to let this miracle of nature fall to the scrappers axe. So I got my ladder and climbed up to the roof and cut back the tin and removed the tree. I was amazed at how large the root system was. It had wound its way throughout the roof and was even growing into the cushion of the loft bed. I had to cut away some of the root just to get it free as it was hard fastened to its host. I placed it in a large pot and ﬁlled it with ﬁne potting soil. The poor tree went into shock and lost all of its leaves. Well I thought to myself I can do no more. All I can do now is wait. Well here it is a year later and the little tree is sending out new shoots so I guess it is not giving up yet. It goes to show no matter where you grow up, you just need to have the will to succeed and sometimes rely on the help of others, but in the end it is all up to you to grow.
From ruin comes life.
Story by; David E VinZant Sr.