Desert Rain

Bullhead City, Arizona is a community located directly across the Colorado River from Laughlin, Nevada and not too far from Needles, California. For those of you that still don’t know what I’m talking about, it is about 90 miles south of Las Vegas. It is also a major part of my childhood.

My dad inherited a small single-wide trailer from his grandfather and I spent a large part of my childhood there. A lot of my first memories were created in that trailer or down by the river or out on the lake. I used to ride my big wheel in circles around our patio. My dad and I would ride The Riverside boat ferry after we’d eat all-you-can-eat crab legs at The Riverside Casino. I’d feed the ducks and get chased by the geese down at Sunshine Marina (now Lazy Harry’s). Sometimes we’d get to go out on my dad’s friend’s pontoon boat and spend the afternoon on secluded beaches on the lake.

Aside from my home in Rowland Heights, Bullhead feels more like home than anywhere else. It’s where I still feel my dad the most. And it’s the one place in the world that I’m never stressed at, even when things are going horribly wrong. I might get upset for a moment, but it quickly washes away. No matter how crazy things in life may be, when I step out into the hot sunshine and smell the fresh air, or as soon as we cross the river, I immediately feel at peace.

It’s also the middle of the desert, which means it’s dry. And it hardly rains. In fact, according to it gets an average of 6 inches of rain over an average of 22 days per year.

Girl standing in water
Me stepping into the Colorado River for the first time after my dad died (2011)

The weekend of February 22, 2020, I had to make a super quick turnaround trip to do a little bit of work on the yard of my dad’s trailer. I needed to get some weeds pulled before we got in trouble with the city and this day was the only day my husband and I had off at the same time in the foreseeable future. So we got up at 4 AM, drove 4 hours out there and planned to spend the day working and cleaning.

Remember 2 paragraphs ago when I said it never rains? Well, as we approached Bullhead, the clouds started to gather, it started to get dark and it started to rain. No not just rain, pour.

It was so cold, so wet and so miserable the first few hours we were there.

It did eventually break and we were able to really make a dent in our work. We had to make a run to the local dump to empty the trash bags we had collected and we needed food, this was at about 2 PM if I remember correctly. By this point, the rain had cleared and it was actually warm and sunny. We still had about half the yard to do, but the weather looked good, so we figured we were fine. We rode up to the dump and then stopped to pick up some lunch on our way back.

We figured we would eat back at the trailer, and as we approached the trailer we again started to see clouds collecting…and flashes of light…and rumbling thunder.

Rain and hail in the desert
Watching the hail from inside the trailer

We skipped eating and rushed back to work. Not even 15 minutes in, it started to rain…hard. But, I just told myself, “Hawaii prepared you for this. Rain is fine. You got this. Ignore the cold.” and I kept working.

And slowly the rain got harder.

And harder.

And it took me a moment to realize it, but it was getting harder because it was hail and the hail was getting bigger.

In the desert. In an area with about a 6% chance to get rain on any given day; AND on the one day I had to be there, AND I had to get work done in the yard, and I not only got rain, but I got thunder, lightning and hail.

Finally, my husband recommended we go for shelter. He ran to the car, I ran inside.

And as I stood there watching the rain, and hail, and thinking about how soaked and sore I was, and how much work I still had to do, I started laughing. I was laughing so hard at the universe, at the situation, at my life. And all I could keep thinking was, is the universe telling me to give up or is it testing me to see how bad I really want this?

I haven’t been able to stay in the trailer since before my dad died, and because it has been sitting for so long it needs more than just for the yard to be cleaned up. Since before we moved back I’ve been talking to my husband about how I want to make it nice again. I want it to be a place we can just drive up to on random weekends without even planning. This past year has been rough and things don’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon, so needless to say, I haven’t made any progress. But, I still have the full intention of doing so, I just need to figure out how.

We did end up getting the work done, despite the rain, AND the mud, AND the universe, AND the exhaustion.

I’ve been thinking about that day a lot and I’m still not sure what the universe was trying to tell me, but I’d like to believe it was testing me not telling me to give up.

Father holding his baby daughter
My dad and I


  • Jyles

    One of my first trips ever to the river was with my Aunt Alex and her husband and my cousin Aj. I have to say this is defiantly a trip to remember… but what I take from that trip is that I love Bullhead it is one the only places I feel is home as well .. with only being there twice in my lifetime. I want to help out and get the place nice again for my family one day to come and visit ❤️Thank you Alex for making such a great trip and I can’t wait for more trips we plan to take. I wish I could have been there for the times your dad was around with grandma. But we can only create new ones now with our family now so I hope I can help to see this place nice again !

    • Simply Alex

      Thank you Jyles! It was a “memorable” trip lol and hopefully we can make different memories this summer. I love that you feel that way too and I’m going to need all the help I can get. I think if I can come up with a solid plan, little by little we will be able to put it back together and make it into a version of what my dad always wanted. It was so much fun out there with him. He made the place special and you would have loved it out there with him.

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