On 4 April 2008, we left Tucson, Arizona on the long 2,591 mile (4,170 km) return trek to Ontario, Canada, where we plan to spend summer 2008. Unfortunately, I had contracted an illness in Arizona known as Valley Fever, which is endemic to the southwestern deserts of the US. In my case, it turned into pneumonia, so while the medication the hospital prescribed allowed me to function, it was everything I could do to tow the RV for the first days of the two weeks it took us to get back, so no photos for that period of time. The last few days I had regained enough strength and enough interest in photography to start taking a few shots again, but not many regrettably.
Contrary to what you hear about the clean dry air in Arizona, if you have respiratory problems, I don't recommend going there. With millions of people now living there and more moving to the state every day, the air is no longer so clean, plus the soil of the southwest deserts contains a fungus, Coccidioides immitis, that when it becomes airborne from the high winds that are common there and then inhaled, causes Valley Fever. How severe it becomes depends on the health of the individual. Most people's immune systems fight it off with no more symptoms than a mild cold, if there are any symptoms at all. However, it can become quite serious with people who are susceptible to it, to the point it turns into pneumonia as it has with me and in rare cases it can even become fatal. Even though the disease is fairly common there (everyone has to breath and if youíre there for any length of time, you will breath the fungus), I had never heard of Valley Fever until I got it. As far as Iím concerned, it is Arizonaís best kept secret.