Thursday, November 17, 2016

Into the West

After filling up my fresh water tank & dumping my black/gray water tanks, unhooking electricity & my television dish, & hooking the trailer to the pickup, I finally pulled out of Branson headed west at 8am. WOO HOO. Talk about a happy camper. On the road again. . .

I made good time, just poking along at 62 mph, & got to the Oklahoma border by 10:12 am. Went thru Tulsa around noon – & I-44 is just as rough & beat up at last fall & past spring. Geez Louise, it’s a toll road, why is it so bad?

I’ve always hated the traffic on the south side of Oklahoma City where I-35 & I-40 are sharing that portion of road, so. . .I take the turnpike along the north & west sides of the city. Much, much easier, but the bridges on that stretch really create rocking & rolling. My paper towels not only unrolled but also toilet paper. Never had it that bad. Oh, & the bottom shelf on the frig door broke at the side bracket. Super glue again. And the wind was so strong (constant at least, not just gusty) from the SW, I barely drove 60 mph with both hands strangling the steering wheel. After getting gas around 4:30 pm, I camped at Elk Creek RV Park in Elk City, OK for $29/night, 30 amp, f/h.


I hit the road Wednesday morning at 7:15 am. It’s still pretty dark on the western edge of Oklahoma at that hour, so I barely drove 55 mph in the dark. I managed to get this picture of the sun rising in my rearview mirror.

The sun was up enough to see the road ahead clearly by 8 am when I crossed into Texas! The road was like glass, no wind, & not much traffic. I whizzed right along steady & got thru Amarillo around 10 & Tucumcari NM by noon – oops, that would be 11am Mountain Time there. At Santa Rosa, I headed southwest on Highway 54 (that’s the same highway that goes thru my hometown in MO) & skipped Albuquerque. However there were three different highways & sections worse than some gravel roads going to BLM campsites.

I was to meet up with Wendy at a rest area on I-25 south of Albuquerque where she was coming from. But, it was closed, so Wendy went to the next exit. She texted me how to catch up with her, but I lost cell signal & never got the text to where she’d moved to. So. . .in the meantime, I’m following her original instructions & ended up on a frontage road along I-25 that ended at a gate without enough space to turn around with the trailer. I had no choice but to practice backing up, down that half mile at least of deserted road which included a couple of gentle curves. I finally got to a driveway with a gate & put the trailer right up next to the gate while managing 4 or 5 K-turns to get the pickup pointed in the opposite direction without falling into the ditch at the front of the pickup in the process. Whoop whoop whoop! I did it, not pretty or fast. Trial by fire. I was tired, hungry, scared, irritated & shocked, not sure if I was going to cry, throw up, cuss, walk, or what. Thankfully, while I was figuring out how to handle that, I just kept backing up a few more feet at a time.

After stopping for gas & dealing with a serious head wind, I made my way south on I-25 to meet up with Wendy FINALLY at Caballo Lake State Park, south of Truth or Consequences, NM. Boy, was I glad to finally park it & let Kira out of the truck after 10 hours of riding (including the slow backing). I slept SOOOO well that night too.

We just vegged out Thursday as thunderstorms woke me up at 3 am & rained on & off all day. However on Friday, Emily (a Casita owner in town) picked Wendy & I up to eat lunch & make a quick Walmart stop. I’ve stopped here to visit with her for four years now & enjoy that she knew Jeff back when he felt better.


The clouds just hung on top of the mountains east of the Lake & our campsites. So strange not to have full sun over the area.

We left Saturday morning around 11, heading south on I-25 to Hatch, taking the shortcut across the desert to Deming, then west on I-10 to Arizona. Once again, I would have done a little dance at the Arizona state sign – except for the driving part. We scooted thru Tucson & north to pickup I-8. I’d never been that way before, having always headed west from Tucson on the Ajo Highway. Made it to the Shell station at the east end of Gila Bend around 5:30, close to dusk, pretty well worn out & pooped. BUT, we were only a few hours then from Quartzsite & our destination. We just boondocked at the far side of that truck parking lot & slept pretty well, not caring that we were officially in Arizona’s Pacific Timezone until 2am the next morning when it became 2am Mountain time.

We were both awake early Sunday morning so got back on the road by 9:30 am heading north to Buckeye to pick up I-10 west to Quartzsite. Traffic wasn’t too bad & no wind so went directly to the LTVA kiosk to get our annual $180 pass. We moseyed around looking for the perfect spot but finally took an open area with a great view of the red mountain directly to the west of that site. We wanted a tree & drove around all the various LTVA areas days later, looking for a better site but in spite of it still being summer in Quartzsite, it’ll change in a month & a shade tree won’t be wanted. Besides, we really like the view of that mountain behind us.


We ate out several days the first week & got to know a few of our closest neighbors. On Veteran’s Day, November 11, I drove my pickup to Yuma to get it serviced (since the light came on early into my trip out to AZ, probably 1,600 miles ago). First, Wendy & I stopped at Applebee’s for my 8th year of a free veteran’s meal. It always meant a lot to Jeff & I since we’d never been allowed to celebrate Veteran’s Day much as most employers don’t acknowledge it as a holiday Last year’s meal was alone in Albuquerque, so having Wendy along this time was really nice. Getting the truck serviced took forever, & by the time we shopped at Walmart, it was pretty much dark on the way home. Only real problem was. . .my truck was running on fumes from the reserve tank & we barely made it to a gas station in Quartzsite in time. Unloading our groceries in the darkness of the desert wasn’t too bad since the not-quite-full moon was amazingly bright & helpful that night.

Otherwise, we’ve spent some pretty quiet, peaceful days. The first week & a half got pretty warm in the afternoons but the nights were, as all desert nights are, fantastic perfect sleeping temperature. There was that little issue with Wendy trying to climb a hill with her SUV but got it buried first in the gravel bed trying to get to it (she didn’t make it). Glad she has 4-wheel drive in her Sequoia cause the running board on my passenger side was loaded with gravel still when we got back to the trailers. Apparently it really was buried deep for a bit on the passenger side.

We’ve visited the local library a few times, filled propane tanks, & found more places to eat out. Our solar panels have worked well, & I used my propane generator FINALLY after 5 days of boondocking. After a week, I got us both water for our fresh water tanks with the water bladder that lives above the cab of my truck. We’ll hook up to dump the tanks when needed but probably return to the same spot. Yep – life has been pretty GREAT back in the desert! The locals say summer will abruptly end soon as winter arrives. I’m ready as I had more than enough summer this year! And it’s so great to see these Arizona sunsets again that look like molten lava across the sky!!



  1. Great seeing you again and meeting Wendy. Love the beautiful sunset picture.

  2. Lovely sunset. Molten lava is a great description.
    Let us know when winter arrives.

    1. Well, winter may have arrived last night since today's been mid 60s & WINDY. But. . .may not last.

  3. It Was 50* in myRV this morning in Mesa. Time to find a heater. Even had both cats up in the bunk huddled in the covers with me.

  4. Quite an epic trip across the country! Enjoyed following your trip on the map.


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