Tempe AZ

Good morning from Arizona!  We are in Tempe, which is just outside of Phoenix to the east.  Today is the home stretch and we hope to get to Ridgecrest CA early evening.  Today we’ll only have to do about 450 miles.

Yesterday was a good day.  We finally got through Texas (that state is just way too big when you are driving across it!) and New Mexico.  We’ll be out of Arizona in a couple of hours and then into California.  That will feel good.  But the driving itself has been very easy.  Long, long ribbons of highway, two lanes in each direction, and very little traffic.  I was concerned about the winds and sandstorms but we didn’t get any.  We saw lots of dust devils tho.  And we’ve seen the scenery change from lush green to grown.  From trees with gorgeous leaves to cactus and brown grasses.  I’ve lived in the desert before, twice, and both times there were droughts.  Apparently not this year because for the first time I was able to see desert flowers – which are beautiful.  It was so hard not to pull over and take photos.  But the shoulders are the roads in these areas are not too nice, and we did have winds (not too strong) and I am so uncomfortable pulling the trailer that I decided I just didn’t want to go there.  I am hopeful that the blooms last a bit longer and I’ll be able to get out with the camera in a couple of weeks.

Our cats, which ride in their carrying cases, are fed up with the trip.  Neko, our scaredy cat, has been hiding as soon as we let her out in the hotel rooms.  Last night she came out and walked around for a long time and even slept with Chelsea.  It’s good to see her out and about.  Sapphire, our too social cat, now runs when she hears the voice of a stranger.  I am sad to see them so upset, but today is our last day on the road so hopefully they can get back to “normal” soon.

The beds last night were awful.  Too soft and lumpy.  I kept waking up and so finally, about 5, I just gave up and got up.  Hopefully I can walk out the kinks which have seemed to settle in my muscles.

Tomorrow we’ll be taking our stuff to a storage room and returning the trailer.  I’m glad I had the trailer so that I could bring a few more belongings, but I will be so happy to be rid of it!  And then Sat and Sun to rest before re-joining the workforce on Monday.

And now it’s “California here we come”!

El Paso

We made El Paso last night – and it was such an accomplishment.  We’d decided to hit the road early and make yesterday our longest day.  I think that may have been a mistake.  By 9:30 I was so tired I could barely keep my eyes open so we pulled into a rest stop and I slept for about 40 minutes.  Slept sitting up in a hot truck with the windows down.  That is how tired I was.  Then we hit the road again, but I faded about 1:00 so we had to stop for sleep again.

I had decided that perhaps El Paso was overly ambitious so we looked at the map for other options and decided that there really weren’t any, so on down the road we went.

As we were nearing El Paso we tuned into a local radio station to hear that there was a big hole in the I-10 (the road we were on) but no further details were known.  Soon the highway hazard lights began flashing and we were advised to tune into a local AM radio station, which we did.  All we picked up was static!  We kept checking back with the radio and kept getting static.  All of a sudden our GPS beeped and out route changed.  Sure enough, the GPS picked up the problem and re-routed us.  About 10 minutes later we were able to pick up the radio station and got the details.  A hole in the interstate.  Who would have thought that could happen?

Anyway, we followed the GPS and ended up near the boarder.  I think Texas marks it’s roads a bit poorly, and for awhile we were in the lane to Juarez, Mexico.  We eventually got into the other lane, but it was fun to watch the people in the cars and those walking towards the boarder.  They were laughing and joking and having a good time, like a big block party.  Finally we rejoined the interstate and made it to the hotel.

On the road from 6am to 7pm – what a day (in spite of my naps).  Much too long so today we decided to sleep in and get caught up on the rest.  We’ll be going for breakfast and then loading up and on the road again.

Look out Phoenix, here we come!

San Antonio

We arrived at our friends’ place near Houston the night before last.  What a gorgeous home they have, filled with treasures large and small collected from all over the world.  It was wonderful seeing remembered tokens and looking at new ones.  B and F treated us like royalty and it was wonderful to be pampered after the last week.  Yesterday we spent the day catching up on news, relaxing and enjoying wonderful conversation and food.  What a great time.  THANK YOU B AND F!!!!

We have arrived in San Antonio, hot and tired.  Chelsea has a friend over and I’m going to enjoy chilling out and watching TV and reading.  Tomorrow is a long, long day — about a 11 hour drive.

Smokin’

Well, Day Two of the Trip was interesting – to say the least.  But we arrived safe and sound at our friends’ place.

We got up early yesterday and loaded the trailer and truck of our suitcases and so forth.  I climbed in and started the car, and with Chelsea’s help from the outside, began to back up.  I did really well for about 3 feet and then ran into the curb.  No problem, I thought, and proceeded to carefully straighten the wheel and pull back into the parking place.  Try number two.  Same result.  After about ten attempts I realized that I was not going to be able to get out of the parking lot.  So I march back into the hotel to locate some kind, knowledgeable soul to back up the vehicle.  Guy number one informs me he is a city boy and has no clue, but he’d be happy to stand outside and watch and provide helpful hints.  I declined.  The hotel clerk just shook his head no before I could even ask the question.  The only other person was a lady who was riding a bike – but what the heck.  I asked her too.  She laughed and said she knew how in theory but had never done it.  So I went back to the truck and sat down.  Hum.  We waited and soon two guys with bikes came out and loaded them into the back of a really big pick up truck.  I jumped out and asked if either of them could get me out of my parking place and yippee! one could.  He got in the truck and in just seconds had me ready to go.  RELIEF!!!!

Now Oklahoma.  I’ve driven through Oklahoma before and perhaps it was because I was in a car, or perhaps I just do not remember, but Oklahoma has horrid roads!  Full of pot holes and uneven pavement.  Bumpy is a gross understatement.  And apparently I really made Lee Garmin (my GPS Australian man) really angry because he took me on all back roads, mostly two lane, and I swear they were the worst roads on the planet!  Anyway we bumped along for hours and in McAlister I pulled in for gas.  The trailer ended up on an incline so I put on the parking brake.  I filled the car and paid for the gas.  We used the facilities, and hit the road again.

Just after I got back on the road I noticed that the truck was really “jumpy”, but then figured that this stretch of road was just really, really bumpy.  I’d gone about 3 miles when we noticed an awful burning smell.  Really bad.  I looked in the rear view mirrors (to change lanes) and smoke was pouring out of the two rear wheel wells!

I pull over and we get out of the car – and with shaking hands I call the auto club.  They transfer me to a local branch who sends out a tow truck.  The driver gets out and starts laughing!  I wasn’t quiet believing this whole thing, and the laughter just added that extra touch of surreal.  Anyway he came up to me and said not to worry, he thought he knew exactly what was wrong and if he was right I’d be on the road again without going for any repairs.  Asked me if the emergency brake was on.  Duh!  Head slap and eye roll.  Yes!  I’d put it on at the gas station and hadn’t taken it off!  We took it off, and he sent me on a test drive to a truck repair place 5 miles down the road.  The truck drove great, no more smoke or jumpiness and the brakes (regular ones) worked fine.  Back on the road.

The rest of the day, although long, was blissfully uneventful.  We arrived at our friends place and are enjoying wonderful hospitality.  Today is a rest day and we’re catching up on several years worth of “stuff”.

Yep, that was me smokin’ down highway  US69!

On the road (again)

This morning we woke up in Joplin, Mississippi.  It doesn’t seem real yet that we are really moving.  We had hopped to get on the road early yesterday morning, but our *scared-y* cat hid.  She does that very well.  We’d shut her in a bedroom/hall/bathroom and didn’t think there was any place where she could hide.  We were wrong.  After a couple of hours we pulled out the freezer and there she was!

The drive was rather slow since we can only go 55 pulling the trailer, but there were no winds and all went well.  Until we got to the hotel.  They have no big parking so I had to pull into a parking place.  I choose one that I hope I’ll be able to back straight out of and then turn out of the drive way.  Keep your fingers crossed.  Otherwise I’ll have to wait until some good soul comes along to back up that trailer!

So, off we go!