As expected, the wind blows all day Thursday. Once all the good-byes are said we spend most of the day indoors. Bill isn't feeling great so he takes advantage of the complete quiet and sleeps most of the day.
Our host is active with the local domestic violence shelter so we make arrangements for all the leftovers, and extra food, to be picked up later in the day. So glad nothing went to waste - and they got some mighty tasty eats!
|The sun sets on our last day in Ruidoso|
|Neighbors stop by to say good-bye|
|Hey, no hug??|
Friday morning the trees are standing tall and the leaves are barely fluttering. We waste no time pulling everything together to head down the mountain by 8:00. Past the narrow downtown we hook up the Jeep, double check everything, and begin our journey back to SoCal.
Because the original plan was to be back for a wedding on Saturday we were going to make the trip in two days, with one night in Casa Grande, AZ. While I'm bummed we missed the wedding, I am very glad we didn't have to make that drive.
Past Las Cruces the wind returns, but at less than 10 mph it's a nuisance, not a problem. After about two hours the velocity doesn't increase but our "angle" must because it becomes more work to just drive down the highway. I'm no longer having fun. Unacceptable.
Bill finds us a site in Benson, AZ, and after seven hours of driving I'm very happy to pull in and park. The Benson I-10 RV Park is a bare-bones, very clean, little stop just off the freeway, and looks like heaven. A quick run into town for DEF and drinking water, and we are back in our little home.
|Nice desert views through the window|
|Sun rise over Benson, AZ|
Saturday is that interesting combination of flat desert and large city driving. It's all Interstate, but goes from two-lane-with-cacti-on-the-side to 6-lane-with-malls-and-international airports-on-the-side and back again. I've driven it a hundred times but it's all different from "up here". The fuel stop at Picacho Peak just west of Tucson was an easy stop last week, so I pull off there rather than fueling up in CA on Sunday. Because we already know we're going to make another stop. Because we can.
I lose the rear camera a few miles before the off-ramp. My heart skips a beat as I go from "we lost the Jeep" to "no, we just can't see it" in about 5 seconds. We have a great tow-bar, a break-away switch, nothing is going to happen just because we can't see it. Just add it to the dealer list. It's still weird having absolutely no means of "seeing" it.
We fuel up and continue west. We'll stop in Blythe, just over the CA border. Again, Bill finds a great spot with large grass pull-through sites. It's almost 90 degrees so the 50 amp FHUs are welcome. The Riviera RV Resort is right on the Colorado River but the only "sites" overlooking the water are park models. Although it's a holiday weekend the park is about half full and we are hopeful it will be fairly quiet. At $44 after our discounts, it's the most expensive place we've stayed, but our average is still way below our budgeted $30/night.
Blythe is home to two of our dear friends - Mike and Rita. A couple phone calls and yes, they can come over for a couple beers and a short visit. We sit at the picnic table under the awning and enjoy our first official "company" in our new home. We'll see them again at the reunion in two weeks. Hopefully then I'll remember to take pictures!
|More beautiful desert just outside the park|
We're ready for a restaurant and a couple cocktails. Fortunately the one place with a dog-friendly patio also has wonderful food! The margaritas are fair but the burritos, sopa and taco are exceptional. If you're in Blythe, give Garcia's on Hobson Way a try! The weather is perfect, and with the addition of a beautiful sunset it is a perfect final evening on the road (this time).
|Sunset, margaritas and love-of-my-life|
Easter Sunday morning and we're packing up at 7:30. The night before Bill figured out I had "touched something" that changed the setting on the rear cameras, and when we pull out the Jeep is once again visible on the screen. Sweet.
We both grew up in the area around Desert Center. He at the Kaiser Steel Mine community of Eagle Mountain, and me at the Metropolitan Water District community of Iron Mountain 40 miles north. So we know this section of the trip like our backyard. We love it. A stop for lunch and ice in Chiraco Summit yields a nice surprise when Bob Chiraco is having a meal with friends in the café. We get caught up quickly and promise to always stop in on our way through.
We're almost back. We've taken two things off the dealer list (jacks and camera). We've enjoyed a quiet night at a river resort. We've been good neighbors. I signal for every rig that passes us when they can move over. There has been minimal cursing when challenged. An uneventful final push is warranted.
But this is the "are-you-sure-you-really-want-to-do-this" trip! This is the "see-if-your-blood pressure medication-really-works" trip! Apparently you only get the good karma if you make it back alive.
West of Palm Springs the valley is full of wind turbines. Today they are all spinning, but the wind is light, hitting us from the front, and not an issue. Until it is.
The highway makes a slight turn to the south and bam! It's like being in a tornado as we are getting hit from all sides at once. Bill checks the weather app and utters those calming words "Oh Shit!". Wind advisory for the area, gusts over 40 mph at 2 PM. It's almost noon. The wind doesn't own a watch.
At 45 mph I'm gripping the wheel like rungs on a tall ladder. The rig sways to the left and then to the right. We're either going to share a lane with an 18-wheeler or end up in the ditch. Neither prospect is appealing. This is the Whitewater Grade and going over the hill, across the bridge, through the small canyon and "out" the other side is the longest 10 miles I've traveled - ever. I've driven it hundreds of times, even in the wind in a large truck camper. But not in a condo, and not with winds this strong.
You'll have guessed by now that we made it just fine. No lane-sharing. No ditch-landing. Sore muscles (apparently I drive with my ass), and taxed nerves but unscathed. Bill says he was never nervous, and since this time he didn't make a bee-line to the loo I believe him :-)
By the time we merge onto I-210 the winds are manageable, and although traffic picks up significantly I'm able to calm down, breathe normally, and once again enjoy the drive.
We hit some stop-and-go along the way, expected on a holiday Sunday. We head straight to the storage lot rather than by the apartment first because I had pulled everything out of cupboards for off-loading this morning.
The gate is locked. Happy Easter is posted on the gate. We don't have a key or a code. Because they are supposed to email us a code if the gate is going to be locked on a holiday. No email.
I call and leave a message while Bill unhooks the Jeep. We off-load at the apartment and return the rig to the PetSmart parking lot where it started out 10 days ago.
So we're back. We had our first big adventure. We learned a lot about the rig, and the road, and campgrounds. We never argued, never lost our temper or our cool (well maybe I did a little). We now have a list of fixes for the dealer in a couple weeks.
We can't wait to do it again - and for a very long time!
|Ready to go again|