Friday, November 19, 2010

Tuesday, November 16, through Monday, December 6, 2010: The race to California:
On Tuesday, we headed for Abilene, Texas (158 miles) and the appropriately-named Abilene RV Park. It's a nice park, located right on I-20, and it took some time to get used to the traffic noise. But it was OK. Daisy wasn't feeling well---no energy and not eating---so we took her to the vet, who spent quite some time with her---concluding that she was a bit dehydrated and needed some fluid, some medication, and a change of diet. She seemed to rebound quickly. We also spent time at Best Buy and Verizon getting technical advice so our brand new mi-fi gizmo would work. And I got a much-needed haircut. Not a very exciting stay. One exception: There was a street in Abilene with a strange name---Judge Ely Boulevard, named after a local judge named Walter Ely.

I knew of a Judge Walter Ely in Los Angeles, and I knew he was from Texas (he was appointed to the federal bench by LBJ), so I contacted a former wife of his who has been a friend of mine for many years. She responded that the Abilene Judge Ely was her Judge Ely's father, and that he had been a wonderful man. Small world, huh?

On Thursday, we headed for Monahans, Texas (211 miles) going through the Midland/Odessa area, reaching the Monahans Sandhills State Park for a two-day stay. The park is all sand dunes, and quite pretty in its stark way. There is almost no one here, so we had our choice of RV sites. The area is so remote that the speed limit on I-20 here is 80 mph.

At the dunes location, Becky noticed that there was water leaking from the bottom of the trailer. On investigation, I determined that our gray tank valve was leaking. Normally, it would not be a significant problem since I usually leave that valve open at all times---meaning there is no water backup behind the valve to leak. At the dunes, however, we did not have a sewer connection and gray water built up in the line and, eventually, behind the valve. I couldn’t fix it there, anyway, so we just dripped on the asphalt for two days. We will always have sewer connections for the foreseeable future, so there is no hurry to fix the valve, which is buried under an insulating “blanket” of fiberglass and plastic.

The next stop on the agenda was El Paso, 239 miles away. We had no problem getting there, and the Mission RV Park, where we had stayed in 2004 on our first trip east, is very nice. We had dinner at Macaroni Grill with Loretta Scholbe, and old friend of Becky’s from her army days. It was fun catching up.

That was about the most exciting thing we did in El Paso. We were certainly not going to cross into Ciudad Juarez, which has become the murder capital of Mexico and, therefore, a major drag on tourism in El Paso.

We were headed for Lordsburg, New Mexico (177 miles), on Monday, when Becky realized that her left hand was not healing well. She had broken up a dogfight in El Paso on Saturday, and received a bite as a result---which she treated with just an antibiotic cream. By Monday, her hand had swelled a lot and hurt quite a bit. We decided to stop in Las Cruces, New Mexico (about 30 miles from where we had started) and have the hand looked at. The doctor at the Memorial Hospital emergency room recommended some serious antibiotic treatment and an overnight stay in the hospital, which turned out to be two nights.

I parked the trailer at the local KOA Kampground, I frittered away the two days in my usual way---doing little or nothing but reading and watching TV---except that I had sole responsibility for taking care of the dogs, which was quite a change from my normal routine. That is to say, it was exhausting.

Becky’s hand responded well to the medication, and we were on our way again Wednesday morning. We had to blow off Lordsburg for obvious reasons, and headed directly for Tucson, about 280 miles from Las Cruces, to get back on schedule. In Tucson, we stayed at the Voyager RV Park, a very nice place---again, we had stayed there on a previous trip. Our second day there was Thanksgiving Day, and we had a nice dinner in their on-site restaurant.

On Friday, we left Tucson and headed for the Pueblo El Mirage RV Resort (El Mirage being a suburb of Phoenix) a trip of only an easy 147 miles. We had been at this resort twice before. It’s very nice. Becky played some pickle ball, while I rested. We decided to go to Kingman, Arizona, next instead of Bullhead City, California, so we could go to Las Vegas (on our way to Hurricane, Utah) via the spectacular new bridge at Hoover Dam. We had seen it under construction and wanted to experience it now that it is finished. The trip to Kingman was supposed to be 167 miles---except that I mis-entered the destination information in our GPS and we went ten miles in the wrong direction before figuring that out. We stayed at the Fort Beale RV Resort in Kingman, a small but very nice and well-located RV park, for just one night. Our big event was getting take-out from the local Panda Express---which was so crowded we had to wait more than 20 minutes just to start ordering. The food was good, naturally. (I love Chinese food!)

The bridge at Hoover Dam turned out to be a non-event. There is a new road leading to the bridge, and you do not even see the bridge before being on it, the guard rails on the bridge are (at least) six-foot high concrete walls that are impossible to see over, and you have, therefore, no idea that you are hundreds of feet in the air. So much for planning to have exciting experiences.

We arrived at the St. George RV Park (supposedly located in nearby Hurricane, but actually located in Harrisburg, an otherwise abandoned historic Utah town) without incident and stayed for five days---a refreshing change from our recent hectic schedule. The extra time was set aside for a series of doctors appointments with old favorites, shopping at Costco and other places, getting the truck washed for the first time in a year, and having a sushi pig-out at Samurai 21, our favorite St. George restaurant. Delightful. It got very cold at night, and our water froze the first night. Otherwise, we fared very well and it was a nice park which we had visited previously.

We took a day trip to Zion National Park to see some old friends, including Kirsten Johnson,

and to see some snow.

We also took the dogs for a walk on the Pa Rus Trail at Zion.

On Saturday, we headed for Las Vegas to stay at the Oasis RV Resort for two days, on our way to Palm Springs---where we will start our winter-in-California adventure, staying for two months at various Thousand Trails preserves from San Diego to Santa Barbara. The Oasis was as nice as we remembered, and we spent a casual two days doing very little. The highlight was having dinner (at Boulder Station) with Kelly Guymon, a fellow worker at Zion during our time there. He now works for the MGM Grand, working the phone bank there making show reservations at more than 30 venues for guests.

On Monday, we headed for Palm Springs, an uneventful trip of 280 miles. However, getting into our site was the usual challenge at this park. There are huge, old palm trees at the entrance to each site, making backing in very difficult. I finally gave up and had Bill back the trailer in for us. (His experience as a former fifth-wheel owner comes in handy.)

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