Although I am on a blogging break from my photo challenge feature, Sunday Stills, and now that I am back from my Arizona road trip, I couldn’t wait to post about it! This saga will continue in three parts.
You notice the word “travails.” Where do I start?
If I start at the beginning, I admit to planning this road trip in my head 20 years ago after reading author Tony Hillerman’s Navajo crime-mystery novels. His detailed descriptions of the American Southwest intrigued and inspired me. Who could resist the call of the Grand Canyon, Zion National Park, Monument Valley and countless other places along the way?
I couldn’t. So, when we bought our new travel trailer and finally my hubby’s new Ford F-150 in 2018, the dream became a reality.
With the help of real maps (from Triple AAA), several bloggers and my own research, I crafted together an epic road trip that began in Sacramento and ended in Las Vegas. I booked several reservations for three different RV parks and a hike through Antelope Canyon for early January.
Have you ever pulled a 27-foot trailer? There is a lot to it, so my husband, Hans, did all the driving. You need to buy gas every 200 miles (or less) since the gas mileage the truck gets averages 8 mpg. You also need to plan at which gas station you will stop because RVs can’t just whip into any station.
Normally we drive my Toyota Rav4 which gets great gas mileage and gets us to Southern California in 9 hours or less. We knew pulling the trailer with the truck would lengthen our trip and we prepared to take slower routes once in Southern California.
We also had our two dogs with us, Aero and Brodie, who are accustomed to road trips and love the trailer after spending summer weekends in it at the delta.
Off to San Diego!
Our first leg of the trip involved driving from Sacramento to San Diego, about 600 miles. We travel each year to spend the holidays with our adult children and the rest of our families. We chose to drive on the Saturday before Christmas thinking the traffic would be better than on a weekday.
Our second fuel stop was in Tehachapi, a long slow climb up a mountainous, windy grade. This route is better than groaning up the “Grapevine,” the traditional gateway to Southern California. Thinking we had enough gas for the Loves Travel Stop, we estimated to stop there for our next gas.
Travel Travail #1. Fueling Up the Gas Tank. Don’t wait until you have 2 miles to go to “empty” before you arrive at the next gas station. So much for planning! The Ford F-150 has that nice feature that tells you exactly how much fuel you have left.
We coasted in on fumes to the first fuel stop available. Hans put in $20 worth and off we went to the travel stop two more miles down the road. Insert eye-roll here!
We knew it would be a long day. I didn’t want to sweat bullets just getting gas!
Travel Travail #2. Holiday Traffic. Expect Delays! We hit two big traffic snags. The first one was in, of all places, Kramer Junction, where Highways 58 and 395 intersect in the Mojave Desert.
It took an hour to drive 6 miles through the intersection. We just knew there must have been a terrible accident, but no, it was just a lot of company all at once heading toward Las Vegas for the holidays. Meanwhile members of my family were calling and texting asking about our ETA.
Once we got on the I-15 South, we hit another traffic jam in San Bernardino.
12 hours later from when we pulled out of our driveway, we arrived at my daughter’s home in San Diego, exhausted, hungry and excited.
The Christmas holidays came and went with the usual family fun and drama.
Fun in Phoenix
Friday, December 28, we pulled out of San Diego and on the road to Phoenix, Arizona. We were to join Ingrid, fellow blogger from Live, Laugh, RV and her husband for happy hour upon our arrival. 7 hours later, we pulled into the Pioneer RV Park and joined our new friends, right next door to their RV! Ingrid and Al are amazing and live the retired RV life. We had some great laughs bonding over margaritas and nachos!
Saturday, Al took Hans shooting at the nearby gun range, while Ingrid took me to several spots in the Phoenix/Scottsdale area to go shooting with our cameras.
We toured a Farmer’s market, shopped at boutiques and stopped at two trailheads to take in the desert sights before stopping for lunch in Cave Creek. Near there we hiked about an hour and took loads of photos.
We enjoyed our last night with Al and Ingrid and will have fond memories of their generosity! Meeting other bloggers in person is such a thrill, and you bet we talked about blogging!
Travel Travail #3. Stay a day or two longer if your itinerary allows! We had such a blast with these two the next day, that we should have stayed another couple of days. North Phoenix was “warm” and sunny at 50+ degrees, although the nights were cold.
I want to thank blogger Ingrid from Live, Laugh, RV, who, when I commented on one of her posts, offered to share information with me about Arizona. If you haven’t met her yet, stop by her blog!
I will leave Part One on a positive note because, like many trilogies, the sequel can be full of strife. Join me as we travel to Sedona, Arizona and experience unusual winter weather!