Travel Travails of Our Winter Road Trip: Part 2, Snowed-in Sedona

Travel Travails Sedona
Travel Travails Sedona

Those of you who pay attention to my blog see that I am posting on a Sunday, but not for Sunday Stills! I’ve left that in the capable hands of Hugh this week. I will be back to officially posting for Sunday Stills on February 3rd!

As I continue to share my thoughts on my Arizona Road Trip, here is Part Two as we travel to Sedona, Arizona. In case you missed Part One, click here to see how it all began!

Sedona Sunday

Sedona Red Rocks
Welcome to Sedona!

Late Sunday morning, we left our new friends in Phoenix and were on the road again; next stop Sedona, Arizona. This was only a two-hour trip and we pulled in about 1:30pm. We had a great campsite at Rancho Sedona RV Park.

Truck and Trailer
Campsite First Day in Sedona

As we sat in our lounge chairs in the warm-ish sunshine sipping our favorite beverages, we eventually strolled over to the nearby galleries and restaurants less than a mile away. Chatting with folks we discovered there was to be a bit of snow the following day, which was New Year’s Eve day. Locals assured us that occasionally 1-2 inches of snow falls but melts quickly.

What to do for New Year’s Eve?

Monday morning, we woke up to gray, overcast skies. We needed to drive into the nearby town center of Sedona to pick up groceries, some propane and buy more gas.

We left the RV campground in the truck at 9:30am aware of the beginnings of snowflakes gently falling. 90 minutes later, the one main road out of Sedona with all its round-abouts was covered in at least three inches of snow and snarled traffic.

As New Year’s tourists’ cars slid all over the roads, we inched along as best we could. It took us one hour to travel one mile. By then the snow was practically in white-out conditions. I told my hubby we could have just stayed home and driven to Lake Tahoe and had the same experience!

By the way, my husband is an excellent driver, is very careful and does not take chances, staying far away from other drivers when possible. I can’t understand drivers who tailgate in the snow. Do they not see the huge hitch on the back of our truck?

The road to our RV park was uphill and covered in snow. Try as we might, we couldn’t drive safely up the hill to turn into the road to the park. Hans carefully backed the truck down onto the street near the Art galleries and parked.

While we were attempting to carefully back down the street, a huge bus-like RV was stopped just above us on the same road near the RV park entrance. He and his wife were stuck as well. In his attempt to back down the hill, his RV slid uncontrollably to the left side of the narrow road and was thankfully stopped from tumbling over the five-foot embankment by the trees lining the road.

RV and person
RV slid to the wrong side of the road! That is me walking up the hill later in the day.

Sidenote here: I’m linking this post to the new Friendly Friday Photo Challenge hosted by Something to Ponder About. This week’s theme is pathways. Quite a perplexing pathway in this photo, indeed!

To get back to our trailer, I had to hoof it back with one dog and two bags of groceries. Yes, I trudged through a snowy field, while snow stuck to my glasses. As I prepared to walk back to pick up the rest of our stuff, Hans came walking in with a large propane tank on one shoulder and Brodie on the leash in his free hand. That dog LOVED the snow.

Snow was expected to continue all day. At least 6-7 inches accumulated, stranding us for two more days. Other campers were stuck as well, and the roads were closed into Sedona. Even the RV park office staff couldn’t drive home.

Locals say that it hadn’t snowed like this in 30 years.

In case you think I’m making this up, here is proof:

“It may freeze at night in Sedona in the winter, but NEVER during the day. Snow is rare, but breathtaking when it happens. And pictures must be taken quickly because the bright Arizona sun usually melts it away by day’s end. Almost no resident of Sedona owns a snow shovel.” Quote from google about Sedona

Here is another link: It’s Snowing in Arizona

Trailer in Snow
Snowed in!

Travel Travail #4. Winter Storms Happen! Although I checked the weather conditions religiously before our trip and every day thereafter, the entire West and Southwest were in the beginnings of a cold winter storm.

Travel Travail #5. Buy chains for the vehicle! If we had suspected any type of snow on this trip, we would have bought chains for the truck in Sacramento. The Ford truck pulls the trailer like a champ in ordinary conditions, but it is not a 4-wheel drive. Oh, and pick up chains for the trailer wheels, too! Try buying chains in the desert.

What did we do for New Year’s Eve? The office had shelves of DVDs to borrow free, so we got into our PJs, made dinner and snuggled up on our sofa bed with the dogs and watched old movies! Happy New Year 2019!

Decisions, Decisions

There was no possible way for us to leave Sedona on January 1st with so much snow still on the ground, especially in our RV park and on roads leading in and out.

We had reservations to camp at Lake Powell along the Arizona/Utah border, near Page, Arizona beginning January 1st. This leg of the trip was intended to keep us there for five days, where we could drive over to Monument Valley, see sights in the Navajo Nation, and hike the Antelope Canyon (where I also had reservations for Jan 4).

After checking the weather conditions again, we saw the temperatures would stay between 10-30 degrees for those days in Lake Powell. We were already tired of the cold and snow, and Hans was worried about black ice on the roads. A lot of this next leg involved driving and I did not want to keep feeling anxiety every time we got into the truck.

I still had a short window to cancel the current reservations with full refunds. Tearfully, I cancelled our Antelope Canyon Tours, then called to cancel the RV park reservation at Lake Powell. I felt like a huge failure, but a sense of relief washed over us, and the decision was made to end our trip a few days early and just head straight to Las Vegas as soon as we could leave Sedona.

View this post here by Ingrid and you can see what I missed!

The second to last leg of the road trip was to include staying in an RV park near the Grand Canyon. From Sedona, the Grand Canyon is about a two-hour drive. Office staff at Rancho Sedona cautioned us about the conditions at the Grand Canyon.

Travel Travail #6. Road Closures. The US government shutdown was in full swing, closing many national parks, including roads and limiting services.

Although we could have parked the trailer along the route and tried to drive to the Grand Canyon, even if just for a few hours, we were told the roads were clogged with holiday travelers and bathrooms were not being serviced. Once in the national park, and still having to shell out the $30 entry fee, we were not interested in navigating through the confused holiday traffic and potentially unsafe road conditions.

I even texted Ingrid and mentioned we might head back to Phoenix for a couple of days!

Talented Travel Trailer

As it is my habit to make lemonade out of life’s “lemons,” we were delighted to discover the ease of which our trailer kept us comfortable and secure. Our 27-foot Jayco Jayflight boasts 24 feet of living space with a dining area slide out. We had plenty of room to relax, even with the dogs, while being stuck inside as it continued to snow outside. I’m glad I brought lots of blankets for our bed!

The propane tanks were easy to fill allowing for unlimited heat during the cold nights. So far, both RV parks had full hookups, although the wi-fi connections were slow. Using the trailer commode during the night with full flush functions was amazing. Trudging to restrooms at night is not fun in snowy, icy conditions. We opted not to use our shower, as it made a good area to hold our wet shoes and coats. The RV park restrooms came equipped with hot showers and we took full advantage!

During our summer weekends at the Sacramento Delta, we basically “boondock” or dry camp, as there are no hook-ups on Sherman Island, so we had limited prior experience as to how talented our trailer is! That is where the 100-watt solar panel comes in handy to power up our mobile devices and operate the lights.

Sedona Surrounds Us in Red

Despite the difficulties with the weather, I managed to get some spectacular shots of some of the red rock formations. A beautiful rock formation towers near the entrance to the RV park.

Sedona Red Rocks
Rock formation on Friday
Snowy Red Rocks
Same rock formation on Saturday
The snow really makes the red pop!

We had originally planned to end our trip with two nights’ stay in Las Vegas then head home to Sacramento. As I cancelled the remaining reservations, I called the Sam’s Town RV park and made reservations for four nights.

Snow on Red Rock of Sedona
Snow on Red Rocks of Sedona

We finally left Sedona on Wednesday, January 2. The roads were clear, but a few icy patches remained. We drove back to I-17 then connected to the I-40 at Flagstaff (elevation 7000 feet). Flagstaff was another spot I had wanted to explore…maybe next time! Although we worried about the roads, the main highways were mostly dry and well maintained, and we pulled into Las Vegas around 3:00pm.

Travel Travail #7. Expect the unexpected and go to your Plan B. Stuff happens, weather is unpredictable, and safety is number 1.

Again, 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.

Guess what? Las Vegas was wonderful!

Since the travel travails end here, I will save our Vegas experience in part three of my next post!

Until then, as they say, Safe Travels!

December #Sentence A Day: Reflecting Upon a Busy Month

Sentence a Day December

Sentence a Day December

I am very happy to be able to participate in December’s Sentence a Day link-ups. Rather than bore you with each of my sentences, in which some appear repetitive (all 31 of them for December), I am theming them and presenting some of them under each heading. I journaled each day using the phone app Write A Day so I could organize my thoughts and remember each day’s activities. At the bottom of the post is the link to visit other bloggers who shared their Sentence A Day posts.

It’s a Dog’s Life

Terri and AeroIf you have followed my blog for a bit, you know I am enamored with my two dogs, Aero and Brodie. 

Having dogs can take up more time than one might imagine. We are used to traveling with them, they are not large dogs, but they still take up most of the back seat of my Toyota Rav4 with Aero’s booster safety seat and Brodie’s harness. Since we will leave for Hawaii from San Diego, I had to plan months ahead for where they were going to stay while we are gone. There are other dogs in both homes where we stayed. Navigating each dog owners’ preferences took some doing and coordinating.

Last June, 6-month old Brodie bit my brother’s older dog’s ear in self-defense, so he was not keen on having Brodie stay at his house while we are in Hawaii. I worked it out so that Aero will stay with my brother and his two small dogs, and Brodie will be boarded at a nearby home doggie day care.

This whole scenario caused me an amazing amount of anxiety because of the uncertainty with what to do with the dogs. At one point, I was ready to drive back to Sacramento and drop Brodie off at a friend’s house who has a female dog of the same breed. Now I’m convinced that Brodie will love hanging out with dogs his age and size and am finally at peace about it. It was hard to feel a bit unwelcome in my families’ homes because of Brodie.

Here are my thoughts about the dogs this month:

  • Fri Dec 1 So happy to restart the Sentence a Day challenge. My little dog Aero is not feeling well, so off to the vet we go! Turned out he was dehydrated and needed treatment. $250 later, the lab results were still inconclusive, but he bounced back.
  • Sat Dec 2 Good times at the SPCA PUP Crawl also known as the #jinglebell walk event co-coordinated by one of my students! Spent the afternoon with my hubby, dogs, and a friend and his dog.
  • Sun Dec 10 Brodie is one-year old today! Spent a relaxing Sunday writing and blogging.
  • Tues Dec 12 Took both dogs to the vet early to have procedures done. I planned this during finals week since I didn’t have to be on campus. Brodie needed to be neutered (a dog license in my city for an “intact” male dog costs $300 a year, compared to $15 a year for pets that are spayed or neutered). While they were getting their services done, I met up with a fellow NorCal blogger today for coffee, Cathleen Townsend .
  • Wed Dec 13 I stayed home today as planned while the dogs convalesced. Brodie was snipped and Aero had a teeth cleaning. Nice to get both done at once, but Brodie did NOT like the “cone of shame” and struggled for several days.
  • Sat Dec 16 Spent a busy Saturday packing and prepping for three weeks down South and away from home. Brodie’s surgical site is slowly healing and we are all coping! At the time of this post, he is back to “normal.”

I am very grateful for my family and happy they are all dog lovers, regardless of the logistics in traveling with our dogs.

“Prac-Ademia”

Stack of papers to be graded
Stack of papers to be graded

My university schedule wound down in December. Papers were graded, and in two of my classes, students shared their oral presentations, leaving me with no lectures the last week. I am busily preparing for my new class that begins in late January. Some of my thoughts are as follows:

  • Tues Dec 5 Grades for one class done!
  • Wed Dec 6 My last Wednesday morning class. I won’t miss the early 6am alarm or the traffic!
  • Fri Dec 8 My last day teaching RPTA 100 (leisure Lifestyle development). I won’t miss the large class sizes (81 this semester) but I will miss the “aha” moments from students who finally get how important leisure is in their lives.
  • Fri Dec 15 I am officially on vacation for the semester, having put in the final, official grades. In an interesting school-related note, tonight, Hubby and his friend went to watch our old high school football team (Helix High School) play in the CIF Section playoffs against a local Sacramento team. How cool is that? Helix lost 42 to Folsom HS 47, but it was a great game according to hubby.
  • Mon Dec 18 Breakfast today with a fellow professor. We are both “retired annuitants” so we understand each other! Spent a good part of the day prepping the new spring class and feeling better about getting closer to being done! Made a list to be sure to bring all of my new class’ items to work on over the next three weeks while we are gone.

I am very blessed to have this part-time lecturer position that supplements my pension. And I am grateful the Recreation, Parks and Tourism Administration department has faith in me as I continue teaching in my three-year contract. I am glad my boss sees the value that we “pracademics” (practitioners who now teach) can bring to the students going into the field of recreation and leisure.

Holiday Hub-Bub

Christmas OrnamentsI’ve read many posts in December about how more folks are changing long-standing holiday traditions and/or simplifying their holidays. Because we inevitably travel away from home for the holidays, we have had to simplify certain functions. I mostly utilize online shopping which allows me to ship packages to where we stay, or shipped to me and wrapped there.

I love decorating and usually start in early December, but with us being gone for as long as three weeks, I now decorate minimally—which means no tree most years.

I got in the habit of using my photos for wallpaper/background for my computers and devices. I can carry my Christmas decorations with me wherever I go!

Some more thoughts on the “holidaze” (spelled wrong on purpose):

  • Sun Dec 3 Beautiful, cold but sunny Sunday to be in church for the first day of Advent.
  • Sat Dec 9 Spent the morning with hubby in retail therapy buying a smart TV and other tech gadgets. Oh, and a couple of Christmas gifts for others, too!
  • Thur Dec 14 The frenzy begins as we prepare for travel and being gone for three weeks. Early start to a busy day…exercise, blog post prep, weigh-in, dog license, some last-minute shopping which included a Costco run! Whew!
  • Sun Dec 17 A beautiful choir presentation at church for the third Sunday of Advent. Their version of “Mary, Did You Know?” left me weeping and I remember why I miss singing in the choir. Such a blessing!
  • Tues Dec 19 My unofficial spa day as I continue to prep for the holidays—great workout, facial, then pedicure. Ahhh!
  • Thur Dec 21 Packed, blog posted and ready for publishing. Now bring on the travel and the holidays! We leave tomorrow!
  • Sun Dec 24 Karaoke singing on Christmas Eve is a new tradition we’ve enjoyed the last three years.
  • Mon Dec 25 Merry Christmas from my brother’s house! We had brunch with the family while the kids threw paper around. The medical transport brought my mom over from the nursing home, so we could spend some quality time with her. Christmas Round two was spent with our combined adult children. Hubby cooked a wonderful tri-tip and it was nice to wind the busy day down quietly.

My hubby and I are content to share our time with our families, our adult children and their significant others, as well as simply enjoying each other’s’ company during Christmas.

Not So Mundane

Sitting by the Pool in December
My brother’s new backyard

Other than Christmas and New Year’s Eve, December presented several days of fun and unusual events.  This was also the first time we stayed at my brother’s new house and enjoyed his wonderful backyard. Here are some of the experiences we had:

  • Mon Dec 4 Happy birthday to me! I’m two years from 60, but feel like 40. Hubby brought home a German Chocolate cake from our favorite bakery. Not sure if I love him or hate him …
  • Thurs Dec 7 Weight Watchers changed their points system again calling it “Freestyle.” Seems like it might be better with more “free” foods like chicken breast, beans, corn and peas, things I love and normally eat! When I heard about this from a member I was ready to resist. Moral of the story? Attend meetings with an open mind!
  • Tues Dec 26 Are you a “day-after-Christmas shopper” looking for hot deals? I used to wake up early to hit the malls, then decided I was over it, and like Black Friday, I now avoid the after-Christmas sales. That evening we all went to see the movie “Star Wars: The Last Jedi.” It did not disappoint. I watched the first Star Wars movie when it originally aired in 1977. Forty years of Star Wars, are you kidding me? Lots of nostalgia for both my hubby and me, as we recalled being in our senior year of high school (Helix reference again) when we saw the original.
  • Wed Dec 27 Finally went to the gym to work off all these extra treats. We spent part of the afternoon on my oldest daughter’s last day (visiting from San Francisco Bay area) at the Ocean beach dog park.

I am grateful for the fun and interesting times I have in my life, where leisure and other events balance out my days. The month of December itself can be a whirlwind of activities amidst holiday planning and gatherings, and while we have come to expect the hub-bub, those exceptional events that pop up make for even more lasting memories.

The Road Less Traveled

As I mentioned earlier, we always travel for Christmas since most of our families live either in San Diego or the Pacific Northwest. Spending the holidays in San Diego is never a problem for us because the weather is at least 10 degrees warmer than in Sacramento. It can be quite cool in San Diego, but during Christmas week, Southern California experienced a heat wave that broke many long-standing heat records. As I write this post after New Year’s the temperatures have dropped off significantly, but still no rain.

I’m glad we are traveling to Hawaii from San Diego because we had to pack clothing and other things for a week in Hawaii. I broke out the shorts and tank tops for a few days as the heat wave continued. Boots and sweaters languished together in the closet, virtually unworn.

We have come to love the month of January for the time we can both take off from work. Once the fall semester is over for me in mid-December, classes do not start up again until late January, giving me nearly 6 weeks of time off. Hubby works a lot of overtime between April and September and racks up comp time. With all the pools closed for the winter, he can usually take a few weeks off using up that time as paid vacation. No complaints here.

SpaceX Launch
SpaceX Launched 10 satellites into space from Southern California

Staying in San Diego does involve some driving time. Here are some of my thoughts about traveling by car:

  • Fri Dec 22 Our road trip south took 10.5 hours. We made good time the first 4 hours with little traffic. But we hit LA and lurched through stop and go traffic for 6 plus hours (and it was my turn to drive). We arrived at 4:30 unpacked our ridiculously over-packed car, changed clothes and headed for a family dinner at 6pm. But on the way there—we saw this in the sky!! Space X launched 10 satellites from Vandenberg AFB in Palm Desert area of Southern California.

 

 

I shared this photo on Instagram. I figured it was Santa taking a dry run to break in a couple of his new reindeer.

  • Fri Dec 29 We drove out to the Indian casino and outlet stores for some retail therapy. Amazing to see so many RVs on the road east toward the mountain and desert areas for the coming holiday weekend.
  • Sun Dec 31 We packed up and moved most of our stuff for the drive out to my brother’s house.  A New Year’s tradition we enjoy is to spend the evening eating, sitting in our PJs and watching movies. Sad to see commercials for free car rides and towing services for revelers. We stayed “home” and loved it!

My hubby and I are continually grateful that we have the funds to support a good vehicle to drive and take road trips. I love my Toyota with it’s v-6 engine, 4-wheel drive and other bells and whistles. Hubby will be buying a new truck in 2018, one that we can pull a new travel trailer with as soon as we can find a good used one. Our old trailer was fixed up and will be sold next month.

Well, that was my December. Writing these daily sentences chronicling each day was easier than I thought… What was your highlight for the month of December?

Please consider joining other bloggers for January’s “Sentence a Day” post. Start writing those sentences now! If you are up for this challenge, please visit Leslie at her Sentence a Day post.

Photo credit in Featured Image by Frank Mckenna on Unsplash

Please visit the links for other examples of Sentence a Day posts!