Travel does what good novelists also do to the life of everyday, placing it like a picture in a frame or a gem in its setting, so that the intrinsic qualities are made more clear. Travel does this with the very stuff that everyday life is made of, giving to it the sharp contour and meaning of art.
Thursday, December 19, 2013: Woke to very windy conditions (outside the camper) and temperatures hovering in the low 50’s. How windy you ask? Well just ask our poor neighbors.
The two lumps are a young couple from California. They were fine and crawled out of the wreckage laughing hysterically. We thought it funny as well because a number of years ago on the Saco River that was us!
Today is a relatively short travel day. It’s only 432 miles to Las Vegas, a trip we’ve made in the past in one day. However our new normal is travel days less than 300 miles, and since we aren’t scheduled to be in Vegas until tomorrow anyway, we intend to find a convenient spot mid-distance to overnight.
As I was making all preparations to get underway a fellow camper noticed our Maine plates and stopped to chat.
Russ is from Vancouver Island, British Columbia and when he and his wife Dorothy are not traveling in their 30 foot camper they live on their 50 foot wooden schooner. He was curious about cruising to our side of the continent and spending some time in Maine waters as well as exploring the Canadian Maritimes. I told him what little I knew but assured him we had many friends that could give him some excellent sailing guidance. We exchanged contact information so if and when he makes the transit, we can hook him up.
By 1000 we were on our way as the temperatures were climbing into the 60’s. Taking Tangerine Trail over to I-10 we continued west, however over the next few hours I-10 actually meanders more northerly…..which is fortunate as the 30 MPH winds are coming from the south. After taking an additional turn on the sway control adjustment the camper behaved pretty well and with the tailwind we were experiencing, our average MPG shot up to 13.8!
This portion of I-10 is pretty desolate as there are many miles between settlements.
A bit north of the I-8 interchange we entered an agricultural area and the consistently high winds picked up a bunch of Arizona and carried it toward Nevada.
North of Phoenix, we pieced together a couple of US highways and then rode AZ-68 West to the border. The desert landscape began to change as we increased in elevation into the high desert.
In the mountains, the wind had moderated considerably and we entered into the climate zone that supports the famous Doctor Seuss Joshua Trees.
At 1609 we passed through the border town of Bullhead City, Arizona and crossed the Colorado River into the state of Nevada and the Pacific Time Zone. Even though it was only 1510 we decided to seek out a safe, flat spot to remain overnight.
On this, the Nevada side of the river gambling is legal and there are a number of casinos…..basically a Baby Vegas!
Pulling into the RV Parking lot at the River Palms Resort we were adopted by a pleasant couple from British Columbia that helped us with the process of getting a casino permit to stay the night. Staying in their Arctic Fox truck camper we instantly developed a kinship as they invited us to park near them.
We had a great view out our bathroom window overlooking the mini-strip and the meandering Colorado River.
Friday, December 20, 2013: Only 101 miles to Las Vegas! We lounged about the parking lot and took care of some online correspondence and bill paying. I also put the finishing touches on Journal #3 and asked Kit to proofread and add her corner bits. Even though my intention was to publish the journal on Sunday, I knew once in Vegas our quiet time would be limited…..which is exactly what we want!
We bid our new camping friends safe travels as they headed on toward their own adventure further south along the Colorado River.
Bob and Ellen are retired business owners and used to travel in a mega-motorhome but found their camping opportunities were severely limited. Since they are avid outdoors folks they prefer to camp in more rural settings so traded in their bus for this rig. They had a pair of high end mountain bikes strapped to the back of their towed vehicle. We compared notes on great trails in the southwest we had each experienced and hope to connect at some point to ride together.
By 1036 we were on the road under sunny skies and temperatures once again climbing into the 60’s. The wind has moderated a bit but was still blowing at 15 MPH with gusts near 25. On NV-163 heading north we encountered some typical desert terrain…..a lot like west Texas. Man, one would not want to experience a breakdown here!
Two hours later we came over the final ridge into the Las Vegas Valley and got the first glimpse since last March of our home for the next few weeks.
A short time later we found the Oasis RV Resort which is just west of the south end of the strip and a mere two miles from the grandkid’s house. I think their parents live there as well.
Dropping the trailer, hooking up all services and leaving the kayak we drove to a pizza shop and headed to their house for a surprise reunion.
Stay tuned for Christmas in Vegas…..a first for us with our youngest grandchildren.
Kit’s Corner: Now, I have to write some “bits”. I can never think of anything. We are happy to have the opportunity to spend Christmas of 2013 with our youngest grand kids, Jack, 9 and Tucker, 6.5. They are always happy beyond words to see us and spend time in our little camper, even though we have to move things around constantly to accommodate the mountains of stuff they bring. They don’t travel lightly. Somehow, we always manage, though. We have the simplest of meals, use paper plates, bowls and cups to reduce dishwashing and also indulge them in fun times, and a few too many sweets. It’s always fun seeing them. Before we know it, they will be teenagers and more interested in their friends than the “old folks”. We are incredibly fortunate to have this time with them. Time to fix mac’n’cheese and hot dogs!