Bill and Kit’s 2020 Excellent Adventure, Journal #3

One of the great things about travel is that you find out how many good, kind people there are.
Edith Wharton

Thursday, December 19, 2019: Woke in El Paso, Texas to sunny skies and cool temperatures. Then made relatively quick work of breaking camp and getting on the road before 0900 hours.

There are primarily three routes to head west from our location, south and through El Paso, west and over the Franklin Mountains, or northwest through a gap in the mountain chain…this year we choose the latter.

It’s a few miles longer, but not having to climb those steep grades saves fuel, and not dealing with El Paso traffic minimizes stress…and the travel time works out to be about the same.

Within fifteen minutes, we encountered our old friend Interstate 10 and soon crossed the eastern border of New Mexico…the domain of the fearless Roadrunner which is memorialized with a huge roadside sculpture.

Roadrunners are a species of Cuckoos that inhabit the American Southwest and Northern Mexico. Even though they can fly, the Roadrunner prefers to run…able to reach speeds of 30 MPH. Guess swiftness, and its legendary agility, is why the Roadrunner never had to mail order anything from The Acme Corporation in order to evade its nemesis.

As mentioned in the previous journal, Border Patrol Checkpoints are scattered along southern highways, and we soon encountered our first one of this year.

Unlike previous Excellent Adventures where the agents stopped our truck for questioning, it appears they are using sophisticated technology to screen each vehicle before it arrives at the agent’s position.

                                    (From Google Images)

When we rolled up, the agent just smiled and said: “Hi Bill, hope you and Kit enjoy a safe trip to your brothers’ home in Tucson”. Then we waved us through the checkpoint…yep, the USBP knows almost as much about you as Google does!

An hour passed before deciding to take a break from the monotonous interstate by exiting into downtown Deming, New Mexico.

A typical isolated and dusty Southwestern Desert town of 15,000 folks, Deming lies about 30 miles north of the Mexican border, and 60 miles from any sizable US town. It’s historical claim-to-fame was that the second American Transcontinental Railroad was completed here in 1881 with the driving of a symbolic silver stake and connecting the Southern Pacific to the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroads.

Oh, and in June of 1965 the town of Deming was our first stop as teenage newlyweds during the 2,900-mile road trip from our childhood home of San Diego, California to our new home of Key West, Florida.

And, after nearly 55-years, the motel we stayed at that evening is still standing!

Back then it was a Travel Lodge, note the “TL” on the second-floor railing, and as I recall a room cost about $10.00 a night. Adjusted for inflation that would be close to $90.00 in today’s dollars…a princely sum in those days.

A sad update about our time in 1965 Key West however.  Readers of these journals may remember Johnny and Eileen, a couple we first met in Key West and have visited many times during our Excellent Adventure trips.

A few weeks ago, Johnnie passed away following a short illness.  He was one of our oldest friends and always welcomed us to camp in their driveway.  Rest in Peace Johnny.

Another update from our early travel contacts is the passing of Pat S.

A dear friend from our Maine hometown, Kit and I enjoyed connecting with her during our visits to the San Antonio area.   Pat also left us way too early after battling the debilitating effects of Parkinson’s Disease and dementia…Love you Pat.

Back to our travels along Interstate ten, we soon came across evidence of the recent heavy rains that swept through this area a few days ago.

Initially thinking it was a mirage, as it is unusual to see standing water alongside the road in the arid desert southwest…

…but we soon realized it was mile after mile of water ponding on both sides of the highway.

Four hours into today’s trip, and after a few roadside rest breaks, we rolled across the Arizona border…

…and a half hour later pulled off into a favorite roadside stop of ours…

…Dwayne’s gas station, campground and Jerky Emporium…

…where every conceivable meat product is dried to oblivion and vacuum packed for ones snacking pleasure.

In addition to a variety of jerky we also picked few jars of cactus jelly…

…from the famous “We B Jamin Farm” (apparently the pun is intended). Kit and I were in culinary bliss!

Back on I-10W, we trundled along through Texas Canyon, bypassed the famed Saint Rita Church of Vail, and rolled into the city of Tucson. Then at 1546 hours we backed into the dooryard of my brother and sister-in-law’s place for a brief stay…our first “mooch-camping” opportunity of the year!

Dewey and Bea are avid Rv’rs as well and have set up their sizable driveway with full hookups resulting in a very comfortable and enjoyable place to camp.

The afternoon consisted of a lot of visiting and catching up followed by a nice home cooked meal, followed by a few cocktails, followed by slumber in our camper…goodnight!

 

Friday, December 20 and Saturday, December 21, 2019-Tucson, Arizona: Spent an enjoyable two days visiting with family and enjoying the nice Arizona weather in Dewey and Bea’s large and beautifully landscaped backyard…

… full of various desert trees, shrubs, cactus and succulents, such as this Yucca.

Dewey pointed out that the Yucca leaf’s each have a unique geometric design…

…a result of when the plant was forming and tightly bundled. The leaf above imprinted an image of its shape on the one below it…pretty cool.

Their backyard is the perfect place to gather…

…and enjoy breakfast alfresco of Bea’s delicious Tamales and eggs!

So much outdoor time in winter is a real treat, however any northerner who hasn’t been exposed to the sun in a while knows the importance of proper sun protection and therefore wears stylish headgear…

…regardless of how dorky he or she may look.

A tradition Kit and I adhere to is the act of treating our dooryard accommodating guests to a meal out. So, on the final evening in Tucson Dewey, Bea, Dan, Kit and I gathered at the prime Mexican restaurant of Guadalajara Grill in North Tucson.

Specializing in inexpensive Margaritas…

…a tableside Salsa bar…

…and authentic Sonoran inspired fare…

…which was incredibly delicious!

Back at the DewBea Ranch, some of us participated in a challenging game of blocks…

…until it was time to climb the spirals stairs up to the rooftop deck…

…and enjoy the evenings sunset.

Goodnight!

 

Sunday, December 22, 2019: Up early, and on the road at 0815 hours under partly cloudy skies and a temperature of 46 degrees. We wound our way through various North Tucson streets until hitting I-10 where we headed west once again.

While motoring along, Kit and I started seeing what looked like snow…what the?!?! Soon we can upon this tractor-trailer rig…

… that had a huge roll of raw cotton which was sloughing off bits of the fiber as the truck rolled along. That was surprising, but even more surprising was the fact that cotton is being grown in Arizona…in fact, this state ranks number ten in the US for cotton production!

Passing through Wymola, Arizona we noticed the major landmark of Picacho Peak on the left…

…and shortly left civilization for the open desert.

As we neared the megalopolis of Phoenix, we choose to detour around the city via I-8 to Gila Bend where we stopped at the Shell Truck Stop for fuel and breakfast. A large facility with easy access in and out, separate dedicated RV fuel lanes, and a large parking area. It’s the perfect stop and includes a fitting memorial to the animals …

…who gave their lives so we may have the fuel to travel.

Out of Gila Bend we traveled on AZ-85 heading north, then rejoined I-10 East intersecting with AZ-303 North which circles the west side of Phoenix. At US-60 we headed north toward the town of Wickenburg, Arizona…our destination for the evening.

Upon arriving, we pulled into the Desert Cypress RV Park at 1235 hours and set up on a nice level site.

This RV park, one which we’ve stayed a few times before, is across the Hassayampa River from Wickenburg proper and features a nice wide pedestrian walkway that leads to downtown.

The river is basically a desert wash, and dry most of the year making it suitable for grazing of cattle…

… except during Monsoon Season when raging runoff flows under the bridge. Even though the river is occasionally damp the “No Fishing from Bridge” sign seemed more of a practical joke.

Wickenburg, the self-described Arizona Cowboy Christmas Town…

… features a typical western downtown with shops and restaurants lining both sides of the main street…

…where cowboys, cattlemen, and miners…

…congregate on a pleasant Sunday afternoon.

Kit and I have stopped in this quaint little town in west central Arizona of 6,000 souls a number of times. We enjoy walking about and poking through the various gift, antique, and junk shops…such as Trader J’s.

Where Jimmy, the third-generation proprietor all previously being named Jimmy as well, holds court.

It’s not a large shop, but full of interesting items such as Native American jewelry, historical artifacts, various gems and other local oddities from the surrounding hills, and best of all, Jimmy’s stories of growing up in this small western town. If your travels ever find you in Wickenburg, stop by Trader J’s and tell him Bill and Kit said howdy!

Around midafternoon, we grabbed a quick bite to eat at Bedouins Bistro…

                                    (From Google Images)

…where good food was the staple…

…followed by a slice of incredible Pecan Pie, made from an old family recipe that Kit failed to convince the owner to divulge.

Then it was back to the camper for a cocktail and an early turn in…goodnight!

 

Monday, December 23, 2019: Up and on the road at 0903 hours under overcast skies and a temperature of 46 degrees. Back on AZ-60 West and climbing in altitude…

…we enjoyed driving through a forest of Joshua Tree’s that line the highway.

A species of Yucca, these iconic plants of the American Southwest, grow in an altitude band of 1,300 feet to 5,900 feet and always look to me…

…as a figment of Doctor Seuss’s imagination.

About once a trip, while driving along a relatively straight, flat, and windless highway, an exercise I periodically undertake is to zero out the trucks MPG calculator and check the trucks fuel efficiency…

…12.3 MPG! Not bad for a 19,000-pound rig with a frontal area near the size of a billboard!

Around 1100 hours found us merging with I-40 continuing west, then at the crossroads town of Kingman, Arizona Kit and I choose to head north up the east side of The Colorado River by taking AZ-93.

Crossing the Colorado River via the Pat Tillman Bridge, we pulled into the Hoover Dam Lodge and Casino for a quick break…

…and where a scenic overview of Lake Mead can be enjoyed.

Yep, the lake is still historically low, the result of population growth and below average rainfall…yet this area is still being developed!

At 1244 we crossed the border of Nevada and entered the Pacific Time Zone, gaining an hour on the day.

Rolling through Bolder City, Nevada and dropping into the Las Vegas Valley, we found our way to Oasis RV Park situated on Las Vegas Boulevard, south of the famous Las Vegas Strip and set up camp for a two week stay.

Today is a big day for Kit and me as we finally reach the city where our daughter and her family live, and where we are looking forward to a nice Christmas…stay tuned.

Kit’s Bit’s: Yes, we’ve been looking forward to this day! We saw our 2 youngest Grands last summer however, it’s been 2 years since we’ve seen Suzie & Kevin! Our trip so far has been easy. Thanks to Bill who is so particular about getting everything on both the truck and trailer in tip top shape before we head out. I don’t mention it often but, I REALLY appreciate all the work he puts in to keep us safe on the road! I’m quite certain his attention to detail has kept us out of lots of precarious situations. We’re anxious to see the kids and share the holidays with them. Let The Wild Rumpus Begin!

4 thoughts on “Bill and Kit’s 2020 Excellent Adventure, Journal #3

  1. I’m amazed the agents at checkpoint knew your names?!?? ..You can’t hide anywhere… Loved your pic of younger Bill.. So sorry to hear of Johnny and Pat’s passing….I love Wickenburg! Been there for a squaredance weekend years ago. Quaint is the correct adjective! …Pat Tillman Bridge is a marvel and great spot to view Hoover Dam..Gave me weak knees looking down to bottom tho. Thanks for the AZ sunset! Have great visit with your LV family and have a super happy wild rumpus time with them!

  2. Could use a little bit of your sunshine about now. Loved the photo of you Bill in the straw hat, Very cool ! Middy

  3. VERY INTERESTING JOURNAL, SOME COOL STAYING AT THE SAME MOTEL YOU STAYED AT IN 1965 AS NEWLY WEDS! GREAT THAT YOU SEEMED TO ALWAYS HAVE THE CAMERA AT THE READY!
    SAD SEGMENT IN THAT YOU LOST TWO LONG TIME DEAR FRIENDS. HERE AGAN, THE PICTURES WERE OF AN EARLIER HAPPIER TIME.
    THANKFULLY MY DAD AND MOM TOOK LOADS OF PICTURES AS I GREW UP BOTH IN MASS AND MAINE, INDELIBLE MEMORIES.
    GOD FORBID, THAT A SUSTAINED DROUGHT WILL DRY UP THE LAKE AND PUT VEGAS AS WELL AS MANY TOWNS OUT OF BUSINESS. ASK DONALD, NO CLIMATE CHANGE!!
    IT LOOKS LIKE YOUR INLAWS ARE DOING JUST FINE, SURE NICE TO SEE THEM IF ONLY ONCE OR TWICE A YEAR. THAT BACK YARD GARDEN MUST HAVE TAKEN YEARS TO BUILD.
    SO MANY INTERESTING SITES AND YUMMY FOODS TO MENTION. I’VE NEVER SEEN A JOSHUA TREE, SO THANKS FOR THE EDUCATION.
    I’M SURE THAT YOU BOTH WILL HAVE A BALL VISITING IN VEGAS, STAY AWAY FROM THE CRAP TABLES!!

    CHET AND JEANNE
    PS
    HAD DINNER AT MAXWELL’S WITH WINDY AND NAN FOR HIS BIRTHDAY THE OTHER NIGHT, NICE TO GET TOGETHER!
    BITTER COLD HERE, 12 DEGREES THIS MORNING, BUT BRIGHT SUNSHINE TODAY. WE HAD ABOUT 8 INCHES OF SNOW AND CODY WAS HERE LAST NIGHT TO PLOW US OUT. WE’RE ALREADY FOR ANOTHER ONE TOMORROW NIGHT!

  4. Fun, as usual, to read of your adventures, but isn’t Fresh Jerky a repetitively redundant political statement? And, by the way, if you want to real snow, not that cotton imposter, we have a surplus in Maine.

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