It’s Thursday night, July 23, and I am in Amarillo, TX, and this is the first chance I’ve had to start my blog. As expected, the hardest part of the trip so far was getting packed and out of the house last Friday. I was determined to leave on July 17th, and I did --- with 15 minutes to spare!
Friday and Saturday, July 17-18
Accompanied by my two bichons, Maggie and Juliet, I left San Diego and drove about an hour to Wilderness Lakes Campground in Menifee, CA. In the morning (relatively speaking), I went to my cousin Judie Friedlander’s house in Murietta, about 20-30 minutes from the campground. We had a nice visit and she was kind enough to make me a sandwich for lunch. But when I got out my computer to show her photos of my beautiful grandsons, I could not get iPhoto to work. Not wanting to start out my trip without the ability to view and show photos, I drove all the way back to Escondido where the nearest (50 miles) Apple Store was located. On the way there, I had a little mishap where the lock on my pantry cupboard pulled out of the wall and most of my canned goods, vitamins, etc., fell out onto the floor. After a hasty clean-up and jerry-rigging the lock, I continued back towards San Diego. After 2.5 hours of working on it, the “Genius” at the Apple store was able to get me back in the photo business, although he had to upgrade me from iPhoto 6 to iPhoto 8, and reinstall the operating system on my computer. It was 10:00 pm when I arrived at the house of Solo Roadtrekker friend, Sally Chastain, who lives in Temecula, which was on my way back to Wilderness Lakes. Fortunately, Sally is a night owl like me, and we had a good visit until 1:00 am. And, I’m happy to report, my iPhoto worked fine. Got back to Wilderness Lakes at 2:00 am this time.
Sunday, July 19
I still had one more friend to visit who lived in the area. Chris Pettit, another Roadtrek Solo Trekker, lives in Hemet, with her 7-year-old bichon and a new little maltese puppy. Fortunately, the 4 dogs got along pretty well, mostly by ignoring each other, except for the puppy who wanted to play of course. Chris and I had a nice visit and discovered even more things that we have in common besides bichons (caring for an elderly relative, gall bladder attacks, etc.) (Did I mention that I had a gall bladder attack the week before leaving with a gallstone stuck in my common bile duct for a day until it passed? Surgery to remove my gall bladder and its other stones awaiting me upon my return in October.) Leaving Chris’s about 5 pm, I headed for my next destination: Needles, CA. It was 97 degrees there when I arrived at 9:30 pm and didn’t cool off much below that all night.
Monday, July 20
I got an early start (11:00 am) and took Historic Route 66 to the little town of Oatman, AZ. It is a small old town known mostly for the wild burros (“wild” but friendly) who roam the streets freely, poking their noses into the various stores and looking for handouts from the tourists. I had to leave the dogs in the Roadtrek with the generator and air conditioner running as I explored the town; it was 110 degrees out! Leaving there, I returned to I-40 at Kingman, AZ, and continued east. I ran into some very heavy rain and lightning, but, thanks to a fabulous detailing job by San Diego neighbor Robert Chun, I had Rain-X on my windshield and the rain just sheeted off. I barely had to slow down from my usual cruising speed of 80 mph (grin)!
Arrival in Holbrook, AZ, at 8:30 pm was interesting. I pulled into the campground and could not get my key out of the ignition. I tried starting the engine again and it wouldn’t start. Nothing. I looked at the oil gauge and it said “empty.” I explained to the nice Spanish/broken English-speaking male owner of the campground that I was out of oil, couldn’t start the engine, and could I just stay where I was (only sort of in the middle of the street) until the morning when I could see better and put some oil in. He offered to come take a look, telling me that if I had been driving with no oil, I would probably need a new engine. This did not make me happy. However, when he checked the oil dip-stick, it showed a normal level of oil, which was good news I guessed. He said to try starting it again. It worked just fine --- after I took it out of “drive” and put it into “park.” And with the engine actually running, the oil gauge didn’t read “empty” any more. If I had been at my hometown RV repair shop, this is the sort of thing they charge a $25 “stupidity fee” for.
Tuesday, July 21 (my birthday!)
I was planning on just driving by the Petrified Forest and Painted Desert National Parks but I fell in love with them and spent the whole day exploring the 28-mile long Parks. The dogs were not thrilled with my stopping at every viewpoint, but they didn’t complain too much, especially when I took them out with me. The petrified wood there is from trees 200-250 MILLION years old, which is hard to imagine. They have turned into quartz, jasper, agate, and other colorful gemstones by the permeation of silica-containing water when the trees originally fell at the end of the Triassic period. Let’s see if I can import some of the pictures I took:
Well, that was decidedly unsuccessful and now I have screwed up my iPhoto again. I wonder where the nearest Apple Store is to Amarillo?
I had another “incident” this morning as I started out with my pantry cupboard door again opening during driving. This time, unfortunately, a glass jar of red cabbage fell out and shattered against the heater vent grill under the bed. The juice from it went underneath my floor tiles, the dogs decided they liked red cabbage (but mixed with glass shards I wasn’t letting them have any, much to their distress), and everything else that fell out of the pantry was soaked in red cabbage juice. It took almost an hour to clean it all up. I think I will super-glue my cabinet door shut.
After the Petrified Forest, which I left when it got dark, I didn’t travel too far. I wound up spending my birthday night at a truck stop next to a Chevron station on the Navajo Indian Reservation (dry camping). I bought an ice cream bar in the mini-mart there, sat with Maggie and Juliet and sang “Happy Birthday” to myself. I have a cute picture of the 3 of us celebrating which I hope I can post soon. It was a very nice 61st birthday spent in the Petrified Forest (hmmmm…. symbolism there?), and everyone in my family and some friends called me during the day so I really didn’t feel alone.
Wednesday, July 22
I drove to Albuquerque, NM, today, shopped at a WalMart, and got to a campground there early enough (for a change) to sit in the Jacuzzi for a while. Later that evening I got hold of AT&T and FINALLY got my air card thingy set up correctly so that I can now send and receive e-mail and get internet on my laptop anywhere I can get a cell signal. Of course by then I was too tired to answer any of the 43 e-mails I had waiting!
Thursday, July 23 (wow---almost caught up!)
I didn’t sleep well last night; neither did Maggie. I was very sleepy while driving and had to stop every hour or so and take a nap (and I even took 2 No-Doz!). I’ve not been able to keep the generator going in order to have air conditioning for a few days now (probably the altitude) and my “naps” seemed to end when the temp inside the Roadtrek got over 90 degrees. But I made it to Amarillo, Texas, and am in a nice campground with TV for the first time. However, it is now 1:00 am (Central Time) and I’m too tired to watch. I will now try to post this to my blog and tomorrow I will let everyone know the web address. In future posts I will try to have more pictures and less verbiage!