Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Meet the Neighbors

Traveling to and fro across the country can be a crap-shoot, because you never know who you will be parking near.  We've had pretty good luck so far, with most of our neighbors being friendly, at the very least.

Well, this time I think we hit the jackpot.  Our neighbors here are Jerry and Ann, who claim they live in Washington state, in the Columbia River, where I assume there must be some kind of island.  They are traveling with their friends Jack and Marge, and Marvin and Jean.  These six are pretty much the happiest, friendliest people I've ever met.  All (or most) of them went to the same high school, but seem to have not met there.  I'm unclear on the details of that story.

Jerry and Ann have a malamute named Bucky.  This dog is huge.  I have no idea how he fits in their RV.  They say that they've had several malamutes before Bucky, and all of them were named the same.  (Beats trying to remember a new name.)  "Bucky" is actually short for (someone correct my spelling, please) "Bok Bok Kalanutsiway", which they say means "The One from the North that Eats Human Flesh".  Good name for a giant dog.

Bucky Surveys His Domain
Sadly, Jerry, Ann, and the rest of the gang will be departing soon, but that's part of RV life.  We wish them safe travels.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Tra-Tel RV Park, Tucson, Arizona

Around 10:30 in the morning, we pulled into Tra-Tel RV Park, on the northwest side of Tucson.  I want to say that this park is a far sight better than the one we left yesterday morning ... but I can't.  All of the spaces are small: barely enough for one rig and one car.  There is a gem show in town, so all of the spaces were taken but one.  That space (ours) is at the far end of the lot, with a commanding view of the mountains in the distance, the open plain between here and the wash, and the Dumpster.  Kazumi calls this "convenient".  I have other words.

Still, the rent is cheap, the people are pleasant, and the view is nice.  And it's only for the next month.  There's a nice-looking mountain off in the distance, and a beautiful mountain view on the other side of us.  I'll provide a photo of that one when I can get someone to move the warehouse that's in between.

Our Backyard for the Month

Things Get a Bit Flakey

Morning came early, mainly because all of the construction workers were up at 5AM, diesel engines running, and holding loud, incomprehensible conversations.  We managed somehow to go back to sleep, and roused ourselves from bed two hours later.  After a quick breakfast, we unplugged the rig, and hit the road again by eight o'clock.

And found snow on the highway.

Less than a hundred miles away from Mexico, and we have snow.

This should be illegal.

Monday, February 11, 2013

The Other Leg: Mountain View RV Park

 Except for the occasional heavy gust of wind nearly blowing us off the road, the trip west on I-10 was rather unremarkable.  Around 1PM or so, we rolled into the ramshackle town of Bowie.  Surprisingly long for such a small population (around 600), the main street of Bowie had the look of a town that was once a thriving community, until everyone discovered they were living in the middle of nowhere, and left.

Mountain View RV Park, on the far side of town, bore a not-very-surprising resemblance to the rest of the municipality.  The owner was a delightful old man who regaled everyone with tales of the comings and goings in town.  The lot was a little more than half-full, mainly due to the construction project at the state line.  We looked around, and finally found a spot far enough from the other residents, and near a renter we were fairly sure would not make much noise.

Our Neighbor for the Night

We drove through town again, looking for something quick to eat, but while the town had a good number of restaurants for its size, all of them seemed to have closed for business many years ago (from lack of customers, is my guess).  We had to travel to Wilcox, 25 miles away to find something for dinner.

The First Leg of the Journey

Our first trip, from Pueblo to Montrose, Colorado, was a laborious and exhausting drive of around eight hours.  We arrived after dark, too late to do any set-up, and all we wanted to do was sleep.  From that, we learned not only how to properly calculate the length of an RV trip, but that long trips should be divided into manageable components.  An eight-hour drive, therefore, would be broken into two four-hour days.  With proper planning, an overnight stay in some small but convenient place would be no more than twenty dollars.

That's what we tried to do with the trip from Elephant Butte to Tucson.  Unfortunately, the four-hour midpoint was somewhere between Deming and Lordsburg, an area comprised only of desert and highway.  In Lordsburg, the only places available was the local KOA, at $38 per night, and a parking lot behind the local laundromat.

The next available place on the highway was in Bowie, Arizona, another hour away.  What I could see of it looked decent, and it had a couple of favorable reviews (and the cost was only $15), so we booked Monday night there.  The first day was now a drive of a little more than five hours.

We hit the road around 9 AM.  The first part of the trip was uneventful.  Until we reached Hatch, that is.  It's a cute little town with cute little cartoon characters on the walls and roofs of their buildings.  I think eating too much of their famous green chili has done weird things to their minds.  Sadly, while my new(er) camera is exponentially better than that cheapo $10 one, there is still too much setup time for me to just point and shoot, so I have no photos of Hatch.  You'll have to visit there yourself.  Someday, when I'm not so much of a tightwad, I'll buy a real camera.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

The Winds of Change

Our lot rent is paid up until the 14th of the month, but that's Valentine's Day, a time better suited for romantic dinners than tedious drives.

So we told the managers that we would be leaving early, on the 12th.  They were fine with that, and, since the price wasn't going to go up, so was I.  A few days later, however, Kazumi and I were talking, and decided that we would be better off leaving on Saturday.  I had no work for the weekend, we would have more time to set up, and it would be easier to find a nice place to eat on Valentine's day.  I was concerned about asking the managers to change the departure date again, partly because I didn't want to be annoying, but mostly because leaving so much earlier could be construed as changing to a weekly arrangement, and staying in almost any park by the week is far more expensive than staying a whole month.

The managers were amenable, though one of them mentioned a pending windstorm on Saturday.  Kazumi was far more concerned than I was, and didn't want to drive in the wind.  I still wanted to change the plans: I'm willing to drive in any conditions, because, quite frankly, I'm an idiot. 

So we changed the arrangements, and called the park in Tucson to change the plans there.  As we busied ourselves preparing for travel, we heard more and more about the windstorm.There were warnings about dust storms and low visibility.  Saturday morning, the wind was already heavy, and the news said gusts of over 50 miles an hour were expected around noon.  That's pretty much as fast as I drive, so 50-mile-an-hour headwinds meant we would be at a standstill.  Worse, assuming we even made it to I-10, the crosswinds from the southwest would blow us off the road.

Reluctantly, I called everyone and changed the reservations back to what they were before.  Yes, it was an inconvenience, and yes, it annoyed everyone.  I sometimes think my life would be simpler if I just listened to my wife.