I had forgotten to write in the previous blog that I met a fellow at the East Mount Motel who was also travelling to Arizona (Magic Junction) and had travelled across country from Halifax, Nova Scotia. He said it was a 3,400 mile trip and he and his wife made it annually. And I thought that I had a journey!
The windshield washer fluid in Phillippa was summer type and was frozen and no use to me when driving along the sloppy highways. Not much I could do about it except wait until I'm further south.
I did see quite a few hawks as I drove along the 401 back in Canada. It had been a relatively mild day and I suppose they were out hunting.
I might as well keep this up to date as I travel. There isn't much exciting happening as I'm driving on highways. I started out from Lansing Michigan this morning, feeling much better after resting. Mileage 122,243 kms on odometer. Other than stopping for gas and a few pit stops, I continued on through Indiana, finally leaving the snow behind at Indianapolis. The countryside looks much like rural Ontario -- farms, with some trees along the fencelines. Part of the day was sunny, but it clouded over later.
I wanted to make up some time for stopping early yesterday so continued until dark, stopping in Terre Haute, Indiana. I probably could have parked at the local Wal Mart, as had been suggested by Anna & Stephen Wismer, who had suggested the route I should take. They live in Collingwood in the summer and are already at Indian Skies in Arizona. However, I decided to indulge myself in one more motel night. The Days Inn, featuring wi fi and continental breakfast. However, they did charge me an extra $5 because of Ripley.
I was pleased to see that my American cell phone is still operating (352) 568-5307, so I added some money to my pay as you go account. If I recall, though, it was very difficult to call Canada on that phone. My Canadian cell phone doesn't operate down here.
I've just taken Ripley for her nightly walk, so I'm off to relax in front of the TV.
Total kms. today - 522
JANUARY 13, 2009
Start mileage 122,765 km. at Terre Haute, Indiana
Spent the night at Days Inn. Needs work. But at least the price included continental breakfast . Charged $5 extra for Ripley.
It is bitterly cold, starting out with snow flurries and very strong winds as I head west.
At a rest stop, I noticed that a clamp holding up a long tubular “thing” had broken off. I don’t want to stop somewhere to get it fixed, so I used some bungee cords to tie it up, and hopefully this will work until I get to Arizona.
Gas costs $1.64 in Illinois.
The “Check Engine” light came on again, but when I unscrewed the gas cap and screwed it back in again, the light stayed off. This is very disconcerting.
As I headed into Missouri, I gained an hour as I hit another time zone, and this inspired me to keep on driving until the sun was so bright in my eyes as it was setting. It made driving on precarious, and I chose to stop at St. Roberts, Missouri. The weather is predicted to go down to 17ºF tonight, so again I opted to stay at a motel – this time Motel 6 – very basic, but at least they gave me a seniors discount and didn’t charge extra for Ripley.
Stop mileage 123,240 km. Total 475 km.
January 14, 2009
Mileage 123,240 km
I was sneezing quite a big yesterday and it seems that I’ve picked up a cold. Hopefully, downing large doses of Echinacea will keep it in check.
I forgot to mention that, while driving through Michigan I passed the scene of a bad accident. It looked to me like the driver of a tractor transport may have fallen asleep, crossed the median to the other side of the interstate and went into the ditch on the far side. The transport was still in the ditch but the truck part had been brought back up to the road. It had a huge hole in the windshield and I wonder whether the driver went through it and if he survived.
After a comfortable night at the Motel 6, I played ball with Ripley for awhile. The weather seems milder this morning. Treated myself to a waffle with strawberries and whipped cream at the Waffle House.
The terrain is getting hilly as I passed through the northern part of the Ozarks across Missouri. The winds were very heavy and pushed the motorhome around the road. I’ve noticed lots of horse trailers on the road and saw some gorgeous paints in the fields.
I got a call on my US cell phone from Margaret. Hi there. Of course I remember you and it was great to hear from you. I’m sorry I missed your call but I didn’t realize the phone was ringing in my purse and it stopped by the time I fished it out! Thanks for the good wishes. I still miss the ACC and hope to be able to return there in the future.
Gas costs $1.68 gallon in Missouri.
There is a curious apparatus in the restrooms in the rest areas in Missouri. It is a combination soap dispenser, tap and dryer, all in one! Never seen this before.
The day was mostly sunny and mild, but turned bitterly cold late in the afternoon. I got as far as Miami, Oklahoma and opted to stay in another motel because of the temperature. Deluxe Motel.
I discovered a Rotary park right behind the motel and Ripley enjoyed a romp, but it had to be short because of the bitter cold.
Mileage 123,527 – Total today 287 km.
JANUARY 15, 2009
We got on the road early, starting out in blowing snow. I thought it was supposed to be warmer down here in Oklahoma, but so far it has been below freezing and pretty unpleasant.
Passed a sign declaring “Girls and Beer”.
Most of the radio stations play country and I found one that played only the old style country “hurting” music. Plus some gospel stations.
I decided to make a run for it across Oklahoma today and managed to get to Exit 1 at the Texas state line by 4:00 p.m. Decided to stop at the Double D RV Park. Price was $11 with my Passport America membership (half price). There are two other RV’s staying the night here as well. It was warm enough to play ball with Ripley for a brief period before retiring into the relatively warm inside of Phillippa. Hopefully the furnace will work sufficiently well to make it fairly comfortable here, as the temperature outside is still below freezing. My RV has been winterized which means there is no water, and therefore no toilet, but the restrooms are only about 100 feet away inside the restaurant.
Mileage 124,073 – Total today 542 km.
JANUARY 16, 2009
June and Blue Enright should be leaving for Carolina this morning. Hope all goes well with the car.
Meanwhile, I made my way across the Texas panhandle, passing by some small buttes near Dooley. The headwinds were very strong. I saw my first wind turbines on this trip.
Came across a sign advertising an RV park with “Texas sized spaces”.
There is a county called Deaf Smith.
Passed into New Mexico and entered Mountain Time Zone, so am now two hours behind Toronto time.
As I headed to a rest area 25 miles west of Santa Rosa, the RV broke down. It started to chug, and I just made it into the rest area before she gave up for good. This reminded me of the episode I had last year in the middle area of Texas and I’ll bet that once again it is a plugged fuel filter causing the problem. To make matters worse, my cell phone did not have a signal, so I was forced to ask a trucker if I could borrow his phone to call the Emergency Roadside Assistance Insurance hotline in Montreal. The idiot who responded told me in no uncertain terms that he could do nothing until Monday morning because all the garages in New Mexico are closed on Saturday. I found this unacceptable and insisted that he search around to find a towing service, and with the help of the trucker who had loaned me his cell phone, he eventually did find Ortega’s Towing back in Santa Rosa. But this happened only after I called him back three times. Needless to say, I will be looking for another insurance carrier when my policy expires!
The two fellows from Ortega’s Towing eventually did come and spent a lot of time hooking up the RV because they could not disconnect the drive shaft. Apparently, this is necessary in order not to wreck the transmission (although I know for sure that the person who towed me in Texas last year did not disconnect the line). It took them forever and finally they had to break the plugs holding the drive shaft. Lorenzo took me back to the station in Santa Rosa, plugged me into the power outlet there and assured me that the mechanic would be on duty in the morning. However, the tow cost $323!! Here we go again.
JANUARY 17, 2009
I didn’t sleep very well, worrying about the breakdown. However, the temperature is much milder here and, with the furnace operating, it was quite comfortable inside the RV.
Eventually Jimmy the mechanic came in about 9:30. He was slow and methodical, but did a diagnostic exam first and didn’t find any warnings. He was concerned that the fuel pump might be the cause, but he went ahead and replaced both fuel filters (I didn’t know there were two). He also replaced the pieces that Lorenzo had to break on the drive shaft. While he was at it, I asked him to fix the broken clamp on the generator muffler that had broken a couple of days ago.
It was very nice to hear birds singing – the first I’ve heard so far.
While waiting for Jimmy to finish, I took Ripley for a walk around the area, but we didn’t get away until 2:00 p.m. That cost me another $287, for a total of $611. It is my own fault. I should have had the fuel filters replaced before I started out. But just the same, I wasn’t happy.
Since it was already afternoon by the time we got started, I only made it to Hidden Valley RV Resort 20 miles east of Albuquerque. There are quite a number of RV’s here, many of whom live here permanently. I am assuming that many of them probably commute to work in Albuquerque and the children probably attend the local school.
Hidden Valley RV Resort, New Mexico
JANUARY 18, 2009
I’ve decided to deviate from the directions given to me by Anna and Stephen, and continue west along Highway 40 instead of going south on Highway 25. I’m not quite sure why they suggested that detour as it is a longer route, but Highway 40 takes me through some lovely mesas and buttes and Phillippa should be able to handle the gentle inclines. I’ve decided it’s time to start playing tourist.
Got up early and hit the road, stopping at a roadside rest area in the Pueblo Indian region. There were two booths there selling jewelry and pottery. I had a look at the jewelry and now that I make some myself, I looked at everything with a critical eye and decided that I could do just as well. However, my eye did catch on a small pot and I managed to get it for $15. I was told that it is a Laguna traditional design.
Later on, I stopped at a truck stop near Gallup and saw three of the most obese people I think that I have ever seen. An older man weighed probably 300 lbs.; a young man (maybe his son) who weighed around 400 lbs. and a young woman (maybe a daughter) who weighed around 250. Don’t they realize they are shortening their lives and contributing to all kinds of health problems with their obesity?
I finally crossed into Arizona! Yea!!
Painted Desert - yes that's snow
The Petrified Forest/Painted Desert was my destination and I got there later than I had hoped at 4:00. The park closed at 5:00, so I had to rush through, but I still got quite a few photo – and I saw a herd of pronghorn antelope!
Petrified Forest -- Prehistoric wood that has turned to stone
I stopped at the historic Painted Desert Inn National Historic Landmark, and couldn’t resist buying a Tony Hillerman audio CD, plus a CD entitled “Ancient Voices”. The park guide gave me a great teacher’s discount and the two cost only $24. He was very nice and we chatted about American politics and his love of Canada. He wants to go to the Edmonton Mall!!
Wall painting inside Historic Painted Desert Inn
Anyway, I did stop at various lookout spots including Tiponi Point, Newspaper Rock (there are petroglyphs there) and the Crystal Forest where there was large petrified logs lying around. It is there that the park ranger stopped me and told me that as it was now 5:27 I had to leave and not stop anymore. He was very pedantic, so I decided to humour him and just get going. It was getting dark anyway.
I had thought of stopping at the Flying J Truck Stop for the night, but just outside the park gates, I saw a sign saying free camping beside one of these tourist stores. As there was no one around, I hooked up to electricity and made myself comfortable for the night.
Mileage 125,100 km – Total mileage today 558 km. Total for the trip so far 3,477 km.