Conclusion of a Marathon

Wednesday, January 6th

When I run into Walmart this morning to use the bathroom (conserve those tanks!) and buy a couple things, “Life is a Highway” is playing over the store sound system. I take it as a sign that I made the right decision not to wait to get the fridge fixed.

I depart from Fort Stockton, TX and sail west on I10 through a surprise fog. I say surprise fog because I don’t expect to see fog in drier parts of the country and am always surprised when it happens. Luckily it’s not thick enough to impede travel.

Foggy morning

Occasional rain showers grace the entire day’s drive, which surpasses yesterday’s impressive total at 510 miles (yesterday was 490). I drive from sunup to sundown, but luckily I10 is a pretty easy drive.

A ways out from El Paso, the eastbound traffic is stopped on a small side road. What’s going on over there? I don’t see an accident but can’t tear my eyes from what’s in front of me long enough to puzzle it out. A little ways past it, white trailers are pulled off the interstate and what looks like large lights are set up along the road. Is this some sort of filming thing? It’s a mystery.

Mountains spring up to the south and then to the north and warrant a picture. It’s been months since I’ve seen mountains and I’ve missed them.

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I10 cuts through El Paso and it feels like what I imagine a slalom run would be like: curvy and fast with some elevation change. There’s some traffic, but not enough to slow things down.

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conclusion-of-a-marathon-4Then it’s into New Mexico! Yet again, I’m going to be driving through New Mexico without stopping to see anything which feels like a shame given how much I’ve heard about this state, but the lows here are going to be below freezing and if I can make it into Arizona, it’ll be warmer.

Shortly after entering the state, the speed limit on the interstate drops, and there are signs for trucks to take the next turnoff, I wonder what this is? The latch on my truck topper hasn’t been working well lately, and a gust of wind pops it open. I pull over with my emergency flashers on and secure it.

Just as I get back on the road, the speed limit drops again and there are signs: boarder patrol. More of those white trailers are pulled along the road with lights set up next to them. This must have been what was going on east of El Paso! And here I have just stopped to go around the back of my truck and mess around with something. That probably doesn’t look good.

I slow to a stop and roll down the window. The officer asks me if I’m American, and I say yes. “Have a good day ma’am” he says, and waves me on. Phew.

After Texas, the drive through NM almost seems to go by in a blink. I missed a good portion of the state staying as far south as I did.

At a rest stop in NM

At a rest stop in NM

The sun is setting as I approach Benson, AZ. I10 climbs up through a low mountain pass littered with large boulders and if I wasn’t running out of daylight I’d stop to take some pictures because it’s a pretty area. None of the “passes” along I10 that I’ve driven today have been steep enough to warrant a grade sign, as I said earlier it’s a very easy drive.conclusion-of-a-marathon-7

In Benson, I pull into a Love’s Travel Center and park next to the only other RV in the back lot, a Class A with a towed. This is the only free overnight parking option in town. Before I go to bed, three other RVs have joined us in the row, a little holdout against the vast armada of semis.

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Thursday, January 7th

My first sunrise in Arizona is pretty spectacular. Just another lovely morning on the road!

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Cloudy skies conceal the tops of mountains near Tucson. I keep my eyes pealed for the first saguaro of the trip and spot it beside a vacant lot on the outskirts of town. It’s not the most scenic location.

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West of the city I find more of them, growing in the higher elevation areas near bluffs and hills.

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Today’s drive is a paltry (in comparison) 135 miles, to the city of Maricopa just south of Phoenix. The clouds have opened up and my wipers are going full blast at 10:30 am when I pull off the road and into the driveway of some friends I made at Amazon in Haslet. Well it’s not their driveway because they’re full-timers too, it’s their relative’s house who were gracious enough to let me stay a night as well.

Yum!

Yum!

Once I’m pulled in I duck into Cas to put the cushions back where they belong and discover that water has gotten in through three of my windows – one on each side of the trailer. No, it’s not leaking around the frame, it came in around the glass panes themselves. This happened to me once before, my first spring on the road when I drove through heavy rain on my way up to the Badlands. It’s never happened when I’ve been stationary and it doesn’t happen every time I drive through heavy rain. I’m happy to note that all the leaks I had in Texas: through the frame on one window, around my Fantastic Fan, and over the door from an awning rivet are all bone dry.

We go out to eat for lunch and I try Vietnamese food for the first time. I get something called Pho soup (prnounced more like “fuh”) which features rice noodles with a variety of meat and vegetable options. It’s good!

conclusion-of-a-marathon-13After lunch, we go say hello to some cows. About 30,000 cows. My friends use to work (and the relatives they’re staying with still do) at a large dairy farm on the outskirts of town. With my vet tech background, I’m somewhat familiar with how dairy farms work, but seeing one on this scale is something else entirely.

On the way back, we’re stopped short by flash flooding over the road. The rain stopped here over an hour ago, but it’s raining hard in the mountains and the water has run downhill from there through this normally dry wash. It’s hard for those not familiar with the desert to understand how this kind of flooding works. We turn around and take another road that has several dips through washes, and there’s not a trickle. Either it didn’t rain uphill from these washes, or the water came through earlier and is already past, or it hasn’t gotten here yet. You don’t want to wait around to discover which of the three it is.

My friend’s Class A has an outlet on the exterior that I plug Cas into overnight. None of us are sure how much I can run without flipping a breaker, but I turn one of my electric heaters on to dry things out and it handles it just fine.

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Friday, January 8th

So, it’s 165 miles to Quartzsite from Maricopa, and that seminar I briefly mentioned last post is at 10 in the morning. Figuring that I average 60 mph on the interstate, one can see that I need to wake up pretty early in the morning if I’m going to make it on time. I’m out of bed at 5 am and on the road by 5:22 am. Guess getting up early for Amazon has had some benefits.

My first public speaking engagement. Helping give a seminar was not something I’d planned on doing. Last summer at Yellowstone, Bob Wells from Cheap RV Living stopped by Old Faithful to visit me, I’ve guest posted on his blog before and we were internet friends. He mentioned the Rubber Tramp Rendezvous (often abbreviated as RTR), an informal boondocking gathering held on the very outskirts of Quartzsite that he hosts. At that point, I had decided that this was going to be the winter for boondocking, and I told him that if things worked out, I’d be pleased to attend and pick the brains of those with boondocking experience and have help nearby if I ran into problems.

He’d said then that he’d be pleased to have me lead a seminar, but I’d said no, it was going to be my first time boondocking and my first rally of any sort for that matter and I’d rather listen and get a feel for it.

So fast forward to early December, when I’ve gotten enough money from overtime at Amazon already to know that boondocking will indeed be a go, and I’ve looked at maps and charted the distance from Haslet to Quartzsite to know that if my Casita appointment is on the 28th and I leave shortly after, I would get to Quartzsite around the 5th if I see a thing or two along the way. So I let Bob know I’ll be at RTR on the 5th when it starts, and then he says he’d be grateful if I’d help him run the work-camping seminar on the 8th, since I’ve worked at Amazon and done National Parks and he has not. I agree.

Rolling down I10, I keep an eye on the road and check the time frequently. The clouds from the past two days are breaking up and moving off, and the sun rises golden over the desert. It feels like it’s going to be a good day and I’m making good time.

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I pull into Quartzsite a little before 9 am, but do not head straight to RTR. I may be a boondocking newbie, but from reading other blogs I know that you do not pull into a new camp without first dumping your waste tanks and filling your water. My preparations did not go as far as finding out where to do that in Q, so I text a friend already here for help (another person I met at Haslet), and she comes to meet me where I’m filling up on gas in town.

All the white dots in the valley below are RVs.

Most the white dots in the valley below are RVs.

With the wait for her to come get me, the wait to get the tanks dumped and take on water, and then the considerable drive out to the secluded RTR site, I pull in at 10:05 am. Finding a good spot to camp will have to wait, I drive right up to the main area where seminars are held and no sooner is the truck in park than I jump out and wade through the press of humanity sitting in camp chairs around the huge firepit. Bob is already up front talking into the microphone. It’s show time.

All in all, it goes pretty well.

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Snow in the mountains of west Texas

Snow in the mountains of west Texas

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34 Responses to Conclusion of a Marathon

  1. John Bruce January 9, 2016 at 10:44 pm #

    You blow my mind! Whether you know it or not, you are an impressive young Lady.

    • Becky January 10, 2016 at 7:01 pm #

      Thanks John, glad you enjoyed this.

  2. John Green January 9, 2016 at 10:46 pm #

    We came over that way from Amarillo, by Quartzite and stopped for the night in Blythe, CA around Dec. 7. We had a deadline to get to Redding by the 12th for my grand daughter’s performance in the Nutcracker. We made it but missed a lot along the way. We’ll head back east on 10, but this time we’ll smell the roses. I enjoy reading about your travels, trials and triumphs and hope to meet up some day. Good Luck! John & Maura

    • Becky January 10, 2016 at 7:03 pm #

      That would be nice John! Yes I feel a little bad too about the things I missed along the way, but when you have somewhere to be that’s just the way it is. Like you, I know I’ll get a chance to travel back through this area again someday and hopefully then I’ll have more time to stop and see things along the way. Take care!

  3. Monica January 9, 2016 at 11:33 pm #

    I’m so happy you made it to Quartzsite! El Paso is my hometown, the slow down and lights you saw going eastbound is construction on the highway. Very common here. The border patrol going eastbound is located at Sierra Blanca. Glad you enjoyed the mountains, my favorite.

    • Becky January 10, 2016 at 7:05 pm #

      They were very pretty Monica. El Paso seems like a neat place and I hope someday to get to stop and spend a little time there.

  4. John Hussey January 10, 2016 at 3:31 am #

    Go back in February for the fiberglass RV rally outside Quartzite and you want be disappointed. Its been about five years since i went and I still recall it fondly. A great bunch of like-minded folk, most all with some sort of fiberglass RV, a large portion with one of our Casitas. Ask some of the others with your Casita how you might repair those pesky leaks. Arizona is one of the best camping/boondocking states i have seen so far. You could spend a year and not run out of exciting places to visit and see.

    Plus, if you need dental work drive south past Yuma, camp and walk over the border into Los Algodones for some very good and very cheap dental work, new eyeglasses, prescription drugs but not the hard illegal sort. You’ll see absolutely NO evidence of that. Its apparently not allowed, I suppose, because they do not wish to jeopardize the influx of thousands of US & Canadian citizens who walk over during the winter months. If you need any info on my experience with dentists there, places to boondock, things to see in Los Algodones just email me. Do you like really good Mexican food?

    • Becky January 10, 2016 at 7:08 pm #

      Yes John, that Fiberglass RV rally is one of the three I’m planning to attend. I love being a part of the Casita community online and I think it’s been tragic that I’ve always been working whenever the rallies happen so this year I’m not missing out. 🙂

      I am planning to head into Los Algodones, I’ve talked to several people who’ve had positive experiences and I haven’t been to a dentist in a while and do want to see one. It’ll take a while to get my passport though.

  5. Anne P January 10, 2016 at 4:00 am #

    Whew! Glad your trip went well. Now, hopefully, you can relax and enjoy!

    • Becky January 10, 2016 at 7:09 pm #

      Yep Anne, I’ve got a pretty good start on the “relaxing” thing already. 🙂

  6. roy vannoy January 10, 2016 at 5:49 am #

    Glad to hear you waited on the frig repair. I’ll be making the trip on I10 in March to El Paso. What Walmarts and rest stops do you suggest stopping at overnight for rest in Texas. Will be leaving Florida.

    • Becky January 10, 2016 at 7:13 pm #

      I haven’t come across a Walmart in rural Texas yet Roy that didn’t allow overnight parking. If you wanted to stay in a big city or right along the gulf coast it might be a different story. Some truck stops allow overnight parking as well. I use http://www.overnightrvparking.com/ to find my overnighting locations, it’s a great website.

    • Monica January 11, 2016 at 11:52 am #

      In the El Paso area if you are heading westbound exit Hawkins, you will find a Wal Mart. Walmart is located off the I 10. Another great place is Anthony exit 0 you will find a Flying J.

  7. Ed Brownfield January 10, 2016 at 6:14 am #

    Becky, glad that you made it to Quartzite on time! You are in a spectacularly beautiful part of America! We spend the winter months in the Phoenix area! I love the sunshine, clear sky and sunshine during the day and the clear skies and stars at night, beautiful mountains, magnificent sun rises and sets, warm sunny days. The weather this year is not the norm that’s the bad news but the good news is that the spring will be magnificent, the desert will bloom! Enjoy your time off from work and soak up the natural beauty that’s all around you. Hope that your refrigerator problem gets fixed soon. I bet that someone at Q will be able to fix the problem.

    • Becky January 10, 2016 at 7:16 pm #

      Thanks Ed, yep I’m already making inroads to the fridge problem and I know I made the right choice coming out here.

  8. Terri January 10, 2016 at 6:32 am #

    That is seriously a marathon of driving. When I drove cross country with just my car, driving 500 miles a day was a lot, and I wasn’t even towing anything, so I am SUPER impressed at how you did with it with Cas in tow. i drove through Quartzsite one time, but didn’t know anything about it at the time and was amazed at the sheer size of it, and i’m sure it has grown much, much larger at this point.

    So can I ask – what do you do with your windows now to protect the rain from coming in like it did? Caulk them really well?

    Glad you got there, and I never had a doubt in my mind that for you to help out at a seminar would go amazingly well. You’re just such a class act, Becky.
    Terri recently posted..Alone…. But Surrounded by BeautyMy Profile

    • Becky January 10, 2016 at 7:21 pm #

      I won’t do anything Terri. I can’t caulk the panes of glass because then I couldn’t open my windows. The bottoms of the frames have little holes leading to the outside of the trailer that water that gets in around the pane usually drains from. Maybe the combination of wind and driving made it so those drains didn’t work and was forced back into the trailer instead. Maybe they got plugged up with road dirt. But it’s so infrequent an occurrence that it’s not worth worrying about. RVing will never be perfect.

  9. Jim Schmechel January 10, 2016 at 6:56 am #

    You made it! 🙂 If you haven’t seen Tucson before, and you have time after RTR, you should consider spending a day or two in or around Tucson. It is very rare for me to say that a city is nice, and the surrounding area is nice. Tucson gets that recommendation from me. Maybe similar to a Madison, Wisconsin in the southwest.

    I’m so happy you made it to RTR! I look forward to reading about your experience there. Have fun! 🙂
    Jim Schmechel recently posted..gift from GrandpaMy Profile

    • Becky January 10, 2016 at 7:22 pm #

      I will Jim!

      My grandparents use to winter in Tucson, so I got to see it during spring break in 4th and 8th grades during family trips. It is a nice area. 🙂

  10. Rob January 10, 2016 at 7:08 am #

    Your talk was great, you’re a natural! I’d no idea you’d just arrived…

    • Becky January 10, 2016 at 7:23 pm #

      Haha, yeah Rob made it by the skin of my teeth. Glad you enjoyed it!

  11. Gary January 10, 2016 at 7:28 am #

    Wow that was a fast trip and welcome to Arizona. I arrived here in early October from the Virginia, Pennsylvania area, but I’m wintering in Mesa near my kids and grandkids. I can’t wait to hear about your stay in the Q.

    • Becky January 10, 2016 at 7:24 pm #

      Thanks Gary, I’m enjoying the state so far! There’s a lot more about Q coming.

  12. David Swanson January 10, 2016 at 8:28 am #

    Your talk was great Becky!

    • Becky January 10, 2016 at 7:24 pm #

      Glad you enjoyed it David, it’s nice to meet in person finally. 🙂

  13. OpenSpaceMan January 10, 2016 at 4:14 pm #

    I appreciated your talk at the seminar. Great job!

    I figured you just got there so I wanted to let you get settled so I didn’t introduce myself…but hopefully we get a chance to say Hi before you leave.

    • Becky January 10, 2016 at 7:26 pm #

      Thanks OpenSpace, glad you enjoyed it!

      Yeah I’ll be around at least until the Xscapers thing starts on the 15th and may stay parked at RTR during that too. Looking forward to meeting you.

  14. Furry Gnome January 10, 2016 at 7:32 pm #

    Boy, that’s cutting it close! And then giving a great talk right off the bat! Well done.

    • Becky January 11, 2016 at 2:32 pm #

      I knew it was going to be close Gnome but yeah, was hoping to have a little more time than that, haha!

  15. Jodee Gravel January 11, 2016 at 9:35 am #

    Are you hanging around a bit? There’s an Xscapers Convergence on the 15th at 4 pm (just off Dome Rock Rd, big flag) with lots of working-while-RVing folks. Would love to see you if you’re still in the area. Hope the frig repair has already happened 🙂 That’s a heck of a drive, hope you don’t have to repeat it ever again!!
    Jodee Gravel recently posted..Funny How Some Places Don’t Change, While Others Are Completely DifferentMy Profile

    • Becky January 11, 2016 at 2:34 pm #

      The Xscaper’s Convergence is the second of the three gatherings I’m attending in Quartzsite Jodee, hehe. Don’t know yet if I’m going to drive the trailer over there or stay parked at RTR but I’ll come over in the truck for sure.

  16. Ed@Chasing Sunrises and Sunsets January 11, 2016 at 10:25 pm #

    Hey kiddo! We’re in Lake Havasu as I write this. We’ll be in Quartzite tommorow, on Plumosa Rd. North of town. We’ll be setting up with Outside Our Bubble and some 40 other rigs. Would love to meet up somewhere and say hi?

    • Becky January 12, 2016 at 6:41 pm #

      Hey Ed! Do you have anywhere particular in mind? I’m not real familiar with Quartzsite yet and RTR is east of Q off a service road that parallels the interstate.

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