Archive for Travel

Phoenix Metro at Rush Hour

Metro at Rush Hour

Due to missing a turnoff when returning from Mesa, AZ, Damsel and I encountered the daily Phoenix Metro area rush hour traffic. Damsel snapped this photo as we crossed AZ State Route 51 in heavy traffic. Had I made the turnoff from Loop 202 to Loop 101 as originally planned, we could have saved a lot of time and aggravation rather than merging onto I-10 with everyone else.

Our purpose for visiting Camping World of Mesa started out to be a look and see of their diesel motorhomes, but it wound up with us making a commitment to purchase a new RV. We will post more about that next week when we take delivery.

Other than the messed up traffic, look at the beautiful, clear day the Valley was having. Click on the image to enlarge.

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January Campsite

January Campsite

We’re in our usual desert RV park visiting the kids and grandson. As you can see from the photo, the campground is nearly full. There are a few sites here and there that are empty. Many of the license plates on the RVs are from colder states whose occupants are obviously here to escape winter. A.K.A “Snowbirds.”

I met one of the neighbors who hails from Spokane; he and his wife will be camped here until March. He mentioned that back home there is eighteen inches of snow on the ground. I cannot blame those northerners who are able to escape the winter weather for heading south during the winter.

Damsel and I look at the license plates at home in Wickenburg too, since our town is a very popular place for snowbirds and rodeo participants. Thursday last, we counted a dozen or more from places like Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Washington, Oregon and even a couple from Alaska.

While Damsel and I are bundled up against our “winter” conditions (highs in the 50’s), some of those guys show up at the store in shorts and T shirts. I guess coldness is a relative thing.

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Ominous Road Warning

Ominous Road Warning

Damsel and I made the trip from Arizona to the California Low Desert today. The weather was agreeable for most of the way with the exception of some crosswinds that affected our transition along some places as we drove along Interstate 10. The warnings were not without merit, although we have had worse conditions on previous trips.

Damsel took this photo as we approached Desert Center. The traffic was a bit heavier than the last few times we made this trip. We cannot connect the additional traffic with any specific event or holiday, so I presume the heavier traffic is a random event.

At any rate, we are comfortably camping in Palm Desert this evening and will be entertaining our kids and grandson over the weekend. They stopped by for a little visit before heading to the other grandparent’s place to bed down until tomorrow when they will return for another visit.

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RV Shopping

RV Shopping

So how does this Thor Palazzo 33.2 look parked in front of or house? Just kidding - the image is a composite of our abode with a transparent .png of the coach lifted from the Thor Palazzo website.

We have been giving some serious thought to upgrading our motorhome even though we only acquired it last December. We have found that there are some shortcomings with our RV choice. The three major things we want to improve upon are: 1) engine cockpit noise, 2) rough riding suspension (like the truck it really is) and 3) the lack of air conditioning capacity.

The latter item is the big one on that short list since we visit deserts in the summer. Hell, we LIVE in a desert in the summer. The A/C is an 18,000 BTU unit but fails miserably when it’s 110 outside. We’re lucky if it gets the inside temperature down to 95° under those conditions.

There are a couple of RVs we’re looking at to resolve the problems above. Each of them under consideration likely solves the three problems described.

We also have a wishlist above and beyond the short list that I won’t elaborate on here, but Damsel would be pleased to have a washer/dryer stack on-board, and we both like the idea of extra living space when pop-outs are deployed. Further, we can’t afford to add more than a couple feet in length over the 32 footer we have if we’re going to be able to get it through our RV drive.

In my research, I have only found a couple of floorplans that meet the length limitations while having a few features that we like (and some that we don’t). I think that we might have to take some time in doing trade off evaluations to make a final decision.

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August Camping and Beyond

August Camping

We’re camped once again in the Sunny Southern California Desert to visit the yearling grandson. We have been doing these trips for a year now at about monthly intervals so the baby will know us from visit to visit. Of course, we also enjoy visiting with his parents and the other set of grandparents.

Next month, we are going to deviate from the usual back and forth across the two deserts to head out for a scenic road trip with the goals of:

  • getting away for scenic destinations
  • reunion with California family members
  • seeing our other little one, the two year old great grandson

We’re still trying to get the other family members to get on-board for the reunion and to get the granddaughter to bring her son to the reunion from the Bay Area to not-to-distant Stockton. This weekend we will get a go/nogo from the kids and grandson as to whether they can participate in the reunion.

Regardless of all the particular commitments, we will still be heading out for the scenic part of the road trip. We’re overdue for a trip like that, but when you live in a scenic and rustic town with lots of activities and attractions, you still feel like everyday is vacation. That last item may be why we haven’t felt the need to hit the road for a vacation from our permanent vacation.

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Throwback Wanderlust

Newspaper Rock, Canyonlands, UT

Damsel took this image of Newspaper Rock, an Anasazi petroglyph site in Canyonlands National Park exactly eight years ago today. We were on a summer vacation about a year before we retired. Newspaper Rock is just along the roadside on the drive through the North part of the park.

We have been planning another vacation trip for the fall that should find us in Utah again, but visiting places that we have not seen before. We will also be seeing a few of our family who will be meeting us along the route. All of that is in the planning phase now, but we need to solidify the plans before too long in order to coordinate lodging, family, meal planning and the whole nine.

We’re anxious to go, but old enough to know that we can’t just charge out there as we may have done in the past. Soon - very soon.

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A New GPS for the RV

New Garmin GPS

I have had the little Garmin Nüvi 205W GPS since July of 2009. Once understanding its limitations, it turned out to be a reliable gadget in our old Denali SUV.

We bought our Ford F-150, which had a built-in navigation system so we retired the 205 to the office shelf. When we bought the Roadrunner, our Georgetown 30X3 32 foot motorhome, I resurrected the 205W and have been using it in the RV when we travel.

The old GPS has only a four inch display which, in the larger dimensions of the RV, could be hard to read from the captain’s chair. I decided that if Garmin were to have a larger format GPS, then we would need to get it to overcome the display size issue. An Amazon query turned up this nice Garmin Nüvi 2797 with lifetime map updates and a traffic report receiver. The price was within budget, so I ordered it.

The GPS showed up yesterday and I have been getting acquainted with the unit which, fortunately, is similar enough to the old unit that familiarization has gone quite fast. The new features (traffic, bluetooth, etc.) will eventually come into focus as well.

The best thing is that the larger display will be MUCH easier to read while seated in the captain’s chair and underway in the Roadrunner. We will not have the opportunity to use it until toward Memorial Day or after since our May is sort of booked up with caduceus-oriented appointments.

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