Speed Trip Thru New Mexico, Arizona & California!
Trip Start Sep 12, 2011
30Trip End Nov 21, 2011
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Midway between Tucson and Phoenix we pass the 10,000 mile mark of the trip. Just like in Texas, by the time we get to a big city it is rush hour and the traffic is terrible! People in Phoenix drive 75 miles an hour with one foot on the brake!! It's like playing dodge ball with a car! Five lane freeway, the GPS is telling us one thing, the road atlas is showing something else and the higway signs differ altogether; I'm about a nervous wreck by the time we get through there! Ike is complaining because he can't get over from the "speed lane" to make our exit, I'm saying "it might help if you used your signal so people can understand your intentions", the GPS is squawking to "Turn Right In 200 Feet" for the millionth time and I just want to GET OUT OF THE VEHICLE!!! I wouldn't live in Phoenix just because of the traffic and the way people drive! We survive the freeway long enough to see another sunset, and finally find our route northwest to I-40.
Amazingly, as we reach Wickenburg at 8:00pm, there is an RV Park that Ike spots right in town. Great place to stop for the night, as we had been thinking we would just pull along the road somewhere. We get a good night's sleep, and the next morning before we head out (Saturday, November 19th) we get the call that Ike's brother-in-law Steve has passed away in Indiana. Our hearts are heavy as we leave, but we are also feeling blessed that we got to see him when we were in Indiana. It's cloudy and incredibly windy as we head out this morning. We are starting to climb a little bit and begin to see lots of different cactus along the road. Night before we had driven in the dark for quite a while so we didn't know when the landscape around us started to change.
We travel through the "Joshua Tree National Forest" as we head north toward the Mohave Desert and California. When we reach Kingman, Arizona we decide to head due west on Route 66 instead of going south on the I-40 route.
This will prove to be the most fun road of our entire trip! When we turn off onto Route 66 we wonder immediately why in the world would there be a 20mph speed limit for the next 25 miles? We were about to find out!!
This road is so old, rough and torn up, and full of switch backs, no guard rails and craziness, there is no way you could go more than 20! This scenic route is well worth the time it takes to travel it; we pass by several old mine shafts, and active mines that are still operating (which makes one think about people who really work way out here!) This road reminds me of the Hana Highway in Hawaii, same crazy turns and shear drop-offs and beautiful scenery. There were a few areas where I actually started to feel a little car sick and that never happens to me! We finally cruise into historic Oatman and are amazed to see such a quaint and busy little tourist town. Very cute, but we cannot afford the time to stop.
As we head out of town we run into the "holiday decorating committee" adorning roadside sage brush and little mesquite trees for the Christmas season. We had kind of forgotten about the holiday coming up, but these folks are in the spirit!
We round a little curve in the road and here stand all these donkeys and cars stopped along the road feeding them! They are not shy at all and are very curious about Auggie. He doesn't know what in the world to think of them as they stick their heads into the cab!
One of the little guys sure likes the Pringles chips that I grab out of the back to feed him! Just after passing the donkeys Ike spotted a big tarantula crossing the road!! He knew that he had missed him so we backed up so I could see him. As Ike reached the spot where the tarantula crossed the center line, along comes a car in the opposite direction and squishes him!! I was really bummed as I got out to take a picture of the squished arachnid, 'cuz I was teasing Ike that I wanted to put him in a tupperware dish and bring him home. He was so big that even a car smashing him didn't distort his body form!
Our drive along Route 66 was fun and we wish we could have travelled this route a little farther but time is of the essence as we exit at Topock on the very northern end of Lake Havasu, just at the California border. We soon drop down into Needles, California and are amazed to see the smoggy haze that surrounds the foothills. It's another long flat drive across the Mojave Desert as we head toward Bakersfield. Looking at the weather forecast for the rest of the way home, we know we need to get a move on tomorrow to stay out of snow around Mt. Shasta and Grants Pass. Rather than try to push our way through the dark for hours and hours all night we decide to stop in Rosedale, a little suburb of Bakersfield, because once again we see the "RV Park" sign along the road.