The Dash Through the Desert
Trip Start Oct 20, 2012
60Trip End Jul 11, 2013
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Where I stayed
The Cadillac Ranch
The road to Amarillo steadily gained elevation, about 2000', and a relentless 30-40 mph wind blew straight at us. My foot got so tired holding the accelerator down I had to switch to the left, all the while watching the gas gauge drop by the minute as we crawled up the highway at 55 mph. We pulled into another highway campground about a 1/2 mile from the famous "Cadillac Ranch" where (decades ago) some wealthy rancher, who had way too much time on his hands, planted about a dozen old Cadillacs in his pasture within sight of Interstate 40 (old Route 66).
His display attracts tourists, who are encouraged to spray paint or otherwise deface the monument - a busload of Norwegians arrived just as we were leaving. Our camp host was quick to inform us that the rancher was a "prevert" - not a typo - and was currently in jail for pedophilia, and he was "very,very,very rich and had bought his way out of jail before but not this time". This may have been his way of promoting his own display which was under construction, a similar monument consisting of 3 classic Caddy's propped at an angle and featuring dummies resembling Elvis, Willie Nelson and Ronald Reagan behind the wheel of each. These guys were sitting in the office when we checked in. Our favorite, just up the road at the next campground, had an RV planted like the Caddy's. Ah the creative spirit !
We pressed onward into the undying wind and upward to 7500', dragging into Santa Fe, New Mexico, where we would crash for the night at the nicest campground to date, family owned and run, sitting up on a rise above the city, with bathrooms that rivaled many fine hotels and bowls of M&M's [plain, peanut and peanut butter ] to welcome the weary traveler. I actually showered in a handicap stall that was big enough to wash a couple of horses. The hosts were very helpful in guiding us to the galleries - there are a s**tload of galleries - where we had some great conversations with curators and artists and marveled at the prices that the art was demanding. Not much for sale less than $10,000 and no one interested in bartering, so we splurged on wood-fired pizza instead (at ____________________)and retreated to our RV oasis.
From Santa Fe we were able to maintain elevation, although the wind continued, as we rolled into Flagstaff, Arizona where we stayed at our first KOA. We nestled into a site - they crammed 'em in pretty tight - right next to the Kamp Kitchen, where a chuckwagon- style breakfast was served daily out of an old cook trailer. The chefs were a retired couple, formerly in the restaurant business in Philadelphia, who traveled to various campgrounds and totally lived and worked the RV life. They were in their 3rd year of free hookups and paid employment in a beautiful area next to the Grand Canyon ..... hmmmmm! Where do I apply? (Don't laugh he filled out the application on line and used some of you as references!)
Interstate 40 west out of Flagstaff is a beautiful, fun drive. The wind still blew, but at least we were going downhill for a change. We dropped into Havasu City to be greeted by 102 degrees and (radically) overpriced campgrounds, but luckily we arrived one day before the Lake Havasu Memorial Day crowds would arrive, and so we had a site on the lake/river all to ourselves. We enjoyed a full moon that night as well. The water was delightful and the views inspiring, although we found that when the wind died we were inundated with swarms of gnats. That probably explains why most of the partying stayed out on boats moored together in the lake. The "sardines" were arriving with their boats and 4-wheelers as we pulled out across the famed London Bridge - I still don't get it, the bridge that is.
Onward through the desert into California and a (cozy, cushy) night's stay at cousin Karyn's house in Palm Desert - she was out of town but did not hesitate to offer her home and kindly left a key and an unopened bottle of Bombay Sapphire [I left some] (and a PANTRY FULL OF Keurig COFFEE SELECTIONS - and try as I might to sample them all - I LEFT SOME.) Cousin Jacque orchestrated the visit and we'd hoped to see her son Taylor both of whom live a few blocks away but his work hours had changed and we were left to our own devices. We had a little wait at the gate and were able to make friends with the attendants one of whom went to grad school in Montana. I popped into a "Rice Bowl" or some such carry-out to pick up some dinner only to learn the owner had owned a condo at Marina Cay in Bigfork for 20 years.
This was for a much needed reality check before venturing into the Southern California mayhem. Karyn's house JUST HAPPENED TO BE AROUND THE CORNER from the Eisenhower Medical Center, where we were treated to lunch by our favorite oncology nurse/ex-wife and "queen" of our buddy Pete [who are still great friends]. She relocated to the desert about 10 years ago.
After a good night's sleep, we pulled out of the desert mecca and girded for the otherwordly traffic and congestion of Los Angeles to visit with the highest concentration of Corcorans in the world.
We could HEAR them as we forged the Santa Anas.