Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta

Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta
Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

03-24-2019 to 03-28-2019 The Home Run

Current Location: Sunset House in Grants Pass, Oregon

Overcast, light rain and 59 degrees F at 5 PM

We are home.  Still tired, still recuperating a bit, still finishing up the list of “to-do’s” that I put together in the calendar once we arrived.  Ten weeks gone does allow certain chores to accumulate a bit.  Debris from the trees.  Grocery shopping to refill the coffers.  Laundry, always laundry. Wash the car, wash the MoHo,  schedule appointments, doctors, dentists, eye care, oil changes….I should probably stop here. Except there is a big one on the list, waiting in the corner, whispering to me until I get it done.  “Write that last blog about the trip home”.  Of course, there is still another one to be written about Saint Augustine, the one detailed post that I didn’t manage to complete while we were on the road, but the Home Run is the one that is hanging over my head like too much laundry.

Does that sound like fun?  Do I sound tired?  I am hoping that slipping back into the writing mode after a few days here at home will rejuvenate my mind and I’ll be able to write something that will be fun for me to read a few months or years from now, and hopefully fun for others to read once I get it posted.

I allowed Google Maps to know where I was on this trip.  I know, a privacy issue, but still it is a very impressive collection of data.  Check out the map of our travels during the last 2 and 1/2 months.  We traveled just over 7,400 miles, spent 66 nights on the road, 29 days driving.  For those interested in stats, we spent $5,172 total, with a total of $2100 on fuel, averaging 8.5 mpg and $2.41 per gallon for 87 minimum octane.  That 85 octane stuff is cheap, but not good for our rig.  We spent 8 nights with free camping, including friends, Cracker Barrel’s, boondocking in a truck stop, and a free city park.  We spent 24 nights in Military Family Camps, 17 nights in private RV parks, 15 nights in state parks, and 2 nights in a National Park. Camping costs averaged $20.06 per night when including our free nights.

We had a wonderful trip overall, and there are amazing moments that we will treasure always.  I will never forget kayaking with manatees on the Ichetucknee River, seeing the rainbow blues and aqua colors of the Rainbow River, one last long magical paddle on the Silver River, paddling beside huge alligators in the Okefenokee.  I will always remember visits with friends and family along the way, beautiful vistas of deserts, mountains, rivers, forests. I will remember some lovely warm winter days, Florida velvet air, white sands, clear water at the beaches, ancient oaks dripping with Spanish moss. I will fondly remember great meals with friends, and sweet tender pink gulf shrimp melting in my mouth.

I will also remember a lot of days waiting for weather to change so we could “do something”.  I will always remember the tire blowout over the swamp on the Atchafalaya Bridge, and somehow I will always remember all the dang navigating through more than 15 sets of big metro area freeways. 

It is a long way from the Southeast part of this country to our home here in the Northwest, no matter how you route the trip.  I was ready to be home clear back when we left Arkansas.  The distance between where we were and where we were going seemed interminably long.  Still, I didn’t want to miss our planned visit to Colorado Springs and Denver, and am so glad we didn’t succumb to skipping that part of the trip.

Still, once we left Colorado Springs on the morning of March 24th, there was no stopping us.  Sightseeing was dropped to the very minimum.  Photos limited to whatever I could manage to shoot from the sometimes very buggy windshield.  The days punctuated by driving, each of us taking turns for a few hours, and then stopping to eat, sleep, and wake up to drive again.

396 Miles from Peregrine Pines USAFA campground to Kirtland AFB campground on March 24

On our first day, in spite of that desire to get home fast, we succumbed to a side trip.  The plan was to travel south on I-25, Colorado Springs to Albuquerque.  Instead, as we passed the small town of Colorado City, Mo saw a sign for Highway 160, heading due west over the mountains north of Spanish Peaks.  I panicked for a moment, wondering if we were heading for some crazy Colorado high mountain pass, but a quick look at Google Maps made it seem ok, and checking the weather app as Mo headed west on the nice 2 lane road eased my fears a bit.  We would be fine.

The drive turned out to be gorgeous, with high snow covered peaks all around us, historical towns along the way as we approached Taos and Santa Fe, and once more navigated the freeways from one side of Albuquerque to the other for a night at the Kirtland AFB Family Camp.

Morning was a bit of a respite, with a great visit with friends Mary Ann and Gail.  We had breakfast at Vick’s Vittles, just a mile from the base, where we shared 25 years or so of memories and some true New Mexican food.  I had pancakes made from blue corn flour, with green chilis, cheese, and pine nuts.  Perfect. 

301 miles from Kirtland AFB campground to Meteor Crater RV Park on March 25

After breakfast we headed west toward Flagstaff, planning to stay once again at the small private park at Meteor Crater where we camped back in 2007 on our first cross country motorhome trip.  The day was long, but we still managed to settle in without any trouble to the comfortable campground in time for afternoon sunshine walks with the dog, and a decent supper of leftovers.  I knew we would be traveling hard, and made sure I didn’t have to do a lot of cooking for that home run.

426 miles from Meteor Crater RV Park to the Kramer Junction on March 26

We left early the next morning, with a bit of a kerfuffle trying to find propane for the cold nights we expected, and finally filling up at more than 3 bucks per gallon at the Love station in Williams. 

The drive from  east of Flagstaff west through Barstow toward the infamous Kramer Junction in California is a bit of a blur.  Kramer Junction isn’t much except for a few gas stations and parking lots for the hundreds of trucks that pass through this spot heading east toward Interstate 40 or north or south on Highway 395.  We had debated returning home once again on 395, as we often do, but the weather didn’t cooperate, and Mo said, “Why in the world are we messing around with that route?  Let’s just get over the mountain and head home up 99 and the 5.”

Our night at Kramer Junction was beautifully quiet, in spite of the many trucks that joined us during the night.  Daughter Deanna, who is a trucker, said that California has strict rules about idling engines, and we only heard the very quiet gentle hum of a few truck generators.  In the middle of the wide open desert along a busy highway it felt safer to be here in the truck stop than alone somewhere along the road.  It was a good night.

339 miles from Kramer Junction to Flag City RV Resort on March 27

Waking to cloudy skies but no really bad weather predicted for the next leg of the journey, we headed west over the pass through Tehachapi and decided to travel north via Highway 99 rather than farther west along Interstate 5.

That choice varies, and it is always a crap shoot as to which road will have more potholes.  We got fairly lucky, and didn’t have much trouble with the rain holding off most of the afternoon until we arrived at Flag City RV Resort, our trusty stop that is almost always our last stop before home on our southern sojourns.

We settled into our nice level spot, hooked up the electric and the TV, walked the dog, and spent one last night on the MoHo bed before our last leg home over the passes.

371 miles from Flag City RV Resort to home in Grants Pass on March 28

I looked at the weather apps and hoped that we could slip in between the snow storms predicted along our route between Redding and Grants Pass.  I have no idea why these snow storms always show up around the end of March or 1st of April, but it seems that we have navigated bad weather on these return trips in early spring.

Once again, we got a bit lucky, with the worst of the weather hitting us around Dunsmuir and over Mt Shasta, before we got a bit of a rainy break as we approached the summit over the Siskiyous and into Oregon. In spite of all we have seen across this amazing country, there truly is no place like home. 

The mountains and hills around Ashland are green, the earliest flowering trees are blooming in their pink and white set off by brilliant yellow daffodils.

Here in Oregon, spring is just beginning. We had two gorgeous days of sunshine when we returned, giving us just enough time to get the rigs washed and to settle in before the rains began once again.  In spite of the rain, the air feels soft and not terribly cold, the grass in the pasture is a gorgeous green, long enough that it is time to mow once it dries out again.

Walking into the house was amazing, and we both wondered why it still smells “new” even after 18 months.  Maybe the wood floors?  It was wonderful knowing that all was well with the help from daughter Deborah watching over the house while we were gone.  The bird feeders were full, the primroses were blooming, the house felt fresh and clean and yes, roomy! 

The bath in my deep soaking tub was long and hot, and the bed felt huge.  It was wonderful setting the thermostat to the perfect temperature and not having to think about it again.

I love traveling, but oh I do so love coming home again.  Things that I can take for granted in everyday life loom huge and wonderful when I have been away from them for weeks at a time.  It is the perfect combination of going and staying, of traveling and nesting that I love.  We feel so incredibly lucky to have a chance to live like this, to enjoy the very best of both worlds.  We also feel incredibly blessed and lucky to be home safe and sound with no huge disasters to contend with while we were traveling.