I didn't want to make a public announcement that we were going to be out of the house for three weeks, but now that we're back, I can tell you all about it.
May 5, load the RV. Clothes, food, books, yarn, kitty litter.
May 6, 7am, grab cats and go! Portland to Dunnigan, California rest stop on the first day. Kyle has the instincts of a long-haul trucker. We stopped twice for gas, and just kept rolling. I watched the trees got from Big-Leaf Maples, to oaks, to Ponderosa Pine, to Juniper as the road went higher and drier. May is the green time- the one soft month when things in California go from sere to verdant. Even the tumbleweeds were green. Then we settled into the dust bowl that the Northern San Joaquin Valley has become. The rest stop had thirsty eucalyptus trees and no grass. Next month, the trees will start following the dogs around and begging for some water.
May 7 We stopped for gas in Bakersfield. Kyle decided to skip the whole LA traffic thing and we headed East to Laughlin, Nevada. We drove past the north end of Joshua Tree Monument desert. Joshua trees look like clusters of feather dusters designed by Maraat de Sade. All of Eastern California is a stinking desert. More or less sagebrush and cactus but no where green and pleasant.
The Riverside Casino in Laughlin has a decent RV park with water, sewer and electric hook-ups for $27 a night. Bare gravel and a few suffering palms. And if you get a chance to eat at the Casino buffet, pass. Way too expensive, and really second rate food.
May 8, we crossed the river into Arizona and drove uphill. In Selig, Arizona, I got my kicks on Route 66.
We continued uphill. Scenery got rougher and more picturesque. Notice total lack of trees.
And then, it started to snow. In Arizona. In May. It snowed. The roads were slush tracks. Kyle just kept on driving and being safe. I kept my eyes on my knitting! We got to Flagstaff and took a right towards Phoenix.
We passed three wrecks with police and ambulances attending, before we descended below the freezing zone. Stopped for the night at a wonderful rest stop (free, no hook-ups, right next to the freeway, but sparkling clean restrooms, and breath-taking views. It's the Sunset Point Rest Stop on Highway 71 if you get north of Phoenix.
May 9 we continued down to Chandler, Arizona, just south of Phoenix where our great-nephew was marrying his beloved in her grandpa's backyard. Grandpa let us plug in to his electric system so we could keep the AC running for the kitties.
I made the kids a quilt. Guests signed the light-colored squares with indelible pens.
The bride had gussied up the shed between the goat pen and the alpaca pen. Darn clever and very pretty, I thought. The wedding was, "country" themed and just charming. Grandpa's backyard is about three acres with lemon and grapefruit trees, blackberries, a peach tree, fig trees, and a huge vegetable garden. Kids ran loose and happy, and most of the female relatives, myself included, pitched in to help with the decoration and set-up. then the groom, his brothers, and his buddies went out for the bachelor party.
May 10 - the big day
Fancy footwear for a country wedding.
The groom with bride on his right, and her best friend on the left. Yes, the groom IS that tall. 6'7" I think. His brother is 7' tall. The brother, a groomsman, was sipping on a long-neck beer while standing up front during the ceremony. Very country. And all the boys wore their hats, too.
Then w had the barbecue. Ribs and pulled pork, and chicken. Green bean cooked with bacon, hash-brown potatoes cooked with cheese, and a fresh-fruit salad to die for! OMG it was good!
We headed to bed about 8:30 and enjoyed the sound of revelry till we fell asleep.
May 11: We hit the road at 6:30 to avoid the rush-hour traffic, and made our way to Meteor Crater, AZ. It's really neat! It's an honest to goodness meteor crater that is well-preserved because there's not much in the way of rain and plant-growth to obscure it. There's a big chunk of the meteor, mostly iron, that has been mounted in one of the display rooms where people can touch it. It's been polished shiny by all the reverent hands. I actually touched something not of this earth!!
The RV park at Meteor Crater is a prize. Full hookups, a gracious re.room, a laundry room with all machines working, and the showers are spa-like - each in a separate room with sink and toilet, comfortable changing space, and quantities of hot water. It was GLORIOUS!
That night I came down with a stomach bug which entailed high-velocity evacuation of the entire digestive tract from both ends simultaneously followed by fever and body aches for about 36 hours.
But, we had reservations in the RV park at the grand canyon. So, May 12, we headed out. I mostly lay in bed and whimpered, while Kyle drove.
We stopped for gas in Flagstaff, where it was snowing again. Kyle had a hunch to check the tires, and found that the two inside rear tires were showing their steel belts. So we bought two new tires in Flagstaff, then carried on to the Grand Canyon. You have to climb more in elevation to get to the big hole. 8700 feet I think. We pulled into the RV lot, watched the elk mooching casually through, and went to bed for the night.
May 13, I was strong enough to get up and see a few sights. Still, the thought of food, or water even, set my aching guts to heavin' so I was a mite weak and shakey on my pins. But, by God, I am 65 years old and it's my chance to see the Grand Canyon, so we made our way to the shuttle-bus stop and headed out.
I am somewhat ashamed to admit that I was surprised at the numbers of foreign visitors. There were people from Korea, Hungary, the UK, Australia, Argentina, Japan, Germany, Italy and South Africa. And that was just on our bus.
And the canyon does not disappoint. You've seen the pictures, but when you actually stand there and throw your heart into the abyss, it hits home. No two-dimensional representation is going to give you the three-dimensional sense of vastness. If it were named today it would be the Omigawdit'ssofuckingimmenseyouwon'tbelieveit! Canyon. I'm SO glad I got out and saw it in the sunshine.
Since I felt weak, we made it a short day and went back to the RV to rest. That night, the bug look Kyle. He spent the entire next day in bed while I stopped at the visitor's center for more information about the geology, and to get my Junior Ranger book. While I was there, the clouds clabbered up, lightning flashed, thunder roared, and two inches of hail fell in five minutes. In May. In Arizona. I took the shuttle bus to the geology museum and sat for about an hour watching the weather sweep through the canyon. Veils of hail would whiten the windows, then sweep away to be followed by a break in the clouds spilling brilliant sunlight over the dripping landscape, then black clouds would roll up again. It was fascinating, awe-inspiring, stunningly beautiful, but I got cold, so I shuttled back to the RV and spent our final afternoon and evening sipping hot tea and worrying about what I would do if Kyle couldn't drive the next day. The park was completely full every night. The campgrounds were completely full as well, and Lord, I felt sorry for those poor souls in tents while the wind, rain and hail tried to sweep them away.
May 14, Kyle the Intrepid was able to pull us out and down that long, long highway to Laughlin again. Bless his dear heart!!
May 15 we headed south through the deserts of California to Kyle's cousin's home above Palm Springs. When they do desert around there, they do a good job of it. Nothing grows taller than knee high, and it's all spiteful. The mountains are piles of bare rocks. between the mountains, it's miles and miles and miles of nothing but miles and miles and miles. And out here where you can see anything more than three feet tall from fifteen miles away, they have a stop sign. I think the guys in the California department of transportation had one of those dopey days, and someone said, "Hey, I know what let's do! Let's put a stop sign out in the middle of no-freaking-where. And we can have a camera to catch people when they stop at it." I can hear them now, "Hey George - we got another one!!"
The two lane road to Kyle's cousin's house goes up a long hill, with about nineteen hairpin turns, and no guard rails. My ears popped at least three times which means about four thousand feet in elevation. It was a religious experience. On some of those turns, when there's a bicyclist in your lane, and a panel van coming down hill at you, you will see God!
The house was awesome, the view breath-taking, Kyle's mom was there to ride down with us the next day, and he and I were two whupped puppies. More report tomorrow.