Three Days on the Road

Its as if all we have done the past three days is drive.

Our first night was spent just north of Indio, California, which is a little east of Palm Springs.  We timed the drive to miss most of the commuter traffic.  Aside from the rough roads, the drive was actually better than we expected.  However when we arrived, it was clear something was different about the area.  When we attended the FMCA rally in Indio in January, it was the height of the snowbird season and the place was busy.  Now, most of the snowbirds have left and the town certainly quieted down.  It reminded us of the New Yorkers leaving Florida by the end of May.

The next day would take us to Casa Grande, Arizona, which is a little southwest of Phoenix.  It was a long drive and the day started with a long uphill pull out of the Coachella area, which is below sea level.  Once we crossed into Arizona, the roads improved, the speed limits increased and the price of diesel dropped by $.20.  Miles of desert rolled by.  If you like the desert vistas in the movie Lawrence of Arabia, you’ll like this drive.  Leaving California again was also a milestone of sorts, we felt like we were once again on the road and looking for our place to settle.

Our route took us through the little town of Quartzsite.  During the winter months, the place is a beehive of activity with vendors and snowbirds camped helter skelter in the town and surrounding desert area.  What started as a meeting of rock hounds turned into an enormous swap meet in the middle of nowhere.  Now, the place is deserted.  Tens of thousands of people packed up and left.  I wonder how many thousands of gallons of diesel fuel were needed to move all the vehicles, tents, displays, merchandise, etc.  Amazing.

The only exciting part of the drive was passing through Phoenix.  After what seemed like an eternity, we pulled into the RV park in Casa Grande around 2:00 in the afternoon.  The place is obviously an snowbird hangout but most of the winter residents had already left.  It had a ghost town feel to it.  Anyway, it tells you something about living in cold weather.  To escape the cold, tens of thousands of people are willing to drive for days to barren patches of gravel in the Arizona desert.  O.K., we get it, live somewhere warm.

The RV parks we stay at are part of an largely unregulated industry.  You never really know what the amenities and rules will be.  Just hooking up to utilities can be a challenge.  For example, the sewer line connection, if there is one, can be plastic or metal, can be threaded or smooth and can have three different diameters.  Sometimes all the utilities are in one location and sometimes they are spread out along the driver side of the coach.  Sometimes the connections are at the back of the coach and sometimes they are at the front.  We even had passenger side connections a few times.

We have also seen goofy rules about all sorts of things but this place had one of the strangest.  It seems the RV park is gated and rigs are not allowed to enter or check in after 5:15 PM.  If you get there late, its tough luck.  You snooze, you loose.  We made it in time, but I wonder how many rigs have been turned away over the years.  And, how did they come up with such a screwy rule!

We had not worked out in a few days and the Casa Grande location was perfect for a run through the desert.  I got up early and immediately set up the Pilates mat and hand weights.  About half way through the weights, I tweaked my back.  It was as if someone had shoved a hot poker into my spine.  Damn!  No workout today, or the next, or the next.  Worse, I would be sitting in one position behind the wheel for hours.  This happens about once a year and will take a few days to go away.  Carefully, I put the workout stuff away and slowly got the coach ready for the road.

The drive to Deming, New Mexico was long and uncomfortable.  We made a great pair, my back hurt and Jeanne was suffering from a stomach flu.  In Tucson, the sight of an 18 wheeler on its side in the center divider was sobering.  It was truly an ugly sight.  Aside from some trucker-chatter on CB channel 19, the rest of the drive was uneventful.  About 45 miles from Deming, we crossed the Continental Divide.  If it wasn’t for the sign, we wouldn’t have known it was a high-spot in the surrounding countryside — it all looked pretty flat to us.

It was a relief to reach Deming where we would spend three nights.  The break in the drive and time to heal would be welcome.  After setting up we were tired and didn’t want to cook, so we headed to town for dinner.  Although nothing much changes in Deming, it looked like the town prospered since our visit a year ago.  We ate at a local restaurant and returned to the coach to spend a quiet evening watching TV.  It was a relief knowing we would not have to face the road in the morning.