For full-time RVers like us, "home" is where we park it. But heading back to Georgia for a Jace fix is kinda like heading home, just as heading up to Massachusetts for a visit is much like heading home. Spending approximately 30 years in each place will make it seem that way.
Our next real stop was in the Houston, TX area, but that meant we had one day to get to the eastern edge of New Mexico in Las Cruces, and two travel days across the length of I-10 in Texas. Fortunately for us, while the stretch of I-10 east of Beaumont, TX and into Louisiana is legendary for it's poor condition, I-10 through AZ, NM, and much of TX is in pretty good shape.
One of the more striking views on I-10 is near the border of Arizona heading into New Mexico, and it just so happens that a rest area exists right in the middle of it, making for a great photo opportunity. It's called Texas Canyon, and it has some of the most unique rock formations we've ever seen in our travels thus far. Giant, smooth rocks perched in various positions, almost as if placed there by some unseen hand. Huge boulders perched vertically on top of other rock formations that look as if they would tumble down with the slightest touch. It's no more than a half mile long, which makes it all the more reason to believe it's been staged, but it's not.
Our goal with the price of gas going up so much in between the time we got out west to the time we needed to leave was to “overnight cheap”. Our first night was at a rest area over looking Las Cruces, NM from the west. It's up high, allowing you to look down upon the entire city, had dedicated RV parking spots where you could extend slides, and featured the world's largest road runner sculpture made entirely out of recycled scrap metal.
We battled high winds the entire trip eastward through New Mexico and Texas, and fortunately they were tailwinds which helped our gas mileage considerably – especially given the recent high prices for gas. And the further east we went, the lower the gas prices became. But it was very nice to see an extra 100 miles on my “miles to empty” display as the newer tailwind efficiency was calculated by the on-board computer. At one point I was getting 11 miles to the gallon, where usually I get 8-8.5 mpg. Winning!
Once in West Texas, the winds that helped us out so much also brought a brief period of driving trouble as well – dust storms! We've managed to avoid those potentially dangerous driving conditions so far, and these certainly weren't the worst we were warned to expect based on the signs that are posted in New Mexico, but they were bad enough to make me drop down to about 40 mph in places for the next 35-45 minutes of driving. I can only imagine what one of these would be like at night.
Our fuel stop at the Ft. Stockton Flying J was downright treacherous. By this time, the winds were constant at 40+mph with gusts into the 50's and we pulled into the RV pumps facing directly into the teeth of the wind. Opening the heavy door to our motorhome was a challenge, especially getting down the stairs without it slamming back into you. Grover wouldn't even stay outside long enough to do his business! Good thing our fuel fill is in the rear of the coach, so I could hide behind the bulk of the RV out of the wind, but I still got plenty of grit in my eyes during the 10-15 minutes it took to fill the tank.
After another night in a rest stop along I-10 and a drive through the very quaint town of Fredericksburg, TX (a place we are DEFINITELY coming back to), we finally found our home base for the next 3 days just south of Houston, TX. We were there to catch up with long-time friend Bob Johnson and his wife, Susan, both fellow RVers we had camped with 2 years previously, and to visit Space Center Houston.
Passport America got us a $20 per night stay at Safari RV and Mobile Home Park. They have about a half-dozen pull through sites for RVers who are just passing through, and the rest of the sites are for full-time residents. For the price, it's really not bad at all, and it put us just 15 minutes away from the Space Center.
For space buffs like me, Space Center Houston was – okay. The highlight was being able to actually enter and walk through the 747 / Space Shuttle combination that once transported the shuttle from it's original landing site in California (before they began landing at Cape Canaveral) back across the country to Florida, and also served as the means to test fly the first shuttle Enterprise to validate it's glide characteristics. Another treat was to walk through a building which contained an unused Saturn V rocket that would have been used on a future moon landing mission had the number of flights not been scaled back by budget cuts at NASA.
Another highlight of our trip eastbound back to Georgia was a stop in Beaumont, TX to visit with fellow RVers Byron and Lynn Hill. They have a Tiffin Open Road 34PA built the same year as ours, and they liked our color scheme so much they asked if they could use it as well. We had been in the same park with them twice before, but had been separated by about a dozen or more spaces each time. This time, just by happenstance, the park office had us both in adjoining sites! Given our unique color scheme, it was very strange to see the two of us parked side-by-side!
Our final stop on the way to Georgia was a trip to Vicksburg, Mississippi. We took a driving tour of the Civil War battlefield, then went downtown to eat and see Vicksburg's famous flood wall mural.
Overall, the trip to Arizona was a good one, and I suspect we'll see that state again in future winters, perhaps for a bit longer next time. Our first trip with flat-towing the Jeep Cherokee was an unqualified success and proved to be much easier than our previous tow dolly setup with the Mini, even if the Jeep isn't quite as much fun as the Mini was to drive.
Upcoming is 5 weeks in and around Lake Lanier Corps of Engineer parks (one to take care of our grandson, Jace, during his Spring Break), and then it's time to head out to an early May trip to New England to visit family and friends, and take in an all-important high school reunion for Barbara!
We're Dave and Barbara Richard, and we're living the ultimate retirement experience - traveling the U.S. and Canada in style in a Tiffin Open Road 36LA Class A motor home, playing golf and stopping at every weird and wacky roadside attraction we can find.