Friday, May 15, 2009

Hot! Hot! Hot!

11 May 2009 Palm Desert to Parker, AZ 200 miles

The drive through the desert was like visiting an old friend…memories tumbled one after another as we drove across Rice Road toward the Colorado River. This was the route we normally took for family vacations and river trips most of my life. There were a few changes: the shoe tree is now a shoe fence; the old store in Rice is a pile of rubble; and the names along the RR tracks are still there.

12 May 2009 Parker, AZ to Mesa, AZ 207 miles

We got up at dawn—no alarms, but natural awakening—and broke camp by 6:00 AM. This was partly by design, in an effort to do most of our driving in the early morning to beat the heat.

Up until today, the roads we have traveled have been as familiar as our back yard. This was new territory for both of us. From Parker, we traveled southeast toward Wickenberg, then took Hwy 74 across the north end of Phoenix. This was a beautiful route, with hillsides covered with Saguaro, Palo Verde, Mesquite, and Cholla. We were trying to bypass the “big” cities by staying to the outside edges of town, but we still ended up in stop and go traffic. Temperature in Mesa today was 103. It is supposed to get cooler--only to 98 tomorrow.

13 May 2009 Mesa, AZ to Safford, AZ 174 miles

What a beautiful drive. The mountains east of Phoenix/Mesa into Globe, AZ are just stunning, and much of the flora was still blooming! We stopped for the night at Roper Lake State Park in Safford, AZ, and after setting up camp went into town to get some dinner. On our return trip, Dave got another shot at fixing flats...we couldn't believe we got another one. This time on the right rear tire! The tire pump we were carrying couldn't pump up the tire enough (or Dave just ran out of oomph!), but thankfully a neighboring camper had an air compressor on his jeep so he filled us up.

This lake is very similar in looks and feel to Lake Havasu, but on a micro scale. We were able to take a dip in the water to cool down and then spent the evening stargazing.

14 May 2009 Safford, AZ to Silver City, NM 180 miles

Does it seem like we are traveling more miles than intended? This is partly due to lack of camping accommodations between towns in this arid Southwest! We were strongly advised against traveling along the border by a friendly waitress whose husband was a deputy sheriff, so we headed for the hills--besides, the temperatures were cooler! Stopping to take a picture of the "Welcome to New Mexico," we noticed our water jug sitting on the running board of the car. We're amazed it didn't fall off on this 30 mile leg!

We camped for the night at "City of the Rocks State Park" just south of Silver City. This campground was amazing...very similar to Joshua Tree National Park in California, but smaller. Our campsite was surrounded by towering rocks, so it was nicely shaded. Once the sun started going down, much to our surprise, we discovered that we had a small bat cave within 10 feet of our tent site. We could hear them starting to wake up, and then got to see them fly out into the night. We tried diligently to get a picture of the bats flying out, but even on automatic, they were too fast for Dave's trigger finger. Once the bats came out, the bugs disappeared! Yeah!

15 May 2009 Silver City, NM to El Paso, TX 190 miles

We mapped our route for the day to travel from Deming, NM toward Hatch, which would allow us to follow the Rio Grande south. It was again beautiful...then....MORE TIRE TROUBLE! Just north of Las Cruces, NM, our third tire went flat...front passenger side this time. So, once again, in 98 degree temps, Dave practiced putting on the spare in record time along side the road. Using the MAFCA directory, we were able to get in touch with Rick Black in El Paso, looking for information on where to get Model A tubes in Texas. (Which, by the way, there is not a local parts store.) Rick was kind enough to meet us in his 1931 Deluxe Tudor--a beautiful, beautiful automobile--with his two spare tubes to get us on our way. Rick, it turns out, is the MAFCA Webmaster!

After changing both this tire, and checking the front driver's side, Dave decided to change it as well. Apparently, the stem was rotted on all the tubes, and he figured it was just a matter of time before the forth one died as well. Anyway, thanks to Rick, we now have all new tubes so hopefully we won't be changing any more flats. On the plus side, at the next gymkhana, if there is a tire-changing relay, we've got it covered!

We camped at Hueco Tanks State Park, just east of El Paso for the night, and are looking forward to another amazing star studded evening!


  1. Dave, I have a NASCAR team called me as they need a tire changer and I said you will qualify. You have a great wife to support you adventure. We talk of you often and it is great to follow you journey. OUR PRAYERS are with you Ralph and Phyllis

  2. Did you give Henry lessons on flat tire repair?I hope that he was a good student.

  3. Keep the stories coming. Jeanne and I, in the comfort of our air conditioned home are getting vicarious thrills reading about and seeing your trip.

  4. Oy Vey! Flat tires, high A/C right?
    Are you nuts????
    Praying for you safely...
    My father always said you know a marriage is going to last if you can make it through a camping trip together....I'd say this more than tops camping!!!!