The desert isn’t always Flat and Dry.

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One of many Saguero Cactus near Mesa, Arizona.

We’ve been in the desert now since Christmas.  We’ve been in Mesa where we visited my Uncle Al and Aunt Jean.  We travelled on freeways and other state roads and seen roadrunners, coyotes, and a bobcat.  Different types of cactus appear as you go up in elevation and disappear and change as you descend.

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Along the Salt River near Mesa, Arizona.

 

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Along the Salt River in Arizona.

There are mountains here, more than you would expect.  They have cool names:  The Superstition Mountains (Mesa), Picacho Mountain (Casa Grande), Black Mountains (Oatman) and the Chocolate Mountains (Parker).  There are 194 mountain ranges in the state.  There are lakes created by dams along the Colorado and Salt Rivers.  We’ve seen boats in marina’s along the lakes and rivers and we know there are places to fish in the summer here.

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Mammoth in the rock along Canyon Lake, Arizona.

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Canyon Lake, Arizona.

 

We haven’t done a huge number of tourist attractions (and there are many here).  I guess we are kind of “touristed out” after all our travelling.  We have been to Oatman and seen the burro’s, taken the Dolly boat ride on Canyon Lake, driven to Tortilla Flats and saw the fountain shoot over 500feet in Fountain Hills, and visited The Pima Air & Space Museum all while in Arizona.  There is lots to do here and it sure is nice to be warm and dry.  I miss the green and blues of Campbell River, but I don’t miss the grey winter rain.  We will be home on Vancouver Island in 30 days.  Hard to believe our circle is almost complete!

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at Tortilla Flats, Arizona.

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The Fountain in Fountain Hills, Arizona.

Making a Bee-Line to Arizona

It’s hard to believe that it’s time to leave Florida now.

Bye bye beach fishing for pompano, black drum, red drum, whitings and blue runners.  I’m going to miss waiting for you to hit my line.

Bye bye white squeaky sand beaches that stretch for miles and miles.

Bye bye to all the “southerners” (real and transplanted), we loved how friendly you were, what courteous drivers you are and how polite everyone is.

We are making a bee-line to Mesa, Arizona so that we can spend Christmas with my Aunt and Uncle.  We spent 6 weeks in Texas a few years ago, we were in Houston, Galveston, Corpus Christi, San Antonio and Austin so will basically make a couple of pit stops on our way north and west to Arizona.

First stop was Biloxi, Mississippi.  It is a beautiful small city that has been hit hard by Hurricane Katrina and is still recovering.  I saw lots of damaged piers and empty lots along the sea shore and beach highway.  I found The Old Brick House and gravitated towards this MASSIVE oak tree in the back yard.  It was amazing.  Majestic.  Historic in it’s own way.  How old it must be.  Who used you for shade?  Who climbed on you?  What conversations took place under your limbs, leaves and branches?

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I parked down by the Visitors Centre, walked the beach, strolled thru Lighthouse Park and listened to the kids playing on the swings.  Watched the traffic on the Beach Highway negotiate around the Lighthouse that was there long before the road was built.

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Lighthouse in the middle of the beach highway in Biloxi.

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Statue of French Canadian Explorer Pierre d’Iberville outside the Visitors Centre in Biloxi.

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A storm damaged pier in Biloxi.

 

After leaving Biloxi we pointed the nose of the truck towards San Antonio and we were off.

We overnighted in Beaux Bridge, Louisianna and went for dinner at Crawfish USA.  We ate everything “Cajun” on the menu:  oysters, catfish, crawfish, frog legs, crab, shrimp, bread pudding.  I also stopped at the market there and bought cracklins and supplies to make gumbo.

Next evening we landed in Beaumont, Texas.  Didn’t think we were going to make it there safely as we drove thru a thunderstorm that wiped out our visibility and slowed freeway speeds from 75MPH to 45MPG.  I left permanent imprints of my hands and fingernails on the steering wheel.  Not much fun.  It continued to rain thru the night with temperatures in the 40’s F.

Get ready to be entertained:  Now remember it’s been pelting rain and lightening and thundering for the last hour.  2 ladies in a 4 door truck pulling a 30ft travel trailer pulled in beside us.  Lady #1 is unhooking the trailer, putting down jacks etc.  It’s still raining lightly.  Lady #2 opens the door of the truck and this BIG DOG jumps out of the truck, takes 4 steps thru the puddle and jumps back in the truck.

Lady #2 Opens back passenger door (bpd)

Dog jumps in to front passenger seat.

Lady #2 closes bpd – opens fpd.

Dog jumps  in to back passenger seat.

Lady closes fpd and opens bpd

Dog jumps in to front passenger seat

Lady outsmarts the dog (finally) by leaving BOTH doors open.

Dog jumps over to the drivers side of the truck.

Dog 1 – Lady 0.

Lady #1 arrives to help with dog extraction.

Dog bounces back and forth a few more times until he gets too close to Lady #1 who yards him out of the truck by his collar for the win!!

It continued to rain thru the night with temperatures in the 40’s F.  We got up in the morning and continued our trek towards San Antonio.  We drove thru rain all day, but not as heavy as the day before and successfully negotiated 7 lanes of traffic thru Houston, stopped in Schulenberg, Texas for the night.  We were only 100 miles to San Antonio but we are in no hurry to get there (The Riverwalk isn’t going anywhere..)  As we approached San Antonio we got caught up in a 2 hour traffic jam because a car-hauler broke in half and scattered cars all over the highway.

Not everyone has the patience to sit in traffic for that long.  We saw a young Texan who looked like he decided to drive thru a ditch / median and on to an adjacent highway.  Well, he ditched his truck in the weeds and caused lots of damage to his front end.  Not sure how he’s going to explain that to his insurance company!  The temperatures remained cool and well I might as well use the word COLD – it freakn snowed in the late evening.  YES!  SNOWED!.   Very unusual, but it does happen occasionally.

We’ve been to San Antonio before so we didn’t visit the Alamo this time, but we did go down to the Riverwalk in the evening and took the Christmas Light Tour on one of the boats that go back and forth on the Riverwalk.  Very festive.

We have 2 more days of driving to get to Carlsbad, New Mexico.  We will break the trip in half with an overnight stay in Fort Stockton, Texas.  This is one big State, that’s for certain.  We already miss the southern hospitality.  Texans are not near as friendly as their neighbours to the south and they certainly drive more aggressively too.  I feel like I’m back in red-neck country.

We visited Carlsbad Caverns more than 20 years ago and we were so impressed by it that we decided to stop in for another visit on this trip.  When we walked in I was impressed and in awe all over again.  It is amazing, beautiful, the size of the caverns, the different formations, your eyes travel around, up and over.  You have to go there, you just have to add it to your list of things to see if you are in that corner of New Mexico.  You won’t be disappointed.

 

Next stop:  Mesa, Arizona.  Get to spend time with the relatives.. YAY!!

Are you a Boondocker or a Resorter?

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Before we started RV’ing we travelled a bit to different places.  When in Mexico, Belize or Thailand we chose to stay in places that were a bit more rustic.  Gaps in the walls, holes in the window screens, basic shelters with handmade furniture, a stove, a sink and rusty appliances.  We’ve travelled to cities in the USA, stayed in Paris, London, Barcelona and Lisbon at places that I refer to as “Brass and Glass”.. they have all the fancy staff, stuff, and all the amenities.

How do you travel?

How do you RV?

Are you a Boondocker who choses to stay in places that are out of the way, a bit rustic, are you comfortable without electricity, wifi and tv?

OR

Are you a Resorter who prefers swimming pools, hot tubs, hot showers, laundry, free cable tv and wifi?

Us?

We’ve certainly tried a bit of each on this trip and stayed at Campgrounds and RV Parks that are a bit of both.

  We’ve overnighted at farms that raised alpaca’s, goats, lambs, or chickens.  We’ve visited wineries in Canada and the USA and tasted wine and bought a few to take with us on the road.  We’ve overnighted in a few driveways of people who are kind, inquisitive and generous with their time and made us feel so welcome.

We’ve been in RV parks that have dirt roads, gravel roads, or paved roads, we’ve dealt with roots, ruts and steep sites from back to front, more often than not the sites are level.  We’ve been in public showers and bathrooms that are spotless, with perfect hot water and great water pressure, and some that are none of the above.  Laundry room machines that function and are spotless., and some that aren’t.

Both choices have their charm and place in any road trip.  It all depends on how you like to roll!

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Alpaca at Wildwood Alpaca’s in Woodford, Virginia.