Wednesday, August 1, 2012

July 27, 2012 - HOME

We rode from Benton, KY to Dayton, OH without any real issue.  As soon as we made the I-71/I-75 interchange, the traffic became horrendous.

It was, after all, a Friday afternoon in July.  I suspected we would not hit any slowdowns and I was right.  Everyone was going the opposite direction.

We had gassed up just after getting on I-75 because I couldn't make it home on this tank.

We pulled into the drivway about 3:30 PM.  We quickly opened the camper and Don's trailer and began exchanging the items we had been carrying of each others.

In the meantime, as I was gathering some more items, Don was downloading all his pictures from his phone and camera, onto our home PC.

We had all that done in less than an hour.  Don had another 2-1/2 hours to ride to get to his place.  We said goodbye and had a brief conversation about the trip and he took off.

July 26, 2012 - Benton, KY - Motel

Yep - you guessed it.  More heat and a motel for the night.

This motel has an indoor pool.  We weren't real keen on an indoor pool, but thought of the one from last night being outside in the heat.  The one last night really wasn't refreshing as it was really warm.  This one was just right, although the indoor temperature was unbearable. 

We cooled off in the pool, then sat outside in the shade.

Fortunately there was a nice looking restaurant adjacent to the motel parking lot.  We just cooled off more, had a few beers and ate a late dinner.

We could make it home from here tomorrow.   Not much more to say other than ride to get home...

July 25, 2012 - Clarksville, AR - Motel

We headed out early and quickly from Elk City, OK.  The temps were already in the mid-80’s at 7:00AM.  We had planned to stop at the memorial at OKC which was about 125 miles away.

We found it despite there being absolutely no signs guiding us there.  It is still inspirational, despite the fact the reflecting pool was shut down for some repairs.  I was also surprised to find that the National Park Service has relinquished the control to Oklahoma.  It is now a private enterprise, so Don doesn’t get a stamp from here.  Unfortunately the reflecting pool was down for some repairs.

View Of OKC Memorial
This Wall Is At One End Of Reflecting Pool

Stylized Chairs Representing Each Victim
With Names Etched On Glass Base
Large Chairs For Adults, Small Chairs For Children
Columns Of Chairs Represent The Floor Victims Were On
Rows Of Chairs Arranged Alphabetically

Corner Of Original Building Left Standing
View Of Reflecting Pool (Currently Under Repair)

Personal Items On One of Many Fence Sections At OKC Memorial

We headed out for Ft Smith AR.  The heat was already unbearable.  We decided to stop at Clarksville, AR, for the night. 

They had a pool and we enjoyed it for several hours.  Our plans are to head out by 6:00 AM tomorrow and get an early start, beat the heat and stop early.  One has to plan for the weather as we had done in Alaska.  At this point, I can see us only swooping up the interstate to home.  It may be two more days and I believe we are both anxious to call this trip complete. 

I will load all the reports to the blog, add the pictures, and update accordingly.

The last report will summarize the trip and add some opinions of the adventures.

July 24, 2012 - Elk City, OK - Motel

The weather was cool when we left Albuquerque.  We were able to get on the road by 7:00AM.  We gassed up and headed east on I-40.  We knew the forecast was rain for eastern NM and windy conditions for Amarillo and east.

It didn’t really warm up until about noon or so, and we had no rain.  The wind began picking up about 50 miles west of Amarillo.  We endured it, and the up-to-35MPH gusts. 

We breezed through Amarillo (no pun intended), and even considered stopping in OKC, because of the excellent progress we were making.  Then the heat hit us.  Shortly after Amarillo, it got really hot. 

I was able to pick up a radio station from Elk City and heard the temp was currently 101 degrees.  It was about 125 miles from Amarillo to Elk City. 

We stopped at an Oklahoma visitors center to check on lodging ahead.  The gentleman gave us some good tips. 

We pulled off at the Elk City exit with many hotels.  By this time it was 103 degrees and we had no intention of camping.  The first motel we stopped at was booked.  They were kind enough to tell us all the motels at this exit were booked for some convention.

We took the road through town, gassed up, got some drinks and found another cluster of motels, basically at the next exit.  We both wanted a pool to cool of in, but the motel we were looking for couldn’t be found.  We stopped at another and they had a pool and rooms available. 

What luck…the pool is closed for major repairs, so we just went into the room, turned the A/C on MAX and had a few adult beverages. 

There were a few restaurants close by and we choose the Italian one across the street.  What a nice surprise.  It was one of the best mom-and-pop Italian meals we have both had for quite some time. 

We plan to head out early again, stop by the OKC memorial.  I have been there but Don has not.  I was most impressed when JoAnn and I first visited it in 2003 or so.

July 23, 2012 - Albuquerque, NM - Motel

The weather was good when we left Flagstaff.  We ate a good breakfast and headed out.  Our goal was to make Albuquerque, or beyond.  I fixed the cruise control issue and rearranged some things in the camper to put more weight to the front.  After we hit the interstate, the camper tracked much better and we could maintain a good 65 MPH with no issues. 

We stopped at the Petrified Forest, got a stamp for Don and walked around.  We met a couple of motorcyclists from Connecticut, who were heading to San Diego then up California and Nevada, Utah and on to Sturgis.  We chatted for maybe 10 minutes about our adventure.  They were nice people and we always enjoy talking to other riders.

Entrance To Petrified Forest

We saw rain on the horizon and about 10 miles west of Gallup, we suited up.  Not 5 minutes later it came down.  It was a combination of heavy rain and pea-size hail.  We kept going and felt it better to endure and get out of it.  It only lasted for 10 minutes, but seemed longer.  There were severe warnings out for the area.  We continued on to Albuquerque, and went to the Petroglyphs NM.  It was different small and on the main road.   Don got a stamp there, so he now has a stamp in NM.
Sign Adjacent To Parking Lot
Low-Budget Attraction Here

We know there aren’t much choices in the way of camping in Albuquerque, so we considered a motel.  As we talked about it in the petroglyphs parking lot, we could see another storm forming.  We found a motel down the road.  We pulled into the lot and two police cars were next door.  Don brought that to my attention.  I walked over the to one officer, and asked him if we should stay here tonight.  He said “No, you don’t want to stay in this area”.  Whoa…good news for us.  He said to go east for about 10 miles and stay at any motel there.  It would be much safer.

We no sooner pulled into the parking space, and the skies opened up.  It came down in buckets, and more hail was falling.  We stood outside our room and watched the rain go into a drainage swale, and commented that you could surf off the wave.
Deluge In Albuquerque
Wave In Drainage Swale Is On Other Side Of Fence

We will head out early and dodge the rain probably all day tomorrow.  It is either the rain or heat that is our nemesis.  We’ll see how far we can get tomorrow.  There isn’t much between Albuquerque and Oklahoma City.

July 22, 2012 - Flagstaff, AZ - KOA Campground

We left Needles at 6:55 AM with the temperature already at 91 degrees.  We grabbed a quick breakfast, gassed up and headed for Flagstaff and the Grand Canyon.  We rearranged some of the items in the camper to make it track better.  It seemed to work.  I didn’t get the swaying I had yesterday.  Still…we can’t do the 75 MPH speed limit, but 62 MPH or so is better than 55 MPH. 
Entrance To The South Rim Of The Grand Canyon

View From South Rim Looking West

View From South Rim Looking East
View Looking At Plateau Half-Way Down With Trail

We just rode to the Grand Canyon exit and headed north.  We had both been there several times and our goal was to get Don’s NP passport stamp.  We found the visitors center, and parked.  We walked the rim trail, took some pictures and got the stamp.  We might have been there an hour or so.  It was beautiful.  The Grand Canyon was the first national park I visited in 1970.  Damn…that is almost 42 years ago.  I had always wanted to see it, walk to the bottom and see the grandeur.  I did that 42 years ago, and had since walked down part-way several times.  The area just outside the park boundary on the south rim had only one motel and one greasy spoon back then.  Now it is a suburbanites dream.  There must be a dozen motels, and every fast food joint you can name.  And don’t you know it – the same mom-and-pop motel from 42 years ago is still there, under the same name - Red Feather Lodge.  They have expanded, but still there. 

We headed for Flagstaff and the KOA.  We have stayed here before and it is nice, quiet, and convenient to the interstate.  There was a little rain in the forecast and we hit just enough drops to spot the windshield.  We checked in and headed for WalMart for some supplies. 

My clutch lever lost the cruise control fix I had put in.  Not a big deal, I have spare parts and have fixed it again.  My hand was severely cramped from holding the throttle and not having the cruise control working. 

Don is beat, has a headache, and decided to take a nap.  The heat has taken it out of both of us.  The weather here is about 80 degrees with a forecast low of about 50 tonight.  Our plans for tomorrow are to make it to Albuquerque and stop.  I think from here on out, heat is in the forecast.  We are going to play it by ear and let the weather and our endurance dictate where and when we stop. 

We will have to find someplace in NM, TX, OK, AR, and MO to get a NP stamp for Don.

July 21, 2012 - Needles, CA - Motel

We left the motel in Visalia later than we wanted to.  We finally hit the road about 9:00 AM.  Our goal was to get out of Dodge as quick as we can.  We looked at the map and plotted a course for Barstow.   By the time we would reach Barstow, we would have mad a decision whether to go to Las Vegas or Flagstaff.  We opted for Flagstaff. 

The heat has caught up with us.  Not much after we hooked up with the freeway, maybe 60 miles from Visalia, it was in the high 90’s. 

We pulled into Needles and it was 108 degrees.  We were stopping about every 70 miles or so to get water and cool off on the way.  Despite the fact we had a late departure, frequent stops, and limited to 55 MPH, we made excellent time.  The camper seems to be wandering more than it should and that is limiting our speed.  We repacked it after we arrived at the motel, and then went out to eat.  It seemed better.

Our Motel In Needles, CA

We had already discussed staying at a motel even before the heat maxed out.  We love to camp, but there is no way we are going to camp out in this weather.  Besides that, there is a storm heading this way.  The girl at the motel said the last time the clouds looked like that, there was 2 feet of water in the streets.  Another man told us that there is wind alert.  Flagstaff had 50 MPH gusts several hours earlier.  Right now, as I look out at the sky, it looks very serious.  Maybe it will hit at night, and clear in the morning.  Even with that, the heat is all around and ahead of us. 

I think we will head towards Flagstaff in the morning and maybe camp there.  It will be cooler as it is a higher elevation and out of the desert.