(Click on the photos to enlarge; click again for even larger.)
(This is Part 2; Part 1 is here.)
Day 14, Sunday, May 18, Warner Robins, GA to Semmes, AL via I-75, US319, I-10, US98: 406 miles
It was a bit after 0800 when I pulled out of the Warner Robins Walmart lot and began my return trip home. I had to decide whether to head into other states north of Georgia, the Carolinas, etc., or to head for home. Instead, I chose to head south to Florida just simply to add the sticker to the US map of states I’d visited aboard this coach. It was a good decision.
I added gas at the station nearest Walmart, actually on the Walmart lot, and paid too much. During the drive I saw gas for a dime less and wanted to kick myself. But again, I have to buy gas when I need it.
The drive south through Georgia was as beautiful as any I’ve ever driven. The lawns, the homes, the trees, and the weather were perfect that day. I drove some real backwater places and they were the most beautiful. The photos above were taken along River Road and Highway 311 I believe they called it, and it was a gorgeous drive. I saw a sign for a nearby town called Hopeful, GA. And it was all very remote. I loved it!
Taken in Bridgebain, GA, this old moss covered tree could have been an icon for the South. Gorgeous!
This grand old church was also in Bainbridge.
Eventually I drove into Florida, and was soon driving near the Gulf Coast. Pensacola was interesting with its obsession about Navy planes. Blue Angel planes adorned the freeway overpasses and even a rest area. My former Navy son, Dean, informed me during a call that day that every Navy pilot goes through Pensacola Naval Air training. And if they change to a different type of plane, they return to Pensacola for that training.
Pensacola FL was mighty proud of their Blue Angels!
Welcome back to Alabama. Please excuse my buggy windshield.
Mobile, AL’s “skyline”. And then I got confused…
My drive through Mobile was pretty challenging as it seemed my navigator was trying to send me through the downtown area. Perhaps it was a freeway, but I took no chances. Instead I took some crazy back roads it sent me on once I turned off the original route. I lost a few minutes, but I wound up at the Walmart lot in Semmes, AL where I had planned to spend the night. I arrived a bit later than I might have due to my unplanned detours. I arrived at 1630 via the roundabout route.
I took my daily walk around the store, and asked if it was Ok to park. Of course it was, and I also told the auto service folks I’d be at their big door at 0700 to get the coach serviced. I was overdue by 700 miles or so and was glad to have that done. Jacks down at Semmes, near Mobile, AL, for the night. It was a warm day in the mid 80s.
I then set about editing photos and writing this travelogue. I spent entirely too much time on those chores during the trip, but I wouldn’t have to post it all to the ‘net when I got home having done so daily during the trip. In the years to come I’ll enjoy this travelogue as I already have enjoyed many of my recorded fishing and RVing trips.
While editing and writing, I watched a fast food joint across the street doing what seemed a bang up business. I figured I’d give ’em a try. I’m not sure, but the name, Foosackly’s Chicken Fingers, must have been the attraction. The fingers were small strips of chicken, battered and deep fried. They offered five fingers, a small coleslaw of good quality and fries for $5.99. I brought it all home in a box for dinner. The gal that waited on me said they had eight stores. Good for them. But I failed to see or taste anything so great as to make a chain of stores. But good luck to ’em.
I ate the stuff and although it wasn’t special, it was good. Afterwards I kicked back on the couch and watched more WWII documentary. When I caught myself waking up several times, I gave in and headed to bed. It was around 2200 and the next day would be a big one. I had to get the oil changed and I had to load on some propane.
Day 15, Monday, Semmes, AL to Magnolia, AR via US98, SR49, I-20, SR146, US79: 380 miles
I was up earlier than usual as I wanted to be first at the Walmart auto service to get the lube, oil and filter done on my coach. I got through the chores quickly, then drove over to the tall service door and waited for them to open. As I waited I finally tended the bug collection of the past few days, and it was a mess. After half an hour I had them removed and even washed what I could of the front cap.
They opened a few moments after 0700 and had the coach on the rack by 0730. They were done before 0800 and I was on my way. At least the oil and filter was changed. I never trust most shops to lube properly as it’s impossible to know what they did. oops. Not long after I began the days drive I came upon this injury accident.
It was a long and trying day. I also got the propane tank filled after trying to find a place in vain for most of the morning. The first place I found told me they had no one around to pump it. I headed down the street to another retailer and finally succeeded. I had also hoped to get the coach washed, but I didn’t find a place for that as the coach requires a tall bay. I had an oil leak somewhere and the back of the coach was really a mess from that. I’d get that fixed after I got back home. I finally found some propane and had the tank filled. In the heat I didn’t need it except for running the refrigerator, and I was about out.
I drove a lot of US highway miles, interstate miles, and too many back road miles. Sometimes staying off the Interstates can’t be done and that day was one of ’em. But I still saw lots of great country as I drove through Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Arkansas. For a brief time, I believe it was in Louisiana, I had a police escort. At least it must have looked like it to other motorists as these biker cops rode by.
I have to quit eating so much outside of the coach. I had a Subway sandwich for breakfast/dinner, and Mickey D’s for lunch. Honestly, that Mickey D’s stuff has to stop. I had two $1 sandwiches, a McFlurry and a cup of coffee. Yet I have lots of good, healthy food on board. I would have to exercise some discipline the rest of the trip. The beautiful backwoods drive to Magnolia, AR along the winding roads of SR146 and US79 after leaving I-20. (Photo above and below.)
The last portion of the day’s drive, up SR146 and US79 to Magnolia, AR was the most beautiful of the whole day. The roads were mostly narrow, often curvy and always gorgeous. I envy the folks that live out in the backwaters of the south.
This is a video I shot during the day’s drive. It gives a view of the South’s rural highways I so love to drive.
I finally reached the Walmart store in Magnolia and dropped the jacks for the night. I was tired. Still, I had to keep this travelogue up to date and spent too much time doing just that. But what else would I have to do?
Jacks down at Magnolia, Arkansas’ Walmart store. Whew. It was a long day.
It was pretty warm in Magnolia, around 85° when I pulled in. After checking in at the store, I returned to the coach and had to run the generator and air conditioner for an hour or so to stay comfortable.
I spent the evening as usual; I edited photos, wrote this travelogue and watched more WWII documentary. I was up a bit later than usual, but I slept great once I hit the sack. It had been another great day on the road.
Tuesday, Day 16, Magnolia, AR to Childress, TX via US 87, US287: 437 miles
Day 16 was a long, challenging day, but I got a lot accomplished in spite of the wind and the heat. The snowy days were a forgotten memory. It was in the mid 90s during much of the afternoon, and the wind blew from the south at 20 MPH+ all day long. It made for a very tiring day as I fought the cross wind and hot weather. Texas! I like Texas. I like their liberal speed limits and good, friendly folks.
Pretty wild art on Texas’ freeways. It looks pretty cool. Who pays for it?
I had to dump the tanks that day, some where, and I wanted to wash the coach as it was filthy. I stopped at one little RV park and was told they had only septic tanks and didn’t accept such business. Fortunately, later in the day I pulled into a Texas rest area and there it was – a dump station! And it was empty, clean and in working order. So I got my tanks dumped and loaded fresh water for free. I was a happy camper. Now, how did they get that big ‘ol bomber in a junk yard?! Pretty cool.
An old section of Detroit, Texas. Maybe the original buildings? It was very historic looking.
I looked and looked for a car wash where I could get the coach next to a washing wand and a bay with a very high roof. And I found one! I got $10 in change and got busy washing the grime off the coach. A half hour or so later the coach looked so much better. I was pretty pleased with myself. Finally… the coach got cleaned up and back to looking sharp!
And I filled up the tank with $3.30 gas! That was a third accomplishment for the day and I felt pretty darned pleased. Yep… it was a blowy day in Texas and it wasn’t a lot of fun driving through the cross wind.
If you’re looking for trouble in Texas, they’re already watching you! Good!
Somebody’s idea of a joke: Two mannequins in an old Cadillac on a front yard by the highway.
The farther I drove west, the more it looked like Texas.
The heat was a real pain all day. I stayed comfortable alright, but RVing in the mid 90s is not as pleasant as RVing in the mid 70s. The heat was especially taxing once I arrived at my destination in Childress, TX a little after 1700. I fired up the generator and coach air, then headed into Walmart.
I walked around the store for about 20 minutes, just getting my walk done in the cool interior. I then climbed on one of their electric shopping scooters and did a bit of shopping. If anyone paid any attention to me they likely thought I was a bit nuts and I couldn’t blame ‘em.
Jacks down at the Childress, Texas Walmart lot. I was “home”.
I went back to the coach and stripped down to my skivvies to cool off a bit as I tackled this travelogue and the photo editing. I stayed comfy, but it was warm ‘til the air conditioner caught up with the heat in the coach. The night never really cooled nor did the wind subside. Still, I slept pretty well, not even pulling down the sheet but sleeping on the spread as it was just too warm for covers. I bought beer and peanuts at the store thinking it would help through the warm evening. It did.
When I finished editing photos and writing the day’s travelogue, I showered and then microwaved a quick frozen dinner. I sat back to watch more WWII documentary and relaxed awhile. Eventually I woke up sitting there on the couch and finally headed to bed. It was 2300.
Wednesday, Day 17, Childress TX to Route 66 Casino just west of Albuquerque, NM via US287, I-40: 406 miles
This long trip began with nice weather, and then it became rainy and snowy and cold in Nevada, Utah, Wyoming and Colorado, then was perfect in the south. Then as soon as I drove into Texas on my return trip I dealt with heat and wind. My trip had been tough at times, but I was mighty glad I took the trip as most of it had been enjoyable. A lovely sunrise in Childress, TX. That’s the best I could say for the place.
Day 17 began hot. It was hot and windy all night long there in Childress, Texas. When I got up around 0600 it was 76° outside and the wind was still blowing. I wanted one thing: to get out of that part of Texas. At 0645 I pulled out of the Walmart lot and continued west. It stayed warm and got warmer as I drove – and the wind continued to blow. As the morning wore on, there was no doubt that I was getting deeper into Texas.
While in the Deep South, the elevation was constant; usually about 200 to 400 feet or so. By the time I reached Childress, Texas the elevation was around 1500 feet. The day’s long drive took me to 7000 feet before I dropped into Albuquerque. It was climb, climb, climb all day and often against a strong cross wind or head wind. A picturesque old Texas homestead abandoned years ago. What stories it could tell!
This home looked like an old homestead, and I suspected they lived a hard life.
I paid for all the climbing and fighting the wind in gas consumption. My usual 7.5 or so MPG dropped to just 5.3 or so for the last tank. I gassed up in Amarillo, Texas and found the best price yet: $3.30 at Flying J less my loyalty discount made it $3.27. Deducting my 5% rebate from my credit card for gas purchases made it more like $3.11 per gallon. I have been conditioned to think that was a good price.
Yep. I was sure ’nuff in Texas!
Deaf Smith County in Texas. Really. Sometimes ya just hafta wonder what they were thinking.
New Mexico laid the welcome on real thick. And it was kinda cool.
Dropping down into Albuquerque after climbing all morning.
I arrived at the Route 66 casino west of Albuquerque around 1430 Mountain time. I was then one time zone from home! After parking in their huge lot, I walked in and checked that I could park for the night and was welcomed. And then I went for that which attracted me to the casino: Their wonderful buffet! They offered Chinese, Southwestern, home style, Italian and maybe another. Lavonne and I had stopped at that casino once years ago, and I remembered that buffet. I stuffed myself with Chinese and some home style fried chicken and taters, and made myself perfectly miserable. But I enjoyed the feast while it lasted. I then put $10 into a slot machine and quit about ten minutes later when I was down to $5. I returned to the coach.
Finally… jacks down at the Route 66 Casino west of Albuquerque.
At the coach I fired up the air conditioner and settled in for the night. I was grateful that it wasn’t as hot as Childress, Texas, and while it was pretty warm it cooled off much sooner than Childress. But the wind blew about as much. Ugh.
I whiled away the evening the same as I had for going on three weeks. I certainly didn’t need dinner after that buffet, but I did update the travelogue, photos, etc. and watched more documentary about WWII. I hit the sack at 2200 and slept just fine.
Day 18, Thursday, Albuquerque NM to Kingman, AZ via I-40: 435 miles
It was a relief to bed down in a relatively cool coach after the night before. I actually turned the heat on for a few moments the morning of Day 18 when I got up at 0500. The outdoor temp was just 53° and the wind calm. What an improvement!
I got the morning chores done and was on the road headed east at 0530. I enjoyed the drive through the semi-darkness of early morning and even snapped a few photos.
Daybreak at the Route 66 Casino as I pulled out of their huge parking lot.
Early morning shot of the dash lights as I continued my westward trek.
The sun rose behind me and made for quite a photo in the mirror.
A picturesque NM desert village that I have featured in past trips.
A small settlement in the desert of New Mexico. That sure looked like a tough life.
Crossing the Continental Divide in Arizona again – this time west bound. Note the elevation on the navigator.
Soon after I crossed the state line into Arizona, a highway information sign advised of an accident seven miles ahead and to expect delays. Dang. I continued on hoping for the best, and it turned out to be a single vehicle had smacked into a guard rail and was damaged pretty badly. The driver and passenger had assembled their belongings from the back of the truck onto the shoulder of the road, including what looked like a dog in a cage. It seemed all were Ok. They hit the rail just after an off ramp, so traffic was simply routed to the off ramp and onto the on ramp with little delay. Whew.
The day’s drive was a lot of climbing and a lot of descending, driving the west bound version over the Continental Divide. I dealt with some wind at times but not as consistent as the prior two days. And it wasn’t so hot. I had the air conditioner on very little. Dropping into Winslow, AZ for gas, food and the first of two good windshield cleanings.
I stopped to gas up, eat, and wash the windshields in Winslow, Arizona. I had a good Denny’s Value Slam for breakfast, and enjoyed a restaurant meal for a change. I had been eating too much Mickey D’s, and about half my meals I whipped up in the coach. But when I did eat out, I usually ate cheap. At any rate, I cleaned the windshields and took about 15 minutes to do a first rate job. Not 15 minutes down the road, at freeway speed, I drove through a tight swarm of wasps. In literally half a second I had about 80 splatters on my nice, clean windshield. The joke was on me and I had to laugh at my frustration. I took the first rest area that came along and cleaned the windshields again.
The second good windshield cleaning in about 15 minutes.
A couple of interesting landscape features along I-40 in Arizona. Or maybe it was New Mexico:
Unfortunately, this feature was over run with stores, etc. It was quite a sight.
As I drove through the Flagstaff area, a forest fire was burning nearby. The white cloud above was smoke from the fire. For awhile it was bad enough to hurt my eyes and throat as I drove through it.
Driving through Arizona I had to deal with some of the worst roads of the trip, including Kalifornistan, and I was fit to be tied. I-40 through Arizona was an abomination. The last hundred miles of the drive nearly rattled the coach apart. I cussed the engineers, the maintenance, the politicians and the road itself. None of my cussin’ made a bit of difference except that I felt better. One positive came of all the banging and cussing; I was prepared for my return to Kalifornistan, and while I looked forward to my Honey, hearth and home, I did not look forward to the rotten roads and infernal traffic.
I planned to reach home on the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend and that would likely be a busy drive. The final hundred miles or so through Arizona, as stated above, beat me and the coach to pieces. By the time I pulled into Kingman, Arizona’s Walmart lot, I was whipped.
I headed to the store and walked laps around the store for the day’s exercise. I stopped at the Mickey D’s inside for a pie and milk to soothe my shaken nerves and it turned out to be my lunch, I guess. Ok, it was two pies. Two strawberry cream pies. Mmmmmm.
I returned to the coach and found it to be cool enough after running the air conditioner during my visit to the store. I began writing the day’s travelogue and editing photos. It wasn’t long ‘til I turned off the air and opened the coach door and a window. The breeze kept me comfortable and I hoped it wouldn’t kick up overnight. And it didn’t.
Day 19, Friday. May 23, Kingman, AZ to HOME(!) via I-40, SR58, SR99: 538 miles
I slept well, but woke up often during the early morning hours. Perhaps getting close to home made me restless and anxious to get back on the road. I climbed out of my cozy queen sized bed about 0430, and got through the morning chores quickly. I pulled out of the Kingman, AZ Walmart lot at 0515. An early start on what turned out to be the last day of the RV adventure to Denver and Georgia. I needed an early start; 538 miles was a long drive!
The plan for the day was based on habit, apparently. I simply set 400 miles or so as my goal which would put me somewhere on SR99 within 150 miles of home. I figured I’d stop around the Tulare area and drive on in the next morning. But as I drove along I realized how foolish it would be to pull into a Walmart so close to home and spend an afternoon and much of the night with the air conditioner and generator running to stay comfy in the 90°+ valley heat. I decided to just keep truckin’ on home. I called dear Wifey to let her know I’d be home sometime around 1600. Normally that would be an awful long drive, over 500 miles, but after three weeks on the road I was getting excited to be home. Wifey! My recliner and TV! My hot tub! 500+ miles would be a breeze.
I had one last opportunity to buy gas in Arizona before entering the state with the highest gas tax and highest gas prices. (Hawaii is a bit more but produces none of its own gas and ships in every drop.) That state is, of course, Kalifornistan, which according to my experience also has the worst roads. So I pulled into a Pilot truck stop in Lake Havasu, Arizona. The price for regular was about the highest I’d paid the entire trip at $3.56. Pilot owns Flying J and honors their loyalty card, so my price was $3.53. I pumped on all I could, and continued my drive. Approaching the Colorado River and the Kalifornistan line. That looked like a Third World Country ahead, and it was! I felt a familiar depression setting in.
Welcome to Kalifornistan – hold on to your wallet!
More Kalifornistan lunacy. I had just driven through a dozen states, not one of which had this stupid law. But to insure rolling roadblocks and reap money from the truckers, this artificial speed limit helps nothing and slows down everyone. The big rigs travel safely at 70 -75 MPH all over the country.
I had mixed emotions as I approached the Kalifornistan line. Home was there (darn it!) and I surely wanted to go home. But also it is so over run with people, taxes, stupid politicians and judges, traffic, and crime that I’d really rather live just about anywhere else. But I soldiered on.
Kalifornistan has some nice places, and the stark and barren deserts are beautiful – not that I’d want to live in one. The vastness of the deserts was almost overwhelming and I don’t know how anyone traversed them or lived in them before interstate highways, cars, and air conditioning. They had to have been a very hardy lot. The stark and beautiful desert along I-40 in Kalifornistan. Or is that Iran?!
An unusual train of eight locomotives and no cars rolling through the desert. It was a strange sight.
SR58 and the Mojave Desert heading towards the Tehachapi Mountains.
I enjoyed the drive to Barstow and beyond, and even enjoyed SR58 that goes through the Mojave Desert, over the Tehachapis and into Bakersfield. Those roads were much better than the many valley roads I usually drive. From Bakersfield one must drive SR99 up the valley to my home. SR99 has to be one of the most neglected major thoroughfares in the whole country. It seems they work on selected parts, but overall it is still a glorified goat trail, and it literally beats me and the coach to pieces every time I have to drive it. SR99 was the absolute worst roadway of the whole trip. Even that rotten 100 miles or so before Kingman, AZ wasn’t as bad. The price we pay to live in a Third World country is a crime! Dropping down from the Tehachapis to the Great Valley. I was nearing home!
I drove steadily the whole day, covering 538 miles. I ate at Dale’s Diner for both breakfast and lunch. At least I think I did. As I wrote this the following day, the whole day seemed a blur. Turning the corner to Honey, hearth, hot tub, and home. I made it!
But I sure remembered the moment I pulled up to the house, entered the front door and gave my dear Wifey a long and glorious hug! We visited a bit, and then I unloaded the few things I had to have in the house. Everything else waited ’til the next day when I unloaded it all, dumped the tanks, washed the gazillion bugs off the front of the coach, and put her away.
And of course that first leisurely, hot, roomy shower was a special treat after three weeks of RV showers. After unloading the coach I dunked in the hot tub that first morning home. What a treat! As the sign on our refrigerator door reads: No matter how far you may roam, the best part is coming home!
Epilogue: The trip was nearly three weeks in duration. I drove 5,521 miles, burning 669 gallons of gas and realizing 7.6 MPG for the whole trip. (The numbers posted here don’t jive as I did not fill up when I got home; my last fill up was in Lake Havasu, Arizona.) The cost of all that gas was $2308, averaging $3.45 per gallon. With my magic PenFed credit card that earns 5% on all gas purchases and is credited on each monthly bill, my actual cost of gas was just $3.28 per gallon. That sure beats the Kalifornistan average cost of gas which was $4.11 at the time of this writing. For comparison, the average cost in Arkansas was $3.38. ===============================
Over the years I have posted many exciting fishing and boating stories here, but now in my seventies, it was time to sell the boat and find less demanding pastimes. All the fishing stories are still here! I will now post my travels aboard the motorhome and other activities. I hope y'all will still enjoy the fishing and boating adventures and perhaps peek in on my post-boating activities on occasion. Thanks for dropping in and I hope you enjoy your visit.