2015 Adventure to Denver2 + Arkansas! (Page 2)

 As we began our trip back home, the first page of this travelogue was becoming too long and unwieldy. It was time to start a second page for this long trip to Denver and Arkansas and this is Page 2.

Page 1 is here.

(Note: These photos are HUGE if you double click on them.)

Saturday, Day 12, Sept. 26, 2015 Mt. Ida to Elk City, OK via US270, US71, US64, I-40: 381 miles

We slept well that night out in the Arkansas woods where the Yeamans live. We heard dogs a couple of times, but out there the folks all have dogs and one barking from a neighbor a hundred yards away would get Yeamans’ dogs going. But it didn’t last long.2015-9-26a lovely home

Someone’s Shangri-La in the beautiful Arkansas woods. That must be some life way out there and I envied them!

We were up and around sometime after 0600 and after the morning routine we ambled across the yard to the Yeamans’ home. The plan was to just say good morning and goodbye, as we planned to leave early. They offered breakfast but we declined as we’d wait ’til some place down the road around 0900. We chatted for a few pleasant minutes before thanking them for the hospitality and then heading for home.

We needed to dump the coach for sure that day before we settled in for the night, and we also wanted to wash the very dirty coach. We managed both.

Our journey home would be via I-40 which was about a hundred mile drive north from Mt. Ida, the same drive we took to get there. I enjoyed the greenbelt drive through Arkansas’ curvy two lane highways to I-40. 2015-9-26c Arkansas hiway

Arkansas highways can be very picturesque, as is the highway through the hills above Mt. Ida and beyond.

2015-9-26d Ft Smith water spray park

A very attractive water feature at a park in the Ft. Smith area.

2015-9-26e Ft Smith area traffic

The drive through the Ft. Smith area was not particularly pleasant.

2015-9-26a Coach wash in

We found a car wash in the Fort Smith, Arkansas area with an open bay on which I could wash the coach, so I pulled in and got right after it. It was easy and the high pressure soapy spray did a nice job in a hurry.

2015-9-26g back in OK

Before we reached I-40 we were welcomed back to Oklahoma.

2015-9-26h accident as we reached I-40

Beyond Fort Smith, Arkansas the humdrum drive on the Interstate soon began. Our left turn onto the Interstate was closed by a car-semi accident, so we drove down a bit farther and U-turned back so we could turn right onto the onramp. It looked like it might have been an injury accident but we couldn’t be sure.

2015-9-26jj reliefJust a few miles down I-40 we came upon a rest area with a RV dump, and Big Blue really, really had to go. I pulled in and gladly set about the chore of dumping the waste tanks and loading on fresh water. I had washed the coach and dumped her as well that morning. I was pleased and Big Blue was greatly relieved. Life is good.

We continued on down I-40 all day long, stopping just for lunch aboard the coach at another rest area. Lavonne whipped up PBJs for us and I really enjoyed mine as I normally don’t allow myself the simple pleasure of peanut butter.2015-9-26k lots of water maybe

…and try to stay dry!

2015-9-26L OKC skyline

One drawback of running the Interstate highways is that it’s not so easy to dodge the big cities. Here we drove through Oklahoma City and the traffic was not particularly pleasant.

Farther into the drive we pulled into a Mickey D’s for a sugar and caffeine jolt to help me beat the sleepies. We really fell off the diet wagon at that stop; I saw the new pumpkin and cream pie and had to have one, along with a McFlurry and a large coffee. Lavonne ordered a McFlurry, too, and a small fries. We climbed back aboard the coach and continued our westward trek while pigging out. I was wide awake after all that sugar and caffeine!

We thought we’d drive to El Reno, OK and pull in for the night, about a 315 mile drive. But we had made pretty good time so we continued on to Elk City, OK which was closer to 400 miles for the day.

2015-9-26Mm Elk City OK Walmart

Jacks down at Elk City, OK’s Walmart store for the night.

2015-9-26n sunset at Elk City, OK

A pretty dramatic sunset at Elk City. It’s good to have time to enjoy such pleasures.

When we pulled in to Elk City’s Walmart I set off for my daily walk of about 25 minutes. Lavonne and I both got our noses buried in the laptops as I updated this travelogue and Lavonne visited her favorite sites. I zapped a frozen meal for dinner, so we had all three meals aboard the coach. We prefer travel on the cheap, and eating aboard is certainly a thrifty way to see the country.

Our evening passed as usual aboard the coach. After I caught up on the travelogue – this endless travelogue –  I poured a couple of nightcaps and settled back to watch one of my favorite movies, Driving Miss Daisy, ’til after Lavonne went to bed. I followed soon after and slept like a baby, as usual.
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Sunday, Day 13, Elk City, OK to Albuquerque, NM via I-40: 419 miles

We took our sweet time getting underway that Sunday morning. We slept ’til 0630, then Lavonne enjoyed her coffee at a leisurely pace. When we finished the usual morning routines, we headed off to the store for some grocery shopping. The Elk City Walmart was a big one, and we enjoyed all the choices we had. They even carried Fresca, something my local store at home refuses to carry for some reason.

After the shopping trip we returned to the coach and Lavonne stashed the groceries while I tended the bug collection on the huge windshields. It was after 0900 when we continued our homeward drive. 2015-9-27a welcome to Texas

We were welcomed to Texas with their very attractive sign, and they do generally drive friendly in Texas.

2015-9-27b outrageous Texas rest area

An outrageous rest area along I-40 in Texas. We figured the big wall and star were just for art’s sake. hmmmm. Poor spending, Texas!

2015-9-27c as seen on TV
…as seen on the Travel Channel and other shows as well, I suppose. You get the steak free if you finish it within an hour. (And then maybe a free funeral?)

We made a point of eating breakfast, lunch, and dinner in the coach. Lavonne made PBJ sandwiches for lunch again, something I’ve denied myself for years, and I enjoyed mine greatly. I began thinking that I should afford myself such little pleasures more often in my old age and make up for it some other way. But we can’t keep the stuff at home as I would snack on it ’til it was gone in just a few days.

The day’s 419 mile drive, actually 426 miles according to the GPS, was rather tedious. We drove against a wind too much of the time, especially in Texas and New Mexico.

2015-9-27d tilt'n towerThe leaning water tower of Groom, Texas was a gimmick used by a long closed and forgotten truck stop on that site. The downpipe acts as a third leg and it was never in danger of toppling over.

2015-9-27e Groom TX crossThe 11 story cross of Groom, Texas is said to be visible from 20 miles away. We first noticed it at 10 miles away, and it is certainly huge. If you double click on this photo you’ll more easily see a few of the 14 Stations of the Cross with life size statues.

2015-9-27f Groom TX is really wind and cornThe truth of Groom, Texas is, I think, that it is mostly wind and corn. But the town does know how to attract attention!

And we did enjoy the attractions of the Groom, Texas area as we drove by, including the tallest cross in the country and the slightly famous leaning water tower. They are both interesting in very different ways, and the stories are here on Wikipedia.
 2015-9-27g life in Texas looks sereneA small spread that looked serene along I-40 in Texas.

2015-9-27h thank God for my navigatorSituations like this make me very happy to have an extra smart GPS navigator along that shows me as well as talks me through the many opportunities to get confused and lost. Sheesh!

2015-9-27i reminder of who got this Interstate system startedAgain, as in at least one prior travelogue, I have to say it’s good to remember who did so much to get our Interstate system built.

It seemed that the whole day was climb, climb, climb. We reached 7000 ft. on two occasions and actually dropped perhaps 1500 ft. to land at 5200 ft. or so at Albuquerque’s Walmart store. It also seemed that the farther west we drove the more expensive gas became.

2015-9-27L Texas has a way with wordsTexas does have a way with words…

We stopped at the crummy little tourist trap at Clines Corners, NM where they wanted me to pay $2.60 per gallon. I knew it couldn’t be that expensive except at such shysters as they seemed to be. To add insult to injury, after I paid for my 7 gallon purchase to get to the next town, they required I go into their over-priced store to get my receipt. So I made my own receipt and made a mental note to never stop there again!2015-9-27m welcomed to NMNew Mexico has the splashiest welcome of any state I’ve seen. Double click on this photo and read the small yellow sign visible on the left. That sign is pretty creative!

2015-9-27n NM and the Rockies loomed large aheadThe mountains loomed large in the distance of New Mexico and we sure did some climbing!

2015-9-27o dropping down to AlbuquerqueDropping down to 5300 ft. or so into Albuquerque, NM from as high as 7000 Ft.

2015-9-27p Big Blue at Albuquerque WalmartBig Blue at rest for the night at Albuquerque’s Carlisle Ave. Walmart lot.

We finally pulled into Albuquerque and dropped the jacks at yet another Walmart store. Thanks, Mr. Sam! It was pretty warm, something in the 80s, when we arrived. We fired up the generator and stayed comfortable under the air conditioner ducts. We ran it ‘til almost bedtime.

Lavonne whipped up a dinner of frozen Mexican style lasagna for dinner. It was quite good for a zapped meal, and along with some zapped/steamed veggies we were satisfied – again on the cheap as we like.

Our evening in Albuquerque was as most evenings. We both burned up bandwidth on the two computers, Lavonne on her games and other sites, and me on the travelogue and editing photos. Lavonne retired an hour ahead of me, and I watched some TV and enjoyed a couple of cool ones. I went to bed around 2300.
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Monday, Day 14, Albuquerque, NM to Kingman, AZ via I-40: 464 miles

We were up around 0530 for some reason, I guess we wanted to get going a bit early to mark two weeks on the road. After the morning routines, I took a walk and bought a couple of items from Walmart as well. We pulled out of the lot about 0715 and continued our westerly drive toward home.2015-9-28a Albuqurque traffic heading outWe were mighty pleased to be heading west out of Albuquerque at the speed limit. Note the eastbound side traffic jam!

2015-9-28b open NM I-40 highway ahead
It was good to have Albuquerque behind as and back on the open I-40.

2015-9-28c NM village I always shootI’ve posted photos this little New Mexican village at least twice before, and with that mission at the top of the hill, it is an irresistible sight.

2015-9-28d tough life in the NM desertMany homes along I-40 look pretty rugged and the living must be hard and often uncomfortable.

Big Blue pulled against wind and grade all day it seemed, and never missed a beat. She was a comfortable ride and an even more comfortable home each night. 2015-9-28e beautiful NM desertBeautiful New Mexican landscape, wild and rugged.

2015-9-28f Cont divide I-40 NMThe Continental Divide, New Mexican style, at a very high elevation and beautiful landscape. 

2015-9-28g Cont divide I-40 NM elevAt the divide, the elevation was about 7200 feet as shown on our navigator.

2015-9-28h even truck stops look better in NMEven truck stops look good with the New Mexico landscape in the shot.

2015-9-28i more NM beautyWow. The New Mexico landscape was awesome in the full sense of the word!

2015-9-28L tourist trap stinky waterSomewhere before leaving New Mexico we stopped at this tourist trap that advertised free ice water that turned out to be tap water that stunk to high heaven of sulfur. The place sold the usual touristy junk, and I recalled yet again why I usually avoid such roadside joints. Those gas pumps were closed and they did not sell gas. We thought the place looked like it was about to go broke.

2015-9-28j leaving NMAs one enters Arizona this beautiful landscape is on the state line. It is, unfortunately, accompanied by some junky tourist trap and tacky signs.

2015-9-28o seems all tourist traps are world famous
It seemed that the farther out in the boonies a tourist trap was, the more world famous it claimed to be.

2015-9-28m brief visit no tourWe stopped at the Petrified Forest National Park and walked into the visitor center and their gift shop. It also sold the usual tourist stuff such as T-shirts and key chains. When it came to paying to drive a long loop through the park, we just weren’t that interested in looking at rocks. We drove back to the Interstate and continued west.

2015-9-28n coal fired elec generation in middle of nowhereSomewhere along US40 in Arizona we drove past this huge coal-fired electric generation plant. That huge, long pile in front of the distant stack on the left is coal.

2015-9-28p meteor craterNow this is one attraction worth the visit. A few years back we visited the Meteor Crater and it was very interesting. Check it out on my original RV Site here and scroll almost to the bottom: Meteor Crater

2015-9-28q mountains loomed climb to FlagstaffThe mountains loomed high before us as we climbed to Flagstaff, AZ.

We stopped for lunch at The Cracker Barrel in Flagstaff, and enjoyed only our second sit-down restaurant meal of the whole trip. The food was good and we enjoyed our stop. At one point during our planning of the day we considered spending the night at Flagstaff, but we were there way too early to quit driving for the day.

2015-9-28r how do they...How do they train all those deer where to cross? Those Arizona wardens must be really good!

2015-9-28s beautiful west of FlagstaffJust west of Flagstaff the scenery was all forest and green. It was quite a change from the desert rocks and sand and lizards.

2015-9-28t top of I-40 west of FlagstaffThe Arizona Divide, whatever that was, was very high at 7335′. We had already crossed the Continental Divide earlier that day, so again I was confused. There are two divides in Wyoming, too, that confused me. Anyway, I looked it up and found this: 

Arizona Divide – 7335 ft – Riordan, AZ
N 35° 11.968 W 111° 45.093
12S E 431585 N 3895422
Quick Description: The Arizona Divide is high point that defines the watershed & changes the direction of the flow of water from south & east to south & west. There is a sign on both east & west-bound I-40 at A-1 Mountain Road (Exit 190).

2015-9-28u last dump 'til homeWe stopped at a Love’s Travel Plaza somewhere along I-40 and dumped the tanks for the last time ’til back home. We also added fresh water and gas.

We didn’t know where we’d end up that day, but thought we might stay at a truck stop in Seligman, AZ on the old US66. We turned off I-40 and drove a loop around Seligman on the old highway.

2015-9-28v crass old Hiway 66Along the old Route 66 the stores tried to look very 50s but it was so overdone it just looked trashy. 

It was my first actual drive along Route 66 in a small time town doing its best to look like the 50s. Instead it looked crass and tacky. We decided we’d drive on when we found the old truck stop because I had concerns about our overnight security there. 

It was late afternoon when we decided to drive clear to Kingman, another 75 miles. The total miles ended up at 464 which were too many, but we managed.

When we finally pulled in to Kingman, AZ’s Walmart store about 1830, I was just plumb road-weary. We had dinner in the coach a bit later than usual. Other than that, the evening was typical; we did our computer stuff and I watched TV ’til almost 2300. I once again dug out the old WWII documentary titled A Fighter Pilot’s Story by Quentin Aanenson. I watched it ’til I went to bed around 2300.
==============================

Tuesday, Day 15, Kingman, AZ to Tulare, CA via I-40, SR58, SR99: 390 miles

We slept in ’til 0700 the morning of Day 15, and I suppose the prior day’s long drive had something to do with our late start. After our usual morning routine, I took my daily walk around the Walmart store. I also tended the huge bug collection we had accumulated the prior day and was visible in many of the photos.2015-9-29a morning with the pigeons at Kingman, AZMorning of Day 15 with pigeons on the prowl in Kingman, AZ.

The day was going to be a hot one, especially on our drive where we saw 108° predicted for Needles. We would avoid the worst of it by driving through before the hottest time of the day. Still, we figured we’d have another hot evening and have to run the AC ’til bedtime or longer.2015-9-29b pulling onto I-40What a way to start the day! This was the sight as we pulled out of Kingman, AZ and onto I-40, beginning the last full day and night of our great road trip.

2015-9-29c beautiful Arizona
We had only about 50 miles of Arizona to enjoy as we headed out for the day. While I was experiencing the usual dread of being back in Kalifornistan, my cute lil’ Trail Buddy…

2015-9-29d happy trail buddy…was looking forward to being back home!

2015-9-29d ratsUgh. Watch your wallet, dodge the potholes, and pray for rain; we were back in The People’s Republic of Kalifornistan.

We drove through the mountains most of the day, and Big Blue did a lot of pulling to get through the climbs and descents. We ran the dash AC most all day to stay comfy. We ate breakfast and lunch aboard Dale’s Diner at rest areas, and stayed faithful to our “traveling on the cheap” policy.

2015-9-29g snack stopOut in the middle of nowhere among the sand and lizards we stopped here for Dairy Queen Blizzard treats on a day that was getting very warm.

2015-9-29h BarstowWe reached Barstow on I-40 where we would take SR58 toward the Mojave Desert and Bakersfield.

2015-9-29ii lunch at Boron in Mojave desert
At the Boron Rest Area along SR58 near the small Mojave Desert town of Boron where we stopped for lunch aboard Dale’s Diner.

2015-9-29k Mojave plane storage
A large aircraft storage facility where the airlines store their unused airliners. The dry, desert climate makes the Mojave Airport an ideal place to keep them.

2015-9-29L flying disc lands on wind turbine!What the…?! A flying saucer landed on a wind turbine in the Tehachapi Mountains? Or maybe it’s a device to reduce turbulence? I didn’t know, but I liked my first guess.

2015-9-29M dropping into valleyDropping down SR58 from the Tehachapis to the Great Valley below.

2015-9-29n Bakersfield trafficThe Kalifornistan traffic along SR99 in Bakersfield during rush hour as we continued north.

We gassed up at Bakersfield’s Flying J Plaza once we were back on SR99, the highway that would take us back home the next day. Gas was no longer such a bargain back in Kalifornistan as we paid $2.62 with our 3¢ loyalty card discount. But at least it wasn’t $4 and more per gallon as we’ve often paid in the past.

2015-9-29o back in drought and water warsBack in Kalifornistan where whiskey is for drinking and water is for fighting over. Nothing new here folks, just move along…

2015-9-29p back in drought and water warsFat Cats and politicians want to build a high speed rail down the Central Valley. Farmers want money spent on water storage. I’m rooting for the farmers, but here in Kalifornistan we usually choose to do something stupid.

As we drove the final half hour up SR99 to Tulare’s Walmart store, Lavonne fired up the generator and AC so the living area of the coach would be comfortable by the time we parked for the night. It worked quite well and we continued running the air off and on through the evening. We were pleased that Tulare was not as hot as we feared it would be.

For dinner Lavonne brought in some tacos from a very nearby Taco Bell. I brought in some Chinese food from Panda Express which was also close by. We very much enjoyed the fast food we chose, and I was pleasantly surprised that Panda Express’ food was quite good.

After dinner we went shopping in Walmart for some grocery items we probably could have waited on since we’d be home the next day. But at least we wouldn’t have to go shopping right away when we did get home.

Our last evening on the road was typical. We were both on the computers, Lavonne playing her word games while I spent much of my time on this travelogue and editing photos. After watching the rest of A Fighter Pilot’s Story, around 2300 I called it a day and crawled into our cozy bed. Lavonne had gone to sleep a bit earlier.
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Wednesday, Day 16, Tulare, CA to home via SR99: 152 miles

2015-9-30a Morning at Tulare WalmartMorning at the Tulare Walmart lot. We would  be back home soon!

 After finishing the morning routines, including a few minutes on the ‘net and me finishing off the Chinese dinner of the night before, we hit the road about 0730. The light traffic of our drive through the Arkansas hills and into the deserts of the southwest was certainly behind us. Kalifornistan’s heavy traffic was virtually everywhere once we neared Bakersfield and on home. Heavy traffic is a fact of life in a state with nearly 40 million people. Traffic is but one of many reasons I want out so badly.

2015-9-30a north on SR99The drive up SR99 through the valley was not such a pretty one after all the beautiful scenery we’d seen through the many states we had traveled.

We stopped at the Mickey D’s in Chowchilla for some sweets and coffee which we enjoyed as we continued our drive toward home. The ice cream machine was not ready so early in the morning, so instead of a McFlurry I ordered their Cinnamon Melts to go with a large coffee. It helped me stay alert for the rest of the drive.

2015-9-30a broken SR99The worst road of our entire 4000+ mile trip was our own SR99 which runs from below Bakersfield to Red Bluff. Some valley sections have the worst maintained roads I have ever driven and there simply is no excuse. We pay the highest gas tax in the nation and have the worst roads. It makes no sense and it infuriates me. And having vented a bit I feel better, thanks.

2015-9-30b homeWe pulled through the gate of our little senior community near Stockton, CA at 1045.

It felt good to be home. We had the coach unloaded in an hour and another hour after that I had washed the coach, dumped her tanks, and put her away. The next day would be the first of October. In three weeks I’d be heading south aboard Big Blue to visit my son, Dean, and his family in Oceanside, CA.
========================================

Our trip was 3,999 miles according to the coach’s odometer. The Garmin GPS navigator recorded 4128 miles, and I believe it is probably more accurate. If so, our coach records a bit more than 3% fewer miles than it has actually been driven.

About FishWisher

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.
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