Search for Sunshine 2022
Day 1, Monday, February 28, home to Delano, CA via CA99: 185 miles
As my wintertime travels go, this one was waaay late. Past Search adventures have taken place in January, and usually the earlier the better. This year, I had medical appointments and issues etc., that slowed me down to almost March!
Loading stuff for the trip. This business of loading is getting tougher every trip!
This Texas adventure may take me across Texas to Louisiana, or it may take me south, deep into Texas. It will depend on the weather and what notions I may take. Two things are righteously uncertain: where I go and how long I will be gone. It seems that such lack of planning is the right and proper way to bum around the country.
Day 1 began with the short walk down to our community’s RV lot where I fired up Big Blue, then unplugged the electric cord which cooled the fridge all night and charged the batteries to their peak. She has six batteries, two for starting the big Cat engine and four to power the house needs such as heater fan, lights, etc. when parked overnight. I then idled her up to the house and began the tough job, for an old man, of loading on all the stuff I would need, along with some stuff I probably wouldn’t need, for the trip.
This adventure would undoubtedly be the most expensive Search yet because of the out of control price of diesel. Many places are charging over $5 per gallon – prices I don’t recall in my entire life. I planned to fuel up at a station in Bakersfield on Day 2 for $4.58 per, which would be the highest I’ve ever paid for diesel fuel.
In truth, I did not need to Search for Sunshine – that’s about all we’ve had this winter as we’d been dealing with an awful drought. I guessed this adventure would be more about searching for warmth. Judging by the weather reports for my first few days, it wouldn’t take long to find it.
After I loaded all the clothes, groceries, etc. on the coach, I bid my dear wife goodbye with a warm hug and kiss, and she sent me off with a smile – what a woman I married! I doubt most wives would smile as their husbands head off to bum around the country for a while. I pulled out of our little gated community at 1100 hours and headed south on CA99 toward Delano.
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Almonds were in full bloom all along CA99 – from home clear to Delano.
More almonds in bloom.
A McDonald’s lunch – a real treat for the Old Man.
The traffic was pretty heavy nearly the entire trip.
More almonds – I reckon this is enough blossom photos.
The trip was uneventful as I like, and I cruised south at my usual 58 MPH as most every other vehicle blew past me. The traffic was heavy even mid-day on a weekday. There were, in 2019, over 30 million registered vehicles in Kalifornistan according to one site I checked. It seems that would be enough for the whole country!
This lift was extended like I’ve never seen before as the crew worked on the cell tower. There’s not enough money to get me on a lift like that!
I stopped at a Mickey D’s somewhere along the drive for lunch, and brought a crispy chicken sandwich, fries, and an Oreo McFlurry into the coach. It was a real treat for me, someone who rarely eats out and certainly never gets Mickey D’s – after all, I’m an old heart patient who has to stay on a good diet. I sometimes allow myself such fare when I travel – but in moderation. However, there was nothing moderate about the day’s pig-out.
Parked for the night at Delano’s Walmart.
Cheers! A cold brew and time to record the day’s adventure.
When I landed at Delano’s Walmart lot and had the coach set up for the night, I walked into the store and bought a box of Crunch ‘n Munch, which is much like Jack in the Box, but even better. I also grabbed a six-pack of Bud Lite and headed to the coach where I enjoyed both.
I sat myself down at the dinette and began writing this blog of my travels. I kept at it ’til dinner time, when I again went way off my diet. I ordered Panda Express online for dinner. After walking a short distance to the nearby Panda to pick it up, I enjoyed a bowl of chow mein, topped with their wonderful orange chicken. And I promised myself that I’d crawl back on the diet wagon the next day.
I continued writing, editing, and posting photos ’til I was up to date. I wasted away much of my evening on one of my addictions – watching YouTube videos. The subject matter is so varied that I find myself spending hours on that site. I watched videos of boxing and MMA, African predator vs prey, silly dog and cat videos, and I don’t remember what all. I enjoyed a cool one as the evening passed. It was good to be back on the road aboard Big Blue.
Naturally, I fell asleep at the computer, as always, and finally headed to bed a bit after midnight. It had been a grand day.
Day 2, Tuesday, March 1, Delano CA to Barstow, CA via CA99, CA58, I-15: 162 miles
It was a good night aboard, but having forgotten my bedtime pills, I woke up a couple times for no real reason. Those pills include a couple magnesium pills and a very mild half-dose of an over the counter sleep aid. Still, I was up about 0530 and felt rested.
As usual, I crawled back into bed after turning on the heaters and water heater, and gave them a while to warm the place up. I am very tender.
Once up, I worked through the morning chores, then headed into the store for some groceries. I even bought some of the forbidden food, peanut butter. I weigh some foods at home to be accurate about my calories, but can’t seem to remember to load that scale for these adventures. So, I also bought an electronic scale to keep on the coach. I computed from the info on the peanut butter jar that 1.1 ounces equals 180 calories. So I allowed myself that amount when I made a PBJ for lunch, and stayed on my diet calorie limit. Life can be complicated when one has to count calories to keep body and soul together.
I took my time around the coach as the day’s drive was only 160 miles or so. I checked that the oil, water, etc. were proper, checked the tires, and cleaned the monster windshields. And I enjoyed all the chores as those are all part of bummin’ around the country which I so enjoy. I also whipped up an oatmeal breakfast before I began the day’s drive around 1000 hours.
More orchard photos? Sorry – just this one to show how the fallen blossoms make the orchard floor look like snow.
Incidentally, I should mention that I headed out on this Search adventure a month ago, and didn’t bother to record it. Regular readers may recall that back on my long trip to Denver and Beyond in October, the alternator quit on me. I limped home over a couple days or so by running the house generator about half the time to keep the batteries charged. Back home I had it fixed, or so I thought. So, I headed out on my Search adventure on January 29th only to return home the same day with the same $&%#@!! problem! I took it back to the shop ASAP and they discovered a crimped wire that had something to do with the old charging issue – and fixed it at no charge. It was after that I had the medical delays, and had to put the adventure off ’til now.
Now, back to the day’s travel… I would drive down CA99 to Bakersfield, then take CA58 over the Tehachapis and through the Mojave Desert to Barstow. I had plans to fuel up in Bakersfield because I was sure the fuel would be more expensive in Barstow. As mentioned on Day 1, I found a station on GasBuddy selling diesel for $4.58 per. As soon as I was in Bakersfield, the navigator directed me through town maybe five miles to the station, dealing with town traffic the whole time.
When I arrived at the station, it was a zoo! Cars were lined up at all pumps, going in both directions, and I knew I’d never be able to get the coach through that mess. I headed back toward CA58, and planned to get fuel somewhere before I got there. I pulled into another station, selling diesel for a very good price, and was told they were out of gas and diesel.
The bargain station was hopeless! I pulled in, and then right back out – there was no way I could finagle the coach to a diesel pump through that mess!
I continued on, and came upon another station where I could at least pull up to the pump. The price was $4.90 per! I topped off with 43 gallons, and paid $213 for that partial tank – the most expensive I’ve ever bought!
The high-dollar station where I paid a record amount for fuel. Two big rigs pulled in after me, and I can’t imagine their bill with their very large tanks.
Once fueled up, I merged back onto CA58 toward the Tehachapi Mountains, then continued on to the Mojave Desert and Barstow. I arrived at Barstow’s Walmart at 1430 hours. Whew – what a day!
Beginning the climb up the Tehachapis and on over to the Mojave Desert.
Near the summit there must be hundreds of wind turbines – it can be a very windy place.
Parked at the Boron Rest area in the Mojave Desert for lunch with the big boys of the road.
The Mojave can be a beautiful place – at least I think such a landscape is very scenic.
First thing was to take my walk in the store where it was cooler. Outdoors it was only about 78°, but the blazing sun made it seem a lot warmer as there wasn’t a puff of wind.
Big Blue parked for the night at Barstow’s Walmart. It was a warm afternoon in Barstow.
Back at the coach I edited photos and continued my writing. The coach was very warm at about 84°, but with the windows open and a little fan blowing, I did fine without the air conditioners.
I took a break around 1800 for a shower and whipped up dinner. Then it was back to the blogging ’til 2000 hours – when it was time for a movie.
I dug out my DVD, The Proposal, with Sandy Bullock and Ryan Reynolds for the umpteenth time. I laughed my way through it once again, and it is one of my favorite movies no matter how often I’ve watched it.
I enjoyed a cool one along with the movie, and then climbed into bed at midnight. It had been another lovely day of bummin’ around the country.
Day 3, Wednesday, March 2, Barstow, CA to Parker, AZ via I-40, US95, CA162: 206 miles
It was a cool night in Barstow, down into the 30s, but I slept well once again on a Walmart lot – along with several other RVers. The place was quiet and free. Thanks again, Mr. Sam! (That’s Sam Walton, the founder of Walmart, who first approved of the RV parking at his stores.)
After climbing out of bed at 0600, I worked through the morning chores rather quickly. I wasn’t in any hurry, but things just fell into place nicely. So I pulled out of the Barstow Walmart at 0830 hours and headed for Arizona.
What a great way to start the day!
I stopped at a Dale’s Diner for breakfast. Perhaps those places don’t serve the best fare, but the price is right so long as I do all the work myself.
I’d soon be out of Kalifornistan! Somehow, I like that feeling – Arizona has a number of freedoms denied those of us doing life in Kalifornistan. Walking into a store and having the freedom to purchase alcohol at the self checkouts is a minor one. And that’s exactly what I did because during my walk in the Parker Walmart, I found some of that wonderful Stella Artois beer – not something all Walmarts carry. The register simply required a clerk’s approval for the purchase, and that took almost no time. After all, I do look many years past the age of 21.
Somewhere along the drive this westbound big rig had a run in with something pretty solid.
The drive was just over 200 miles, and it was a drive through seemingly trackless desert all day long. The only town along the drive was Needles, Kalifornistan. It is a town noted for its 120° days in the summertime.
I stopped for breakfast once I reached a rest area, since I left Barstow a bit too early. I simply zapped a breakfast sandwich and peeled a couple little mandarin oranges. And I continued on toward Arizona.
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The drive was very pleasant through the very scenic deserts – as I understand it, I drove into the Sonoran Desert from the Mojave Desert at some point. I saw no sign or boundary markers, but Parker, Arizona is shown to be in the Sonoran Desert.
Just before driving into Parker, I crossed the Colorado River into Arizona.
Parker is right on the river, and the Colorado looked pretty low to me. I thought the same when I crossed it on my last trip to the area, and upon my return, it seemed much higher. It must depend on outflows from the many dams on the Colorado River.
Upon entering Parker, I pulled into a station and filled up with diesel for $4.06 per. While there, a gal began changing the price of diesel as I pumped it. I’m sure she wasn’t lowering the price!
Once filled with fuel, I drove to the nearby Walmart, arriving at 1415 hours. It was a warm afternoon in the high 80s, and I ran the air conditioner ’til evening.
Parked for the night at Parker, Arizona’s Walmart. Once parked and set up, I headed into the store for my daily walk.
While walking in the store, I discovered that they had Stella Artois beer – probably my favorite on the rare occasions I drink beer.
Naturally, I fell to temptation and took a six-pack to the coach after my walk. Then I had to return to the store for a box of Crunch n’ Munch. I destroyed my diet for the day, but at least such things happen very rarely.
A spectacular sunset in Parker, Arizona!
Back at the coach, I spent much of the afternoon editing photos and writing. Thanks to the air conditioner, I was able to stay comfy, but it was plenty hot on that asphalt parking lot. I found more warmth than I’d been looking for.
My evening unfolded as usual. I showered, whipped up a PBJ sandwich for dinner, then added a small banana for desert. And I continued writing this blog ’til nearly 2100 hours.
Once the writing was done, I settled back to watch a bunch of YouTube videos including MMA and boxing, some cute pets, and a few others I don’t recall. I dozed off regularly ’til I finally headed to bed at midnight. It had been another pleasant day cruisin’ and livin’ on Big Blue, my favorite toy.
Day 4, Thursday, March 3, Parker, AZ to Marana, AZ via AZ85, AZ72, I-10, I-8: 252 miles
I was up at 0600 and turned up the heater and turned on the water heater – it was kinda cool. I got right after the morning chores, then spent a bit of time just dawdling around the coach doing not much of anything that I recall, but didn’t pull out of the lot until 0900.
What a great way to start the day! I love having the road all to myself.
The drive was almost entirely scenic desert, and very little traffic ’til I was getting too close to Phoenix on I-10. I turned south on AZ85 to miss Phoenix, but still dealt with more and more traffic ’til the turn off. It was good to miss Phoenix, as I had more than enough of its busy traffic on the far outskirts.
Once headed south, the traffic was very light and I enjoyed the very rural drive. Along AZ72 I stopped at the little desert town of Bouse to pump on some propane. Once loaded, I continued on to I-8 and I-10 (again) to Marana.
Somewhere along the two lane the landscape was suddenly green. This was a huge dairy with, apparently, a water supply that permitted all the obvious irrigation.
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The day became breezy as I continued south and east.
Headed for Marana on I-10 – or was it I-8?
Still miles from Phoenix the traffic was very much like Kalifornistan.
Cruising east on I-10.
I’ve seen this tower – or whatever it is – for years, and still have no idea what they’re for.
Beautiful, rugged Arizona.
Once settled in at the Marana Walmart, I headed into the store for my daily walk and to buy a few items I needed. It was a warm day in Arizona with temps in the mid to high 80s. Back at the coach, I enjoyed the three Stella Artois beers left over from the prior evening as I began writing this blog. I took a break around 1900 hours to walk over to the nearby Subway where I ordered a chicken teriyaki wrap. It was my first one, and I was surprised by its huge size. Even so, I enjoyed every bite. Again, I always enjoy Subway’s fare, and I don’t know why I don’t have it more often.
I drove on some gosh-awful Arizona roads on this trip, but I guess such roadway art is more important than fixing the roads.
Beautiful desert formations.
Stately saguaro cactuses stand tall and proud over the desert.
The evening was comfortable with continued warm temps. I worked through the evening chores, and when they were completed I continued writing.
Jacks down for the night at Marana, Arizona’s Walmart.
I was treated to another beautiful sunset in Marana.
When the day’s blog was current, I watched more YouTube video as I enjoyed a cool one. I called it a day near midnight, and slept well.
Day 5, Friday, March 4, Marana, AZ to Parker, AZ via I-10, I-8, AZ85, I-10 (again), AZ72, AZ95: 262 miles
I was up and about at 0620, and needed very little heat as it apparently stayed mild overnight. After working through the morning chores, I checked the weather for Las Cruces, NM as that was to be my destination on Day 5. I discovered that the area was under a wind advisory for winds over 40 MPH with a Red Flag warning for fire danger – and blowing dust. No, thanks! I would have to make a new plan.
I looked for other ways to continue on to Texas, but anything else would be way out of the way. I chose to head back toward Parker, and likely on home in the coming days. With the price of diesel, that made pretty good sense, anyway.
Truckin’ down I-10 on a clear, blowy day in Arizona.
It wasn’t as if I avoided all the wind; the drive home was very blustery at times, and I had to fight the wind as it tried to blow me off the road. Once I turned off I-10 toward Parker, it was a tailwind, and not much of a fight to stay on the road.
I-8, which I-10 merges into to avoid Phoenix.
I did have the pleasure of driving into quite a squall along I-10 before the turnoff to Parker. I saw the clouds in the distance and it looked like it was raining ahead, and I drove into it. It came down hard for a while, but not for long. Once off I-10 I didn’t get much rain at all. I sure enjoyed the rain as we’ve seen so little of it at home.
Rain – but not for long. I sure enjoyed it while it lasted.
As I pulled into Parker, I fueled up at a Running Man station. I believe that they’re an Indian tribe business, and that Parker is on their reservation. I think that as a reservation, they avoid certain federal fuel taxes, and their price was “just” $4.03. (Meanwhile, in Delano, diesel was selling for as much as $5.80 per gallon.) The pump was slow as could be and I was there for 40 minutes or so, having swiped my card three times to pump the 67 gallons I needed to fill up.
Finally, when I pulled out of the station, I drove the couple of miles or so to the Parker Walmart store, and arrived there at about 1600 hours. Yep – the same store I spent the night at just night before last.
Back at the Parker Walmart. Again.
Once I was set up for the night, I set out across the lot to the store for my daily walk. After my 25 minute walk, I head back to the coach and busied myself with evening chores. When they were done, I headed across the street to a Subway store and ordered a foot long chicken teriyaki sandwich – for over $10! It seems that not that long ago Subway was selling them for $5 to $6! Times sure have changed! That foot long sandwich was a big meal for an old man, but I sure enjoyed it.
When dinner was done, I set about getting the day’s photos edited and began writing the day’s blog. As usual, that was followed with some videos online and a couple cool ones. Life is good aboard Big Blue.
Day 6, Saturday, March 5, Parker, AZ to Delano, CA via CA62, US95, I-40, CA58, CA99: 365 miles
The day began with my decision to drive all the way to Delano rather than just to Barstow. By driving farther, I’d be home the next day, Sunday. I was ready to be home. Bummin’ around Kalifornistan just isn’t as much fun as bummin’ around Texas!
This photo of a flag standing straight up in high winds, was taken as I drove through Parker. It was windy ’till I drove over the Tehachapis and dropped down into the Central Valley.
Ironically, in running away from the winds and dust storms in New Mexico, I drove through very high winds heading for home. When I pulled out of Parker, the wind was blowing, and it just continued ’til I dropped down into the Central Valley. I drove directly into it much of the day, and it seemed very strong most everywhere. It was not a particularly pleasant drive. March is, after all, the windiest month of the year, as it is a transition time to warmer weather. I guess Old Man Winter just doesn’t want to move on peacefully.
I didn’t dawdle, but drove with purpose to find more accommodating weather. Much of the time I drove even slower than usual, bucking a headwind or crosswind nearly every mile. I ate breakfast and lunch in the coach while in rest areas and wasted little time.
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The skies were threatening as I left Parker, AZ, and I saw some rain during the drive.
Beautiful desert scene.
More beautiful desert.
I enjoy such drives as this – but I prefer it when the wind is calm. It was far from calm that day!
More rather barren beauty.
Near the summit of the Tehachapis, the wind turbines were plenty active as I drove through on a very breezy day.
I was happy to pull into Delano’s Walmart shortly after 1600 hours. While Delano had calm weather, it certainly wasn’t warm. One wouldn’t reasonably expect warm weather this time of year, but I’m about ready for springtime.
One big disappointment this trip was the outrageous price of fuel. (Damn that crazy Putin!) Here in Kalifornistan the prices were approaching $6 per gallon. My intention to always use the coach at least once every month was tempered by the high prices. We planned to head to Denver in June, and if Big Blue sits unused ’til then, so be it – she gets her very best fuel mileage when she sits unused.
My evening unfolded as usual on the road except that I splurged for dinner. I ordered a Panda Express meal online, then walked the short distance to the Panda that is in the same shopping center as Walmart. I really enjoy Panda food, and dinner was fair compensation for an otherwise challenging day. Later in the evening as I typed away on this blog, I paused a while to walk into Walmart for some ice cream. I’ll have to climb back onto the diet wagon at home.
When I wrapped up the evening’s writing, I watched more YouTube videos for a while – mostly old boxing highlights. I enjoyed a tall, cool one as my day wound down, and I headed for bed a bit after midnight.
Day 7, Sunday, March 6, Delano, CA to home via CA99: 186 miles
I was up and around at 0630 in a cool and calm Delano. Calm was good after the prior day I spent being blown around like a sailboat in a storm. While I was disappointed in the shortened adventure aboard Big Blue, I would enjoy being back with my loving wife and all the comforts of a happy home.
When the morning chores were done, I updated this blog and enjoyed my first cup of coffee. But that didn’t last long; I wanted to head for home early and enjoy driving the nearly empty CA99 on an early Sunday morning when most of the world sleeps in. Of course, those empty roads wouldn’t last long as I was in, unfortunately, the profoundly over-populated, third word country of Kalifornistan. Ugh.
I wasted no time in setting up Big Blue for the drive home, and pulled out of the Walmart lot at 0800. The highway was empty and nearly all mine as I headed north.
Early Sunday mornings make for empty highways. I love it!
I was hankerin’ for a Mickey D’s breakfast, and pulled into a McDonald’s just off the highway in the small town of Earlimart. For the first time ever, I ordered two of those delicious sausage, egg, and cheese McGriddles. I ate both huge sandwiches, with a mandarin orange for dessert, while parked out front of the store. That foolish pig-out caused me to fight sleepiness for most of the drive home.
It was a pleasant change to have no wind!
The relatively short drive home was unremarkable, as I like. I arrived home a few minutes after noon. Lavonne wasn’t yet home, as she had spent the night in Stockton at Craig’s home. There was a big party the night before to celebrate Craig’s, and his girl-friend, Laura’s, 60th birthdays.
I began the big task of unloading the coach – a job that gets tougher the older I get. Lavonne arrived back home as I was unloading, and it was good to be together again. After a warm hug and kiss and brief conversation, I continued the work. When I was finally done, I idled down to our community RV lot, dumped the coach, filled the fresh water tank, and parked Big Blue in her covered space. It was time for my recliner!
This station is very near our home. This old man is not gonna pay that price!
I’ve always said that we should use Big Blue at least once per month. However, future travel plans are on hold for now. With local diesel selling for as much as $6.09 per, Big Blue can just sit ’til prices come down. She gets about 8.5 MPG average on the road, but gets much better mileage when she sits in her RV parking space. For now, I think it’s best for her to just sit.
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