FIRST LEG UNDER OUR BELTS!!!
It’s been fun exploring Williams and the surrounding area but the drive here from San Diego was a treat itself. There is vast, mostly unpopulated desert between Barstow, Kingman and Williams and though it looks harsh, it’s also beautiful. There were interesting rock formations and blooming desert plants – both adding their own colors to the landscape. We saw surprisingly long lines of trains winding through the empty desert carrying lots of “stuff” to people in faraway places. There were so many cool photo opportunities along the way but it’s hard to just stop or turn around when towing a trailer. So will try to document them for future reference in case we pass them again.
We saw a weird golf ball shaped building that we think might have been a small casino, a rusty old truck mounted on a pole and my favorite was a very faded circa 40s/50s neon “Motel with Pool” sign with an arrow underneath it pointing to empty desert. We also discovered a great oldies radio station – KSTR (93.3 FM) in Bullhead City – that played songs we haven’t heard in years. It was so fun – songs (good and bad) like “God Didn’t Make Little Green Apples”, “Knock Three Times”, “Green Onions”, Neil Diamond’s “America” – too many to list. Bob made things even more entertaining because he likes to make up his own lyrics to songs – he could rival Weird Al Yankovich for funny lyrics. [I exceed Weird Al in making up funny lyrics!... BR] I would repeat them here but trying to keep things somewhat PG.
Williams is the town we parked for a week in for our first full week and it’s a fun little place – everyone residing here seems to be a comedian and even though some of the jokes are pretty corny, everyone is charming. Williams is the last town bypassed (in 1984) by Route 66 so a lot of Route 66 nostalgia here – restaurants, gift shops, even a small zip line near the Grand Canyon Train Station. The people who run the RV park we stayed at are the friendliest people and every morning and evening they wave at the passing Grand Canyon Train. In fact, we found that just about everyone in town and along the train route waves to the train. It’s a twice daily activity around here – we love this town and could easily find ourselves living here if family and friends weren’t so far away and if the snow fall didn’t average up to 164 inches a year!
Lots of fun places to eat too. The Pine Country Restaurant has some of the tastiest pie we’ve ever had and at Twisters Route 66 Café, we had a great chocolate shake and perfect fries. We had the best dinner experience so far on our travels at “Red Raven” which was recommended to us by Ed, the owner of the “Quilt Shop on 66”. The ambiance there was great – an old brick building with nice decor – the food was world-class delicious, the service enjoyable and there was excellent live entertainment by guitarist Steve Reynolds. We liked his music so much we bought one of his CDs and are planning to buy more – he’s funny and talented and spent some time talking with us about his travels and great places for music. We met his sweet dog Edie as we were heading to our car after dinner. A truly lovely evening all around.
We took the Grand Canyon Train to the Canyon and it was a fun, relaxing ride – lots of silly entertainment along the way (games, singing, and a mock train robbery) and we saw three elk, a deer and a giant jack rabbit. It snowed at the Canyon so was very cold but very beautiful – not the typical Grand Canyon experience but we soaked it up. Even when my fingers were frozen taking photos, I was on Cloud 9. Most of the tourists were gathered in the El Tovar Hotel drinking hot chocolate which is exactly what we did too after exploring the Hopi House and Verkamp’s Visitor Center. Met some folks from the San Diego area at the hotel and shared some dark chocolate candy chunks to make the hot chocolate taste even better. One of my favorite train memories was a “Kumbaya” moment when Jesse, the morning musician, was singing “City of New Orleans” and during the chorus, all the passengers sang “Good Morning America, how are you? Don’t you know me, I’m your native son” – the sound of everyone’s voices together was so sweet – very heartwarming. Almost moved me to tears but I am known to be pretty sappy.
We explored a bit of Sedona – hiked the Crescent Moon Ranch area which was like walking through heaven (well, heaven for me) [heaven for me is a radio maintenance shop... BR]. Came across more cairns than I’ve ever seen and even built one myself. Stopped to pray at the Amitabha Stupa (a Buddhist shrine where anyone, regardless of religion, is welcome) and hear the sound of the peace prayer flags flapping in the wind. It’s a wonderful sound – stirring and peaceful at the same time. We watched the sunset at the Airport Mesa with many others willing to brave the cold, brisk winds. Was a bit anti-climactic with the clouds covering the horizon but still beautiful and totally worth freezing for. We capped the evening with dessert at “Sound Bites” – a dinner/music venue that had amazing cheesecake. Yummy!
Flagstaff is a great city – could easily live there and love it – at least when it doesn’t have 160 inches of snow! We visited Lowell Observatory twice. We went one evening to look through three telescopes and saw Jupiter and four of its moons in one telescope and Jupiter and three of its moons in another that had higher magnification. Very cool – was able to see the stripes of gases and it wasn’t what I expected based on the usual photos. It was hot white and the stripes were vertical. The third telescope was focused on the Orion Nebulae and it was breathtaking. Stood in line in the freezing wind to look at it three times! We also attended a lecture regarding the different constellations and how they were named which was both fascinating and amusing. We went to the observatory again in the daytime to look through a solar telescope at the sun. That was also very cool – Bob and I pretty much hogged the telescope once everyone had their turn. You could see the sun spots and the solar flares around the edge. Truly amazing.
Next major stop Santa Fe – Bob will be happy when we get off Route 66. He’s pretty tired of hearing me sing “Get Your Kicks on Route 66”. Especially because I can’t seem to get the words right. Definitely getting our kicks though!
ADVENTURES AT 20 DEGREES!
The first week-long stay of our trip was in Williams AZ and it was wonderful but cold! The statue of Elvis above (located in front of Cruisers Café which is a fun 50s place with tons of Route 66 memorabilia) has green skin. We were trying to decide if he was "Zombie Elvis" or just frozen! Our Rambler has the “Arctic Package” but we’ve never put it to the test until this week. “Arctic” means we have heaters on all our holding tanks, an enclosed chassis and extra insulation. So far the heaters on the tanks are working pretty well but the extra insulation could use a lot more extra! The first night our water hose froze but fortunately, we had enough water in our fresh water tank to last us until the hose thawed the next morning. First stop – find a heated hose.
The next night, we didn’t think to shut off the park’s anti-freeze faucet hose and to our dismay, no water again and this time, no water in our fresh water tank. Poor Bob had to make an early morning run in freezing temps to fill our potable water jug from another empty site’s unfrozen faucet. Lesson learned – keep the fresh water tank filled! Then, to make things really fun, our furnace started working intermittently. We came home from a day at the Grand Canyon and our trailer was 49 degrees. Second stop – find a space heater. We spent a good part of the next day looking for a space heater we were comfortable with and an electric blanket. Turns out Camping World had the best space heater but no luck anywhere on the blanket – seems everyone is already gearing up for summer – WTF?
The same day we bought the space heater, the furnace stopped running – go figure. That evening when it was 20 degrees outside, our bedroom was a toasty 65 with the space heater but the rest of the trailer was down to 59 and dropping. Since we didn’t want stuff freezing in the living area, we decided to move the space heater into the living area, sleep on the couch and close off the bedroom. We have never slept on the couch together and folded out, it’s a large twin at best [a very short twin… BR]. The person sleeping next to the window/wall (we took turns) was really wishing for more of that extra insulation! Our spirits were good and we laughed a lot trying to settle in – good thing we like each other so much! Just as we got all settled in, the furnace came on. We laughed and repeated “It’s an adventure”!!! Definitely had to get this fixed though so the next afternoon a mobile RV repair guy – Tim – came to our rescue. Of course, we’re nearly $300 poorer… Tim told us that RV stands for “ruined vacation” – we decided we’d rather think of RV as an acronym for “reveling vacationers”.
THE TRAILER TWO-STEP
It’s been an adventure just learning how to live in our little Rambler. It’s a constant dance of taking two steps backwards or forwards so we can get by each other – we’ve named this the trailer two-step. Grab your partner,
do-se-do! Allemande left and around you go! We also have the fun of sharing one bathroom. Fortunately, we haven’t yet had any major instances of concurrent access needs.
We’re still refining where everything goes especially since we had to make a few more purchases – a space heater,
a heated hose, wind chimes and a little crock pot. Well, okay – we didn’t really need the wind chimes and the crockpot but the chimes add a touch of home I’ve been missing and the crockpot will make life easier on the long days of traipsing around the areas we’re visiting. We’ve found that after long days of exploring, we’re often too tired to cook and we can’t keep eating out if we want to stick to our budget. Part of exploring is finding good places to eat and finding unique items/souvenirs which we have budgeted for but we have to maintain discipline – as much as us impulsive spenders can! We find ourselves laughing each time we leave a store and say at the same time “yay – more stuff”! Now, where do we put it?