20141204

Wrapping it up, trip-wise. Nov 27th - Dec 1st


Last year, Jimmy and I spent December cruising down the west coast of South America, and traveling around Chile.  We spent Christmas at the bottom of the world in Punta Arenas, Chile.  This year, we wanted to spend our Christmas holiday at home.  With a Dec 1st target date to return, plus/minus a day or two, it was time to get a move on.

As I mentioned in my previous post, Jimmy and I kept a weather eye on the 10-day forecast.  This time of year Pacific storms blow ashore regularly.  Quite often these storms are fierce, with strong winds and heavy rains, and we'd just as soon avoid driving in this scenario!  Long-range predictions called for rain in California for the weekend, but clearing Monday or Tuesday, followed by multiple days of rain.  If we left Beaumont, Texas, early Thursday morning, we'd miss the wkend rain, and then we'd simply have to wait 'n see if the clear day was Mon or Tues ... and drive accordingly.


Aside from wanting to see what happened to Cameron, LA (last post), we wanted to explore a section of Nederland, Texas, one town below Beaumont.  Jimmy was born there (a long time ago!), and he's always wondered if he'd be able to find the house and/or street they lived in till he was eight yrs old, before the family moved out of state.  He'd researched online as much as possible but now, today (Wednesday, 11/26), we'd actually go looking.  Navigator Nuvi led us straight to the neighborhood, but ... guess what?  Things change in 60+ years! He's satisfied that he found the street, and possibly even the house, and now the itch to discover his roots has been put to rest.  We can move on.


After returning to Tergel, we had the rest of the afternoon free.  We hopped on our bikes for a short ride around South Texas Fairgrounds.  Felt good to get in a ride and not contend with traffic.  Tomorrow we would begin the long march home in Tergel, leaving little room to exercise or enjoy the Great Outdoors.  The Ben Rogers Visitor Center, easily reached by bike, was full of info, friendly helpers, and a bit of whimsical art.  Love it!

 This is not a pile of dookey, it's wet dirt.  Southerners will recognize this as a crawfish chimney, about three inches high.  In these low-lying areas of Texas, they're everywhere!


We like to stay at Hidden Lakes RV Park in Beaumont, as its location is good for us.  They always seem to have a site available, which is right handy.  Tergel and Smartie are across the lake, fairly close to that cell tower, so don't worry, we had good cell reception.  The only duck in the lake didn't move much.  Upon closer inspection, it was a decoy.  Hah!


* * * * *

We were up early Thursday morning, Thanksgiving day.  One more check of the weather told us the clear day in California was going to be Monday.  That meant four long drives, bringing us home Monday evening. Underline the word LONG.  From Beaumont, we drove to Kerrville, surprised at the amount of traffic on I-10 between Beaumont and Houston.  Holiday travelers going to Grandma's house for turkey and trimmings. Our dinner was chicken quesadillas inside our home-on-wheels parked at the Kerrville Elks Lodge.  Not traditional by any stretch of the imagination, but neither was last Christmas.  We had a nice tail wind today!

* * * * *

You know ... it takes bloody forever to drive thru Texas.  Nearing the winter solstice, dusk comes early. Driving west in the morning is perfect; afternoons are not, with the sun glaring on the windshield and into our eyes by 3:30ish, so road hours are limited.  From Kerrville, we made it to Van Horn on Friday.  I'd tell you where we camped, but it's forgettable.  All we needed was a place to park Tergel, eat some dinner, and crash. Mission accomplished. After setting up, we walked a mile on Broadway, one of Van Horn's "thoroughfares."  Our take on Van Horn?  Very much reminiscent of Tucumcari, NM -- it's seen better days.

Site of a former motel, now a "Flea Market."  Liked their motto. 

Broadway in Van Horn is all decked out for Christmas.... 

Uh, Bud ...?

* * * * *
We finally quit I-10 in Texas, all 880 miles, on Saturday, and we were mighty glad to be shed of it.  Crossing into New Mexico at El Paso, we kept on truckin', into Arizona, passing Willcox, Benson, and even Tucson itself, stopping for the nite at another forgettable park within shouting distance of I-10 and the RR tracks! A sound machine helps and ear plugs work.  We were done for the day and this was it.  We don't ever have to go back.


Willcox AZ, home to the Rex Allen museum, has a marvelous eatery called Big Tex Bar-B-Que.  We've eaten there before, joining our friends, Lyn and Alan, one year as they drove east from California while we were driving west to California.  Or maybe it was the reverse!  We missed them by one day this trip, all of us doing the same thing: Visiting Moms in the Southeast.  We pulled off the freeway, appetites all geared up, to enjoy another fine meal at Big Tex.  This was the day after Thanksgiving, and Jimmy and I pouted when greeted with the sign below.  Back in Tergel, we munched on granola bars.  And kept driving. 


* * * * *
Sunday was a push from outside of Tucson to what we hoped would be close to Bakersfield CA, but that was not to be.  The Sunday after Thanksgiving is reported to be the busiest travel day in the US.  Did we think it didn't apply to us?  Maybe, till traffic slammed to a halt on the mountain above Indio, California.  What should have been a rapid descent into the desert became a frustrating stop-and-go "test of patience" for approx two hours.  I was driving at this point, and it didn't take a Rhodes scholar to realize I-10 would be jammed all the way to Los Angeles, 90 miles away.  Tho we really wanted to be closer to home than we were by quittin' time this evening, we needed to get the heck off the freeway, find a place to hunker down, breathe, and eat.

Stopped in traffic, I took this picture of Mount San Jacinto (above Palm Springs) bathed in clouds.

Brake lights, as far as the eye could see.

Off I-10, the Morongo Indian Casino is located just west of Palm Springs.  Their beautiful 27-story hotel stands next to the freeway ... and every time we've driven past, we've seen RV's parked in their lot.  Jimmy called their number. A friendly voice told him they didn't have an RV park, per se, but they welcomed RV travelers, told him where to park and advised him where he could get water, and where the dump was, etc. No charge, of course.  I couldn't wait to get away from the crawling freeway traffic!  The last two miles to the casino seemed to take forever.  Serves us right, to be Out and About the Sunday after Thanksgiving.  A lesson learned.

It was nightfall by the time we pulled in.  We dry camped, comfortable in the large casino parking lot with others like us escaping the freeway mess.  Jimmy unhooked Smartie and we drove the short distance to Ruby's Diner for dinner.  Such a pleasant experience to be served by smiling folk, with good food and service, no waiting.  We relaxed. 

Monday morning sunrise from the casino parking lot.

Monday.  We set the alarm for 5:30 and were on the road a few minutes past 6:30.  Partly cloudy, but no rain. Guess we should gotten an even earlier start, as we got caught up in Los Angeles commuter traffic.  Oh well.  The bottom line is:  We made it home by 6ish Monday evening, safe, dry, and very tired.  Today's drive was our longest, and when we pulled in the driveway, both of us sighed with relief.  No driving tomorrow!  A true bonus is our friends across the street, Fran and Anson, had turned on the heat so our home was warm, and they'd left a plate of homemade cookies on the kitchen counter.  Life is sooooo good!

Tuesday morning, rain began earlier than forecasted, and we unloaded essentials only from Tergel in rain.  A major grocery run was necessary, and we loaded groceries in the rain.  Fact is, we timed our return just right. As I type this (Wednesday), high winds and rain are pummeling the area.  Flooding rains.  This evening's local news reports that Sacramento's rush hour traffic is stopped dead on the freeway due to flooding, and we're thankful we didn't delay our departure two days and get caught in that!  Four days of straight driving seem worth it now. Here in NorCal, we're in the rainy pattern, but we're all set and snug, rested up now, and thinking about dragging out some Christmas decorations. Thinking about, not actually doing it.

We had a grand time this trip, loved seeing and spending time with family and friends, as well as visiting new spots on our way east.  A few trip facts -- gas prices were much better than last February's trip!  Average price per/gal - $2.69, compared to February's $3.18 per/gal.  We drove 5,340 miles in seven weeks, and used 623 gallons of gas. And, we made out like champs in the overnite rate department -- averaging $8.30 per/nite!


That's my story and I'm sticking to it!

3 comments:

  1. Oh, I loved reading about your trip home. We have been in those get home quick kinds of patterns sometimes as well, and like you, have had pretty good luck with timing. Congrats on your good planning and your stamina! I have never eaten a crawfish...I can imagine Jimmy is aghast. I also loved reading about that Texas thing....you are right...it is soooooooooo big and a long crossing. Deb and I moved her stuff to San Antonio from Portland in 3 days....two drivers...land not much rest. What a trip that was with a UHaul pulling her car. So glad you are home....enjoy the Christmas stuff...you know how much fun it can be.

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  2. Beaumont to Kerrville to Van Horn and away!!! Isn't Texas gawd-awful big? So. Cal sounded awful... really that whole drive did. You sped through the only weather window we had, didn't you? I couldn't believe the weather radar on Wednesday night - those big rain cells camped right over I-80 and north (to you). We had "normal" rain (thought any rain is abnormal these days). Our lake is beginning to fill up. YAY! Glad you are home safe and sound. What a year of travel you had.

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  3. That was a LOONG four-day push, sister! Glad you got home safe & sound.... Now you can start playing Christmas Music and humming along!

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