Sunday, April 3, 2011

Meandering East to New Mexico

Today's Sunrise at the Gallup, NM, Walmart

When I left Williams, Arizona, the Gateway to the Grand Canyon, on Wednesday morning, I planned on just taking the short drive down to Camp Verde, south of Flagstaff, and settling in for a couple of days at an RV resort where I had reservations. However, an interesting phenomenon has occurred a lot lately. I've been getting to the place I planned to stay fairly early in the day, and I still have energy, daylight, and a tank of gas, so I decide to keep going instead of settling in for the night. This happened at Camp Verde--I arrived early in the day and kept driving south to Prescott, a great little mountain town that I've wanted to go to ever since I was a high school student and knew someone going to college there.

I was very pleasantly surprised to find that there was excellent eBay shopping in Prescott, and also on the drive up and back! Lots of thrift stores, antique stores, and one particularly good vintage clothing store. I did almost as much vintage designer brand shopping in that one day as I did the whole time I was in San Francisco!

The drive down Hwy I-17 from Flagstaff to the Verde Valley was beautiful. I had wondered why anyone would name a mountainous part of Arizona "the green valley," because I have a misconception about Arizona being all desert. The Verde Valley was full of light green spring leaves popping from the trees. In fact, one of the places I stayed in this area was idyllic...right on a lazy bend of Oak Creek. The Guppy was parked right on a bank of the creek. Lovely! My neighbors and I all sat outside in the evening, reading our books and watching the water slowly flow by.

When I left the Verde Valley, I drove north on Hwy 89A through Sedona. It was incredible. I only had a chance to take pictures at one scenic viewpoint as I was approaching Sedona from the south. The most fantastic pictures could have been taken from within Sedona itself and just north of Sedona--but I was busy driving then and couldn't take photos. Sometimes it would be good to have someone riding shotgun with a good camera, or maybe if The Guppy was rigged to take photos like one of those Google Earth cars...

North of Sedona, I saw a sign for the Walnut Creek National Monument. I'd never heard of it, but I recently bought an America the Beautiful pass that gets me into just about every sort of federal recreational lands, so I stopped. I'm glad I did! It was a fascinating, more close up view of cliff dwellings than I had seen before.

Yesterday I had another one of those days when I got to my destination early and then decided to keep going. I'd planned to stay somewhere along I-40, heading east from Flagstaff to the Arizona-New Mexico border, maybe stopping somewhere around Holbrook. But I got to Holbrook in the midafternoon, stopped at a Native American owned cafe for a delicious Navajo taco, and decided to keep driving. I made it all the way to Gallup, New Mexico, and did my first night of boondocking at a Walmart! I got there around 6 pm before the lot had filled up with semis and RVs, so I got a nice little corner, where some little Airstreams later joined me.
Last night I went into Walmart and got myself a Verizon modem so I can have Internet access wherever there is Verizon 4G or 3G coverage (so long as I can plug in my laptop or its battery still has power). I used it in the Gallup (3G) area and it seemed to work fine.

Right now I'm using the free public WIFI at the Route 66 Casino just west of Albuquerque. I had no particular itinerary in mind when I left Gallup this morning. It was an extremely windy day and I saw the first sandstorm I've ever seen in my life. Keeping The Guppy on the road during gusty winds is a challenge, so I got off the freeway every hour or so to take a good break, and finally decided to get off the road for the evening when I came to this particular casino.

I've covered about 400 miles in the past couple of days...much more than I have previously been driving. Except for the wind that I experienced across New Mexico today, the driving has become easier. I have more confidence that The Guppy is going to be okay, now that she has almost 2000 miles on her new engine. There are fewer mountains--actually, plenty of mountains to look at, but fewer to have to drive up and down, since the freeway runs through the valleys and flat rangeland, so I can really get some miles behind me.

I'm also less wedded to having plans about where I'll spend each night. Now that I've boondocked a few times (although not yet anywhere really out in the boonies, such as BLM land), I'm pretty confident that I'll be able to find a decent place to stay, so I just get in the RV and drive and see where I end up. This seems to be working for me, and, as you can see from the photos, Sonja is pretty comfortable with things the way they are going right now, too!


  1. Life sounds good Sue! Love the posts....

  2. Thank you, dearie. Especially for letting us see Sonja has indeed "gone along for the ride."

  3. I am so enjoying your adventures! Be safe, and ENJOY the ride!

  4. Wonderful pictures, MFS Sue! I'm glad you and Sonja are having fun!

  5. Thanks for the encouragement, everyone! I'm glad you're enjoying my journey.

  6. First Wal-Mart overnight! How exciting! (Seriously - I'm filled with both admiration and envy).

    I used to do that too - overestimate how long it would take to travel to my destination. After getting there "early" I would succumb to some stubborn temptation to keep going - which I almost always regretted when arriving after dark with an empty stomach but too exhausted to do much about it.

    For me, it's a counter-productive restlessness developed after a lifetime of trying to beat the clock.

    Love your blog! I've read all the entries from the beginning now. Nice photos too!

    Living vicariously,