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Trip Report part 5 - RonO's Ramblings

Aug. 17th, 2008 10:21 pm Trip Report part 5

This is the final report on our cross-country trip.

Aug. 11 -- Albuquerque

Our free day in Albuquerque was fairly quiet -- if you ignore the extra trouble our dog kept causing, most of which was actually the night before. He didn't like being kept outside, and managed to get into the house twice, and then made a racket when I'd defeated his way in, so I had to tie him up at night so that we could sleep.

In the morning, I ran a couple of errands with my mother, and in the evening the rest of the family stopped by for dinner and conversation.

Our trip to Williams was fairly uneventful. We got off, for once, on time. We stopped for gas at the Costco on the west side, where we discovered that my credit card was still not working. We made it to Gallup for lunch, where our server at the local Cracker Barrel was recognizably Navajo. After that, we headed onto Williams.

In the ten years since I've driven that route, I forgot how close you have to get to Flagstaff before you get up into the high country. This made for a hotter day than I'd originally expected.

Our most major problem -- at least in some ways -- of the trip happened once we got to Williams. It turns out that when you search the Ramada website for pet friendly hotels in Williams, the Super 8 shows up, even though it is not pet friendly.

But this problem, and Tara's insistence that I search outside of the major chains, turned into one of the fortunate happenstance of the trip. We ended up staying, for a much lower rate, in a two room suite at the historic 1936 "Grand Motel" along old Route 66.

Aug. 12 -- Williams and the Grand Canyon

Tara didn't feel good when we woke up on Thursday morning. After some discussion, and breakfast at a "Wild West" town across from our hotel, and down a couple of blocks, we decided that Derrick and I would go to the canyon without her.

We got off on time, but had to drive the 50 or so miles to the canyon. As we got close to the small town near the South Rim entrance, which I think was almost nothing 13 years ago when I last visited, there were a bunch of signs, and a radio station, strongly suggesting parking there and taking the free shuttle. I decided that driving all day wouldn't be as much fun as leaving the driving in park traffic up to someone else. So I parked and we caught the shuttle.

We got to the park about 10:30. After spending a few minutes in one of the stores looking for the sun screen I forgot and a battery for my film camera, we boarded the shuttle for Desert View. We stayed on until we got to Desert View, but we did get a good look at the canyon several times.

At desert view, I checked out three stores before finding what I was looking for. We then went up the view tower built in the first part of the 20th century for Fred Harvey (who still appears to have some of the park concessions). After that we had a snack at the snack bar and headed back.

We stopped at one of the overlooks, and discovered that there wasn't 20 minutes worth of overlooking to do. This, as well as spending more time at Desert View caused us to get back to the center later than I had wanted. We grabbed a quick, light, bite of lunch and then caught the shuttle back to the car, and drove back to Williams.

Tara spent the day with two very happy, but clingy, pets.

We had dinner at a Greek run family restaurant, where it turns out the owner and chef spent a lot of time in the Chicago area, although he clearly grew up in Greece.

Aug. 13 -- Williams to San Diego

We got up very early so that we could get going early, and almost succeeded in leaving on time at 4:30 or 5:00. However, Tara's car, with the trailer, ended up parked in too tight and she had to back it out. To add to her trouble, for some reason the power steering in her car didn't kick in. After I checked the fluid -- this was after having driven to the nearby Circle-K and back -- it started working and didn't give her any trouble later.

We did manage to get the car out, and got on the road. We fairly quickly dropped into the Mohave Desert. We had breakfast in Kingman, again at a Cracker Barrel. Even at 7:30, it was already nearly 90 degrees.

After breakfast, we continued and it kept getting hotter. It was over 90 when we hit the California border (and inspection station). We stopped about 50 miles in at a rest area, and it was quite hot.

I think I would have enjoyed the beauty of the Mohave Desert more at a cooler time of the year. But it was still very beautiful in a desert kind of way.

We had to make one more stop before Barstow, since Tara was low on gas. This was the most expensive gas we purchased on the whole trip.

As we were approaching Barstow, I noticed something hanging funny off of the wiring harness for the trailer. I called Tara and told her to stop when she got a chance. After getting onto I-15, I saw a big sign for a California welcome center, and suggested stopping there. After finding the exit -- which required some quick work on both of our parts due to a truck that tried to merge into Tara -- Tara missed the tiny sign saying to turn left at the exit for the welcome center. So Tara went the other way and went into a truck stop (at a moment when I was feeling very uncharitable to truckers). While I fixed the broken ground wire, Tara and Derrick went in to use the bathroom. I then went in and we left fairly quickly.

The climb out of Barstow was hotter and steeper than I had expected. According to the signs, Tara should have stayed in the far right lane, but she was passing most of the trucks in spite of the steep climb.

By the time we made it to San Bernadino, it had cooled quite a bit, but was still over 90. We ended up working our way to the south end of Riverside before we found a place to pull over and get lunch. Even that turned out to take longer than we wanted because of a poorly laid out, and poorly signed, new commercial development. We ended up eating lunch at a Hawaiian Barbeque, which was pretty good.

After that, we pressed on for our final leg, and arrived at the apartment about 3:00. It took about 30 minutes to get our keys and start unloading, and then another hour or so unloading before I took the trailer back. After all of that, we ended up at the UTC Shopping Center Rubios for dinner.

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