Yikes! I haven’t updated this journal for a long time! It’s been since Halloween and now it’s already Christmas! Guess my life has been busy so I’m getting very behind. For those who check in now and then, I owe an apology and pictures!
As I said, while I was at City of Rocks campground north of Deming, I again found my friends Jerry and Marian, and for several days we enjoyed some nice food, laughs, and travel tips. Somehow I’m sure I will meet them again on the road someday. This campground is a very unique and fascinating place.
I decided to drive back to Elephant Butte Lake and finally get the crack in my blackwater pipe fixed. I had thoroughly wrapped it with Rescue Tape so the slow drip was under control, but it still needed a permanent fix. I called on the wonderful Chip Baker of Baker’s RV Services, and he did a great job. He also fixed the drain fitting for my water heater and helped me learn how to clear the lines and do annual check and cleaning for the refrigerator propane system, then charged me only for 1 1/2 hours labor. Thanks, Chip! I can’t recommend him highly enough, and besides he’s a very kind and friendly guy. (575-740-3921)
Chip warned me again about my aging dual tires, and said I should replace them soon. Tires and resealing the roof are the next items on my to-do list. Since tires are so important I decided to stop at the big tire shop in Deming and just do it. I was reluctantly convinced to get Firestone all weather truck tires, so they were installed within two hours along with a free oil change, and I was on my way to Arizona.
My destination was Wickenburg to meet my friend Shar Andersen so we could camp together a few days before she returned to Alaska for the holidays. I drove to Roper Lake State Campground south of Safford for first night and then to Lost Dutchman State Park near Apache Junction the second night. I should mention that along this drive I passed through the prettiest area I have seen in the Southwest, along U.S. Route 60 through the Superstition Mountains near the towns of Globe and Miami. This is probably the only place so far where I could imagine actually living. My nice Lost Dutchman campsite was not far from Tortilla Flat, a place I visited some 20 years ago, so I went ahead and drove up there for breakfast the next morning.
However – and there’s always a bump in the road – I discovered that my brand new outside driver’s side dual tire was flat! Great. And once again, I’m far from any source of air (gotta get myself a portable air compressor, I guess). I filled with the good water here and then managed to get the park maintenance staff to give me enough air to get to a tire shop, and headed to Mesa with crossed fingers. The directions I had gotten to the tire place were hazy and greatly underestimated the distance, so when I saw a place by the highway with a Firestone/Bridgestone sign, I turned and pulled in, scraping the towing hitch on the dip to get in. They didn’t really deal with motor homes, but agreed to fix my brand new tire. It turned out to be a leaking valve, undoubtedly due to the young man who manhandled it while installing my new tires. It was almost funny to hear the manager and workers bickering about who had the most experience with fixing these tires – “this isn’t my first rodeo”… “well, isn’t my first, either”. I was told that the inner seals in valve stems always must be replaced when getting new tires, and the “other guy” didn’t know what he was doing. If I had a dollar for every time I have heard that in my life from some repair guy, I could take a free vacation in Hawaii. Anyway, after fixing the valve, the older guy replaced the tire and I noticed that – jeez, I couldn’t believe my eyes – he had squashed the extended valve stem from the inside dual into the rim! I’m “just a girl” but could see this was a huge problem. Now the inside dual was also leaking! They quietly took both tires back off and fixed the inner valve stem, put them both carefully back on and didn’t charge me anything. They were so nice about it that I bought a new pair of windshield wiper blades. Shaking my head, I made it to Wickenburg, managed to find propane and headed out to the desert BLM land. By then it was dark, but I found a place to park and crashed dead asleep.
I was surprised to learn the hard way about the “jumping Cholla cactus”, since I was camping in a virtual forest of them! Shar arrived the next morning, and Cheyenne was so happy to see her that the first thing she did was grab up what she thought was a ball, but it was a cholla! These cactus spines are barbed like a fish hook and are worse than porcupine quills! When she got it in her mouth, it stuck so she batted at it with her front feet, and now had stickers all over her face and deep into her paws! What a nightmare it was to pluck out the spines, and there were more to find the next day and still more in days to come. They hurt when they come out, so she was crying even though she knew I was helping her. For several days, Shar and I went to local activities, attended a bluegrass festival, toured an old gold mining operation, visited the local cowboy museum, drove to the Phoenix suburbs to shop at Trader Joe’s, fixed snacks for our own private happy hour, and walked around the desert. We even went to spend some time with the solo RVers with the WIN group (Wandering Individuals Network) who were having a big dance rally. Cheyenne learned how be “desert wise” and avoid the cacti.