We left Balfour on January 24, crossed Kootenay lake on the ferry and headed directly south to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. After a quick-lunch we headed east on the I-90 into the Rocky Mountains at Butte, Montana for the night. It was snowing in the mountains so we stopped and bought a set of chains for the truck and the trailer. Although we didn’t need the chains as we climbed up the great divide to a height of about 7000 feet just having them on board gave me a sense of security with the 4 tons of trailer either dragging behind uphill or pushing us from behind downhill. The second day we had a long drive of over 800 km south on I-15 to Nephi, Utah, again passing through areas of slush and snow then down to the Great Salt Lake Basin.
Day 3 found us finally leaving the signs of winter behind as we passed through St. George Utah and bypassed Las Vegas with its multitude of beckoning neon signs. We arrived around dusk in Laughlin, Nevada, after a long descent from the high Nevada plains into the Colorado River valley. The next day we met up with Maggie’s brother, Grant, and sister-in-law, Anita who had arrived from the Vancouver area with their truck and camper. We spent the day avoiding the various casinos, walking around Laughlin and watching the Colorado River as it slipped silently by. Although the climate there is dry and we were only about 500 feet above sea level, the temperature dipped to near freezing at night.
After a day’s rest, we drove south into Arizona where we camped for 2 nights at a State park called Burro Creek, just off Hwy 93 south of Kingman Az. The weather was dry but cool and the terrain was definitely desert, with all living things ready and willing to either stick you or sting you. Miss T enjoyed chasing the little lizards but also demonstrated a natural instinctual wariness of anything that moved on its own, from rodents to reptiles to insects.
On day 7 we skirted Phoenix and found a quiet empty lot next to the city hall in Mesa, Az where we parked for the night.
Day 8 found us ensconced in a Geezer Park near Florence, Az, where we spent 2 nights and refilled the water, propane and generally readjusted everything from cold climate to warmer climate.
After watching the activity in this well populated RV park we decided that although the climate was warm and dry and the folks were friendly we would not be participating in the horse shoe competition, the weaving classes or any of the other geezer activities any time in the near future. We would save these things for when we become too young to go into Mexico.
Day 10 took us through Tucson where we toured the Old Tucson movie set. Many dusters have been filmed over the past 50 years with most of the major western movie stars passing through at one time or another.
Since we were getting close to the Mexican border we spent the night dry camping in a small mall near Nogales. Dry camping is a term used by seasoned RV travelers and it refers to parking in a place for the night that has no amenities. In the USA and Canada these sites can be found in many places from abandoned parking lots to quiet streets, Forestry campsites, approved Bureau of Land Management areas (USA national public lands) empty lots, village parks, Walmarts or other areas that appear to be quiet and secure. Although night time security is always a consideration wherever you stop, there isn’t usually any danger in areas where there are other people in close proximity, unless, of course, you are obviously trespassing. There are a few basic rules that need to be followed. Never make it appear that you may be staying longer than one night; setting up outside chairs, opening your awning, leaving anything on the ground outside, etc, can be a trigger for someone to hassle you. Always park in such a manner as to be able to make a quick get-away if a situation arises that requires you to leave in a hurry. If possible, ask permission to park for the night. Never leave a mess behind that could comprimise the ability for others to use the same spot. My standard lines for any authorities who may disturb you during the night include being road weary with a promise to move along after a short rest or admitting having an alcoholic beverage with dinner and not wishing to DUI. Unless there is a specific law being broken or perhaps you have chosen to park on top of a missle silo, most authorities will give you the benefit of the doubt – but you had best be gone near first light. This is all to avoid paying for a parking place in a commercial RV park with prices that range from $25 to $50 and up per night. We find it difficult to fork out that much dough just to park for a quick rest, especially if we intend to continue in the morning. On the flip side though, every two or three days the co-pilot requires a decent RV campground in order to fill the water tank, dump the other stuff, hook up to power, perhaps do some laundry or, God forbid, socialize with other RV people and share travel stories. This all works quite well until you cross into Mexico where there is a whole other set of rules for parking at night.