|January 5, 2018.
Some trips are easier to start than others. This trip had a little trouble getting off the ground. But I finally got a solar panel working after a month of researching, installing a new plug in the van, buying the wrong panel, returning and re-researching, waiting for the right panel and all the adapters to arrive. It still didn’t work, but I finally found a solar expert who reversed my polarity, right in my driveway. Woo hoo! At last I could load up and be on the road the next day.
All this rigamarole is necessary so I can keep my little refrigerator running while I camp for several days in the middle of nowhere with my bucket potty and weed sprayer shower, without a furnace or electricity to power my space heater, just to be with a bunch of “nomads” I don’t even know, (except for my friend Radar). I can’t wait!!! The gathering is the Rubber Tramp Rendezvous, better known as the RTR, in Quartzsite, AZ. There will be seminars, campfires, desert hikes, and hopefully lots of new friends.
Packing and getting out the door a week ago took a lot longer than anticipated. At 12:30 I had only been on the road an hour, so that flashing “High Wind Advisory” sign was the only incentive I needed to get off the interstate and onto US 160. I knew just where I would go, to one of my favorite mountain towns, La Veta. First stop would be the public potty in the park, then the little bakery for lunch, and then I could call it a day at Circle the Wagons RV Park. Well, the potty was locked, the bakery was closed for upgrades and who in their right mind keeps an RV park open in the middle of a Colorado winter? Turns out, hardly anybody. Instead of continuing west I had to backtrack a few miles to Lathrop State Park where they have one campground loop open for the winter.
The weather was clear and unseasonably warm so instead of my usual “get your butt as far south as you can as fast as you can” route I decided instead to drive west through the CO mountains into northern Arizona. Usually the snow is measured in feet on Wolf Creek Pass, but this year there’s nothing. It was 31 degrees at the top of the pass. It ain’t normal.
It had been over 30 years since I have seen the Grand Canyon, and that visit was the “National Lampoon’s Vacation” version where Chevy Chase bounces impatiently while his family is amazed at the view. What better place to end an old year, start a new one, and see a full moon? I saw several elk, bighorn sheep, and more human animals than expected. The sunrises were pretty spectacular and the shuttle buses start before dawn. Although I spared my knees a hike into the canyon, I walked 7-8 miles each day, did several ranger programs and enjoyed a tour of the Kolb Brothers photography studio. Wupatki National Monument and Sunset Crater were well worth a little detour before heading south on Tuesday. I ended up at Dead Horse Ranch State Park in Cottonwood. Lots of trails here to enjoy and I have seen four roadrunners. It has been easy to get to Sedona for a great day of hiking (and eating) and to visit Jerome, the old mining town just up the hill, with a stop at more ruins.
Tomorrow I am off to Prescott for four days and will stock up my refrigerator at Trader Joe’s, ‘cuz my solar panel rocks. RTR, here I come!