On the road to repairs! New Mexico and Oklahoma here we come! Part 1
No, of course it’s not Mike! Ha! It might just be a mobile RV repair guy and his trusty sidekick;) We had the weekend to wait until we could take the truck in Monday, for a new to us turbo (rebuilt) and to hear back from the mobile RV repair guy. We moved spots, closer to the road and gunshots but with a bit of greenery behind and a better spot to walk the cats. It was available until Wednesday so I thought we should have things figured out by then…always the optimist! I put my bird feeders out and tried to think of something other than RV and truck problems! I’d gathered quite a crowd by day two!
There was a pair of Cardinals, a female “Pyrrhuloxia” pronounced like this: pir-uh-lok-see-uh. Now, see if you can learn to spell it. There will be a test later! A Verdin, some doves and of course Cactus Wrens and Gambel’s Quails trotting across the road and into the bushes. A male Costa’s hummingbird took over the feeder and we had a few bunnies cleaning up what the birds spilled!
Love the green palo verde twigs in the background here but it makes focusing difficult. The camera seems to like objects in the distance better than those up close, a fault of the Canon R5 I have found with many others. It hunts constantly to the point I use the manual focus ring to bring it back. Bright purple feathers drape across the throat of male Costa’s Hummingbirds, sticking out wildly to each side, like an overgrown mustache. Males show off their purple colors for females, which are dressed in green with a pale eyebrow and a whitish belly.
When it comes to hummingbirds you are always playing with light-the man in the camper next to us couldn’t understand why I was sitting with my back to the sun. I explained I was trying to catch this beautiful hummingbirds purple throat feathers…ahhh…he exclaimed. Costa’s Hummingbirds occur in Sonoran and Mojave Desert scrub, coastal California chaparral and sage scrub, and deciduous forest and desert scrub in Baja California, Mexico. In the Sonoran Desert they occur in desert washes with palo verde, jojoba, desert lavender, or chuparosa, on steep rock slopes, and in lowlands with saguaro, creosote bush, and cholla cacti typically below 3,000 feet elevation.
Using the neighbour’s lighter coloured A-class behind us as a background let me up the shutter speed to get the feather detail. Hampered by clouds I was shooting at 1/2000 sec at 2500 iso. I prefer to have the iso much lower and shutter speed around 1/4000 sec. Hummingbirds take nectar from a lot of flowers: researchers calculated that a Costa’s Hummingbird needs to visit 1,840 flowers to meet its energy requirements for one day. The neighbour are a nice couple from Vancouver Island, then Alberta with three cats. She, Sharron, brought them out one by one to meet Groot and Gamora, a ginger and two tuxedos, the ginger, not having a brain cell was the friendliest! Al, he’s an electrical engineer, we looked at the grounds on the trailer with him late today, all good he said. Everyone is always impressed with my brothers wiring of our batteries…top notch! The mobile RV guy raved about it!
A Great Horned Owl sat on a limb and serenaded us one evening where they used to nest. The tree is dead now so sadly no shade for the nest and young, so they have moved somewhere else certainly. A grasshopper was a highlight and the bunnies resting in the shade of the underbrush.
It was an early bleak start to the day Monday, clouds and rain to the South. Without the jacks down the trailer had rocked and rolled like a boat in a roaring wind, I know that feeling, uneasy, at least you don’t have to worry about dragging anchor! We had to get the truck into the diesel repair garage halfway across Tucson by nine a.m. and we needed to pick up the rental first. Apparently you can’t rent a car in the US with just your Canadian drivers license…sigh…that was 25 minutes from the RV park so we’d be late dropping off the truck. The rental guy said no worries, he’d come pick us up at the RV park, we just needed to find a way back to there after leaving the truck. When we dropped the truck off, they said OK, maybe Friday it will be done….WHAT! WAIT! We have to move our trailer Wednesday we told them. OK, they’d work on it…uploaded the UBER app and ordered a ride, how easy is that! By the time we got home even the cats knew we were stressed. Enterprise Rental guy came and picked us up and drove us back to the storefront with our passports. Really nice guy, him and the Uber driver, just feeling tired, tried calling the RV tech…closed? WTF? It’s Presidents Day, holiday…sigh…we were not the only ones to go what holiday? Went to the RV office, the young woman, who’s dog passed a few days ago, found us a spot for Wednesday night, then we have to move again to another site where I could book another week in case we have to wait for parts for the trailer, and she even gave me the name of a permanent resident here, who could move our trailer for us if the truck isn’t ready…Ok, i’s dotted, t’s maybe crossed, hopefully we might get a handle on the chaos soon:) Nothing but kind courteous, helpful people and the sun finally shone through…how sweet is that!
On Tuesday morning we had a call from the Diesel repair shop…all done! Way ahead of schedule! We felt a wave of relief wash over us, one repair remedied…now the trailer. The tech did finally phone back after I called in asking if he’d been in touch with Lippert who makes the jacks…yup, not much help, he rambled on and on and then said, “Yeah I can’t fix it, take it into a shop!” The only reputable place in Tucson, couldn’t get us in for at least two weeks, then they might have to order parts so we’d need a hotel for that time period… at this point we had enough of trouble in Tucson. Mike called the closest DRV dealer, Rolling Retreats in Elk City, Oklahoma. They have one of the best ratings we’d heard of, top in the country, “Yes!” Mary said “If you have it here on Monday the 27th we can get it right into the shop!” Deal! “How far is Oklahoma?” I asked, 850 miles. We had five days to get there. “Do ya wanna get the hell out of Tucson?” I asked Mike…of course you do. We still didn’t know if the jacks would go up, or if the hydraulic slides would go in but I went online, Kartchner Caverns State Park, an hour away, had one spot open…Let’s do it! I booked it online and we got ready to leave in the following morning. If chaos ensued, it wouldn’t be too far to try to retreat back to Tucson with our tails between our legs!
We were chomping at the bit in the morning, horse talk..ha! Maybe it was just wanting to know if the slides would go in and the jacks go up. We did our shopping the day before as we didn’t plan on unhooking until the DRV dealer on the morning of the appointment as not to use the jacks at all, only the slides! We bundled the traveling mewberries into the truck, the slide rooms went in! Whew! Now to get it hooked up! The front jacks started to retract…then stopped….ARGHHHHHH! I opened the hydraulic door and with the end of an adjustable wrench I whacked…gently, Ok, maybe not so gently, the solenoid the RV tech said might be the problem! It worked! When I went back to the control panel and hit retract we raised them enough to attach it to the truck, then the rest of the way once we were all hooked up and we wrapped our fancy plastic coated yellow chains around the miserable beggars, attaching them to the exhaust clamps and sighed a sigh of relief…we could go!
We arrived before check in and were informed we had to wait in the Cavern parking lot, not a big deal, we were so happy to out of the city and away from the gunshots! Halle-f-ing lujah! Camp hosts here were really exceptional, check in was 2-we got there at 12:30, yes, we were in a hurry to leave Tucson! They came by in their cart where we were parked and told us as soon as the site was ready! It was a back in and we had room to to stay hooked up! It was cold and blowing but we were so happy…slides went out! Whew! Then it started to snow! Ha!
We woke up to a dusting of snow on the upper hills at Kartchner Caverns State Park and as we headed out all the surrounding hills were covered in beautiful layer of white! We headed back to the I-10 and then Eastbound, past the Dos Cabeza Mountains with the the rocky outcrops framed by snow covered mountains, it was stunning. Our next scheduled stop was an RV park in Las Cruces before we headed North to the I-40.
The kittens took it all in stride! We warned them it would be longer jumps every day, no rest days in between! There was some jostling for prime spots but overall these guys are such wonderful travelers!
The snow slowly disappeared as we went further East into New Mexico. Across the continental divide, the random person walking a baby stroller along this stretch of road was interesting! The bare countryside is dotted with windmills and bare trees, reminders it was early Spring still. I was glad we were headed East! There were two separate back ups for miles and miles going West, it would have added a lot of time to traveling! So much truck traffic in this corridor! An endless stream of eighteen wheelers blowing past us at 75 m.p.h.
We arrived in Las Cruces where we had found an RV park with a pull through site, no need to unhook and space for both the truck and trailer. Las Cruces had an air of times gone by. It is always worrisome when you go to an RV park and it is fenced like a maximum security prison to keep others out! Ha! I have never seen so many rules at a park..someone is OCD! If you are caught speeding more than 5 mph, more than three times…you’re OUT! I assured the woman at the desk that given the speed bumps and pulling a 18,000 lb trailer we were not likely to be offenders!
We pulled into our site with some apprehension, never knowing if the slides going in and out was a fluke or how it was going to be! Makes setting up very easy, no chocks, no jacks, just open the door into the trailer once you are stopped, take a deep breath and hit the “offdoor slide” button…out…it went, as did the door side slide! Yeah, looks like we may just be OK! For now…didn’t want to jinx ourselves!
This was no state park, the cats walked along a wire fence topped with razor wire, the poverty on the other side of the fence was apparent. We were happy to gather everyone up for the next jump in the morning-to Santa Rosa State Park off the I-40 and route 66, anything would be better than a RV “resort” hell as I call them! I realize their value and services they provide, I just don’t want to spend a single golden year here…
La Cruces does have a spectacular backdrop with the Needles in the background! Organ Mountains Desert Peaks National Monument. So many boarded up buildings though. We took the I-70 headed towards Alamogordo and White Sands National Monument. It was going to be a long day, a four and a half hour drive to Santa Rosa Lake State Park. Past the White Sands Missile Range, not subtle about it;) I did check to make sure the I-70 wasn’t closed for any missile tests as it is sometimes! Past Alamogordo where we stopped for diesel and North on the New Mexico 54.
The con trails were out of this world! So much air traffic over this area! Lot’s of water vapour up high and low winds! As White Sands slipped by the snow topped Sierra Blanca dominated the landscape for the next hour. At nearly 12,000 feet in elevation it towers over the desert landscape.
All the small towns along the I-54, Oscuro, Tularosa, Corona and Vaughn had an air of desperation to them. Most buildings on the main streets were boarded up with plywood or falling down. You could see they once thrived with old gas stations and stores of adobe, now abandoned, what happened? Save for a few gas stations, big ones, for the trucks, everything else seemed so abandoned. A huge military plane banked sharply behind a hill at a very low elevation before heading South, not something you see every day. The massive complex of volcanic rocks that makes up Sierra Blanca slowly faded as we seemed to go up in elevation and then came the high plains.
For miles and miles and miles…high desert plateau…cattle country, wind mills, deserted buildings. We followed the same eighteen wheeler for what seemed like hours. There were occasional passing lanes, but never quite long enough to get by so we simply followed in his wake. At four hours Gamora stated to squeak, I couldn’t blame her, I felt like squeaking too….Are we there yet! The boredom was only broken by the white pick up driver who tried to pass on a curve, then a hill, then in another no passing area, never in an actual passing lane, you wonder about these ones…ha! It was with great excitement we saw I-40 looming ahead and turned right onto old route 66. Just a few more miles to Santa Rosa Lake State Park but we’ll leave that for tomorrow! Stay tuned! ♫♪♫ Let’s get our kicks! On Route 66! ♫♪♫