Wednesday, April 9, 2008

4. Left Turn to Arizona

I-5 to Bakersfield was long and flat, but the varied scenery of crops, cattle, and green rolling hills was better than expected and not at all boring. To conserve fuel, we cruised along with the truckers at a steady 55-60 mph. Even at that speed, the RV was pummeled with bugs and flying critters of all sizes, their colorful juices splattering the windshield like a game of paint ball. Ron’s first task at the end of a travel day is to scrub the windshield and front of the RV before the bug remains get baked on. That task took him half an hour when we finally settled into our space under the palms at the Bakersfield Palms RV Park (picture).

It was a long slow grind over 4,000 ft. Tehachapi Pass as we climbed out of the central valley and into the high desert. Again, the scenery was better than expected and some species of blooming cactus added color. We cruised through Barstow (no good reason to stop) and on toward the Colorado River. As we approached Needles, Bonnie was watching the gas gauge like a hawk as the needle pushed the empty mark. Fortunately, it was all downhill into the Colorado River Valley. We took the first gas station exit (big mistake) and found the price of regular gas to be $4.20/gal. We passed those stations and finally bought a few gallons at $4.10/gal. to get us up the road to Bullhead City. To our delight, gas was selling for only $3.22/gal. in Bullhead, just 35 miles north.

We spent the next three days visiting Bonnie’s sister Bev and her hubby Tom in Bullhead City. Their nice winter home overlooks the Colorado River valley and Eldorado Mountains to the west. We relaxed, did some laundry and clean-up, and spent an afternoon at a Laughlin casino losing a few bucks to the gambling machines but also enjoying a great $5.00 lunch buffet. Ron and Tom got to watch the final game of the NCAA college basketball tournament while Bonnie and Bev did a little shopping. Bonnie’s cousin Darrol came down from Kingman and they spent the afternoon recalling old times growing up in Bellingham many years ago. Ron and Darrol were on Navy ships in Vietnam about the same time, so they had some stories to share as well. Bev and Tom were very good hosts and fed us too well. Bullhead was a nice stop on our trip.

We departed Bullhead on Wednesday (April 9), drove down the river, passed by Lake Havasu and Parker and turned east at Quartzite. The highway was a bit narrow and slow but, as you can see, there wasn't much traffic. The jagged mountains near Needles and rocky terrain along the river were very scenic. There weren't any good viewpoints, so Bonnie clicked off a few pictures out the windows as we rolled along. It was sunny and warm but not warm enough to turn on the A/C.

Tonight (4/9), we’re camped on a patch of desert called Augie’s RV Park, just outside Gila Bend, Arizona. It’s more sand box than park, but it has its own unique character, as do most campgrounds. Our rooftop antenna couldn’t pick up any TV stations and there are more radio stations in Spanish than English, so this was a good time to relax, go for a walk and update the blog.

Gila Bend is a pit stop and we’ll leave first thing tomorrow for Tucson. We have a long list of things to see and do in that area. Adios amigos . . .