Originally posted 3/14/2013
Not that I’m complaining, but it’s actually hot down here in Quartzsite, and it’s only mid-March!?! Today hit 93 degrees, and tomorrow is supposed to hit 97. In Chicago-speak, that feels like about 87 and 91, probably. Nightly lows hover around 60. What? Nobody feels sorry for me? Whatsa matter? Snowblower wouldn’t start?
One of the local vendors who’s stuck around claims it’ll be 100 by the end of the month. Being a newbie at this, that statement and this little heat wave prompted me to check my return route against the monthly average temperature history at wunderground.com. Oops. I may be dead by the time I leave here April 15th, and not recovering much at the boondocking sites I’d had planned. Time for a little readjust.
See, I was going to be boondocking for six weeks at the start of my trip back, in two-week stints, then begin a “rapid” one-week drive back to the Midwest, a 2,000-mile jaunt in total. At 10 miles per $4.20 gallon, now you know why I whimper pitifully whenever I see my trip fuel mileage drop a MPG or two, and do a lame victory dance when I gain one.
So, I’ve devised a more leisurely return that will get me up to altitudes that will get me much cooler days, and propane-burning mornings when I wake up. If anything, it may be too cool. Eight weeks instead of six. If I hang in until April 4th and leave then, I can spend two weeks in Prescott AZ, two in nearby Cottonwood, two up by I-40 in the Kaibab National Forest, and two in the Cibola National Forest near Grants, NM. Kaibab NF is so high up (5,500-10,400′) that the average daytime high is 62 when I’ll arrive just one day after they open for the season! I may actually have to be concerned about waterlines freezing at night again! Whoopee!
There are always alternate options if Kaibab NF happens to hit a true cold spell, but the major shift in this plan is that I’ll no longer be hugging the Mexican border on the way back through Texas and Arkansas – something I’d been looking forward to. Instead, I’ll be returning through northern Arizona and New Mexico, then kicking up into Colorado, Nebraska, and Iowa. I’ve limited each day to no more than 280 miles, or 5 hours of driving at 60 MPH. I’ve found that to be about right, considering my usual late starts and time lost refueling, peeing, missing turnoffs, and obsessing over wheel bearing and tire temperatures.
If I were touring like many folks do in their RVs, I’d probably do like them and drive well under 100 miles a day. My final run home would expand to 2-3 weeks of sightseeing. That’s okay when you’re hitting commercial campgrounds most nights, but 2 or 3 weeks of overnighting at Walmarts and noisy truck stops has little appeal, I can tell you. Cellphone signals and Internet access becomes a rarity, and dump station and fresh water access and costs become more of an issue. And here’s where my trailer’s configuration steps in, too. Since I couldn’t mount the solar panels on the roof, the office and CPAP batteries can’t charge on the road during the day. Deploying the panels short-term just isn’t worth it, and in most dry camping situations on the road, it simply can’t be done at all. I’ll always have lights, propane for cooking and heating, and books. I won’t have more than 3 days of office use, or a week of CPAP use. This thing is built for planting and enjoying, not for hit-and-miss road exploration. I can live with that. In fact, I prefer it. From my experience at the Petrified Forest, I find that I like to stay at a place and get the feel of it – let it soak in. True, some places are only worth a fly-by and a check off the list, but many more are worth experiencing, don’t you think?