Wednesday January 15: First thing this morning, I go out to take photos of the mountains and the cacti surrounding our campsite here at Cactus Forest, northwest of Tucson, Arizona. Clifford and I really like Cactus Forest, but we need to head on to Quartzsite, Arizona, for Quartzfest, the ham radio week-long gathering.
We travel northwest on I-10 to the junction with I-8, then west through the Sonoran Desert National Monument. We reminisce about our camping trip here four years ago, the first trip with our 30-year-old Terry travel trailer. That was an adventure, which I won’t go into here.
At Gila Bend we stop for gas, which is fun because of the pet dinosaurs and fun stuff to buy, and then continue north on highway 85 until we rejoin I-10 west of Phoenix. We had thought we might stop for the night at Buckeye Recreation Area along highway 85, but travel conditions have been favorable today and we are making good time, so travel all the way to Quartzsite.
At Quartzsite, we turn south on highway 95 and make our way to Roadrunner, the BLM camping area south of Quartzsite where Quartzfest is held. Driving into this dispersed desert camping area, we are pleased to find that the campsite we had at Christmas two years ago is available. We were here then with my cousin and his wife, and my brother Rollie. We are very happy to be here in this spot now as we set up and prepare for Quartzfest.
November 12, 2015 to May 7, 2016: One week short of six months, over 4000 miles, and hundreds of photos later, we have returned to Wallace, Idaho. It was a memorable six months, not only because we traveled so far, but for all the places we saw, the places we camped, people we met – family, old friends, new friends, and angels in disguise.
I took photos every day, sometimes only a couple, but most days lots of photos; almost every day I posted a journey post on FB with photos, sharing the journey with all who cared to join us in this way. I hardly ever missed a day in spite of power and internet restrictions that accompanied us most of the time. I suppose it would have a more relaxed trip had I not set this as a goal for myself, but seeing the world – what is most beautiful or most meaningful – is what I do. Seeing a beautiful sunset or morning light on a mountainside or hoarfrost on pines is not just a neat experience for me alone; it is an experience that demands to be shared.
Clifford studied, researched, or worked on research papers every day that we were not actually traveling. He acquired sophisticated portable scientific instruments to compliment the portable lab. His dedication to his work did not waver, even given the limited space he had to work in.
Once we returned home, I saw that for many people the last six months were same-o-same-o, little ups and downs, nothing really different, nothing outstanding. For me, the last six months were filled with ups and downs, also, but they were Big ups and downs, events and experiences that gave depth and quality to my life. I am enriched by having done this journey, not knowing from one short time period to the next what we might encounter: beautiful weather – or snow and cold; great photo opps camping and hiking – or only a few shots through the tinted window of a moving vehicle; being well – or not being well and having to deal with it; spending days and days with no one but Clifford – or meeting people: some just passing through and some whose lives will intermingle with mine onward; beautiful camping spots where I’d love to stay forever – or a Walmart parking lot where I have to pick up trash just to be okay with being there. It wasn’t always an easy journey for me, but it was a good one. Living in an 8 x 16 foot space with someone day-in and day-out means some compromises, but it also makes me much more appreciative of what’s comfortable and convenient, and more accepting of what’s not. Things are less about good or bad, like or don’t like, and much more about It Is What It Is, and being grateful to be a part of the process. Of course, for a very long time I’ve had the intellectual understanding of the importance of being appreciative and accepting, but now it is a deeper part of my being; it is not so much something that I have to work at as something that I am: Happy for No Reason – not all the time every day, but on a more on-going basis than I’ve experienced before.
Things that stand out:
Snowy as we leave Idaho with Blazer and Pony (our small pop-up), our departure from Belgrade, Montana is delayed by several hours due to snow, more snow changes our itinerary by time we reach Wyoming.
Mid-Wyoming snow storm and cold temps at Glendo State Park provide photo opportunities that are exciting for me, but also contribute to both of us becoming sick. Clifford recovers in a few days; it is weeks before I fully recover. Daughter Becka and a friend from Santa Fe provide warm dry lodging when I needed it the most. Thanks!!
Heading south: several inches of snow at Three Rivers campground north of Tularosa, New Mexico, but it is great being here until Goliath (the news-worthy blizzard on December 26th) comes raging through, nearly wiping us out.
The search begins for a hard-shell RV, not an easy task given our restrictions. We go all the way to Phoenix, Arizona, to get Terry, an older, but sturdy RV that falls within our budget, weight limit, and floor plan. We narrowly escape a near-disasterous incident before we even get out of Phoenix, but back at Colossal Cave outside of Tucson where we are camped, we set up home in Terry and sell our much-loved Pony.
Desert camping: Colossal Cave, Arizona – having been here before, we knew we liked it.
The Sonoran Desert National Monument southwest of Phoenix looks bare and desolate as we approach, but I fall in love with it: two weeks of solitude with long walks and campfires to warm the chill morning air.
The Carnicom Brothers Reunion in Tucson, Arizona.
Cochise Stronghold, another place I fall in love with, as well as feeling a special connection to this rock mountain. I become friends with the camp host and others with whom we stay in touch.
City of Rocks State Park, New Mexico – what a really cool place to camp for two week. While there, I meet a woman who has become a special friend – I expect we will meet again on the road.
Leaving Arizona, Percha Dam State Park, New Mexico, is the first campground where we have plugged into electricity. We catch up on projects that need power and internet.
The journey northward begins: Camping at Cochiti Lake, New Mexico, waiting for better weather around Santa Fe, and hiking in nearby Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument.
Villanueva State Park east of Santa Fe, New Mexico, bypassing cold weather at Santa Fe, (or so we thought),…..
followed by camping in the mountains north of Santa Fe at Hyde State Park, …..and more snow.
Two weeks at Santa Fe visiting friends and working with our webmaster, Kaylee, to construct a new website for me.
Leaving Santa Fe, we stay at Villanueva again to wait out another snow storm – 20 inches of new snow right where we are headed in Colorado.
After visiting friends in Colorado, the journey is comprised of one-night stands in Walmart parking lots and rest areas, and brief visits with more friends and family once we reach Montana.
And finally, back to Wallace, Idaho. It is good to be back AND we are already planning our next outing. More adventures await!