Friday, April 7, 2023

Wow, It's Cold Outside, Baby!

Today, we have been on the road for 9 hours. From Freehold we went to I-287, following it to Newburgh,NY. Via Danbury,Waterbury and Hartford,CT we made it through MA and finally NH. Since it was a bit too early in the day to camp out at the NH Liquor Store at I-95 we went into Maine and finally stopped at the Kennebunk Service Plaza. When we got out, we were shocked to feel the cold. Gone were the blooming trees, any sign of green and the general feel of spring time. Instead we got a strong blustery cold wind from North-West. It was time to break out Long-Johns and winter clothes.

From 29C and beach life at Norfolk, VA to freezing cold blustery Maine in a few days

Every year we have the same negative experience when returning from the south. Spring time is still far off, and generally behind the calendar.

Good thing we stocked up on propane and water 2 days ago. We also found a dump station today and got rid of some dead weight. So tonight we run the propane and stay toasty warm.

Tomorrow it's another 6hrs on the road and we'll be home. The house will be cold, but we will start a wood fire in the stove. We'll also turn on the power and the water pump. 

I must mention that we also have a lovable neighbour who's gonna wait with a delicious welcome-back supper for us.

And it is Easter!  HAPPY EASTER to everyone!

Thursday, April 6, 2023

We Got Up Real E a r l y!!

 As announced yesterday, we heard the stakkato sound of the wake-up ring from Bea's cellphone. I realized the night would be over. It was 3:30am. Thanks to us moving the trailer to a quiet corner of the parking area, we had slept not too bad.

After a quick coffee, we hit the nightly road towards Lewes/Cape Henlopen. As usual, Bea was the co-pilot and she guided me down the right road and around the right turn-offs. After arriving in Lewes we still had an hour to spare, which we used for having breakfast. The departure area was still closed, but they have terminal parking. One can also stay overnight there.

When the gates opened up, we went over and got in line. 

This was the image she could see via webcam in Germany

We had called a German friend, telling her that she could go online and see us on the webcam, which she did. Stuff like that would have been unthinkable only 15 years ago.

First in Line
The yet-empty Lewes harbour

The ferry ride to Cape May, NJ takes 90 minutes, and it all went down in the most beautiful weather. While Bea took a nap in the van, I went upstairs and had a couple of nice chats with other passengers.

New Jersey countryside

Coming off the ferry at Cape May, we had only 130 miles to cover to a Walmart in Freehold, NJ. With that much time at our hands, we pulled into a mall parking lot and now it was my turn to take a nap. 90 minutes later we left and reached Freehold, NJ.

Tomorrow we plan to circum-drive NYC and hope to reach a few miles beyond Portsmouth, NH.

Wednesday, April 5, 2023

Leaving The South

 It is only an hour and a few minutes or 74 miles from Columbia to Florence. And Florence marks the end of the I-20. We finally found ourselves back on the trusty old I-95 and heading in northerly direction towards more homely fields.

The I-95 is obviously under major construction and widening, and I'd say it is needed for sure.

At Emporia, North Carolina we left the I-95 again and continued in North-easterly direction on HWY 58 towards Norfolk, VA.

Now, Norfolk, Suffolk and Virginia Beach are three very chaotic cities. Chaotic in traffic. Two major inroads were just clogged solidly. My mastermind of a street finder, Bea, though found another alternative road to avoid all the traffic jam. She finds good help in using Mr. Google's maps which also gives traffic updates.

So we made it onto the Chesapeake Bay-Bridge-Tunnel.

This route is always quite the highlight on our journey home. The construction is truly outstanding in the U.S. Currently work is underway to widen the tunnel through-ways.

Arriving at Cape Charles on the other side, we pulled in at the Welcome Center.

A huge parking lot allows for 48hrs parking allows for 48hrs parking. Very unfortunately, the truckers have long since kidnapped the area, and are making a peaceful overnight stay for an RVer almost impossible. It is 66F outside but some let their noisy engines run, nevertheless. After we had set up camp they came left and right and even though lots of space was available elsewhere they joined us wall to wall. Are they doing this on purpose?

Well, we packed up and moved to a more peaceful edge of the parking lot.

The nice side of the Welcome Center is the adjoining wildlife refuge trail, which is worth exploring.

We hadn't booked our ferry from Lewes to Cape May yet, and when I tried doing that I got a bad surprise. The only 2 departures left were at 8:45 and 7:45pm. We booked at 8:45am, which means that we have to get up darn early tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 4, 2023

We Are Only 3 1/2 More Days From Home!

 It is now 5 days ago we left Why/Ajo, AZ and we will have 3 1/2 more days until rolling across the FDR Memorial Int'l Bridge onto Campobello Island.

Our last overnight spot, a rest area, got filled up with truckers over night.

The day started out with a lot of fog and it was very muggy.

Underway we saw a terrible accident had happened only moments prior. A semi had crashed on the opposite side of the highway. Smoke was rising from the wreckage and people were on their way across the median to help and assist if possible.

Traffic was terrible again, this really is the thing I hate most about the east coast.

Today we made it into the Columbus, SC area where we parked at a Walmart. It must be the worst Walmart parking lot we have ever experienced. Drug dealing and noisy joy-riding is going on around the perimeter. And the police was here only once.

But we have chosen this place and we are gonna leave early in the morning. We ran out of tank water this evening, so tomorrow we are gonna stop at a Flying J dump to refill water. Of course, we shoulda done that in GA or AL while we had the chance.

Let's see whether the noise outside will eventually quiet down a bit.

Monday, April 3, 2023

And So We Move Through Dixie Land

 After the horrible evening we slept fitfully most of the night. In the morning all was peaceful. Looking outside, I noticed the warm steamy air of the south. We would have our brief breakfast and be on the way.

But before hitting the highway we had a brief stop at the dump station. 

During our last year's drive through Shreveport we had been rattling through town on the exceptionally bad I-20. So this year we took the 220-Bypass on the north side. Even that part wasn't what you would call wonderful, but yet it was better than the million potholes downtown.

It doesn't take a whole day to cross Louisiana, so quickly we had the Mississippi ahead of us. After we crossed, we swung up to the MS-Welcome Center.

We learned that it is not a good idea to go there with a long trailer. The parking lot there is really small, - too small!! 

View of Mississippi bridges

When we found the only real rest area along the MS-part of the I-20, we were almost knocked over by the unspeakable heat. Humidity was at 88% and you could feel the steam in the air.

We were done with Mississippi just as quickly and crossed the Alabama State Line. It became notably cooler and the drive through the state was beautiful. The tall green forest gave vibes of summer already. The sun was out and we went on to an AL-rest area called Cottonwood, only a few miles from Tuscaloosa. This rest area also has a dump station and it is really huge.

Dixie in the van

There are also big grassy areas where we could walk Dixie. After the long day in the van she relished every step.

Sunday, April 2, 2023

A Violent Thunderstorm In Louisiana

What we always fear the most when traveling across the U.S. are tornados and violent thunderstorms.

As we made our way starting this morning at Big Spring, TX we knew that the Dallas area could possibly experience thunderstorms. 

And of course, we worried about possible tornados. Bea had even downloaded the tornado warning app of the Red Cross. But all seemed well, except for some really, really crazy Sunday-drivers on the road today. 

Ft. Worth

As we got close to Ft.Worth we saw red accident dots on our online map. In order to avoid it we took the I-30 around the city. It looked like all of the Ft.Worth/Dallas population had decided to take to the roads today. I am sure that at any time we had thousands of cars in our view. Driving skills of these adventurers were somewhat less than satisfactory. Once they had conquered the left lane they were determined not ever to use the brakes or turn lights when skifting lanes, and most of them never intended to join the right lane.

Yesterday, I elaborated about our gas station experience. Today, it wasn't any better. It was around noon time when we pulled into a station. Two empty spots at the pump were just available, when a black car pulled up from the other station side choosing the one nearest to us, so we couldn't get at it.  After pondering behind the wheel for minutes the door opened and there she was - a church lady in a white costume, very blond, and not young. But instead of starting the filling, she found out she had to go up to the store. And that's where she stayed - most indefinitely. It was tragic-comical!!  We then saw another spot become available and could get down to business. When we pulled out again the lady's car was still occupying the pump without being served.

Finally, when approaching Louisiana the skies got somewhat dark and threatening. Some of the area was already under tornado watch. We intended to stay at the LA Welcome Center, which btw. also offers a dump station. We had stayed here last year and all had gone well. Would it now as well?

Around 7pm, things got dicey. It started raining, then lightning w. thunder. First a bit remote, than closer. Suddenly the bang was so loud that our glasses rang out in the cupboard and Dixie jumped off of her bed, looking bewildered. And then the skies really opened up. Some hail occurred and crazy wind casts shook the trailer. 

Then the tornado watch was suspended.

With all honesty, I have never ever experienced such violent weather before. A thunderstorm in the south plays in a special league for sure.

Around quarter past eight it was suddenly over. I mean just like that - the rain stopped as if it never happened. 


Saturday, April 1, 2023

Another 600

Morning had broken at Las Cruces, NM

Yup, that seems about it what we manage, 600 kms in a day. We could've made more if it wouldn't have been for the situation at one of the LOVE's Stations. You know, if you pull a long trailer you gotta assess whether you can get beside a fuel pump, and if so, how you gonna get out of the station again.

Love's stations are not roomy for long trailers at the gas pump. But we managed to queue up alright behind a truck. After waiting a few moments he pulled ahead and we follow. Now it turns out the pump is broken, the reader doesn't work. Both the truck and us are pulling forward and out again. Doing another round, I see a Class A motorhome busy with filling, - or wait, he wasn't filling but washing his windows - like all of them! Then we find out his wife is walking three pooches around the station, brings 2 back into the Motor Home than takes the out for another spin. After what appeared to be 20 minutes with such post gas-filling activities I am losing my patience. I am blocking a row of parked vehicles myself and I have my flashers on.

I am getting out of the van and run to the front of the motor home. I see the driver inside just returning from the back, where he probably took a leak. He sees me gesturing outside his windshield, waves and gets behind the wheel. After 25 minutes waiting behind him after he had finished filling, he moves out and we can finally get gas.

They coulda used a huge truck parking beside the station where he coulda done the window cleaning, taken the longest of all leaks and more, plus the wifey coulda walked their doggies. Where were they from? License plate said Tennessee.

Oh well!

So, we did not make it to Abilene but stopped a 108miles west of it at Big Spring.

The roads today were good. I-10 in TX is great, the I-20 not quite so great, but not bad either.

Since the landscape in West Texas is not a huge challenge for a photographer we do not publish pics from the road today.

Tomorrow we are attempting to continue on I-20 even though strong winds have been announced with spread thunderstorms and possibility of tornados in the Ft.Worth/Dallas area. Let's hope we'll make it through "Tornado Alley" safe and sound.

600 km Farther To The East

 After an early start from the Coyote Howls Campground we were heading east on State Rte 86 towards Tucson.

While driving, I had my thoughts on what we had learned yesterday at the campground.

After we had settled in we did an extensive walk around the park. While the sites closest to the admin-building were reserved for day and weekly stays (short term) the other part out back was for yearly use. Yes, yearly - not seasonal! Those sites were beautifully naturally shaped with small trees, rocks and cactus. One could see that the renters had actively beautified their sites. We knew that the yearly rent would be $800 only, so I had gone to the office for more information. Well, it turned out they had availability and that a lot of perks would come with it. 

Would that be something for us? We could place a trailer here year-round and have another smaller one for travel only. What still concerns us is that the WHY/Ajo area has lower winter temperatures than Holtville, CA. Also, what if we wouldn't be able to come down one year and we would lose the site or pay without using it?

Those thoughts occupied me this morning and we will have to give it more time.

Now, State Rte 86 is mostly in a rough shape. 

Whether the reason is that it runs through an Indian Reserve or some other reasons, it was no fun to drive. It's full of potholes and broken asphalt. The better part of the Hwy86 are all the flowers growing along the ditches.

And I have to say that the I-10 from Tucson east is not much better. With the trailer we have to stick to the right lane, and that's where all the damage is. Most cars passing us stay in the left lane all the time. I just don't understand that road maintenance has such a low priority. The worst part was still in Arizona while New Mexico is about to fix the I-10. 

After a 6hr. drive we reached Las Cruces where we stay overnight at the Roadrunner scenic view.