Our Fall RV Trip – The Route Home

Sunflower RV Resort 034
Sunflower RV Resort, stage to the left and beyond the tiki bar

I have written several interesting posts on our fall RV trip click this link if you would like to read them from the beginning.

Six of us are traveling together down the pacific  coast to California and east to Arizona and then north to return home.

We hit the road Oct 24, and began our return trip home to the northwest on Dec. 2. All of us in the group had a great time and I am sure we will travel together again in the future.

The trek home will take 4 days and 3 night providing all goes well.  It will not be a rushed trip, Lynda and I have made the trip in 3 days 2 nights. After racing home we needed several days to recover, it makes more sense to take an extra day and enjoy the trip.

Another issue with racing home or to a distant destination,  the chances of fatigue causing an accident are far greater. Depending on the individual 8 to 10 hrs of driving time is plenty.

I find the first day or two of the trip I don’t tire as quickly as I do the following days. It works well to travel longer at the beginning of the trip, and less as the trip wears on.

Traveling too many hours and late into the night fatigue becomes a factor especially if the plan is to hit the road early the next morning. If you include a few hours to relax in the evening not much time remains for sleep. Fatigue begins to take it’s toll.

Driving tired is dangerous, reaction time is slower, and distractions are more apt to affect a tired person.

Take your time and enjoy the drive if you can, an accident may wreck more than your vehicle.

If the weather co-operates, and no mechanical issues slow us down 10 hrs on the road a day should get us home without arriving dead tired. When I say 10 hrs on the road it’s from the time we leave our overnight location until we park for the night.

It’s necessary to add a couple of hours for fueling, lunch and breaks. I also use an average traveling speed of 50 miles per hour when planning a trip, which is probably a bit high.

Pre- trip Check

Of course before we head out a pre-trip check is essential. I do a visual check of all running gear components including but not limited to the hitch, brakes, trailer and tow vehicle, brake lights, tail lights, all fluid levels, tire pressure and lug nuts on the wheels, trailer and tow vehicle. I learned my lesson on wheel lugs during our initial drive south this trip.

Our truck lost a rear wheel, the lug nuts sheared off, apparently due to rust on the hub and wheel. The damage was extensive, but the important issue was no one was hurt.

As explained to me by the mechanic, the rust prevents the wheel and the hub from seating securely. Rust is not solid and may allow movement between the hub and the wheel which in turn may cause the wheel to loosen enough it could detach. A rear wheel coming off is not as serious as a front wheel, with a rear wheel missing you will have better control.

The route

Lynda and I have traveled the same route from central Phoenix to the northwest many times, most of the trip is on secondary highways, the route we use is more direct with less traffic than the interstates.

Our our trip home begins this year at Surprise Az. a suburb of Phoenix. As I mentioned in my previous post, ‘A’ and ‘H’ are heading to Las Vegas to meet family, ‘R’ and ‘L’ will travel with us.

wild horses
Wild horses near the valley of fire.

Hwy 60 takes us northwest to Wickenburg and then hwy 93 toward Las Vegas, with a few jogs. After we cross the Hoover dam I like to take road 166 & 167 around Lake Mead, a  slower windy route with no traffic and amazing scenery. There is a $10 fee to drive through Lake Mead Rec Area. The bonus is we avoid the mayhem of Las Vegas traffic.

The Valley of Fire is along this route, a spectacular detour especially during sunset, a state park with a camping fee.

If you are not into paying for camping at The Valley of Fire state park a few miles farther is a dry camping opportunity, just before the hill into Overton, easy to see on both sides of the road.

The road continues through Overton to interstate 15, then back track southwest on 15 for 3 miles to 168 that takes us west to join up again with hwy 93 north. Once back on 93 we stopped for the night at another free dry camping area at upper Pahranagat lake, a nice area with designated camping spots, picnic tables and fire rings. After the lower lake watch for the sign, the left turn comes up quickly.

 Pahranagat lake
Pahranagat lake campground

 

‘R’, ‘L’, Lynda and I arrived at Pahranagat lake by 4:30 a 81/2 hr. drive. The camping area is just off the highway, fortunately the camping area is 50 ft or more below the highway so traffic noise was not an issue.  The 4 of us enjoyed a glass of wine and dinner together in our rig.

That night it froze although it was probably not as cold as it had been indicated by the layer of ice on the lake. Our plan was to leave at 7 am, a miscommunication probably on my part. Lynda and I had changed our clocks etc to pacific time while ‘R’ and ‘L’ were on Arizona time. So in the morning when ‘R’ said, “I thought we were leaving at 7 am”, I realized ‘R’ and ‘L’ had probably been waiting more than an hour for us to get out of bed and have breakfast. Sorry guys!

 Pahranagat lake
Pahranagat lake sunset

We did leave just before 7 pacific time, continuing north on 93 through Alamo, where we stopped for fuel. Not too far past Alamo our route  takes a left on hwy 318, it is more of a direct route north, hwy 93 heads east for many miles before heading north again.

That reminds me, if you decide to take this route fuel up when the opportunity arises, gas stations are few and far between.

Hwy 318 is scenic in parts, a gently winding 2 lane highway through typical high desert areas of Nevada. We traveled most of the day through snow capped distant peaks and at the higher elevations road side snow , none on the road thank goodness. The temperature hovered around freezing for most of the day, no sunshine.

Dec high desert.
The high desert in Nevada early Dec.

Ely, Nevada was the next major town although still small, the highest point on our route home over 7000 ft. I fueled up here, but ‘R’ didn’t, he planned to wait till Wells the next fuel stop with a card lock for fuel savings.

I was ready for lunch by the time we pulled into Flying J at Wells. Stepping out of a nice warm vehicle into the biting cold desert wind greeted me like slap.

I thought to myself, “you better get use to it, this is nothing, it will be colder at home”. After fueling up, a quick lunch in the cold RV and back on the road.

The trip north from Wells, Nevada to Twin Falls, Idaho was uneventful. The only town is Jackpot, Nevada, the last gambling town before crossing into Idaho, a non gambling state. I don’t think there is a casino in the entire state.

Our preferred overnight stop is a  casino, you may usually park free. After a long day’s drive we enjoy winding down playing the slots and a nice dinner or buffet. Last spring on our way home Lynda and I stopped for the night at Jackpot. I hit it big, won a jackpot on a slot machine 6700………… pennies, I wish I had bet $10 or more. My winnings did pay for our dinner and camping.

On this trip home it was too early to stop as we passed through Jackpot. Twin Falls, Idaho is the next town, from here we head west on interstate 84, even though I enjoy the congestion free secondary highways it was nice to be on a freeway, I don’t need to be concerned with holding up other traffic.

Before turning onto I-84 we crossed the Snake river at Twin Falls, the view from the bridge is breath taking. The river looks to be 1000′ below flowing through a narrow canyon. The canyon is a welcome contrast to the somewhat boring farm land of Idaho.

snake river bridge
The snake river bridge at Twin Falls Idaho
The Last Disaster of This Trip?????

Our plan once on I-84 was to make it to the rest area just east of Boise, Idaho, and spend the night. You know what they say about the best laid plans of men and mice, we didn’t make it. Just before Mountain Home, Idaho we blew a rear tire. The bang scared and upset Lynda and I, we were hoping that loosing a wheel would be our last disaster this trip,………… not to be.

Thankfully ‘R’ and ‘L’ were traveling behind us. ‘R’ helped me change the tire in dark with the cold wind blowing and gusts from the passing semis. It’s great to have friend along.  Thanks ‘R’!!

As we were dealing with this latest issue I asked Lynda to check the GPS for the closest Walmart. I didn’t feel comfortable traveling any distance on the old half deflated spare.

Luck would have it that Mountain Home, the next exit had a Walmart, and a bonus they allowed overnight stays. We arrived and pulled to the back of the lot, where we would spend the night.

This Walmart was open 24 hrs, after we settled for the night I decided to take a walk into the store and checkout tires. It may be prudent to replace all 4 tires, they were not completely worn out but I need to buy at least one.

I am not sure why the rear tire on the opposite side of the one that fell off blew, maybe it had been damaged at the time the other tire fell off. In any case I was not going to take a chance.

It was a relief when the clear at the tire shop told me the tires were in stock and at a good price, the only slight issue was installation would need to wait till morning 7:30. I was up early, unhitched the trailer and at the bay doors of the tire shop before 7:30.

We were back on the road by 9:30. This was the smoothest disaster repair I have ever experienced, I envisioned  waiting days for the proper tires to arrive or else driving all over the northwest.

The third day on the road was the best day of all, I was sporting new tires and my truck was handling like a dream. The sun even graced us that afternoon as we drove the Columbia River Gorge.

Columbia_River_Gorge
Columbia river Gorge

We did however encounter some wet snow flurries through the Blue Mountains before heading down the long steep grade into Pendleton, Oregon. At the bottom of the hill is the Wild Horse Casino, where we have spent the night several times on our late spring trip home.

The route from Pendelton on I-84 cuts across the southern Oregon plains a nice break from all the hills of the morning. At Hermiston, Oregon the GPS when set to the fastest route will take you north on I-82. We have taken this route several times, but that day the forecast for the Snoqualmie Pass was for snow.

We opted to stay on I-84 to Portland and then head north. This was a good decision, not only was the scenery of the Columbia River Gorge spectacular there were far less hills to climb and descend making for a more pleasant day.

It was dark and raining by the time we were settled for the night in Woodvillage Walmart just east of Portland, from here it’s a straight shot home. We are now on the Pacific coast and the rain is to be expected.

We settled in for the night and enjoyed wine and dinner with ‘R’ and ‘L’. It was a bitter sweet evening with the thought that our fall RV trip was ending and we are parting from our good friends tomorrow. Hum    doesn’t read right, how bout this “THROW THE HORSE OVER THE FENCE………………………………………..SOME HAY.”  much more good. LOL

 

The Last Leg

The next morning we woke to monsoon rains and darkness. By the time first light appeared we had several miles behind us. I think we had some anticipation of being home sweet home.

Torrents of rain continued all morning, making the drive tense. Traffic increased the closer to Seattle we drove.  At one point it came to a screeching halt, a flashback of a few years ago when I bumped the car in front of me.

Once through Seattle the rain subsided along with the heavy traffic,  a relief. At the end of our journey we parted company with hugs, we will be together soon, ‘L’ and ‘R’ are our neighbors at the lake.

I hope you have enjoyed the articles on our Fall RV trip. My next post will cover some of the highlights and the experience of traveling with others.

Thanks for visiting.

Gord B.

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Our camp at Senators reservoir pic. by ‘A’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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