Sunday May 1st thru Saturday May 7th, 2022
Sunday May 1st, at 5:45, and today is the day that we pull out of the Boyce Thompson, Southwestern Arboretum which has been our home since November 15th, and today the Arboretum has also just switched to summer hours, so the gates are open at six o’clock this morning and will close at three o’clock this afternoon.
I cut last weeks blog off a little abruptly, but my butt was dragging big time, this morning was the final tank dump, before heading north, today is planed to be a short day, with the travel objective to avoid heavy traffic by getting through Phoenix early Sunday morning. So we are planning on an eight o’clock start from the Arboretum, and stopping shortly after noon at a Harvest Host on Highway 89, just north of Wickenburg AZ at a local restaurant.
We’re going to use the first day, to just kind of knock the rust off, if you would. Get the feel of the coach again with the toad in tow, and with diesel fuel being well over five dollars a gallon, I also want to be a little more conservative with my right foot, to try and improve the fuel mileage if possible.
8:06 and we have just pulled through the gates of the arboretum, the new Garmin GPS has recommended a left turn (a right turn would have been to a dead end) so we are heading left. What my new Garmin did not pick up on yet was that Interstate 10 was closed before our planned exit from I-10 to Loop 303. But there is something closed every weekend so I already knew about the closure and had planned an alternative route, before coming onto the actual road closure.
10:32 and we just pulled into a small rest stop on US-60, only about twenty some miles from our end of day destination. Mister Sam doesn’t enjoy our travel days and he used to crawl up under my reclining chair and stay there for the duration of travel each day. Our fear was if there was an emergency. Would we have time to roust him out from under the chair for an escape, so we made the decision to start placing him in a soft sided pet carrier, whenever we are in motion. He is not happy about it and on occasion does let us know, if we are too long at a stop lamp, or get tied up in traffic. So this stop is basically to eat up some time before reaching our destination (as we are well ahead of schedule) and also give Mister Sam a needed break.
13:30 and we are on the move again, we had some chips and queso for lunch, around noon, and are now back on US-60, headed north, in the village of Wickenburg we caught US-93, and ten miles later we merged onto AZ-89 and as we entered the village of Congress, our Harvest Host was on the left. The instructions were to call for parking directions, it went to voice mail so I just walked in to the restaurant, instructions were very simple either park here or there, and both would require disconnecting the toad, no big deal this is why we tow four down.
14:20 and we are backed into our spot for the night, the toad is parked in front of the coach, because we needed to back into our assigned area, we are at an elevation of 3002 feet (920 meters) and the 90°F (32°C) temperature in the valley has been reduced to 72°F (22°C) mainly because of the elevation, there is a wonderful westerly breeze today, good for keeping us cool, not so good for the fires burning east of us. Right now there are two major fires burning in Arizona, one north of Flagstaff the other north of Prescott, and as of today neither are contained, just the new normal because of the twenty year drought here in the American Southwest.
Our boondocking spot for the evening, it was only $50 and it came with a large pizza, a couple of beers and a Dr. Pepper. It was a Harvest Host, the parking area was fairly level on dirt. We are backed up onto train tracks and there is a train every four hours approximately (Mister Sam is not impressed with trains), the restaurant was a pizza or burger kind of place, the beer was cold, and the service was good.
Our neighbour ran a portable generator all night, but it was cool enough that air conditioners were not necessary, so we don’t really know why, definitely not real “boondockers”.
Day 1 summary: with our first day in the books 138 miles (222 kilometers) and according to the onboard computer we are averaging 8.8 MPG now that is US gallons, so it converts to 10.6 miles per imperial gallon or 26.7 liters/100 km. The solar system brought in 148 amp/hours of power, and as we turned in at 9:30 for the night the battery bank was at 84%, no need to shut off any of our creature comforts.
Monday May 2nd, the above snapshot was our windshield view of dawn breaking over the mountains to our east, this was taken at 5:45, as just Mister Sam and I are up yet, to avoid the power lines that always seem to be there in every great shot soI wandered across the road. I also seen a rabbit across the street and a coyote running down the railway tracks, but no photos, I was just too damn slow, even with my phone in my hand. Todays objective is to make it to Henderson Nevada, to a Casino slash truck stop, there just are not a lot of boondocking spots in the Las Vegas area with out getting way off our planned route and there don’t seem to be a lot of Harvest Hosts in the area either. We will make a fuel purchase today, as we cover around 200 miles (320 kilometers), today we will spent most of the day on US-93 with short stints on I-40 and I-11, in fact US-93 will be our main highway for most of the week. The battery bank was still at 64% just before sunrise this morning
8:50 and we bring Thunder to life, after building enough air pressure, I ease my way to the shoulder of AZ-89, where we hook up the toad. We usually don’t get rolling until 10:00 but the temperatures are still high, and as much as we are at 3000 feet elevation now, our route will have us dipping into bowls and climbing for even more elevation. So one mile north on US-89, to the AZ-71 junction then left on AZ-71 for eight miles before re-connecting with US-93 for a ninety mile push north to I-40 then west toward Kingman AZ. We were only on Interstate 40 westbound for twenty some miles before exiting back onto US-93 north bound headed for Las Vegas.
11:30 we pulled in for fuel, we were near the half of a tank mark, and we like to operate on the top half. Thunder took 53.356 gallons and the pump read 306.21 dollars, now I had picked this station because of the price, so quick math indicates $5.739 per gallon. But through the magic of the Open Roads app and our TSD RV fuel card, a couple of amazing things happen, first I was able to ring up over 300 dollars on the card, with any regular card that would have been 4 separate transactions, and the second bit of magic is that the card is going to get me a sixty-three cent per gallon discount, now there is a 1% handling charge and $0.65 transaction fee, per transaction which should result in a savings of $31.48 and end up having $278.53 being withdrawn from my (US) bank account.
12:05 after the fuel stop and some lunch we were pulling back on US-93 north bound toward Las Vegas, I had picked a casino in Henderson for tonight’s stop, but we would have been there before 1pm so we decided to push through Las Vegas so as US-93 turns into I-11 at the Nevada state, and as it bypasses Boulder NV, it then turns into I-515 and runs through the east side of Vegas before crossing I-15 that runs south to Los Angeles or north to Salt Lake City, we needed the north route for approximately 20 miles before catching US-93 northbound. Now all did not go perfectly smooth as we hit some terrible road on US-93 just before joining I-40 and some even worse road on I-40 through Kingman, so rough it bounced the shower door off of its track. And we also hit construction on I-515, in Vegas for a few miles of stop and go before catching I-15 and some more construction on northbound I-15 out of Vegas. We jumped on US-95 again and headed north from I-15 to a rest stop approximately sixty miles up the road which we have picked for tonight’s stay, the section of US-93 has been some of the best road that we have encountered, reasonably flat, quite straight, a few grades but very gentle, biggest issue has been that there are no passing areas, but with straight flat road with over five miles of visibility, only bigger units had an issue passing our 66 foot toad and coach.
15:30 as we shut Thunder down, having covered a lot more territory than originally planned. Our battery bank is at 100% charged, our solar panels brought in 329 amp/hours of power, the main issue with this spot looks to be poor to nonexistent cell service, therefore maybe no television tonight.
Well the fuel mileage took a beating today, as we stopped today the onboard computer was showing 7.9 mpg, and I know you may be wondering why such a change, and the answer is quite simple we left BTA at 2400 feet passed through the Phoenix valley at 1100 feet and make one climb to 3000 feet for the first night. But today we were over 4000 feet a couple of times, went through the Las Vegas bowl which is 1200 feet and have now climbed gently to 3400 feet to this evenings stay, and more climbing tomorrow as we will pass the mile high level.
The above snapshot was our second night boondocking spot at a rest area on US-93 near the Pahranagat Wildlife Refuge, we are a little more than an hour north of Las Vegas but have already gained over half a day on my schedule, but we have reached more moderate temperature as Phoenix has multiple triple digit days in this weeks forecast.
Day 2 Summary: 311 miles (500 kilometers) today, much more than our normal travel per day, the solar panels brought in 329 amp/hours and we finished the day at 100% charged, fuel mileage from the onboard computer was down to 7.9 mpg, not unexpected with the swings in elevation and the stop and go traffic. Most of todays route we had travelled before, but that changes now.
Tuesday May 3rd and the above snapshot was the windshield view this morning, our overnight temperature was 50°F (10°C) our elevation is 3400 feet (1000 meters), these numbers will become important as a comparison as we are going to be climbing in elevation today, and the temperatures will be dropping big time.
8:55 and we are on the road again, north bound on US-95 for twenty miles, then a left turn onto NV-318 for a little more than hundred miles, then a right turn onto US-6 for another twenty some miles. This mornings drive was good, the sun was behind us we are starting to climb, it is a gentle climb for the most part, but it wasn’t long and we had surpassed that mile high point 5280 feet, but we just keep climbing as we worked our way north. And just south west of Ely we climbed over Murry Summit and exceeded 7200 feet of elevation, then the decent into Ely, down to 6400 feet where we hooked up with US-93 northbound once more.
11:40 and we just departed from the Ely NV area back on US-93 headed north with a destination for Wells NV, which is our final destination for today and our next fuel stop. It’s always a little unnerving when you are hitting the road and the sign on the road says last services for 138 miles, not a big deal when our range on a tank of fuel is over 700 miles, but it definitely makes you glance at the fuel gauge just the same. The next section of highway seen us cruising along at 65 mph (105 km/h) at the elevation of 6000 feet, now I knew it would be cooler but I was not suspecting seeing snow flurries as we trudged along north bound.
13:45 and we just crossed Interstate 80 and pulled into our truck stop / Casino home for the night, first the refueling part, the real painful part, 63.716 gallons of diesel, today was not a fuel friendly day with the huge climb in elevation plus the thinner air decreases the fuel efficiency as well. We will pick a spot to settle in for the evening, it will not be a quiet or scenic spot like last nights spot but it will be ok, as the sky is black with snow clouds and we are expecting temperatures at or below the freezing mark over night. My only concern is comfort, there is no fear of freezing anything on the coach except us.
2:00 we are settled into our little piece of parking lot, Miss Laurie made us some soup, always a favourite of mine for lunch while on the road, especially today, I about froze while refueling in my shorts, I had to put a hoodie on, it was that damn cold. To remain comfortable I plugged in the space heater to keep the chill out of the coach and it ran most of the afternoon, around five o’clock I fired up the generator to recharge the battery bank, after running the heater off of battery power for the afternoon.
Running our generator does a number of things, first the obvious part is that it recharges the coach battery bank, it also lets the refrigerator switch to electric power instead of propane, which lets the ice maker operate. Plus it heats our hot water tank, warm water to wash with is always a bonus. The T-Mobile service for the Nomad internet is terrible again, and we are right along the I-80 corridor so another no with no live TV night, so we will watch a movie in bed with the mattress heater on, a great way to take the chill off of a cold night, so I wanted the coach batteries fully charged.
Day 3 summary: another bigger than normal driving day 293 miles (471 kilometers) but we are now a full day ahead of schedule. Now the fuel mileage has taken another drop and is 7.5 mpg, but we are trough the worst of the climbs, and while still at elevation I will hope ro see it climb a bit as we roll along. The solar panels brought in 293 amp/hours and even with the cloudy afternoon the coach batteries started at 100%, before we used a bunch of power to fight the chill from the cold weather today. I wasn’t expecting the snow flurries, but it was nothing more than enough snow just to be seen, oh there are lots of snow covered peaks around us, but it is just May.
Wednesday May 4th and I woke early around four o’clock, I turned on the space heater again, the battery bank was still at 70% after our evening of entertainment and the mattress heater being on, so I settled into catch up on the blog while it was still fresh on my mind, internet is a bit better this morning but I don’t expect that to last. At five thirty the batteries we 45% so I fired up the generator again and because of all the trucks running I didn’t notice that the generator had came back to an idle, I guess too much load for the power breaker on the generator, when I checked a little later the batteries were down to 37%. So this morning I climbed into blue jeans and a thermal shirt to go and reset the breaker, no issue, I just needed to adjust the load limiter on the inverter. While I was out side I snapped the picture below of Thunder tucked into a row of 18 wheelers, the sky has cleared and it should be a drive on dry roads and sunshine today.
9:00 and guess what? Once again we are headed northbound on US-93, but this will be the last day for this highway, later today we are going to start heading northwest on Interstate 84. We have crossed into Idaho, a new state for the Buchanan’s, and all new territory to see and explore, as we make our way to the ferry for our crossing next week.
9:45 and we had to pull into a watercraft inspection station just inside of the Idaho state line, this is now common in many states, some want to inspect kayaks while other states don’t, the whole concept is to stop invasive species from spreading from area to area. Idaho wanted to inspect the kayaks, there was a questionnaire on where we had last used them, and apparently the Salt River is an infected area, so they inspected and washed our kayaks with hot water, I didn’t remove them off of the toad as a little water on the toad was not going to be an issue. After washing the kayaks they placed tags on each kayak to avoid having to have them inspected again if stopped, an interesting process but took some time to go through. The photo below was of the Snake river in Twin Falls Idaho, just a few miles before the intersection of US-93 and I-84, we crossed it a couple more times on I-84 but this was the best photo.
12:10 and we just stopped for a break and some lunch at a rest stop on westbound I-84 near Bliss Idaho, we are making great time again today and will spend the night in Boise ID, and we will be spending some time in Meridian tomorrow, an advantage to being ahead of schedule.
12:40 and we are back on the interstate westbound, we are just a little over an hour from our destination for the day, traffic today was heavier on US-93 than previous days, but I-84 seems light enough.
14:10 and we have just shut Thunder down, tucked into one of the RV spots behind a Cracker Barrel restaurant in Boise Idaho, this was a spot that was not on my original schedule, but because we just roll with the flow we are able to change and adapt as we move across the country.
We are more than half way to our destination on Vancouver Island, and still being eight days from the ferry, we can take a day to do something that is near and dear to us. From this restaurant we are only five miles from Scentsy’s home office in Meridian Idaho, Miss Laurie has been selling Scentsy for twelve years now, and we have talked about visiting the home office for more than a decade, well tomorrow we are getting a tour of the facilities. Certainly wasn’t on our schedule, but we are looking so forward to the tour, more on that tomorrow.
Internet is better today, and we have been catching up on local and world news, Miss Laurie warmed some burgers for dinner tonight, and we were able to find the most recent episode of This is Us that we missed on Tuesday evening so all is good in Miss Laurie’s day. We didn’t have dinner out tonight, we are saving our Cracker Barrel meal for tomorrows breakfast, Sausage and gravy with a side of sausage, for me and I suspect Pecan pancakes will be Miss Laurie’s choice. The temperature here in Boise this afternoon is 70°F (21°C) and should stay in the fifties overnight. We slept with our bedroom window open, what a change in just one day.
Day 4 Summary: a bit of a retrieve today with only 244 miles (393 kilometers), the solar panels have brought in 320 amp/hours of power today, and at shut down we were at 100% charged. Fuel mileage is still showing 7.5 mpg, it should be climbing, but now there is enough data that it takes longer to move the number back up.
Thursday May 5th, and it was a pleasant night, mild temperatures overnight, and with yesterday’s sunshine and lower than usual power consumption the batteries were still near 80% this morning. It is looking to be a bit of an overcast day here in Idaho, but still calling for a high temperature today of 70°F (21°C).
We have reached a spot on our trek that, even with some bad weather on the horizon we can slow down and do a little more exploring, so todays adventure should be a nice break from the traveling part of the trek. It started with breakfast at the Cracker Barrel, we then returned to the coach to prepare for a crazy mixed up day with many stops.
8:30 we fired up Thunder and reattached the toad, then off on a short journey to Scentsy home office in Meridian Idaho, where we parked Thunder in a large parking lot and enjoyed a tour of the complex. The grounds were immaculate, and it was nice to see all the spring tulips, as well as most of the trees breaking into leaf, out tour was about 90 minutes and was quite educational as much of the manufacturing and all the distribution happen right here on site.
10:30 and we are back on I-84 westbound for 15 miles before stopping to top off the fuel tank, at a Flying-J truck stop, a light day at only 22 gallons of fuel, and Miss Laurie was able to stock up on some Cinnabon’s as well, our first Cinnabon’s since November.
11:00 and again we are heading westbound on I-84, we are heading for a Walmart in Ontario, Oregon just over the state line. Another new State for the Buchanan’s, but just before our exit we had another watercraft inspection, this one for the state of Oregon, we showed the previous inspection report from Idaho, but they still had to check for themselves and fill out another form, before sending us down the road.
11:50 and yeah you guessed it we jump back on I-84 just long enough to catch the next exit, and head for the Walmart, now actually we are parked in the Home Depot lot, it just didn’t seem as busy as the Walmart, and we were going to have to unhook the toad anyway. And the Home Depot is closer to the Dairy Queen for my after dinner treat.
Dinner consisted of quesadillas tonight, and I walked to Walmart to pick up a carton of ice cream, my Scottish heritage showing again, plus there may be ice-cream some left over for tomorrow night. Again Nomad internet was not good enough to stream any television, but was good enough to allow me to plan tomorrow’s trek down to the Columbia River valley. I also now have all our Harvest Host stops entered into the trip planning app on our new Garmin, and we are now set until we reach our new summer home a week from today
Day 5 summary: so far our shortest day yet only 57 mile (92 kilometres) covered today, the solar panels brought in 145 amp/hours even with cloudy skies, and again today the fuel mileage stayed at 7.5 mpg, too much idling with no real miles being added.
Friday May 6th and it is cool in here in Ontario Oregon to start off, we will have an earlier start today, we need to get hooked up again and want to do that before the parking lot gets too busy. And we have a big day in front of us today as we make our way down to the Columbia River valley, we are starting the day at 2100 feet and will end the day at 700 feet, with a climb to 4200 feet in between and includes the decent through cabbage hill and Deadman’s pass.
Our solar system starts the day near 70%, after yesterdays short driving day as well as a little light rain, on a cloudy afternoon. So today should be better, with over a three hour driving day, and broken sky with sunny intervals.
7:16 and we fire up Thunder, I need to reconnect the toad, so I move it near the back of Thunder, with air pressure built up I gently move Thunder and back up to the toad, quick and simple and we are ready for the highway. We catch I-84 westbound and proceeded to count off the miles, today we will get down below 1000 feet of elevation, for the first time since sometime back in November. An uneventful journey with ups and downs along the way, and with many sharp turns as we wind through some of the valleys working hard for elevation then trying to carefully drop from it. We worked our way northwestward until me came to the pinnacle of todays trek “Deadman’s Pass” at cabbage hill.
10:10 we eased off of the highway and into the rest stop at Deadman’s pass, we got an early start this morning trying to beat the rain, so we decided to give Mister Sam as well as us a break from the drive so we kicked back for an hour or so. We are staying at a Harvest Host Winery in Echo Oregon and we had told them we would arrive between noon and two o’clock, and we were way ahead of that schedule. If there is one thing I like more than a cheap dump station it would be a free dump station. And there just happened to be a free dump station at this rest stop ,so after our rest time we fired up Thunder and moved around to the dump station.
Now I know a few things about dumping our tanks, and although today they were not even half full, but we are another six days on the road so if you have a chance to dump your tanks you just take it. Well today I watched the most painful display of stupidity at a dump station I have ever seen. I would estimate my time at a dump station to be ten minutes if it involves a tank flush, and without a flush the one would be five minute range, everything I need is handy and the process is smooth and painless. The fellow in front of me would have been shot at a Quartzsite dump station with twenty or thirty rigs in line waiting to dump, it was twenty minutes of my life that is just gone forever, someone, most likely a RV salesman must have told him that he should flush his tank for some specific amount of time, and this guy watched his watch to get the time correct! It was so bad that I will have to pull the card from the dash cam to have a look, because no one would believe it. After I reviewed the card he was twenty minutes from the time I pulled up behind and he was already in the tank flush stage at that point, so he must have spent thirty minutes at least at the speed we seen.
11:35 and we are headed for cabbage hill, this is the last big decent into the Columbia River valley, a six percent down grade for six miles, plus throw in the switchbacks with fifty miles per hour curves, not one for the faint at heart, but I made it down six miles and only had to slow Thunder down once with the service brake, the engine brake did the rest of the work
12:25 we just pulled into the village of Echo, and have located our host for the night, we are parked on a side street beside the winery, I didn’t have to unhook the toad which is a bonus. A gravel spot that is pretty damn close to level, now kick back get some lunch and prepare for our scheduled wine tasting at two o’clock.
15:35 and we are back from our wine tasting, SnoRoad Winery this is a winery that produces nothing but red wines and most of their wines are produced using all their own grapes, all four of the samples I tasted today would be fine on my dinner table. We could have stayed at a casino twenty miles back up the road, but we like quiet evenings and other than the trains at the last Harvest Host way back on Sunday evening, most are located off the main throughways on the path less travelled.
Left over pizza for dinner tonight, along with a bottle of wine from SnoRoad Winery, again we have non-existent internet from Nomad internet on the T-Mobile cellular (non)service, again we are less than two miles from interstate I-84. I guess I didn’t realize how bad cellular coverage was in the western states. Again with no streaming television we have picked a movie to watch in bed and all three of us were on the bed watching Avatar
Day 6 summary: not ideal weather today, a little bit of everything, some sunshine, some heavy cloud, a little drizzle, and even a real down pour for the last few miles of our trek. We covered 188 miles (303 kilometers) today, we are at less than 700 feet of elevation, and everything is green, I hear lawn movers in the distance, not the best solar day but the power from the alternator has our coach battery bank at 100%, but even in the cloud and rain the solar panels captured 150 amp/hours of power. And even with a thirty minute idle at the dump station, and elevation climbs up to 4200 feet we finally moved the fuel mileage meter up to 7.6 mpg today.
Saturday May 7th, and at six o’clock the skies are full of heavy cloud, it is to be a windy day today, blowing in cold air for the weekend and Mother’s Day. Mister Sam has fallen back to travel mode and as I pick up the iPad this morning has just curled up on my lap, the next days will be easier with only around the 100 mile (160 kilometer) of travel per day as we add the third new state to our travelled list today Washington, our home State for the next five nights. The battery bank has been drawn down to 78% but with the alternator and some sunny intervals we should be back to 100% again today.
9:45 and I fired up Thunder for todays trek, we weaved our way through back streets to find our route back to I-84 and just ten miles down the road we exit to I-82 and onto the state of Washington, our third and last new state for this adventure with a new province coming soon.
11:05 and we pulled into a rest area, there is a little internet to be had here, still very poor service from Nomad internet on T-Mobile cellular, but I have at least been able to catch up some on the blog, I had hoped to publish later tonight but with such sporadic service it may or may not.
12.10 and we are pulling back onto I-82 and we are just twenty five miles away from tonight’s Harvest Host Silver Lake Winery in Zillah Washington
12:50 and we have made it to our host for the evening, the views in almost every direction from here are pretty spectacular, it almost is a park like setting, we are a number of miles from the highway on a dead end road, so I’m thinking it should be a very quiet evening. Now if the Nomad internet on the T-Mobile cellular service did not suck we could watch a little television.
We tasted their flight of wine, and there were a couple of whites, a couple of reds, and a brandy. Unlike the last winery these reds did not finish neatly as smooth, but they did have a rose that was very nice and will be great chilled on a hot summer evening.
This host gave us a sheet of paper with some guidelines on what is expected from us as guests and also some of the features that the host makes available to us as well. What I have found that I don’t like about wine tastings in the western states is that they all seem to have set tasting flights, I like it better when we can choose the five wines that we want to taste, the main reason, is everyone has different tastes, I’m not a big white wine fan, and I certainly would not of sampled a brandy. Brandy is kind of like Scotch whiskey, in the way that some people are very good at making Scotch while others not so much, and a winery is not where I would go for a Scotch or a Brandy.
Day 7 Summary: nothing but short days from here on, today was 106 miles (170 kilometres) and we here settled in by one o’clock, we had no rain today but mainly overcast skies. The solar panels were able to find 201 amp/hours and with our drive time today we are at 100% charged. on the fuel mileage front we have creeped up to 7.7 mpg today
My photographer found a image of the Washington State sign on the internet, to try to make amends … jus’saying!
Be kind to others!