Spring of 2010 to South-West USA
This report is a tad late, but we've been busy — procrastinating, camping out and catching up. Today it's raining, therefore a catch-up day.
First off, many thanks to FGRV members for responding to our request for advice, suggestions and recommendations. Although we didn't have time to try them all, those we did use were wonderful. On advice we crossed into the US at Sarnia/Port Huron (where we conducted our first of many tours of L'EGGO) only 20 km further, but faster and with a lot less hassle than via Windsor/Detroit.
A new addition to our crew, "Jack" our GPS voice, has proven invaluable in guiding us through big cities, although he has also led us in circles (squares?) on occasion. The Natchez Trace Parkway was, as forecast, a fine, direct, peaceful route SW.
Campgrounds, stops and visits of note en-route were:
MS, Trace milepost 193.1, "Jeff Busby", dry but with flush toilets — free;
TX, Abeline State Park (SP), an old Comanche stopping place (now fully serviced);
Van Horn, Eagles' Nest Campground ("Cattle Company" steak dinner next door);
NM, Aguirre Springs, dry, beautiful, but 4 miles of narrow, winding road almost straight up and very windy — blew out the flame in our propane fridge
3 times overnight;
Rockhound SP, nice, very popular, we got the last electric site, in quite early afternoon;
AZ, Roper Lake SP, smallest hot-springs ever, room for about 8 in the tub. We had the makings of an impromptu mini-rally in our loop with members Donna & Lance from Nova Scotia in a Trillium
, plus Marilyn & Fred in a Casita
and Laurie & Al in a Bigfoot
Catalina SP, just outside of Tucson, so, hard to get reservations. Diane judges all campgrounds by their washrooms and this one has just won top spot ever, spacious, modern and ultra clean. One of our favourites stops, with many moderate hiking trails;
Lost Dutchman SP, again great walks. We unhitched and drove to Tortilla Flat, a touristy old mining town along a very scenic, winding road;
Quartzsite, We just had to see what makes it so popular — the draw appears to be that it is warm and has mostly free, long-term camping. Our highlight was dinner with FGRV leading personality — GINA D., (hi Gina) just as she was pulling up stakes (wheel chocks?) to move north for the summer;
Buckskin SP, a good overnight stop on the Colorado River;
NV, Las Vegas, we like the convenience of the pricey but clean KOA Kampground, right downtown at Circus, Circus. Las Vegas shows visual evidence of the financial crises, most construction stopped dead in its tracks, "Two-Buck-Chuck" now up to three, but we still had a good time.
UT, Zion NP, "Sorry, Campgrounds full" said the sign and the Park employee who took our $25. entry fee. But, we tried anyhow at the "Watchman" campground gate and Lady Luck rode with us. We landed a cancellation, with electricity, and on the river. This park is awesome!
AZ, Glen Canyon and Lake Powell, OK but water oriented. We have that at home;
UT, Monument Valley, Goulding's hotel, lodge, museum, campground and whatever. Yahoo! This is the jackpot for those searching out cowboy-movie scenery and atmosphere. One of the nine John Wayne movies shot here is screened nightly, admission is included with camping fees.
AZ, UT, CO, NM, we debated taking the straight highway, but opted for the back roads to Albuquerque, with open range, wild horses and a coyote on the road. It was well worth it with good roads, great scenery and really nothing spooky to worry about;
NM, Coronado State Monument, on the Rio Grande, had individual Ramadas with each campsite. Most campers here appear to be semi-permanent.
TX, near Amarillo, forced off of I-40 by a real rip-snorter of a storm, took refuge for the night at a nondescript campground in Shamrock, at least we had electricity;
OK, detoured to see if "Old Glory" was still flying down at the courthouse in "Muskogee, Oklahoma, USA". It was -- snapped a picture;
MO, being in the neighbourhood we side-tripped through the Ozarks to Branson. Wow! It's much bigger and more developed than we had imagined. We stayed at the municipal campground, practically downtown, then drove to Dolly Parton's Dixie Jubilee for a well organized, spectacular dinner show;
OH, a pleasant drive over hill and dale, "Jack" took us through a series of twists and turns, straight to members Ed and Marje's beautiful home in the country. (Ed, don't sell Ohio short on its scenery and attractions);
NY, we opted to spend our final overnight with our old Mohawk friends at the Akwesasne Casino.
All in all, it was another wonderful, educational trip -- 11,872 kilometres (7,377 miles).
Des & Diane