After staying in LA for 10 days, I swung by San Diego to visit with my hiking buddy Pat Hatton (“Turtle”) before heading east and spending the first night on the road in El Centro, CA.
It was only six hours from there to Rio Rico, AZ where my Aunt Jean lives. It’s a nice area and greener than you’d think being south of Phoenix. I spent a few days there and even took in the tourist town of Tombstone, AZ.
I finally took my leave and didn’t go far: I stopped 60 miles up the road in Tucson where I wiled away the afternoon at the Pima Air and Space Museum. It was an awesome museum with a huge number of full sized planes of all types and eras!
Next stops for the night were El Paso, TX, then off I-10 to Carlsbad, NM.
One thing I’ve noticed is that I travel much slower with the Trailer. Normally I might push 8-12 hours of driving at the speed limit+ in a car. With the trailer, I think 6-8 hours at 55-65mph is my limit. This means 350-500 miles max in a day. I’m further limited in where I can stay; preferring RV parks.
Why? It’s just more stressful, at least right now, hauling 6,000 lbs behind me. Also, my range pump-to-pump is half what it used to be; I average 10-11 mpg towing, which means I fill up roughly every 200-250 miles.
So I’m stopping a lot more. Since I retired I’ve had literately everyone lecture me about “Taking it Slow”, “Smell the Roses”, “Take Your Time”, “See the Sights”, etc. So I feel guilty about feeling bad about the slow progress.
Sigh…I tend to be more Type-A than I thought I was and would push on to a goal, regardless. Now, goals are much softer; I don’t have to be anywhere right now. It’s harder than it sounds!
This means planning where I’ll stay each night based on mileage. It’s further complicated by some RV parks closing their office as early as 4pm! I got nailed with this in El Centro when I pulled in “Late” (5pm!) and couldn’t leave until 8am when I could pay for the night. Leaving early is the safest course.
So, anyway, I arrived in the town of Carlsbad, NM and stayed four nights. This is close to where the Carlsbad Caverns are and I wanted to spend time exploring!
I was all set on Tuesday with my headlight and gloves when I arrived first thing when they opened. Then I got the news: All the interesting caves require tours, and all the “Good” cave tours were booked through next week! ARRRGH!
What’s a “Good” cave tour? Well, the self guided tour and the two easy tours are actually “Wheel Chair Accessible”. While I have nothing against ADA access to exhibits, I wanted something more along the lines of a “Wild Cave” tour which would involve climbing and crawling. I hung around on Tuesday and Wednesday hoping for No-Shows…no luck. 😦
Thursday morning I lucked out and made the “Lower Cave” tour. This was much more of what I wanted: a 3 hour tour with ropes, ladders and some optional crawling. (I did and got gloriously dirty! Finally!)
Hey, I don’t mind the dirt…don’t judge me! 🙂
Part of Wednesday I spent hiking, but I gave up after a couple of hours.
- The Chihuahuan Desert is not a lovely or picturesque desert. (At least not to me) Not much to see here, move along…
- There are few hiking trails in the park, and the two I tried were not maintained well. Pushing through cactus and spiny bushes gets old, fast.
- There was NO ONE ELSE hiking that I could see. Being out by myself where I could be injured or meet a rattlesnake when no one knew where I was, unsettled me.
So I gave up on hiking. I’ll stick to well used trails unless I have a partner.