Arizona and the decision to come home.

It was sad to leave friends old and new but with all that was going on I thought it was a good idea to start the return journey. Many places were closing and people I had planned on visiting were leaving or had left for home much earlier than planned. I don’t know what is worse: the panic, the pandemic or peoples’ behaviour during it all.

Anywhere - Morning coffee
A beautiful sunrise and morning coffee being made.

I had the morning coffee and said goodbye to my wonderful host. Knowing that I had enough fuel I started toward Phoenix and Lost Dutchman State Park in Arizona. The cool thing about Arizona is it does not follow daylight savings time. Going from Nevada in Pacific Daylight Time to Arizona in Mountain Standard Time meant no time change. Going from East to West is fun as we gain time…going from West to East means that we lose hours. That only means that I wake up later in the day unless I set an alarm. Westbound is fun as I keep waking earlier and earlier until I adjust to sleeping later.

Gila Box - red superstition
I was lucky enough to get a site for one night at Lost Dutchman State Park in Apache Junction.

Those are the Superstition Mountains in the background and the sunsets light them up beautifully. The park itself is busy as it’s very close to Phoenix. I was able to have a decent hot shower and a lovely setting for dinner.

Lost Dutchman - Rabit and Wine
A nice glass of wine on the picnic table and a cute bunny in the background.

After a decent day of driving a glass of wine before starting dinner is quite nice. Seeing a bunny so close is kinda fun too.

Lost Dutchman - sunset
Arizona sunsets are awesome. I guess that explains the state flag too.

As the sun was setting a lot of people were out watching it go down. I walked around the park to see what sites I would prefer if I was going to reserve some sites next time. I had planned on visiting people but most had left and there were too many people in the park. Back on the road the next day.

Carleton Place - Hector on the lake
Meanwhile at home Hector is watching ice floes in the river

Linda was still at home and babysitting a neighbour’s beautiful dog.

Carleton Place - Hector Winnie and Willow
Hector and friend gang up on a very tough cat!
Gila Box the fabulas campsite
Nicely isolated in a beautiful place.

I made it to a favourite place to camp. Few people, excellent camp hosts. The cleanest pit toilets and good drinking water at the taps but no dump. Very few people have generators and those who do generally only run them for a couple of hours to charge things up.

Gila Box - Chollia buds
The cholla plant is starting to bud.

Different things are starting to bloom. Last time I was here a couple of weeks ago the flowers were yellow and orange.

Gila Box - purple flowers.
New purple flowers are growing.

Now the flowers are purple with some small orange and white flowers as well.

Gila Box - orange flowers
I think these are Desert Mallow.

The change in flowers was interesting as the whole scent of the desert changed. I had a little rain one day and the smell in the air was wonderful.

Gila Box - nice white flowers
Little white flowers too.

Just a fabulous place to wander and sometimes get surprised.

Gila Box - snake
This is a rattlesnake. I was walking up to make a phone call and not paying attention as I was on the road. The snake was on the side of the road and I was close enough to startle it so much that I received not only the rattle but a hiss as well. I think I jumped quite a bit. Lucky! When I returned to take this photo all I got was a gentle rattle…I stayed quite a distance.
Gila Box - Ocatillo
Ocotillo getting ready to bloom.

I remember when I was young, my parents had a small stick plant that every now and then would grow leaves then red flowers for a very short time then return to a stick. As I explore the desert I see these giant ocotillo plants and wait for them to bloom. I have yet to be there for the bloom, but this time I saw them fill up with water making the inner bark visible and the buds for the bloom fill up.

Carleton Place - Dog cookies
Linda starting to make dog treats at home.

As I stayed in Gila Box, Linda was at home learning to make dog treats. Hector loved them. We will try them out at a farmer’s market once they start up again. Meanwhile I started to think that where I was, nicely secluded, with little interaction with people was an excellent place to be to avoid COVID-19.

Gila Box - Bonnita Creek
I started to explore more of the riparian area and found nice trails that the truck could navigate.
Glia Box - the sheep
Mountain sheep on the other side of the river.

The nice weather, the lovely scenery, the scents and the isolation were terrific. I met and waved at some people that I would see but that was it. Exploring new areas and thinking what places I would check out if there was a second vehicle with me. In areas that there is no phone signal and I can get stuck, I don’t like to travel alone. I suppose I could tell people where I was going and if I hadn’t returned for the night they could come to get me out…next time.

Gila Box - the trailer in 10
A beautiful campsite. Secluded without being too remote. Thanks to a difficult road.

After climbing signal hill and speaking with a few people, (that’s where people go to get mobile signal…about a mile – 1.5km – from the camp), and hearing news of border restrictions I thought I should perhaps get myself home. I did have insurance coverage and checked to make sure it was still valid and it was as I had phoned and spoke to them. So sadly I left.

This is a video at 8 times the speed of me leaving. A GoPro attached to the hood.

I thought I would give the GoPro a shot at showing the difficult road. There is a 20 minute version as well and you can find that HERE.

Alamogordo - Walmart
Walmart Alamogordo, NM

I left and wanted to make good time. The state parks in New Mexico were closed so I along with many others stayed at the Walmart. They had given permission for one night and suggested a location. When I stayed here on the way down there was a couple of small RVs in the lot where they had asked us to park. This time the big rigs running for home were there. I think I counted 15 or 16 of them and quite a few had there generators out and running.

Sayer OK - Flying J  sleeping spot
The Flying J with a Denny’s in Sayer, OK.

A long drive up from Alamogordo through Cloudcroft as that is a nice drive and I kept driving. I arrived at this Flying J and went to the back corner away from the RVs with generators – I thought – to where there was one person with a big RV. I think it was being transported as the person slept in the pickup…but he started his generator late. As he was there and had secluded himself I was OK with this but decided to move to the other RVers. They had put away their generators and it was quiet. I repositioned, set up, and levelled then went into the trailer. A big class A bus pulled in and parked nearby and kept their noisy engine running all night. I am sure that no one in the area appreciated that!

The next day the drive was long and mostly in rain. I made it to Troy, Illinois and found a quiet Cracker Barrel. They usually allow parking for RVs. I checked the rear lot of the restaurant and sure enough there was a nice Airstream parked there. The restaurant was closed but we were the only two in the lot…it was later than I wanted and didn’t get a photo. The Airstream people started up their generator at 10pm…poop…when will people learn? Another RV arrived about midnight but they were quiet after they set up and parked between me and the generator muffling that sound. Great!

London - the parking spot
Finally in Ontario – another Flying J.

After leaving Troy…I wondered about how far I would get. I kept driving and wasn’t tired. Sometime around 8:30 or 9:00 pm I received an emergency alert on the cellphone about restrictions in Michigan and thought it best I keep heading for the border. I crossed uneventfully after answering questions about where I had been and being told about self-isolation as well as receiving a pamphlet about the quarantine requirements. I kept driving to the Flying J where I was able to empty the trailer of black and grey tanks and fuel up. I had a good night sleep among the other travellers who also seemed to be forced to come back early.

Throughout the return trip, I kept my distance from people. The credit card and all fuelling was performed with hand sanitizer then gloves on then hand sanitizer and a wipe down of the steering wheel with a sanitizing wipe. This happened all the way home as there were many fuel fills required. I had enough food and Linda had gone shopping so that we could quarantine for 14 days on my return.

Carleton Place - Home again
Home in the sunshine…the sun had disappeared after leaving Alamogordo and this was the first real sun in 3 days.
Linda wanted to record me arriving and Hector’s reaction.

Time to empty the trailer and prepare it for its next journey.

Carleton Place
Great to be reunited with Linda and the pets. The three wine glasses are there as we are tasting 3 different red wines.

Now for 14 days of quarantine. A big thanks to our wonderful neighbours who are so helpful during this quarantine.

This was out the window during our quarantine.

Being home is nice but I look forward to the next adventure and perhaps returning to Gila box next year with Linda.

Gila Box - The fabulous campsite
Linda and I miss this place.

We now await the end of the quarantine when we can say hello to our neighbours once again!