Little House Big Backyard travel blog


The best laid plans of mice and men. We had wanted, okay, I wanted to get started and on the road by 5am. Somehow I knew that was never going to happen. How did I know this? I’d like to say I’m clairvoyant but we all know that’s not true. I guess not going to bed before 11pm was part of it, being excited was another part and worrying about every other little thing was another part. Did I pack washcloths? Were we going to have to be grimy for days? Did I remember the soap? Over and over I tried to remember the lists I’d made and where I’d put them.

We got going about 8:30, three and a half hours after I’d thought we should be on the way; the sun was up, hot and bright, shining the way from the Eastern sky toward the West where we knew adventure and fun awaited us. At least that’s what we hoped. It was also heating the air as if we were in a hot air balloon waiting to take off.

Connie came by just before we left to see us off, she brought Daisy and that made us feel so much better. Hugging and cuddling someone who loves you so much is so comforting before a long trip. Hugging Connie was nice too.

Finally we’re on the road! We pull away slowly from the house that’s been our home for so many years. I can’t describe the feelings and emotions of the moment. We are leaving behind the security of four walls for the unknown of the open road. It’s a great undertaking; let’s just stay ahead of the undertaker shall we.

The truck is pulling great, the power chip we installed is doing its job and the new exhaust system is sucking up air cooling whatever it needs to cool. Larry wants to get the rig weighed right away so we pull off to a truck stop scale on the I-10 near 67th Ave in Phoenix. I should have bet him the weight, I love to gamble and a quarter bet on the weight of the truck would have been fun but I didn’t have a quarter. Such is life. Truck stops are a world all to their own, huge oversized lanes, humongous arrows pointing this way and that, buildings the size of hangars for the mechanics to pull apart a behemoth machine and reassemble. I’m staring at all the different trucks, the lanes, the scales, the trucks zooming back out to the interstate. Well to me their zooming because I’m crawling along and as big as I think my rig is, theirs could crush me like a cricket in a corner with a pointed toe boot.

We find the right place to weigh the rig and Larry tells me how to do it. Pull up, stop on the red light, and pull forward on the green. What do you know; it goes off without a hitch except that we’re over 18K combined. This is a concern we think as everyone we’ve spoke to says you have to be concerned about your weight so we are. Personally I’ve always been concerned about my weight but I’m not getting my ass out there on that scale. It would make for a nice joke but I don’t think some of these truckers would think it’s funny and I’m not as cute as I used to be so I don’t get away with as much as I used to.

Larry wants to drop the rig on the scales and get its weight separate from the total. Okay, I can see how knowing the separate weight is good but why don’t we drop the rig and just weigh the truck? Then we can subtract it from the total and the difference would give us the weight of the rig. At least then I could just drive off the scales and not hold anyone up. (In all fairness there was no one waiting but you know good and well that someone would have showed up the very second we dropped the rig.) So that’s what we did. The wished for wager comes in when Larry asks me how much I think the truck weighs. I say “Oh, I’m thinking about…..around…..how about….8000, no, eight thousand two hundred pounds? He looks at me like I’m a magician, “How did you know that?” he asks. “How close am I?” I ask. “40 pounds” he says. “The truck is 8240 pounds” “You’re kidding me!” I hollered. “Nope, did you hear the lady tell me the weight?” like, I know I’m really good at a lot of things and spectacular at others but superhuman hearing isn’t one of them.

Well this is great news as it puts the weight of the rig at about 9200 lbs. We’re good to go. And now we’re hungry. Of course we are. There’s a fast food hamburger joint and a Waffle House nearby. I think that every truck stop has to have a Waffle House next door. It’s a rule. So we go to breakfast. Nothing really of note here but for the camaraderie of the patrons with the waitresses. And one really big guy who in addition to ordering 4 eggs over easy, two sides of sausage and two sides of toast also asked for Sweet n Low for his coffee. I guess he had to make an effort.

The trip was pretty uneventful, we kept trying to guess what our gas mileage would be but since we didn’t fill up all the way there was no way to tell exactly. We are now keeping tight track of gallons, miles and road conditions. (Our best guesstimate is about 11.5 mpg.) I don’t know why we’re making note of all this stuff but it occupies the time as we fly down the road. And up the road. Who knew there were such steep hills going to San Diego? Actually our destination is about 50 miles North of SD but I keep forgetting the name of the town.

The trip is easy and we’re getting used to the sound of the engine roaring as the cooler comes on….then I see something red in the rearview mirror. The locking top to the big Rubbermaid tub which holds our firewood and charcoal had come unlocked and is holding on precariously by an edge. Now, once again I’m going uphill on a right curve. What is it with ascending right curves anyway? I pull over as safely as I can and jump out when the trucks behind us have cleared the way. Reattach the lid and jump back in. soon I see red again, of course and I think that it will hold a moment longer. I was wrong. It flies up and then I don’t see it anymore. Well I can’t pull over here but I think I see the edge of it against the edge of the truck bed. We take an off ramp and hope that whatever’s at the bottom of the ramp will let us turn around. We check the bed of the truck for the lid and it’s nowhere to be found. Then I smell a burning plastic odor. You know that pungent scent left behind when the neighbor’s kid decides to peel out in his new Mustang? Yeah, that smell. We search for the source and sure enough the lid had wedged between the truck bed and was sitting melting against the exhaust pipe. Oh joy. Larry devised a hook from I don’t know what and got it pulled up. Now there’s a nice melted hole in my lid and a blob of stinky plastic dripping down the exhaust pipe. I don’t think it will catch fire so we fire her up and I back that puppy in a nice straight line so we can reenter the Interstate. I’m so proud of that skill, it isn’t the easiest thing to do ya know.

Soon we are approaching our destination and the road starts to wind around, and around, and up and down and around again. We pass many perfectly good camping spots, lots of nice flat woodsy looking areas. 16 miles of 15 mile per hour ass puckering, mind boggling, makes-me-want-to-cover-my-eyes but I’m driving blind curves later we pull in to our destination.

A toothy woman with white hair in a long braid comes out of a security shack to greet us. “Howdy!” she says with more teeth. “How was your trip?” Now that was the wrong question but it really was appropriate so I just smile and lie. “Fine” I answered. Let’s just leave it at that, she doesn’t really care anyway. Please just show me to the camp site and let me get out of this truck. My butt’s asleep, my calves are aching I have a headache and I’ve got to pee. But no, she has to explain in detail every amenity they have to offer and point out the location of each on a very nice full color glossy map given to us as part of our ‘Welcome Package’. I think that was the welcome package because she didn’t give us anything else but a paper to sign saying that if we declined to purchase one of their camping memberships that we wouldn’t be able to purchase a used membership from anyone in the next two years. Now I don’t plan on buying anything new or used this trip so I sign it and we’re off to our site.

I have to say it’s beautiful up here. We have headaches and I can’t figure out if it’s because of the altitude or allergies. Maybe both but we settled in and learned some lessons quickly, new ways to level the rig, the use of walkie talkies are invaluable and, don’t pay attention to onlookers who may be watching to see if you screw up. At least that’s why I watch.



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