The Patricks Low Cost Housing Adventures travel blog

Picacho Peak State Park

"Texas Canyon" rest area in Arizona

Vicious Guard Dog

It was 32 degrees yesterday in Tuscon, Arizona!!! How crazy is that! And right now we are in Texas, driving in a horrible snow storm with roads that are ice packed, trying to stay away from the cars that are spinning out and around all over the roads. But, let my digress to earlier, warmer times.

After our delivery of fresh meat to a grocery warehouse outside of Phoenix, AZ, we got our next load assignment........cucumbers out of Nogales going to Worcester, Massachusetts to be turned into pickles. It doesn't pick up till tomorrow afternoon and its only 160 miles away. What on earth will we do! :) First, our truck needed a good scrubbing so we looked for a truck wash and afterwards found an guy who would polish our rims with his portable generator set up. He was a hard worker and spent about 3 hours shining up our wheels and side boxes. We added a bit more chrome to the truck to make it look nicer. Having a clean, polished truck help avoid scrutiny and inspection by the DOT (dept. of transportation). If they notice someone whose equipment is all dirty, having not been washed in ages, than what other areas are they slack on? A good looking truck means you care about your equipment, which in turn means you are maintaining it well. A dashboard cluttered with the wrappers of your last 3 meals, a weeks worth of load manifests, and the shirt you changed while driving down the road not only shows your a slob, but to the DOT means you probably have a log book violation. And believe me, I see this kind of thing all the time.

After a restful nights sleep, we decided to go to Picacho Peak State Park which is right off the interstate. It's centerpiece spire is visible from downtown Tucson, a distance of 45 miles away. Picacho means "big peak".

The park is celebrated for wild flowers that appear mid-March to early April following good winter rain. The desert is gorgeous during this time. When the boys were young we stopped and explored the park, meandering around the many trails, reading the signs about the the various cacti and taking pictures of the desert in full bloom. One of the nature signs pointed out that the adjacent cactus was often used by the natives as a fruit for making jelly. There were maroon colored "knobs" on the top which looked edible. Jim decided to give it a try and bit into one. That was a mistake. You couldn't see them, but the fruit was covered with tiny, hair like spines and Jim had them in his tongue and lips. I remember having to use the tweezers later in the day to remove more, as he kept complaining about still feeling prickles. He surmised that those Indians must have tough lips!

Today there were no flowers. It was a beautiful winter day in the desert. We discussed hiking part way up the mountain trail but decided against it, even though it was the perfect time of year to attempt such a climb. It's a 2 mile trek to the peak but we were ill prepared and I didn't have any FEAR OF HEIGHTS pills with me so we settled for a leisurely walk on the trails again. We would have surely identified a few new birds, but, again, I forgot my binoculars and bird book. We will conquer Picacho peak another day.

After getting our load of cucumbers, we headed east on I-10 towards New Mexico stopping at a popular rest area that we often let the boys explore due to the multitude of rocks scattered all over. This picture shows the opposite side of the interstate and the unique rock formations in the area.

Signs warned of rattlesnakes and scorpions but we never encountered any, much to our dismay. We spent the night in Tucson. Our load doesn't deliver until Tuesday and there were whispers of another storm brewing to our east. There was not time to outrun it so we hunkered down again for the night.

That brings us back to a chilly morning in Tucson. Breakfast inside found us talking to a couple who, after 35 years of truck driving, was retiring that day. We also found out our dear friends from Louisiana, who also drive for Prime, had passed us during the early morning and were parked 100 miles east of us. As we headed out to catch up with them, the news of the road being closed due to snow in New Mexico reached us. When we met them at the truck stop, highways signs flashed out, "Seek shelter, Highway closed at state line". We got one of the last empty spots to park in while the lot quickly filled up with trucks and the storm hit. I-10 had been closed in New Mexico since early morning, and as it rarely snows this far south they just don't have the equipment to keep up with even a couple inches of snow. Of course, this was rain/snow which made for icy conditions. After hours of sunshine, they opened the highway to masses of vehicles pouring on to the road to get to their holiday destinations. But before we came to El Paso, TX it deteriorated again, overpasses were glazed with ice and the accidents were piling up. We drove with our friends till late into the night trying to get past the storm but it didn't work. We finally called it a night when we couldn't go faster than 30mph and the traffic just wasn't thinning out. The next morning finds us STILL in this ridiculous, southern storm! While the traffic is better the roads are worse. Our friends were going to swing by their house for Christmas, but had lost so much time due to weather that it wasn't feasible. Such is the life of the average trucker.

I'm sure the children in the area are tickled pink to have snow as there were some records set. Upon looking at a weather map, this seems to be the only place in the country that is receiving a significant amount. That's close enough for a white Christmas for me. Ready to find some rain to clean this truck off again.

We want to wish you all a Very Merry Christmas! Enjoy time with family and friends, spread love and cheer, and remember that Jesus is the reason for the season!

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy; which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. Luke 2:10&11.

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