Sunday, February 21, 2010

Fun in the Sun!

(Written on February 20)
We’re now over 3,000 kilometres, five states, not enough showers, five loads of laundry, one hour with an RV repair mechanic, and one oil change into our five-week trip. So far we’ve managed to stay sane while in our cramped van with two adults, a spirited five-year-old and a dog who seems to want me to give her water every ten minutes.

After having internet access at nearly every campground we stopped at in California, we’re now on night four with no wifi, so I decided to pre-write this blog posting to avoid getting too far behind.

We spent a night in Tehachapi, California, another city I stayed in for a week ten years ago when I was still in IT. When I was there before, I was amazed at the dry, desert mountains and the miles of windmills that top them to generate electricity. I also had the incredible experience of flying in a glider plane.

Though we didn’t go gliding on this trip, we camped in the RV park adjacent to the airstrip and watched the planes take off and land. Tehachapi has one of the best wind locations in North America for gliding (hence the windmills) and, as we found out, is also a great place to fly a kite. Between plane landings, Jaxon pulled out his Star Wars kite and easily got it high in the air and flying around.

From Techachapi, we made the four-hour drive through the Mohave desert to reach Needles, California, a Route 66 town. We pulled into a campground just north of Needles, in Bullshead City, Arizona and got a site on the beach, right next to the Columbia River. The campground. Davis Beach, was originally made to house the men who were working on Davis Dam, just downriver. Once I heard that, I realized why the bathrooms were so disgusting and made me feel like I was in a prison. However, it was a really pretty spot and across the river to the south, we could see the lights of the “strip” in Laughlin, Nevada.

The spot was so pretty that even Jaxon really wanted to soak it all in. Gerry and I discovered him doing something shocking—sitting on the shore of the river, staring out at the water, the mountains, the stars and the lights. “Look, Mommy,” he said to me. “Isn’t it a beautiful view?” As anyone who has spent any time with Jaxon knows, it’s rare for him to have down time like that—the kid goes (and talks) non-stop and doesn’t really slow down until he crashes into a solid, heavy sleep at night. The three of us (and Muppet) laid down and stared up at the stars and lights for a long stretch of time.

The next day, we headed to Oatman, Arizona, an old-fashioned Wild West town on route 66. The highlight of the day was the much-anticipated cowboy gunfight in the streets. Jaxon had been asking about it every day since we first mentioned it to him last week and he couldn’t wait to go. The gunfighters didn’t disappoint him one bit, even when the wild burros were in danger of getting in the line of gunfire.

The outskirts of Oatman yielded us our first real taste of the classic route 66. This section of the road twisted and turned through red rock mountains with steep hills and sharp shoulders. Luckily, we hardly met any other vehicles on the way so my fingernails didn’t leave any marks in the dash as we went around the corners. We kept thinking that we saw the most incredible view and then we’d turn around another corner and be even more amazed. It was a slow, long drive but one of the best parts of the drive so far.

We spent yesterday afternoon and today in the Hoover Dam area, camped along Lake Mead. Driving over the dam was pretty cool yesterday and today we got a different perspective when we took a boat tour up to the dam. Pretty cool.

Tomorrow is Gerry’s birthday (happy birthday honey!). We’re headed over to the Grand Canyon area and plan to stay in a campground called Flintstone RV Park, modeled after Bedrock. It’ll be interesting to see which rocks impress Jaxon more—the Grand Canyon or the campground (any guesses?). We’ve heard rumors of really cold weather in the area, possibly even snow, so we’re not sure how much time we’ll be able to spend there but we figured we’d check it out anyway.

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