In the upper right corner of Arizona, in the middle of Indian Country lie two natural miracles: Monument Valley and Canyon de Chelly. Just ninety miles apart, you can see a lot in just a couple days. Which is what we did.
Canyon de Chelly
We finally took our new Escape to a favorite place, Cape Disappointment on the mouth of the Columbia River.
It's the site of two significant historical eras: Lewis and Clark stayed here at the end of their great journey in 1805. Then, as people started sailing up the Columbia from the ocean, the mouth of the river became known as the "Graveyard of the Pacific" as boats tried and failed to navigate the sand bars and horrific water and weather conditions common to the mouth of the river.
But for us, it was a beautiful, peaceful, and remarkably private camp site.
Q: What the hell happened to the View?
A: In our prior episodes, we traveled in a Winnebago View. In the continuing quest for the perfect RV, we are now up to #9. Yes, lucky number 9, I hope.
Remember Goldilocks who had trouble finding a bed that was just right? Same here. But she was limited to three choices and there are limitless RV choices. We've had a few of every type: small trailers, medium trailers, big trailers. Small coach, big coach. Small and large truck campers. All had disadvantages largely related to towing. That's a big deal.
Now that we have a permanent place in Arizona we don't plan to do a lot of long trips, so we don't need the View any more. But we do want to do short trips in the southwest. So we bought the best little trailer we could find. Custom made in Canada, the lightweight 17" Escape gives us the essentials and we've found it surprisingly comfortable. And, easy to tow with the Toyota truck we bought for Arizona off-road adventures.
Dan and Elaine Sivey have wanted to build a home up around Leavenworth for years and years. Recently they bought 17 acres there and are just now starting to build the house. They call the place Kamp Runamok and host a lot of friends and family there.
I got to spend a few days enjoying Elaine's company, a comfy pop-up trailer, the hundred degree heat, a railroad track hike, and the Wenatchee River.
Camping with Elaine: Continuing a 40+ year tradition
We started camping in college and have had a variety of shelters. I'm still scanning old pictures, but here are a few examples. The stories abound: chasing wine down a river, moving a campfire, cooking steaks on sticks, bugging out to a motel when our tent was flooded in a rainstorm. Here, in not-quite-chronological order are some examples.
We bought a place at Gold Canyon. Act surprised! When last we chatted, I told you about how we'd decided to sell the RV when we got back from Arizona last year. We sold it right away and tucked the money away for whatever came next. I also told you how much we enjoyed the community at Gold Canyon. The people, the surroundings, the sun... Much as it shocked me, once I figured out that I was the same age as the "old people who live here..." I relaxed and just enjoyed the good times we have there.
We didn't enjoy traveling with the RV as much as I'd always imagined. Without boondocking, not ideal in a nice motorhome, we found it hard to find a fun place to stay. Booking a year in advance for two weeks here and two weeks there just made me the opposite of relaxed. We stayed in a lot of casino parking lots. Something I never did on my wonderful childhood camping trips.
So, after selling the RV we planned to rent a place this year and see how well we liked it in January when there are more people there. We left a few days after Mom died and it was a weird transition period. Then, it rained like crazy during November and December. A friend from Seattle came for the week between Christmas and New Years, and it rained/snowed in higher elevations nearly every day.
We even had a tornado alert. Then I got a wild hair and fell in love with the exact kind of place I decided I had to have. It was relatively large and private. Fred was very skeptical but I wore him down. (This would haunt me shortly, but that's a Covid story.)
Here's how the place looked when we toured it.
Best of Arizona 2019-20
Well that was fun!
We got back from Arizona in mid-January. Technically, we've been on the road a lot since then. But daily errands aren't newsworthy. Thus, the lack of posts...
We'll probably not do much traveling on land until next Fall when we plan to go back to Arizona. If you've never gotten up on Christmas morning to for a swim under a warm Arizona sunrise, you might want to try it sometime. We're hoping to do it again next year. Meanwhile, however, we've made some big transportation-related changes.
Thinking hard about it, we realized that we spend summer on the water and winter in Gold Canyon. If you're not actually traveling the View loses a lot of its value.
So, we've sold the View, the Jeep, and the Tundra (the truck we used for towing the last boat). We've replaced them all with a smaller Toyota truck that can go anywhere the Jeep could go. Instead of fussing with the RV, we'll be staying at motels or renting places when we travel. The recycled money left over from selling the fleet will pay for a lot of mints on pillows. Provided they put mints on pillows at Motel 6.
We liked Arizona so much last year we've returned this year. Instead of moving from place to place, we're spending roughly three months at Gold Canyon, just south of Phoenix. We're staying in the increasingly cozy Winnebago View, which I keep reminding myself has more creature comforts than a tiny house. But living small is a great incentive to get out and do stuff.
Here are highlights:
Some people call them tow rigs. Some people call them toads (for towed). Whatever you call them, if you live in a 26 foot RV there are times when you really just need a car. Unhooking utilities, pulling in slides, and stowing stuff that could fall off counters just to go get some pasta you forgot is nuts. We know, that's what we got in to a lot on our trip south next year. We had to choose between going without, asking for a ride, or pulling up stakes. Not acceptable.
There is a world of knowledge around which vehicles are best to tow. All you need to know is this: to avoid ruining a car you need to be able to do something to stop stuff from happening when you tow it. First, you need to unlock the steering wheel and second you need to disengage the transmission so it doesn't turn without getting oiled. Lots of people seem to ignore these guidelines, but we're too cautious for that. On the other hand, I wanted to tow a Ferrari in a car trailer. I got no traction with that idea.
So, that led down a short path. The safe-towing requirements are met by very few vehicles. For our purposes, nothing beats the Jeep. Totally coincidental that the colors match the View. Honest. It had 49k miles on it and was located just a few miles from our home. Meant to be, I guess. This is NOT a sports car (and we sold mine). But it is a hoot to drive. I call it an "active ride." Which will be perfect in the desert. Can't wait....