The Long Journey Home

Keeping an eye on the weather the last few weeks has become something of an obsession, since we really weren’t that keen about leaving the warm temperatures just yet. But Mother Nature can be a twatwaffle sometimes, and she’ll turn on you when you least expect it. So, even though we had a buffer of a couple of extra weeks of time, we finally bit the bullet and decided to pull stakes and head northeast.

But not before one more stop. Mexico was calling, and we wanted to see it at least once before we left. Parking at a local casino, we walked across the border into Los Algodones, a border town renown for it’s cheap dental, eyeglasses, prescriptions, and street vendors. We had a ball shopping, haggling and just taking in the sights. The people are very warm and friendly (and a little pushy, but that was part of the fun), and everything is so bright and colorful. It was almost sensory overload.

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Approaching the border from the parking lot.
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A street performer in full regalia.

Mike treated me to a couple of new leather bags and a beautiful blanket with a hummingbird pattern woven into it, and we laughed as the lady told us she would pack it into a ‘Mexican Suitcase’ for us. She handed our items to us in a large, bright purple plastic bag with a wink and a big smile. Too funny.

So Long Yuma

So with everything packed by the next morning, we said goodbye to Yuma and started our long drive. Our first stop landed us at a beautiful lake shore in the Lake Mead Recreational Area not far outside of Las Vegas.

Here we happened to cross paths with a fellow blogger, Jeff from Vagabond Travels. Jeff describes himself as a long-haired hippie, but I believe a poet’s soul inhabits his body. He writes incredibly well, and I always find his posts insightful, touching and entertaining. I was saddened to learn of the passing of Frank, Jeff’s beloved beagle and longtime companion. But on a brighter note, he has found a new traveling buddy in the form of Manny, a rescued Australian Cattle Dog. Manny has a very distinctive personality and is definitely a force to be reckoned with, and I think it’s a match made in heaven for both of them. So good to finally meet you in person, Jeff! Safe travels and hope to cross paths with you again soon!

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Overview of our campsite from a nearby hill. You can just see Jeff’s rig on the left, and Hank and Lonestar way down by the water.
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The view from our campsite the first evening.

Finally, Finally, Finally!

On our way once again, we were finally headed for the Grand Canyon. We had been trying to get there most of the winter, but because the elevation is so high, the temperature is usually much cooler than the southern part of Arizona where we usually stayed. In fact, it was still hovering around the freezing mark when we decided it was now or never. You see, I’m a firm believer in Murphy’s Law, and I somehow knew that if we left the Canyon for next time, chances were good there wouldn’t be a next time. My luck seems to run that way. I just wasn’t leaving Arizona until I’d seen that wonder for myself.

So off we went, finding a boondocking spot in the Kaibab National Forest just a few miles from the Grand Canyon National Park entrance. There were patches of snow on the ground, and the night we spent was definitely on the cool side, but the next morning everything was forgotten as we got our first incredible glimpse of this:

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Over the years I’ve heard so many people say that the photos don’t do it justice. They don’t. Words don’t do much of a job either. It’s something that has to be seen personally to be really appreciated. I hope every one of you who have ever dreamed of going make the trip to see it for yourself.  You won’t be disappointed.

Along the way, we found a beautiful view of Bright Angel Canyon.  As a young girl, one of my favorite books was Brighty of the Grand Canyon by Marguerite Henry.

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Bright Angel Canyon.

Brighty was a little burro that actually lived and worked in the Grand Canyon in the early 1900’s, and was named after this particular canyon.  I can’t begin to imagine how many times I read that book in my childhood.  It was a bit of a thrill to see the actual place I had read about so often.

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Eastward, Ho!

After leaving the Canyon, we headed east into New Mexico and found a state park just outside of Santa Rosa. Before leaving town, we stopped at the Blue Hole. It’s a natural artesian well that is some 80 feet deep and produces 3000 gallons of water per minute.

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Swimming is allowed, as these young folk show here. I didn’t join them, but I have to admit, I wanted to. The buoys are for scuba diving, which is also allowed with a permit.

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That night we landed in a sweet little city park in Meade, Kansas. No hookups, but totally free to stay and no time limit. The park is well maintained with 2 playgrounds, a basketball court, several picnic areas and a couple of Boy Scout meeting houses.

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Our campsite
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A cedar waxwing and a robin take a brief rest in a nearby tree.

It was so nice to have trees and birds around again, we stayed on an extra day, taking a much-needed break from the road and enjoying the last sunshine we would see for another week and a half.

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By the time this little fellow finished stuffing his cheeks, he looked like he’d doubled in size, lol.
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Purple Finch

Nope, Definitely Not in Kansas Anymore!

Over the next few days we slogged on through terrible weather, keeping one eye on the radar map and being grateful that all the rain didn’t turn to snow. Loading and unloading the bike in weather that miserable became a test of timing to keep the inside of the trailer and particularly the mattresses from getting wet. Somehow we managed.

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Unfortunately, these were the best images I could capture of the Arch in St. Louis.
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The weather was just so miserable that day, we didn’t bother to stop. This was taken from the truck as we entered the Martin Luther King Bridge to Illinois.

Landing in Akron, OH after a particularly long haul that day, we decided to take the following morning off and tick one more item from the bucket list. Since we were only 20 miles or so from Cleveland, our next stop was the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

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The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, OH
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Elvis’ Gold Suit
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A Stage Outfit Worn by Johnny Cash
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AC/DC’s Angus Young Costume
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Prince’s Gloves
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John Paul Jones of Led Zepplin
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John Lennon’s Glasses
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Jimi Hendrix’s Guitars

The next couple of days was still rain, rain and more rain. And the hard part about traveling northeast is that boondocking spots get harder and harder to find. So when we found ourselves in upstate New York near Buffalo, the pull of home became too much, and we crossed the Rainbow Bridge at Niagara Falls. The weather was still miserable, so we didn’t stop to admire the falls themselves, but I did get a look (but no photo) on the way across the bridge. We’re thinking when we return in the fall, we’ll cross here again so we can spend a little time and have a proper look.

We were pleased to find that southern Ontario, while still chilly, had no snow. Originally, we had planned on staying a month or so to give the East Coast time to melt out of it’s winter coat. But after a couple of days of hunting for an open campground (non-existent), two very noisy nights (apparently no muffler shop in this town) and one flat tire (we got screwed.  Literally.), we quietly surrendered and headed for home. The nice part was we never saw any snow on the ground until just past Montreal. The nasty part is, as I’m writing this, I’m watching 20cm of shi white crap pile up outside my window. As I said, Mother Nature can be a real twatwaffle.

So, in just over two weeks, the tally comes to: 3 countries, 12 states, 3 provinces, and 3864 miles. But, we’re finally home, and can now start on phase two of our Grand Adventure. While we’re waiting for Old Man Winter to clear off, Buddy is safely stored in his new digs, and we’ve started the hunt for Lonestar’s replacement, with a couple of slim leads already. We have our daughter’s wedding coming up, and a thousand things to do before we’re ready to pull south once more. Time to get to work.

See you all in the fall.


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2 thoughts on “The Long Journey Home

Add yours

  1. I loved reading all your blogs and seeing your wonderful photos; but, as your cousin, I have to say that I am really glad that you two are home. I really hope to see you before you set out on the road South again, okay? Missed ya!

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  2. That giant bottle of tequila behind the street performer is the kind one of my workers used to bring me every year when he went home to see his family. That is the smoothest tequila I’ve ever had. I recommend trying it, if you get a chance. Great post, Kelley!

    Liked by 1 person

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