Once again I am compelled to start the blog with the phrase, WE ARE FINE. Yesterday some large dust storms swept across I-10 between Tucson and Phoenix, resulting in several major accidents, deaths, and closure of the Interstate for hours. We were 300 miles away at the time. We are coming home from Texas, and so wouldn’t be traveling that section of road west of Tucson anyway. These dust storms are a serious problem and I hope that some better safeguards can be put in place for travelers so that we never see such a horrible series of pileups again.
In contrast, we were in west Texas last night and enjoyed a very pleasant drive down the last of Texas Rt 180 to the El Paso area. Normally I hate going through El Paso with the trailer, as traffic on I-10 can be hairy. This time we were well positioned to try the Rt 375 loop around El Paso through Ft Bliss and Franklin Mountain State Park. That turned out to be a great way to go, except for the grade up the Franklin Mountains on the section known as the “Woodrow Bean Transmountain Drive.” The GL320 didn’t like that. Most of the time it does very well but with 7,500 pounds of trailer attached it does tend to bog down on grades over 8%. Like the diesel Mercedes of the 1970s, it will always get there — just not very quickly.
The best thing about this route is that it drops you off very close to Rudy’s. This is the last stop for Texas barbecue heading west. We picked up a couple of pounds of brisket since it freezes well, and a bit more to give to friends in Tucson who have been watching our house. From there, it’s quick two hour drive across southern New Mexico to Deming, where we have parked at Rockhound State Park, a place we have visited before.
The same weather pattern that brought dust storms to Tucson sparked numerous thunderstorms sound of here. The campground at Rockhound sits on an amphitheater-like slope which gave us a fantastic view of the lightning all evening. We got rumbles and a few spatters of rain but otherwise it was just a clear balmy night with a show provided by nature.
Eleanor filled up the memory card of her camera taking pictures of the scene (as you can see here, using the bumper of the car as a platform), and trying to capture some of the lightning on video (unfortunately, not very successful). It was that kind of photogenic night, but I didn’t take a single photo with the D90. I just wanted to watch it all happen.
From here our next stop is home. Work has been piling up on me the past few days, and Emma needs to get her orthodontic repair. For the last few days I’ve had a list growing of things that need to be done in order to make a smooth transition back to home life, and more things that need doing once we are settled.
From prior years I know that the hardest part of coming off a long trip is the psychological aspect. It’s jarring to suddenly be parked at home after weeks or months away. Nowhere to go, nothing new to see, just the routine of suburbia. It can be a little depressing after the sustained exultation of a new place every few days.
That’s why I develop lists and ideas of things I want to do once we get home. Being busy upon arrival helps smooth the transition, and the list gives us all things to anticipate. The season is becoming ideal for travel and exploration in southern Arizona, so we’ll definitely look for outdoor things to keep us busy.
The immediate tasks are less interesting. When we leave the house I use USAA’s “store vehicle” feature on the cars we’ve left behind, which cuts our insurance premium by 60%. Now that we’re coming back, I need to get online or make a quick call to restore coverage. Likewise, I’ll call our DSL provider and remove the “vacation hold” on that service, set up a new mail forwarding schedule with St Brendan’s Isle so that our mail comes to the house weekly, and finally put the Verizon Wireless air card on hold since we won’t be using it for a few months. These little tricks save us hundreds of dollars every time we go on a long trip (or come home), so it’s worth exploring what services you can suspend when you travel too.