It had been a few weeks since our first shakedown cruise in Big Jim, our desire to hit the road tempered by Jan’s job and her availability to take a day off. We did manage to plan a weekend beginning on a Saturday and coming home on the following Monday, and for some reason known only to the inner demons that manage to escape from our psyches every once in a while we decided to go to Lake Havasu, specifically a resort called Havasu Springs on the California side of the Colorado River, where the temperatures hovered around 115º day and night. It was the hottest stretch of days of the year, and blissfully we headed into it.

We were going to meet our neighbor Bob who was visiting his brother Ernie in Kingman, Arizona, the plan being that they were going to drive down and have dinner with us and then head back to Ernie’s house. Well, it turned out it to be not that easy. We had  planned to leave around 7:00am and hopefully beat a lot of the heat and traffic, get there in time to acquaint ourselves with the park and get set for dinner. We had brought two dinner meals with us and stuff for breakfast and lunch as well. A very expensive way to go as we almost duplicated everything we had in the house, but necessary.

We got to the storage area and either it had passed through my cluttered mind and out or I had never been told but the storage park didn’t open until 9:00am. 9:00am????!!!! Who the hell takes off on a RV trip at 9:00am? Ok – take a percocet and let it go. We found a Denny’s close by, not an establishment that I usually frequent but handy to hang out in for an hour and a half. By the time we got the RV loaded it was 9:30 and we still had to get some gas before we hit the true desert. I had turned on the refrigerator and plugged in my new Dometic Refrigerator/Freezer located in one of the bays, and assumed that the food would remain chilled and the water would cool and the vodka would be icy cold when we got to Havasu.  An hour into the trip we stopped for gas and got a water out of the refrigerator. Warm. Vodka in the freezer – warm. Food in the Dometic still chilled but the walls of the unit were – warm. WTF? All lights were steady orange as they should be, no alarms were going off, except those in my head that said this weekend was not going to go as we had planned. My thimble bit of knowledge about mechanics was of no use, so we dutifully paid one week’s salary for the gas and off we went. We were going to take I-10 east to Blythe (on the Arizona border) and then head north on CA-95 to Parker (where the dam is) and then 15 miles on to the resort located on the Arizona side of the river. About 235 miles as the RV flies.

We had never driven east of Indio before and a few miles out of town there began an ascent of some 4500 feet over the next 25 miles or so. Now, our rig has a pretty big engine in it, a V10 Ford Triton that can drive a 24,000 pound RV with ease on the flat and with a little more effort on gradual inclines, and a lot of effort on steeper climbs. The truckers on the other hand, those 18-wheelers driven by disciples of the Reformed Church of Hells Angels, did not seem to have the horsepower to get themselves up the hill at a decent speed – their flashers incessantly going off and inviting me to pass them. Not so fast – as I pulled even with the first one he seemed to find a little bit of extra horsepower and by the time this game was over my pedal was to the metal and the feared freight train was lined up behind me. I eased up and let him go and pulled in behind. Lesson learned – its about the journey and not the race. Instant calm! I thought it a good time as we crested the summit to check in on the refrigerator, hoping as if the climb might have knocked some sense into it. Jan went back and brought a slightly cooler bottle of water, not even close to where it should be for the amount of time we had been traveling and more importantly the vodka in the freezer didn’t have the slightest amount of frost on it. Oh – this was going to be a long day. I looked down and noticed that we had traveled about 75 miles in a little over two hours…But – the scenery was quite beautiful with the mountains off to the north where Joshua Tree National Park and the marine base Twenty-Nine Palms were located, and in front of us miles of desolate landscape interspersed with various species of cactus and desert wildflowers.


We made it to Blythe and then had a lovely drive up CA 95 occasionally getting quick glimpses of the lower Colorado River. The desert sky was a vibrant blue, not a cloud in the sky, and from our vantage point inside the motorhome you couldn’t tell that it was 115º outside. We made it to and were immediately impressed by the receptionist who spent ten minutes listing all the sites that were available. The problem was that I wasn’t about to spend an hour wheeling Big Jim through the campsite, nor was I about to walk the grounds either. Our problem was solved by a buff young man and equally fit young lady who said that they were vacating the best site in the complex, #432, and that we should get it. Done. And this was the view out our from window.


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