14 Day Rush to Alabama (October 19 – November 1, 2021)

After remaining parked in Glendale, UT for an additional day due to extremely gusty winds, we headed off to Flagstaff, AZ on Tuesday, October 19th. This was our first of nine days of driving over the next 14 days, covering the 2,100 miles necessary to reach Gulf Shores, AL, where we will spend November.

 The entire 229-mile drive to Flagstaff was on US-89 and took us through mostly desolate, although scenic, country.  The winds had died down considerably but we did encounter an accident with a travel trailer laying on its side, possibly due to wind. 

When we arrived at the Flagstaff KOA Holiday, Phil went inside to register.  The clerk, who admitted she was new, gave him a map to site 88.  The drive to site 88 was somewhat harrowing.  The roads were very narrow and there were trees close to the road.  Getting up the road to site 88 required making a sharp left turn.  When Phil got part-way through the turn, he could see that site 88 was occupied.  He called the office and a different clerk told him we were supposed to be in site 166.  However, completing the turn by site 88 required Jan to hold a wooden sign out of the way and Phil had to back up partially to avoid low-hanging branches. When we finally made it back to the office, we were met by a workcamper in a golf cart who led us to site 166.  Although this drive was somewhat easier, it required pulling far out on the shoulders to make the turns.  Needless to say, we had already concluded that this one-night stay would be our only visit to the Flagstaff KOA.

On Wednesday, we drove 268 miles to Tucson, AZ where we spent two nights at the Tucson / KOA Lazydays Resort.  The drive, almost entirely on interstate highways, involved numerous long, steep descents as we went from Flagstaff (elevation 6,900’) to Tucson (elevation 2,400’).  The temperature when we left Flagstaff that morning was 34 degrees, compared to 85 degrees when we arrived in Tucson.

The difference between the Tucson KOA and the Flagstaff KOA was like night and day.  The roads throughout the Tucson campground were wide and the site was extremely accessible.  The Tucson campground had several unique types of sites available, including covered sites and K9 sites with fenced enclosures.

On Thursday, we explored Historic Fourth Avenue in Tucson.  This district, close to the campus of the University of Arizona, has seen better days.  In addition to numerous unique restaurants, there were retail shops that mostly appeared to cater to alternative lifestyles.  In midday, there were numerous homeless individuals outside these businesses.  We spotted at least six Lock Your Love sculptures on Fourth Avenue.  Sweethearts inscribe their names on a lock, place it on the sculpture, and deposit the key into the base of the sculpture as a symbol of eternal love.

After strolling the length of the district, we had lunch at Tumerico.  Jan had a Sonora Dog and Phil had Al Pastor Tacos.  We were surprised when we learned later that Tumerico serves fresh Latin vegan and vegetarian food.  We now don’t know what we were eating but it was very tasty.

On Friday, we drove 272 miles on I-10 to Las Cruces, NM where we spent two nights at Hacienda RV Resort.  The campground was very spacious and well maintained.  We had a huge pull-through site.  However, with no pool and few amenities, it wasn’t exactly a resort.

On Saturday, we visited Las Mesilla to do some shopping.  This village has a long history.  Thick-walled adobe buildings, which once protected residents against Apache attacks, now house art galleries, restaurants and gift shops. Mesilla’s most notorious resident, Billy the Kid, was sentenced to death at the country courthouse (now a gift shop) but he escaped before the sentence was carried out.  Jan had purchased some jewelry at one of the many silver studios when we visited Mesilla in 2016 and she was determined to find that shop again.  After visiting many of the silver shops, she finally found the right one, which had moved down the street.

On Sunday, we drove 289 miles to Fort Stockton, TX.  This was the longest drive we had done in a long time and, combined with a late start and losing an hour due to crossing a time zone, had us arriving at the Fort Stockton RV Park at 6 pm.  Since we were leaving early the next morning, we left the fifth wheel hitched to the truck overnight.

We got a very early start on Monday morning.  Jan needed to get some lab work done in Kerrville for a doctor visit later in the week.  Since she needed to be fasting, she got up early and left Fort Stockton at 7 am for her four-hour drive.  Phil waited another hour, until sunrise, before beginning his 233-mile drive to Ingram, TX, where we spent four nights at Johnson Creek RV Resort & Park.

Over the next four days, we had doctor and vision appointments, along with several medical tests.  Phil got the annual inspections done on the truck and trailer.  We made a trip to Fredericksburg to load up on our favorite sauces.  Phil also managed to drop in at Buckhorn Lake Resort a couple of days for pickleball.  On Tuesday, we purchased a couple of Townie bikes at a Kerrville bicycle shop.  Phil hadn’t had a bike since he abandoned his broken one on Mackinac Island in June.  Jan’s old bike was badly rusted by the salt air during our stay in Brownsville, TX two years ago.  Since the Townies are aluminum, rust shouldn’t be a problem.

On Friday, we drove 200 miles to Weimar, TX where we spent the night at Whispering Oaks RV Park. This was the first of four straight days of driving.

On Saturday, we drove 160 miles to Beaumont, TX and spent the night at Hidden Lake RV Park.  Our drive took us through the middle of Houston on I-10 at 12:30 pm.  We had made this drive in April on a Wednesday at 10:30 am and it had been very easy.  We made the mistake of assuming that it would also be an easy drive on a Saturday but we were wrong.  Traffic was very heavy and the challenge was compounded by lots of construction zones.  We were glad it was a short drive because the Houston experience left us exhausted.

Sunday’s drive was 219 miles and took us to Livingston, LA where we spent the night at Lakeside RV Park.  Nearly the entire drive was on interstate highways (I-10 and I-12) and, other than several construction zones, was rather boring.  After three straight days of driving, we were now only one more day of driving away from our month-long stay at Gulf State Park in Gulf Shores, AL.

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