welcome to arizona

On the Road to Phoenix – Day Four

On the Road to Phoenix – Day Four
September 2nd, 2017

After three very long days of travel, we were both looking forward to what we hoped would be the shortest day of travel to that point. Thankfully that turned out to be the case, as we ended up spending only about 8.5 hours on the road from Albuquerque to Tuscon. Other than some gusty winds, the driving was smooth and simple, a relief for sure.

Best Sign:
The “Welcome to Arizona” sign. Such a great thing to see.
Worst Sign:
The “all traffic must exit” sign for border patrol inspection. We passed with flying colors.

Best Roads:
Arizona. The one iffy stretch came with a warning sign, which was appreciated.
Worst Roads:
New Mexico? None were too bad though.

Best Billboard:
The Thing. Even if it is gimmicky, you have to admire their dedication.
Worst Billboard:
The “don’t text and drive” billboards. I agree with the idea, but taking your eyes off the road to read a billboard about not taking your eyes off the road seems a little weird.

Best Gas Station:
The Shell in Wilcox. They had a dedicated RV pump…so much easier.
Worst Gas Station:
The one where we couldn’t even see the pumps. Was it even a gas station?

Best Change in Scenery:
Going from New Mexico to Arizona. New Mexico seems to generally be pretty drab looking.
Worst Change in Scenery:
Dropping down into Albuquerque.


A nice welcome to day four


A hill was an unwelcome sight to start our drive


But then we headed back downhill and all was well

dust storm warning sign

You know you’re headed into the desert when…

chair dog

Chair dog getting in a nap

desert train

Desert train

welcome to arizona

Best sign of the entire trip



Such a relief to head downhill. Look at that uphill though...

On the Road to Phoenix – Day Three

On the Road to Phoenix – Day Three
September 1st, 2017

Things that don’t mix: going uphill all day and big heavy vehicles. Neither of us realized that our planned route from Oklahoma City to Albuequerque would have us slowly but surely increasing in elevation over our 568 mile route, eventually to about 6,000 feet above sea level. The RV takes a bit more time to get going at elevation, especially if that going is up hills. This meant that our planned 8 hour drive turned into a 12 hour all day drive, so we were both pretty relieved to finally pull into the RV park at the end of the day.

Best Scenery:
New Mexico, but only because we were so glad to be done seeing things.
Worst Scenery:
Texas. That’s when we first realized that the day would be slower going than planned.

Best Roads:
Worst Roads:
Oklahoma (blame OKC)

Best Smell:
Dinner at the end of the day
Worst Smell:
Quality Beef Producers. I’ve never seen or smelled so much cattle.

Best Wind Farms:
Texas. So many gigantic wind mills.
Worst Wind Farms:
New Mexico. I didn’t see a single gigantic wind mill.

Best Skyline:
Albuquerque. Mountains!
Worst Skyline:
Oklahoma City. They need more tall buildings.

Planned Route

8 Hours and 11 Minutes was just a bit optimistic


Cows and stuff

Such a relief to head downhill. Look at that uphill though...

Such a relief to head downhill. Look at that uphill though…


Dead bugs and real mountains


The sun was getting lower but we were still driving


Finally parked for the night!

tired dogs

Two tired dogs. This is how we all felt.


A nice visual end to a long day


On the Road to Phoenix – Day Two

On the Road to Phoenix – Day Two
August 31st, 2017

Day two! The plan was to get from Effingham, Illinois to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, covering a bit over 592 miles. A bit shorter than day one, but still a lengthy chunk of road to cover and lots of driving to do. Other than a bit of a breeze trying to shove the RV into the other lane, the weather made for good driving and we saw an uneventful day of driving. On to the best and worst!

Best Scenery:
Oklahoma! Who knew?
Worst Scenery:
Missouri (too much of it)

Best Roads:
Missouri. Very well done, MoDOT
Worst Roads:
Oklahoma! They were doing well until we got outside of OK City, and then it was impressively bad.

Best Billboard:
Uranus Fudge. I never knew there were so many Uranus puns to be made.
Worst Billboard:
The one about beetles

Best On & Off Ramps:
Oklahoma! So smooth, so lengthy.
Worst On & Off Ramps:
Missouri. So short and so scary.

Best Driving Instructor:
Missouri. The lane departure warning grooves being right on the white line really keeps you in your lane.
Worst Driving Instructor:
Oklahoma? They were missing some.

Best Drivers:
Worst Drivers:
Missouri. Short off ramps + drivers without urgency = scary lane changes


The route for the day.

gateway to the west

An arch, and a river, and a city.


Oklahoma scenery.


Coming up on Tulsa.

couch dog

Couch dog has found his spot on the couch.


Chair dog has found his spot in the chair.

golden hour

Golden hour never fails to impress.

travel friends

On the Road to Phoenix – Day 1

On the Road to Phoenix – Day 1
August 30th, 2017

We’re on our way to Phoenix! We in this case being Frederick “Freddie” Armond, Heinrich “Fritzy Boy” Fritz, Jess, and myself. The first day was to be our longest drive, going from Hagerstown Maryland to Effingham Illinois, about 640 miles. Better to get the longest drive out of the way first, right?

Because there’s only so much you can say about driving all day, I’ve decided to break things down into a best and worst ranking system. Indiana didn’t fare too well in our rankings, most likely because their awful roads (spoiler alert) gave us a negative initial impression.

Best Scenery:
West Virginia
Worst Scenery:

Best Tunnel:
PA by Default
Worst Tunnel:
Indiana, because I’m sure it would have been awful if it existed

Best Billboard:
Indiana (a billboard advertising Mount Rushmore “Continue for 1120 miles and make a right!” it said)
Worst Billboard:
All others

Best Roads:
Illinois (until getting to Effingham)
Worst Roads:
Indiana and it’s not even close. I don’t think they know that you can actually repair damaged roads.

Best Welcome Sign:
Ohio! They welcomed us to their state and thanked us for visiting when we left
Worst Scenery:
Indiana. There wasn’t one

Best Dogs:
Freddie and Fritz
Worst Dogs:
The bitey ones


Our backup paper maps, just in case

leaving KOA

And we’re off!


Best tunnel, by default

travel friends

Road dogs


Farms are a rare sight on this drive. This was one of 1345 we saw.


The best place for a road nap


The end of driving on day one!


Eclipse Trip Day One – August 19th

When there’s a full solar eclipse making a sprint across the country, the only option is to go get in its way. Jen and I decided to make a weekend of the eclipse madness by spending some time in Hendersonville and Asheville before driving south for the big event on Monday.

Our plan was simple – we’d fly to Charlotte on Saturday afternoon, grab a rental car, and then make the trek west towards the mountains. With a flight scheduled to land at 3:00, we figured that there would be plenty of time to get checked into our hotel, explore a bit of downtown Hendersonville, and then grab a bite to eat before settling in for the night.

B Terminal – Dulles International Airport

Taken when there was optimism about actually taking off.

As is often the case, traffic threw a wrench in our plans. Too many people in too many planes were trying to get to Charlotte, and so we sat on the runway for a few minutes while the traffic in the skies cleared up. Those few minutes turned into 20 minutes, and then 30 minutes, and then just when it was our turn to take off, the big smart computer in the plane decided to have a big dumb error.

Busy afternoon on the tarmac!

Computer errors on a plane just about to take off certainly aren’t a good thing, and so we continued to sit and wait while the pilots tried to reboot the entire plane. Sadly, what is the most reliable help desk fix ever, turning it off and turning it back on again, didn’t work. The only place we were going was back to the terminal so that maintenance could try to figure out the issue.

A 1:50 departure turned into a 4:00 departure, and then a 4:20 departure, and then a 4:40 departure, and then a 5:00 departure. The 5:00 departure was then in jeopardy because they needed a new pilot. Thankfully, the new pilot wasn’t far away, and the airline was able to drive him directly from the front of the airport to our plane.

And so that’s how our trip began, with a lot of sitting and a lot of wondering if we’d ever make it to North Carolina. But make it we did, and while our planned leisurely afternoon turned out to be leisurely in the wrong location, we still did head west in our rental car and watched the fading sun dip behind the mountains. Day One was in the books.

One of the easiest features to identify from the air.

A late evening landing.