We’ve spent the past week driving across the deserts of southern California, Arizona and New Mexico – appropriate as the Desert Bus for Hope fundraising campaign has been going on this past week.
We’ve been able to knock out a substantial number of miles off our cross country repositioning and we’ve kept incredibly busy.
We took our final soak in the hot pools and gave hugs to Nina & Paul in Desert Hot Springs.
On the way out of town, we were able to grab our friend Helene for a quick lunch to catch up. It was wonderful, but way too short of a visit.
We needed to make our way to Quartzsite for the evening, as we had a rendezvous in the works with another RVing friend who was heading westward. In all our years on the road, we’ve never spent any time in Quartzsite, a popular winter destination for RVers and boondockers. So we were excited that our timing of crossing paths would put us converging there.
It was a super fun evening of making new friends, sharing in live music and seeing the project our friend is putting together. We’re really excited about what he’s up to.
Our next stop over would be Phoenix. Having not spent too much time in the area, we put a call out on our Facebook page for recommendations for places to stay. We got an overwhelming response that the Maricopa County Park system is amazing.
And then we received a specific recommendation for site 62 at McDowell Mountain Regional (our review). A quick look on their online reservation system, the site was open for 3 nights – so we snagged them. (Thanks for the tip Hans & Lisa.)
What we didn’t pay too much attention to is just how spread out Phoenix is.
Our primary reason for stopping in the area was to catch up with the folks at Elite Power, the supplier of our lithium ion batteries. As we were passing the Tempe exit, our iPads were telling us we still had about 30 miles left to go to reach McDowell. Wowzers.
On Wednesday we headed back into town, in the Mini, for a lunch meet-up with the Elite Power guys. They re-flashed the firmware on our EMS (energy management system), which was way out of date.
And then they took us to lunch where we picked their brains heavily on the current battery market. Chris is planning an extensive update to his lithium ion battery series soon, so he’ll share what we learned and the status of our 500AH bank (short version: over 2 years later, it’s still meeting our expectations).
After our long lunch, we had to book it back to McDowell as we had scheduled a 5pm meetup at our bus for our Facebook fans to stop by to enjoy the sunset. It was a rather last minute decision to host the happy hour, but oh so much fun!
We’ve come to really enjoy hosting gatherings, which helps us meet more people with our limited time visiting an area. And hopefully also helps others connect with each other.
We enjoyed a spectacular sunset together, lots of yummy snacks, margaritas and conversations. Thanks to those who made it out!
The next day we planned a day at home catching up after several days of non-stop social time. And before we knew it, a friend in the area realized we were in the area – and who can resist? We invited him over that evening, and had another fun social night!
But oh goodness, we’d now been at McDowell for 3 nights, and hadn’t even hit a hiking trail or done much photography. So we decided to add a 4th night, even though it did mean switching spots.
Here’s some of the photos we took around the campground:
Ahhh…. so gorgeous. We could have spent weeks at this park just soaking it all in. Because you see those mountains over there? If you look closely, there’s a cluster of cellular towers on them bathing this campground in glorious 4g!
To Las Cruces, NM
As much as we could have convinced ourselves to keep extending our stay at McDowell, we also knew how many miles we have ahead of us to get to Austin by next Sunday. So we hit the road westward.
Both Google maps and Apple maps suggested taking I-10 through Tucson, but we were curious about Highway 60 & 70 through Globe instead. The route stood to cut about 40 miles off the drive, and we always prefer backroads to interstates. At our meet-up, John confirmed it was the right way to go!
So glad we took the route, it not only saved us a lot of miles – it had hardly any traffic, and it was beautiful! Sure, it had some extended 6% grades along it, but Zephyr’s newly rebuilt engine is performing like a champ on grades – maintaining 35-40 mph, 2000+ rpms and barely breaking 185 degrees.
We had eyed a free city campground in Duncan, AZ to overnight in, but by the time we arrived it was full up. So on we went into Lordsburg, NM where we overnighted in a very nice welcome center (with thanks to our State Lines app confirming New Mexico allows up to 24-hours in their rest areas).
Upon pulling in, we connected with The Urban Nomads who are camp hosting in the area and arranged a lunchtime meetup the next day in Deming as we’d be passing through. It was wonderful to meet Sarah & Rob after many years of online communication – they were winners of our SerenDIPity Challenge last summer.
And then it was onwards into the Las Cruces area, where we’ll spend a couple days resting up.
We are now just 637 miles from our next major destination in Austin, and we have until Sunday to get there. In thanks to many recommendations from our Facebook fans, we have some state parks picked out along the way to break the drive up nicely and will move at a pace the feels comfortable to us.
We look forward to getting to Austin and plopping down for 2 whole weeks and spending lots of quality time with family for Thanksgiving.
Anyone in the Austin area fancy a meet-up? We’re considering hosting a gathering, and even potentially a Q&A session for ‘future nomads’.
Our campspot probably won’t be ideal for hosting, so we’re also looking for a local who might be able to volunteer to host or recommendations for a location (park, coffee shop, etc.). Let us know if you’d like to attend and/or can help out! Thanks!