Adventures of Winter Traveling
Once again, we are on the road. Traveling with the King of All Road Trips are always an adventure. We had a wonderful Christmas day with our family in St. Louis. Since we are going to Arizona for our 5 month stay, we went into St. Louis on Christmas Eve because we had the water turned off and winterized all our systems. We stayed at a really nice hotel that has great rates on weekends and non-work days. It is located in the center of a business district and also just blocks away from the courthouse, so during a business week, this place is booming.
Christmas morning we had a lovely breakfast and then wondered what to do before our 2:00 pm family get-together. It was time to take a walk so housekeeping could clean our room before they wanted to go home to celebrate Christmas. The roads were empty. We walked a couple blocks toward city hall and the local county jail. There were two fire engines parked with their lights flashing, and firefighters in their turnout gear walking out of the building and getting back into their trucks. As they started their engines, I waved and told them, “Merry Christmas, and thank you for your service especially working on Christmas.” They both rang their bells in response. As we walked up the road, two police cars were pulled up to each other as the patrol officers were chatting. I decided to cross the street to thank them for their service and to wish them a Merry Christmas. Dennis grabbed me by the arm and stopped my assent across the street. He pointed out I would be jaywalking right in front of them! So, I walked to the intersection, crossed and walked between them to thank them. They saw what I was doing and assured me they would not have arrested me had I jaywalked over to them!
We continued our walk, and came back to see a family from Boston swimming in the outdoor pool at our hotel. It was only in the high 40’s, but they said the pool was heated, and very comfortable. We wished them a Merry Christmas and went back to our room to take a nap and go see our family. What a lovely, easy, laid back day we had. We ate, shared gifts, played games with the teenagers (no little kids at this party), and ate some more. We went back to our hotel to get a good night’s sleep to be road ready the next morning for our trip to Arizona.
Of course, best plans never work in our case. I had a fitful sleep that night as well as Dennis, so we got up about 4:00 am, got cleaned up and dressed, and was out the door at 4:45 am for Arizona. I started the driving because I am familiar with St. Louis roads and the best way to get to the interstate from where we were staying. About 2 hours later, I was way too sleep deprived to drive, so we traded driving. About 2 hours later, Dennis was also feeling the lack of sleep, so we pulled over in Joplin, Missouri, and took an hour’s nap in the car, enough to energize us both, and off we were again.
As we passed Tulsa, Oklahoma, going towards Oklahoma City, it started raining, and then raining, and then really raining. For some reason, we both noticed that the airbag light on the dashboard for the passenger airbag was glowing, “Airbag Off.” Airbag off? Really? This car has front and side airbags to protect me, and it says that none of them are on. I googled and didn’t find an answer or solution to the problem. It is pouring outside, visibility is not good, and I have no protection if we had an accident. I suggested we pull over, turn off the engine, and see if restarting the car might reactivate the airbag—much like rebooting your computer. No luck there either. Next I called my dealership in St. Louis and spoke with the service department. She put me on hold and came back to say I needed to find the nearest Lexus dealership, and have them check it out because with that light on, I had no airbag protection.
I have paid and wondered why I pay to be able to connect with Lexus for driving directions, etc., but yesterday I was grateful that I have done so. I called into my “Destination Assist” from my car, and told them not only did I need them to download the directions to the closest Lexus dealership, I needed the dealership’s phone number to call them. Within seconds I had peace of mind that the dealership knew we were on our way, although we were still a 40 minute drive to Oklahoma City. The rain continued in torrents. The dealership was right off the highway and so easy to find, especially since we were receiving turn by turn instructions. The service writer labeled our ticket as “traveling through” so the mechanic would take us immediately so we could get on the road again. Within 10 minutes, they adjusted a sensor underneath the passenger seat, and we were on our way, with no charge! As we pulled out of the dealership, the rain was coming down so hard that the sides of the roads were flooded to the bottom of the car. Fortunately, there was a hotel one block away, and we decided to just shorten our day, and stay in Oklahoma City.
We waited in our room, which was most comfortable, for about an hour to see if the rain let up. It did a little bit, and we decided to go to an early dinner. As I was driving back to the hotel, we were passed by fire trucks, and then noticed they pulled into our hotel. I pulled into a different entrance and parked. Was our hotel on fire? There were two fire trucks again with their flashing lights and firefighters in their turnout gear walking around. One told us it was safe to go inside, that someone had pulled the fire alarm, apparently as a prank. As we were walking to the stairway because the elevator was still on lock down by the fire department, two police officers walked past us, knocked on a door and asked to enter this room. I think they found the person who had pulled the alarm—we were told that there is a security camera that is focused on their alarm boxes (good move). This morning one of the other hotel guests told us she arrived later in the evening and was told the elevator was not currently working, but that the person who pulled the alarm was no longer at the hotel. So either they were arrested this person or the hotel kicked the offender out, or both.
We were so tired last night that we actually hit the sack at 8:00 pm, and slept until almost 7:00 am. We are rested, and we are now driving through Texas. There is evidence along the route of the huge rain storm from yesterday that hit Texas and Oklahoma. The sun is shining, it is in the low 40’s, but the wind is blowing at 27 mph, which makes it really chilly, and hard to open the car door when we stopped.
With all this crazy weather, I checked my Arizona newspaper app, and they are saying that a cold front is coming through that will bring freezing temperatures though the weekend. They said how to cover plants, and what to do and not do. I got kind of panicked. We have our whole back yard in San Tan Valley, AZ, landscaped, and we will see it in person for the first time some time tomorrow, and now it is going to freeze? I called our landscape design guy. I asked if I should hire someone to cover everything. Well, long story short—no one is available, and when you cover in Arizona, you have to uncover first thing in the morning, because it warms a lot in the day, and you don’t want to cook the flowers. He thinks we shouldn’t lose anything significant, if we lose at all. I hope he is correct. I would like to see my flowers before frost hits them. He doesn’t know if the the mountain will protect us from the cold, or if it will bring a draft of frigid air. I really hope we have some flowers and a citrus tree smiling at us when we arrive.
Road trips are always an adventure for us. This one has definitely proved to be no different. I wish you could see this car. It is packed and I mean packed with only room for Dennis and I to sit in the front seats. The trunk is filled with boxes of dishes, all the photos and artwork from our other home for this home, and I don’t even remember what’s in the back seat, but there is one tiny hole to see out of the rearview mirror.
I have a wonderful neighbor across the street from our new house who has kept an eye on our home while we were in Missouri. He parks his work car in our driveway while we are away—did I mention that he is one of the local sheriffs in town? I have twelve (12) first cousins in the Phoenix area. I have never moved anywhere where I have instant friends. I am planning a big party in a few weeks and plan to invite all my friends and family who live in the area. In three weeks my step son is coming to visit—our first of many visitors I plan to see come to our home. Can you tell I am really excited on this road trip to get to our destination?
Dennis just bought me a 120W inverter that plugs into the cigarette lighter, and now I can plug in my laptop to charge while driving down the road. Unfortunately, I will have to wait a bit to post this blog because neither Dennis nor I have service on our phones, so I cannot hook up to his hotspot (on his phone for all of you who have you minds elsewhere), and load this blog onto the internet. So it will be there for your reading whenever we can connect!
I started this post a few days ago as we were traveling, but due to lack of phone service and extreme weather, I chose to complete this blog once we rolled into our destination. The adventure continued until we reached our Arizona home yesterday. As we arrived in Albuquerque Thursday late afternoon, we stopped for a quick dinner because we wanted to drive all the way to Gallup, New Mexico before we stopped for the night. Our goal was to sleep in Gallup, and then the next morning take I-40 west into Flagstaff, Arizona, and then drop south on I-17 into Phoenix and then on to our home.
Our plans are our plans, and not apparently anyone else’s. We had a nice quick dinner, got into our car and drove out of Albuquerque (who decided how to spell that town anyway?) and we stopped for gas. We pulled up in front of a car that was facing ours. We noticed the owner was pounding off a thick coating of ice that was across the front of his car. Dennis asked him where he had come from to have all that ice on his car. He replied he just drove in from Flagstaff and the roads are snow and ice covered. At that same moment, a friend of mine texted me and said that there was a blizzard warning out for New Mexico along I-40 into Albuquerque. We were heading right into the blizzard. As we drove west from the service station, snow began falling—sideways at us. Visibility was getting tough and we realized we needed to find sleeping accommodations as soon as possible, and not try to get to Gallup.
We found a hotel at one of the many casinos along the interstate. Our room was very reasonably priced, and the bed was terrible. I think they don’t want you in bed sleeping—they want you in the casino losing your money! When we awoke in the morning, there was about 9” of snow outside. (We had checked the weather before leaving Missouri and along to way, and none of this severe weather was forecasted). We were studying all alternatives for traveling. Should we drop down to I-10 and come in from the south? We could do that if we drove back to Albuquerque, but we were already a 90 mile drive out, and we discovered that the blizzard hit that town hard and they closed I-40 in town. Also the highway we would need to take to get to I-10 was hit by the blizzard.
We decided to get in the car and head our original direction and see if we could get anywhere. We were on a snow packed road and barely anyone was out yet. We drove quite a distance, when all of a sudden, the road was clear. We still had to be careful because it was bitterly cold, and the black ice was a possibility. We would travel slower and just work our way in.
We arrived in Flagstaff early afternoon, stopped for lunch and then headed south on I-17. At one point on this highway, the snow was coming down, the road was snow packed, there were many cars and trucks out, and we are going downhill, descending from our high elevation, down to the valley were Phoenix is. We questioned our route, but we were in the final stretch, and then once again, all of a sudden, the road was clear. As we drove lowering our elevation, we noticed the temperature rising from the 26 degrees in Flagstaff to mid 50’s as we entered the Phoenix area. The drive was breathtaking and we were glad we took the routes we had taken. We arrived at our home in San Tan Valley about 5:30 pm. It is colder here than usual—there is a cold front that hit all of Arizona, but it is sunny and beautiful.
I am 70 years old, and I still love new adventures and meeting new people. I love connecting people who may have things in common with other of my friends and family. My hip is pretty much in complete working order. Hiking and walking are on the agenda for a few months. The weight I gained not being mobile this past year should start falling off as I become more physically active.
I am grateful for a wonderful husband who loves new adventures as much as I do. I am grateful that he loves meeting all my friends and family. I am grateful that he is willing to share our home with our friends and family. He is the best traveling companion and for that I am grateful.
I hope you all had a great Christmas. As we move toward the new year, let us contemplate on the wonderful blessing we have in our lives. I know we hit rough spots, but in the end, a grateful heart will make all those seem small compared to all our blessings.
Next week, I’ll be blogging from San Tan Valley, Arizona! Until then, have a great new year . . . .