Getting Stuck in Arizona

I am heading back to Arizona today. I have a camp to check out for our little group of Patreons of Carolyn’s RV Life. I’d put off going back to Arizona an extra day to be able to hit the beach. Now it was a day of chores and travel to get back to the camp by evening.

Living in an RV has a set of chores you don’t necessarily have as an apartment or home owner. Doing laundry would be familiar to anyone in an apartment without a washer and drier. Filling propane may also be familiar, if you have a BBQ. The one thing some people dread is dealing with sewer. Yes, a black tank is poop, and it’s not the most pleasant thing in the world. But in terms shit to deal with for the freedom of being out here, I have no problem dealing that that bit of unpleasantness. Although you can get some surprises, like the black tank valve that didn’t close completely on my last dump; spilling out when I opened the cap. But I had been prepared for that possibility, having the dump hose in the other hand to catch most of the waste water. Get some disposable gloves for the job. The smell lingers even after washing your hands several times.

An early start to the day to pack up, do laundry, dump the tanks one last time, fill up with clean water and we we are ready to travel, just before noon. It’s going to be mostly travel with short stops only to make it to my camp by sundown. My first stop is for gas. I briefly considered trying to make it to Yuma for cheap gas; perhaps put in 10 gallons here at $3.99/gal versus $2.75/gal in Yuma. It would save me something in the order of $30. But that would mean a detour – the big G is taking me north into the eastern side of California on the 78, cutting the corner of the square I’d travel if I went to Yuma. I decide to pay the extra money to save the time and avoid the hassle.

I’m already half way up the mountain as I leave the campground, so the climb is not that much; another two thousand feet. However, there is wind today, moving my rig around on the road with every gust. It starts to become more of a challenge going downhill – sometimes it feels like a big hand has pushed the rig over to the side with a big gust. I slow down a bit, not wanting to go off the road. Some cars fly past me – they have no such wind problems. I pass the truckers who have the wind and much more weight pushing them down the hill to contend with.

I relax as I reach the bottom, and the California desert again. Nice straight road, little wind. Eventually the googles takes me off the Interstate at El Centro, first taking me over to the 115 north at Holtville, then onto the 78, which will take me east, then north all the way to Interstate 10.

Surf Board Junction SR602075

I’m deep in agriculture country again as I stop for lunch, finding a little parking lot on the side of the road by a little farm shop. I call the corner “Surf Board Junction” owing to the surf board planted there, dedicated to Brad.

Concrete Canals SR602079

There is no surfing on the water here – it’s all nice concrete irrigation canals – little water wasted along here. The land would be all desert, but for all the water diverted onto it turning it into lush Agriculture.

Irrigated Crop SR602080

The crops certainly look green and lush, doing well in the winter sun. These go on for miles and mile in all directions – irrigation and green crops. Think of all the infrastructure that has been built to support all of these crops grown in this bread basket of the south west USA.

Farmall Tractor SR602083

A lot of farmers keep old tractors around – this fellow is no exception with this old Farmall tractor. Imagine the days when all that farms had were these – you could not grow the number of acres of a modern farm. Everything was smaller – tractors, implements, and land farmed. Many more people were on the land to do the work that now can be done by larger equipment and fewer people. But down here, it’s not as pronounced an emptying of the land. I have seen large teams of people harvesting various vegetables – we have not yet figured out machines to harvest all manner of vegetables yet. Mexicans predominate in these fields – and American still struggles with whom to consider a valid worker. Deport all of the ones who are technically illegally here and you’d have no harvest. But where to draw the line?

I drive on, leaving the irrigated country and heading back into the desert. It’s all scrubby bushes out here – not enough moisture for even a grass crop, or for cows to forage on.

Algodones Dunes SR602085

I see sand dunes ahead. I want to stop at the parking lot I see, but it looks crowded with people. It’s the weekend, there are lots of people out with their sand driving toys. I figure there will be a pull off on the side of the road where I can photograph the sand dunes untouched by tracks, but the road goes on for miles, with signs saying no parking on the side of the road; and no turnouts to be seen. Annoying. I get to the other side of the sand dune area and turn into the lot there. Lots of people and their 4×4 vehicles, everywhere. Tracks abound on the sand here. Oh well, get what photos I can.

Sun Beats Down on the Tracked Dunes SR602086

I wish I had time to explore the area a bit and find some untouched sand – to the north of me is all preserve I could check out, but not today; I’m already looking to be arriving no earlier than sunset at the camp I’m heading to.

Hills along the 78 SR602091

Back into the hills I go, this range separates the valley the Salton Sea sits in from the Colorado River valley. I drive down many miles of road that goes up ridges and down into the little washes between – fun if you don’t get car sick with the motion.

Agriculture country on the Colorado river side looks pretty much the same. I pass through the sleepy town of Ripley, back on the Interstate 10, and into Arizona. Off I go again at Quartzsite, and north on the 95, watching to my left as the sun approaches the horizon and sinks. But I am almost at my destination. Right onto the 72, and down a few miles we go, then off the the road and through a gate.

Larry is supposed to be around here somewhere. I honk to get his attention, he is supposed to be within range to hear that. I drive a couple of circles at the entrance – looks OK right around here to camp. But the light is fading, I don’t really want to go off exploring on my own. Then I see Larry coming, he will guide me to his camping area. He walks ahead on the cart path I am following. It narrows and passes between two bushes going up a bit. I’m scraping the sides a bit on the vegetation, but I see it is not far to his rig up ahead. But I can’t get moving again. Uh oh. I back up a couple of feet and try again, no go, and I can feel I’ve sunk in a bit.

Stuck in the Sand SR602093

I am stuck in the sand! We inspect the situation in the fading light, looks like I’ll need a tow for sure. No going forward – too soft; need to backup and get out of the soft sand I’m in. We hookup and he pulls me, all of two feet. I’m stuck, and deeper now. Any deeper, and I’m going to be high centered on the axles / frame of the rig. Time to dig. Fortunately, Larry has a shovel. We spend some time digging in what is now darkness. I look over it a bit more – there really is only one chance to get out – need to make this the best effort possible. I grab my levelers out, making a roadway back and out of the hole we are in. Need every advantage I can get – Larry’s Jeep is light and can only pull so much to help get me out.

After considerable preparation we give it a try – back I go, one, two, three feet – I’m out of the hole and on terra firma. So we think. Being completely dark, we decide it would be best to stay put for the night. I’m level, sorta. The area right behind me is where Larry was churning up the sand trying to pull me out – don’t want to go through that. Yes, we will sit here for the night and assess again in the morning.

We retire to Larry’s camp for the evening, a good meal and some beers to be had. Tomorrow, figure out how to get my rig back to the gate entrance and out of the rest of this sand!

About ralph

Just another blog to share some thoughts with the world.
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