Some trips you just let it flow and things work out. Others are a struggle to simply make it to the end. This was one of those trips. For some reason after a little under a month of not going out camping we seem to have forgotten how. We were completely unprepared for the trip. It rained, and I ended up getting stuck on the side of the road waiting on AAA. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

We went shopping on the Friday before our trip. We said we wanted to hit someplace cool. Not like “neato spiffy” cool, like get the hell out of the 185º oven that is Phoenix cool. We had previously checked out the Lava River cave area on one of our day trips. It’s up past Flagstaff, and kind of on your way to the Grand Canyon. There’s a good deal of free camping in the area as well. It’s cool enough to camp without the AC on during the summer. You pretty much follow the route as if you’re going to the Grand canyon, but you turn when you get to FR 245. Every time I was heading there though I asked, “Did I just pass it?” just before I got to it.

We set up the RV in a field by some trees. As we were setting up I noticed there were plenty of cow patties. My sweetie and I(mostly her) cleared out the patties as best as possible. After the setup, we headed back to town for an art festival that was going on. It was a nifty art festival that we got a few little things from, and found a local honey harvester. Oddly, they are located in Phoenix. We drive all the way to Flagstaff to find a honey guy in Phoenix. I found that kind of funny.

We headed back to the RV. I asked “Did I miss the road?” Then the sign for FR245 appeared. We headed down the dirt road, and I was probably going a tad too fast. My sweetheart tells me to slow down as I am already hitting the brakes, and as I moved to the side to allow a person going the other way a clear road. That’s when it happened. I heard the PSSSSSSSSSSssssssssss… And there went my day. I must have hit a rock on the side of the road that poked a rather large hole in the sidewall of my rear tire. Of course I didn’t have my good jack. Oh no, that was sitting at the house under the boat trailer, because THAT makes sense. I mean it’s not like I was driving hundreds of miles and onto backroads. Instead I have the stock crappy Ford jack that barely lifted the truck, and pushed itself into the mud… Did I mention it was raining? Yeah, it was raining. I was slightly less than pleasant, my heartburn was really acting up, and the jack was barely working. The one thing that made me finally stop being angry(ironically), was thinking of the into to the Incredible Hulk. Oh, if I could have flipped that truck at that point I probably would have.

I finished putting the spare on, and we decided to head to town to get the tire fixed. But it was after 6. Discount Tire was closed. And they are closed on Sunday, so I would get to experience driving back to Phoenix from Flagstaff with no spare. I was slightly nervous about that. But we decided to return to the RV, and cook dinner.

And I was an idiot. Seriously. I forgot the seasonings I normally bring, I left all kinds of things at home. I decided to try my hand at experimenting. And failed… MISERABLY. I really wanted to do well, but my dinner was a horrible embarrassment. It was so bad we didn’t even finish it.

We woke up the next morning, and I realized we hadn’t filled up the propane tanks. What fun. So we have to head BACK to town to get propane. I felt like such an amateur. Then we returned to the RV after spending the morning searching for a propane dealer. Driving back I asked “Did I just pass the road?” Just after that, I saw the sign for FR245 again. We drove down the road and didn’t lose a tire this time. I made bacon and eggs. No butter, so the eggs had to be cooked in bacon grease instead. The bacon was old… not bad, but it was old. This was shaping up to be a pretty rotten trip.

After choking down breakfast, we went to the Lava Cave. It’s an old lava tube that would have been a cool thing to see when it was active(though much harder to walk on), but it was still rather interesting to see. Even in the middle of summer, the entrance and the cave are very cold. Well cold from a Phoenix couple’s standpoint. I could see my breath… Finally there was something that we did successfully on this trip. It’s amazing how we a few things going bad can set the ball in motion for badness the rest of the trip. It’s also amazing how one positive thing can brighten up an otherwise painfully bad trip. While the hike itself was rough, the sense of accomplishment for both of us making it to the end lifted my spirits again.

After having been through all of the wonder and joys of this trip we had decided against having dinner at the camp site. Instead we packed up a little early so we could get back to the house and make dinner there. I was ready for the trip to be over this time. I was just not feeling right this trip. Almost nothing was falling into place right. And it was just time for me to be done with it. I quickly arranged everything and stuffed it all back in the RV as best as I could. And carefully we took off to avoid losing the spare. I had too long of a ride to risk blowing the spare tire.

We drove back through Flagstaff. and got back on the 17 headed South to Phoenix. Things were going rather well, and the truck was handling great all the way to Sunset point. This was where we were originally going to cook dinner and relax a bit. But we figured after our tinkle break we’d just go ahead and push on to Phoenix. That wasn’t the best decision.

Fix a Flat won’t do.

I learned something important. If you have an RV get AAA Plus RV. Seriously. It’s way worth it. Regular AAA will get your car towed five miles, without a trailer. Plus RV will get your whole rig transported up to 100 miles. I also learned that I REALLY should have eaten at the rest area. We initially called AAA and we thought we had RV Plus. We didn’t. Fortunately though we were able to get an instant upgrade this time. We’ve been with AAA for a long time. And for some stupid reason we never upgraded to RV. The manager n duty was willing to instant upgrade us, and got us towed back to our house.

It had just gotten dark when the tire went. It was the rear tire, and that meant they couldn’t really tow it. So I had to swap the tire from the rear to the front. With a real jack this would have been about a 10 minute job for me. BUT I was stuck with the crappy Ford jack that really didn’t work… at all. In fact it was so bad that it simply didn’t even lift the front wheel off the ground. It actually broke down and refused to lift enough to do anything. Good thing for me I had the RV. Inside that I had an 8 ton bottle jack. It wasn’t easy getting it all situated, but since I also had jack stands it ended up only taking me an hour to do a 10 minute job.

We got dropped off at our other house. Our original intention was to fire up the other car and head home… Remember how I was mentioning nothing worked this trip? Yeah after the tow truck left, we were kind of stranded. Fortunately we weren’t stranded in a place that was too bad. But my sweetheart got a taxi and headed home to get her car. I was thoroughly done with this trip.

No… I CAN’T end the blog on such a negative tone…

On a previous trip up to Flagstaff, we didn’t bring the RV, but instead stayed at a hotel along RT 66. We ended up getting a Presidential Suite at Hotel Aspen in Flagstaff. I must say I was actually quite pleased with it. I’m not a huge hotel person. But that time it was really nice to have all the amenities. Oh yes, we made use of that tub that night. How could we not?

We decided to eat in Flagstaff at a place called Criollo after getting kind of lost and squeezing my truck down an alley meant for a mine cart I’m guessing. No scratches or scrapes, and I didn’t take out a building, I call that a win. But Criollo was an EXCELLENT meal. I would definitely eat there again. They pride themselves on using locally grown and sustainable foods. So that’s a huge plus right there.

The area had some rather interesting artwork.

After dinner we went down to the pool and made use of it while we could. And afterwards we returned to our room. The next morning we took care of the business we had in Page, and then returned home.

Pics from the trip here

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