My Dad was an airline pilot. It was customary in our home to wish him a safe trip by saying “Have a tedious trip!” when he left the house to fly. I still think of this every time we travel. We don’t want any real excitement. As I wrote this post I was hoping it might be the most boring post ever written. I might have succeeded.
Traveling with the Crown
The trip home from Borrego Springs to Ashland is usually just a grind. We are pretty much on a mission to get there and not on a tour. That’s just the way it is. We initially did the nearly thousand mile trek in two days. I know that Google Maps says it’s a 13+ hour drive and we know plenty of people who do it in a day–in cars. But over the years we’ve learned that tired drivers make mistakes. Let’s not talk about the time we “gassed up” the diesel truck. That cost us $1000 and 24 hours. So now we usually make the trek in 3 days, stopping after about 6 hours of driving. Pulling a trailer is not something that you do at 80 mph. There IS a speed limit for trucks pulling trailers!
Last year we left Borrego Springs on the day after the Coachella Music Festival. What a mistake that was! The usual transit through the Coachella Valley of about 30 minutes took well over 2 hours of stop-and-go as we limped along Interstate 10. This year was a completely different story. The Coronavirus left the freeways nearly empty, conduits mainly for the vital truck transport that ships all our stuff to those of us who are hunkered down trying to stay safe.
To avoid heavy traffic through the LA basin we usually head north and over Tehachapi. It’s just a little bit longer and very scenic. This year we were lured by the lack of traffic to keep to the freeway that goes through the San Bernardino Valley, out to Interstate 5 and up over the “grapevine”. Weather was favorable as well.
All went well until we got to the grapevine, where despite the light traffic there was an accident that closed all lanes of traffic.
It took hours to get through that part and since most of the time we were keeping the company of all those trucks I had to breathe down a rising sensation of panic as we sat, unmoving, in a canyon of huge trucks.
As we passed the accident we could see why it closed all lanes. One truck had rear-ended another, a fuel tanker, causing a spill. It was bizarre to see the cab of one truck up the rear of the tanker, fitting together like hand-in-glove.
Once we got past that, Jonathan was in the mood to continue driving. He said the light traffic was the lure. We were listening to Beartown by Fredrik Backman. It’s good to have a good book for company. We had decided to overnight at a rest area and the first one we pulled into didn’t have the right “feel”. We continued another 70 miles to the next open rest area. We prefer rest areas where the truck parking is in the back, away from the freeway. The rest area near Vernalis where we settled wasn’t one of those. But the next opportunity was another 112 miles down the road and we were already into travel hour 12. Too far! This spot actually worked pretty well thanks to the two huge trucks on either side of us that did not run their generators and stayed all night, thus blocking noise and wind AND earplugs, AND Tylenol PM. We actually got a pretty decent night’s sleep.
When we got home our friend, John, asked if we were able to find “services”. We are pretty self contained chez trailer, one of the few advantages of traveling with a trailer. You are dragging your “services” behind you. Our goal was to get home with minimum contact. I prepared meals ahead and the only required contact point was fueling. That’s the other reason that pulling the trailer is slower. We use a lot of diesel when we’re hauling the trailer. (Notice that I say “diesel”, we never use the word “gas” anymore.) Jonathan was in charge of fueling and he used gloves and good handwashing to the max. It’s good to be a retired nurse and have aseptic technic in your armamentarium.
Travel Day One was WAY too long in my opinion, but it did afford us the privilege of making the next two days quite short.
California is taking the pandemic very seriously. I’m thankful for that. Along the highway every marquee reminds us, “SOAP AND WATER STOP COVID-19 WASH YOUR HANDS”.
Day Two was short by comparison. We stopped at the Rolling Hills Casino RV Park. It’s a nice place, away from the freeway. The entire complex was otherwise closed. No casino, no golf, no convenience store, no other services. They checked us in and charged $25 cash. That’s much less that the usual price. They assigned us a spot with social distancing in mind. Even by late in the evening it never got crowded. We had a nice evening, sitting outside as the sun set, watching the local birds–meadowlarks, sparrows, cowbirds.
It was a nice way to celebrate our last night in our trailer home. The next day we rolled into Ashland. The weather was unbelievable. I expected that we would be unloading the trailer in a cold drizzle, or even snow. But, no, it was a lovely Spring day. So nice to be home. The Spring colors are stunning. I wanted to kiss the ground.
Our granddaughter, Ellie, was there when we arrived. She’s been taking care of house and kitty and did a wonderful job. She left us lots of food. Thank you, Ellie!
So now we are settled in, hunkered down, staying home and staying safe. I hope you all are doing the same.
See? Now wasn’t that a “tedious trip”?