The Big Loop Begins

I had a wonderful campfire with Amy and Jenn last night. We cooked up some hot dogs and beans and had some beer. It was a great last night in Quartzsite for the season. Today, I hit the road.

My first stop was Encanto Park in Phoenix, where my aspiring van dweller friend Karla brought tacos and picked my brain on van stuff. Parking with the trailer was tricky, but we figured it out and had a great time by the water. The weather has finally warmed up, too. I don’t know if that’s a difference between Quartzsite and points east, or if the cold weather pattern just happened to break at the same time I left town. Either way, though, I’ll take it.

After I was forced west to go east because I-10 was completely closed, I continued on toward Tucson. At this point, I was officially back in unknown territory, boldly going where I have not gone before. But I recognized Picacho Peak as I approached, having seen many videos with it in the background. There’s a state park right there, but also free BLM camping nearby. It’ll be worth checking out more closely at some point.

Unlike last spring, when I was amazed to finally see green and plants and such once I went over the mountains into California, the desert east of Phoenix is already blooming. Between a monsoon season that ran a month late, plus a couple of significant rainstorms over the winter (including one early this week), the desert is blooming out here. I mean that literally, as I passed entire mountainsides filled with yellow flowers. It was beautiful to drive through.

As I rolled into Tucson around 4:00 pm, I went to Crossroads at Silverbell District Park. Lister traveled extremely well today, but during the last stop or two, he got antsy to go out. I gave him the opportunity to roam and explore a bit before heading to our overnight stop. He seemed to appreciate not only the chance to stretch his legs, but also explore a brand new place. Eventually, though, his 5:00 pm desire for dinner took over, so I fed him, then moved on.

I found a self-serve car wash in the area and took the opportunity to spray down the van and trailer. The dust and rain storm early this week left everything filthy (except my bike, which I’d stashed inside the trailer), and it felt good to get the gunk off my home and garage. Speaking of my bike, I moved the tie-down points on the e-track to support it better from side to side, and even after a few hours on not-always-wonderful roads, it’s in there as solid as when I left. I did fold in the DoubleTake mirrors, too, just to make sure nothing broke this time.

Finally, I pulled into Cracker Barrel for the night. It’s not scenic, but it’s a means to an end, as I have plans in Tucson tomorrow, and this sets me up to get there reasonably early in the morning. I was still somewhat full from the tacos Karla fed me, but I got a dinner to go anyway since it’s only fair to buy something at places that let you spend the night. I saved the cornbread for breakfast tomorrow morning.

No Starlink here — I’m under a tree, and other RVs and buildings would block the signal anyway — but when I turned on my router to hook up one of my hotspots, it automatically connected to a nearby Xfinitywifi signal, so I’m still online. That’s one advantage of civilization, I guess. It’s time to settle in, watch some videos, snuggle Lister, and eventually get some sleep. It’s only supposed to get down to 50º tonight, which I welcome after so many recent cold nights in Quartzsite. As I type this, it’s 7:30 pm and I still have the roof vents open to enjoy the warm, but not hot air.

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