We have set our sights toward home since leaving the Grand Canyon area by driving 6 days before our 2 night break in Vicksburg, MS. We have traveled almost 1500 miles within that time and stayed in Albuquerque NM, Amarillo TX, Wichita Falls TX, Waco TX and Shreveport LA. Though it took quite some time to make our way through Texas I am reminded of a shirt I saw in Alaska that had the shape of Texas superimposed onto the state of Alaska with the words “Isn’t Texas Cute?” Alaska is actually two times the size of Texas!
Our first leg took us from Williams, AZ to Albuquerque and was the longest drive day of the six. We are now back on I-40 which in these parts follows along the Historic Route 66.
Most of the drive through the Arizona portion takes you through Native American reservations so apart from a few small towns and billboards advertising items for sale the land is wild and vast.
When we cross into New Mexico we are more than half way to our stop and we move into the mountain-time zone. The weather turned pretty nasty with torrential rain, some lightning, and hail. Not very fun.
Fortunately, by the time we reached Albuquerque there was a break in the storms and we were able to set up camp without getting wet. It didn’t last long though – by 4:00, the heavens opened up and it poured buckets of rain until about 9:00. Amazingly enough when we woke up the next day the campground was not a lake and we broke camp without having to negotiate many puddles!
For the first time in our RV life, we had a real scare on the drive from Albuquerque to Amarillo. About half way through the trip, the RV lost power and was only able to go about 20mph while the check engine warning flashed on the dash. Our minds raced with wild imaginings of what could be wrong as Art limped to an exit in the middle of nowhere NM. Fortunately, we had cell service and were able to reach our roadside assistance quickly. Unfortunately, the tow company’s 2 truck wreckers were both on jobs about 100 miles away and we were told the wait would be 3 ½ hours! Well, sitting on the shoulder just off I-40 isn’t really a fun way to spend the day so we called around to see if there was anyone able to get to us sooner. No. After about 2 hours, the tow company called us back to see if we would consider trying to drive the 8 miles to the next exit if they sent a flasher truck to follow behind us. Art said he’d give it a go in the hopes of being able to get the RV to the service center to be looked at that day. Well, when the flasher truck arrived we gritted our teeth, said a prayer, and off we drove WITHOUT a problem! Say what?! Yep, the RV drove fine all the way to the service center though the check engine light stayed on. We were stumped! Ray’s service center in Tucumcari, NM was able to pull us into a bay when we arrived and plugged in their computer to see what message the check engine warning was sending.
It was an air intake problem so the first thing they did was open the housing to access our air filter and found that it was soaking wet and had collapsed! Art is a handy guy but had never even considered this kind of problem because this kind of problem shouldn’t happen! We googled the problem as it pertains to our type of engine and discovered this has been an ongoing issue and there are retrofits to correct it. Leave it to Ford to design an air intake that sucks in water during rainstorms. Geez! We’ll make that modification when we get home. Good news is that it only required a new air filter to get us back on the road again and it was cheap. Great news is that this didn’t happen in Alaska. The only bad news of the day was the 4 hours behind schedule we were pulling into Amarillo, but we drowned our sorrows at a local steakhouse where we were serenaded by cowboys as we feasted like kings. Thank you, God, for Your mercies today!
We were very grateful for the uneventful drive from Amarillo to Wichita Falls the next day. This day’s route took us off the interstate completely and we meandered leisurely across the Texas landscape. The state road led us through endless farmland interspersed with small towns that have seen better days.
I learned what sorghum looks like and that Texas grows more cotton than any other state in the country. Who knew?
When we pulled into our campground we took some time to do a bit of housekeeping before we both settled into a quiet evening listening once again to rain upon the roof. Yawn…
Waco was the next stop on our itinerary and we pulled into the RV park shortly after lunch. By this time we had caught up to hot weather again and as soon as we set up, the AC was cranked high! We chose to unhitch the Kia and check out Magnolia Market, a retail area created by Chip and Joanna Gaines – the stars of HGTV’s Fixer Upper. I know, I know, but we both really enjoy their show and we were this close, so why not?! Well, let me tell you, evidently A LOT of people really enjoy their show and the place was a zoo! The line into the bakery stretched out the doors and ½ way down a city block so we never did get a cupcake! The main shop is in an old restored barn and it was full of shoppers who were as busy shopping as they were taking pictures. We lasted about an hour before we headed back to the RV and agreed that these two have to be about the best thing that is happened to Waco in a long time!
After 3 days of driving through Texas, we finally made it to Shreveport, LA on Sunday afternoon. Again, it was very hot and again, the AC was the first thing turned on as soon as we hooked up to electric in the campground! For the most part as we drive, we don’t run the air and usually that works fine. But today was pushing it with bright sunshine and temps in the high 80’s. We didn’t venture out to investigate the casinos that Shreveport is known for choosing instead to lay low, stay cool, watch football (Art) and catch up on some reading (Candy).
Next up some Civil War history with our visit to Vicksburg, MS!