Our time for roaming was (mostly) over. Time to turn the Gray Whale East and head toward home in Missouri. We left Escondido and opted for the northern route East on I-40. This was mainly because I had a meeting with a fitness center in Albuquerque in a couple of days, but we hadn't been on this end of I-40 before, so it seemed like an adventure. We drove further than we anticipated and got to Needles, CA which is right on the border of CA and AZ. It was a horrible stay at an older KOA. Nothing really wrong with the KOA, but the wind that night was intense. It kept us up most of the night because the Airstream felt like it would take off in flight any minute. We were reluctant to get on the road the next day, but the wind was supposed to die down, so we headed out after work. So began our not-so-happy quest for our next overnight...
Try 1: I write this with regret, as it was not our greatest hour in our camping career. It began with a late start on the road. We wanted to drive 250 miles to Meteor Crater Campground on the other side of Flagstaff, AZ. We called ahead and it seemed like a great spot for us. However, on the way, we changed our minds and decided to try to stay in a Camping World parking lot. But there was no room and we got ourselves in a tight spot. With Troy's creative backing skills, we got the Whale out in one piece.
Try 2: Next we decided to stay in a Flagstaff Walmart parking lot. It would be free and we needed groceries anyway. Turns out that Flagstaff had a city ordinance against overnight parking, so we moved back to our original plan - Meteor Crater Campground.
Try 3. We found the campground, but it was significantly later than we originally planned and the campground was locked. Big gates were at both entrances. Snap! Now what? We tried to turn around in a wide spot in the road. No luck. At 30 feet, we were too long to be agile. Surprisingly, there were no outbursts of frustration even though it was late and we were stuck in a difficult position for the second time within an hour. We finally got the Airstream pointed in the original direction down the long road toward the crater. After driving 4 miles down this dark, lonely road, straining our eyes to find a spot wide enough to turn around in, yet level enough to not scrape our dump valve, we finally found the perfect spot. Back to the highway.
Try 4. We had no choice but to drive on 20 more miles with a congested Troy and kids who were sick of the truck by now. The GPS tried to get us to Homolovi State Park via a "no access" restricted roadway. This was getting ridiculous by now, so we decided to give the Pilot gas station parking lot a try since it was so late. But it was packed. There were no big rig parking spots left. So, Troy ran in to get a drink and see if anyone knew where this state park might be. Turns out it was only one more exit down, so we hopped back in the truck and eventually found it in the dark. For $20 we got electricity and a secluded campsite near the Hopi people's tribal ruins dating back to 620 AD. Great spot, it was just soured from our difficult time getting there...the downside to waiting too late and planning too little.
I am a wife, mother, and exercise physiologist with one foot in the world of travel and one foot in the world of fitness.
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