“On the road again”

Georges and I are in the front seat of our Nissan Xterra, G at the wheel, me riding shotgun, both with Cheshire Cat grins plastered across our faces, belting out (only slightly off-key) what’s become the mantra of our journey.

On the road again

I just can’t wait to get on the road again

The life I love is makin’ music with my friends

And I can’t wait to get on the road again

On the road again

Goin’ places that I’ve never been

Seein’ things that I may never see again

And I can’t wait to get on the road again

Here we go, on the road again

Like a band of Gypsies we go down the highway

We’re the best of friends

Insisting that the world keep turnin’ our way

And our way is … on the road again

I just can’t wait to get on the road again

The life I love is makin’ music with my friends

And I can’t wait to get on the road again.

(OK, so we better not quit our day jobs…. Wait, we already did!)

Willie Nelson, we’ve missed you.

Yes, we’re off – again. After a 2-and-1/2-month pause in Tucson for the holidays, we’re back on the road for the last leg of our Year on the Edges of America, headed east, noses pointed toward Dallas….

But we’ll take our time. We don’t expect to arrive in Big D for several weeks, not until about March 1, which would be exactly one year from the day that we left on this adventure. We’ve still got eastern Arizona, New Mexico, Big Bend and more to see along the way.

It’s 24,000 miles down, a couple thousand more to go. (Check out the map of our journey here. And if you’d like to join the final-mileage guessing game, go here.)

Right now, we’re headed to the tiny community of Portal in the southeastern corner of Arizona – so far east, in fact, that you actually drive into New Mexico before heading south and then back west into Arizona to get there. (Portal is about 80 miles south of the rural ranching community where former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor grew up.)

Tucked into the eastern side of the picturesque Chiricahua Mountains, Portal is known for its great birding, particularly hummingbirds and golden eagles – though we’re not sure how many we’ll see there this particular month. This is one of the few corners of the state that we’ve not visited during our collective 57 years as (former) Arizona residents. We’ve long wanted to visit, especially upon learning that Portal is known among geology buffs as “the Yosemite of Arizona” because of the surrounding rock-walled canyon that is composed of fused volcanic tuff.

Best of all, we expect to meet Judy and Tom at the Sunny Flats campground. We had a blast the last time our campers got together – in California’s redwood forests last October – and it will be fun to reconnect with our journalist friends from our years together decades ago at The Arizona Republic in another beautiful corner of nature.

Of course, there is prep involved. We spent much of last three days packing and re-packing the Casita and our Xterra….

It was easier this time than last (a year ago in Dallas), mainly because it’s mostly a matter of simply putting back in what we took out when we settled in Tucson in mid-November.

But we still managed to conjure challenges.

I’m packing clothes for what has been essentially a whole year in the space the size of an oven, after all. That’s hard. And making matters tenser than they need to be is the fact that G still thinks I carry too much stuff. (Don’t I get any credit for reducing the “overage” of my allotted clothes space from the large plastic box we carried for the first 10 months to the two small cloth bags for the remaining four weeks?)

Here’s my oven-sized compartment, with the wooden flap-door open so you can see my three (small) stacks of clothes. (I added the hand in the second shot for perspective purposes.)

We did manage to lighten the load a bit. In addition to a few clothes I’m leaving in Tucson, we’re going without:

  • Four rarely used folding chairs that we carted around the country (literally) for the first 10 months of our journey.
  • A foot-high stack of folders that probably weighed nearly 10 pounds stuffed full of brochures and maps and other notes about things to be sure to see in each of the 40-plus states and provinces we expected to visit along the perimeter of the U.S. I’d already shed much of the literature we acquired along the way, weeding out the last state’s info each time we entered a new one. But we still managed to accumulate quite a trove. Much of it went thud into the garbage bin yesterday – much of this info is available online, after all. (But we kept the maps. I confess to being an incorrigible cartophile; we simply stashed them in the garage.)
  • Our Wonder Washer, which we used less frequently than we expected once we realized how quick and easy dryers make doing laundry in laundromats.
  • A lightweight-but-cumbersomely-shaped hanging rack on which to dry clothes that we rarely used.
  • The cool snorkel equipment we bought to swim our way around Florida last April but haven’t used since.
  • One of our three coffee makers. Good coffee is important. That’s why we have an Italian espresso maker that heats on the gas stove when we haven’t electricity and another Senseo version that makes an equally excellent cup of coffee with less fuss and muss when we’re plugged in. We decided we didn’t need two Italian ones, a small and a large, since the large one makes one round of perfect-sized coffees for us. (Sorry mini, your ticket got punched in Tucson.)

Still, my insistence that we continue to haul our two zero-gravity chairs, my yoga mat and a handful of hardback books (in addition to the scores on my iPad) seems to spark particular annoyance.

Here’s a shot of the car as we packed it nearly a year ago in Dallas….

And this is what the car looked as we departed Tucson….

Definitely more see-through visibility, not to mention welcome relief for the car’s suspension and all six load-bearing tires (four on the car, two on the Casita). We’re proud of the fact that we’ve managed to travel for the year without strapping anything to the top of the car.

I’d like to be peeved at G, just because he’s so peeved at me. But to be honest, I can’t think of too much to be peeved about. G is admirably spare in his packing and keeps everything from our bikes to our car transmission to our Casita water heater in fine working order. I love that we have the luxury coffee, a toolkit with magical powers, a fully stocked fridge and fresh water in our 25-gallon tank.

(Oh yes, and some delicious homemade tamales in the Casita’s tiny freezer from our very own tamale festival.)

The only thing about G that annoys me is that he gets so annoyed with me.

C’est la vie.

Here’s what’s important: The sun’s out, we’ve got “an oven-full” of clean clothes, neither of us has a broken leg and we’re both sipping fresh-brewed coffee in the front seat, peering over the dashboard on the wide expanse of America that’s coming up next….

Life is good.

16 thoughts on ““On the road again”

  1. Nice song ! 🙂 Have a great end of trip !

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Astrid! We start our last week on the road tomorrow. Boo hoo!

      Like

  2. Fun to see you on the road again.

    I admit it is a tad bittersweet to read it coming to a conclusion. Like a wonderful book, the end is satisfying, but leaves a wistful, lingering feeling of wanting more.

    A book about your adventure will be rewarding to you, I am sure. Being with you two ‘live’ has been,rewarding for sure.

    Safe travels…I see a music recording contract looming in your future. 😀

    Cheers!

    Like

    1. Ha, thanks, Pam! We loved our time with you and look forward to other soirées. But don’t hold your breath for that recording contract!

      Like

  3. Oh I’m so happy the same arguments, and likely at the same volume, happen in your Casita as ours! Can’t believe the whirly washer got cut :). Oh well, good wifi at laundry mats. Enjoy your coffee.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. How far do y’all travel in one day?
    Also, are y’all going to sale the casita when you get back to Dallas?
    Safe travels!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Brenda for your comment. We do anywhere from 10 to 500 miles a day. We tend to average about 100, give or take. We’ve had the Casita for 12 years and we very much expect keep it for at least another 12 years!

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  5. Well Bon Voyage! Please be sure to check in when you get to the Bay Area in California for at least a glass of wine.
    I have sympathy for your plight. Such a challenge to pack for a whole year. I think that my husband Jim suffered from the “Small Is Beautiful” Syndrome as well. If it could not fit into a backpack it did not qualify..Funny because our cabin in Tarryall was a small two room log cabin, yet our property is 256 acres, a quarter section, more or less as they say. He had a Quaker background & I am sure that explained something about the need for simplicity.
    Our house in Oregon has soaring ceilings & lots of windows bringing the indoors out or the outdoors in? He was always interested in being outdoors, restless, on the move, itching to get outside into the sunshine.
    I laughed when I read Jane Fonda’s explanation for divorcing Ted Turner. She said something like ” I got tired of living out of a suitcase”
    Nevertheless I admire you both and think fondly of our brief encounter. I look forward to your Blog & encourage you to write a book.
    I find writing my blog with the addition of photographs is something I enjoy as a form of self expression. It may not be of interest to others, but it fulfills my creative nature.
    So carry on & keep those stories coming!
    Best
    Stephanie C

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Stephanie, for such a warm and encouraging note! Yes, our brief encounter in Berkeley last October was precious, and we look forward to crossing paths again!

      Like

  6. Love to read of your fun AND challenges. Less IS more. The more we leave behind, the easier life gets. And we’ve got our back-on-the-road repacking down to a couple of hours. Rolling your way!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Is there a coat in your oven space?

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    1. Ha! Actually, I have a light coat and a windbreaker and a jeans-jacket in the hangup closet.

      Like

  8. And you’re still married after a year together in the Casita! I think Fran would have split by Louisiana or Mississippi.
    You must definitely publish the book. Everyone likes a good travel story especially one that moves through both space and time. I hope you include a lot of the old photos and a lot of maps.

    Like

    1. Thanks, Bill. We’ve had our “moments” but the fun way outweighs any
      annoyances. Love your book suggestions!

      Like

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