Apr 062010

My father always told me that he never made a wrong decision in his life, given the information he had available to him and the circumstances when he made that decision. He said that sometimes, looking back with 20/20 hindsight, he could see where a decision went wrong, but that he never consciously made a decision knowing it was going to cause trouble. I guess that’s the only excuse I have for the traveling we did yesterday.

The wind blew hard all Sunday night, rocking and rolling our motorhome We had decided to sit tight in our RV site at Grand Canyon Railway RV Park, in Williams, Arizona. But yesterday morning, when I went to the office to extend our stay, I learned that they were booked up and that our site had been rented and we couldn’t stay there. What they did have available just wouldn’t work for us, and we decided that if we had to move anyway, we’d just move on down the highway.

We were only 165 miles from our destination in Show Low, Arizona, and we knew that we had several options if the wind was too bad and we had to get off the road. There is a Camping World in Bellemont, 20 miles east of Williams, and 10 miles further would bring us to  Flagstaff, which has a couple of RV parks. 37 miles further east, Meteor Crater RV Park is a Passport America affiliate and right off of Interstate 40.

About 20 miles past Meteor Crater, Winslow, Arizona has an Elks Lodge and a couple of truck stops where we could get off the road if necessary. 22 miles east of Winslow, Joseph City has a truck stop, and another 11 miles would put us in Holbrook, with an Elks lodge, RV parks, and truck stops. We knew that once we reached Holbrook, we would only have 42 miles to go to our destination, and that the wind would not be as bad as out on Interstate 40.

So we set off like a herd of turtles, and though the wind was pretty stiff from the southwest, and we didn’t appreciate a few gusts that hit us along the way, overall it was no big problem, just a typical windy day in northern Arizona. We climbed up to Flagstaff, and then started downhill. At Meteor Crater, we could see a lot of dust up ahead, and debated whether or not we should stop, but (foolishly) decided to press onward.

A few miles down the road the world suddenly disappeared, and we found ourselves driving in almost zero visibility, caught in the worst dust storm I have ever experienced; and I lived in and traveled all over Arizona, for many, many years!

We were barely able to see the rear end of an RV ahead of us, and we stayed as far back as we could for safety and still maintain visual contact, all the while hoping that some idiot driving too fast for conditions didn’t slam into the rear of us. But traffic was just crawling along, so we were okay. It took us two or three miles, and several lifetimes, to drive out of the worst of the storm, and then the road was relatively clear again and we motored on eastward, counting our blessings.

We learned later from readers Kathy and Dave Bossert, who were wise enough to stop at Meteor Crater RV Park, that the state police closed Interstate 40 down soon after we passed by, and it remained closed until 8 p.m..

Once we turned south on State Route 77 in Holbrook, we had more of a headwind to contend with, but no more than we were used to on that stretch of highway.  We made the rest of the trip just fine, and arrived at Juniper Ridge RV Resort, where our friends Tim and Sue Daugherty have a lot that they have graciously offered us the use of while we spend a few weeks visiting my daughter and her family, and our friends here in our old hometown.

So, yes we made a bad decision, and we learned a lesson from it, But, thankfully, we came through with no more than frayed nerves and a filthy motorhome. By the time we got parked, the inside of our Winnebago was covered with gritty sand that had somehow managed to blow in around the windows on the passenger side. Yuck! I was surprised that our paint job hadn’t been sandblasted off!

We’ll be here a few weeks, spoiling grandkids, reminding my daughter Tiffany what a wonderful Dad she has, and sponging the occasional dinner off of old friends from our days before we became fulltime gypsies.

Thought For The Day – Don’t take guilt trips. Take a trip to the mall, to the next county, even to a foreign country; but NOT to where the guilt is!

Nick Russell

World-Famous, New York Times Best Selling Author, and All-Around Nice Guy!

  5 Responses to “Caught In A Dust Storm”

  1. Nick, you might want to think about replacing your air filter. Going thru that 2 or 3 miles of dust storm was probably equal to a year or two of normal driving.

  2. WOW I am so glad that you got to your destination safely… Have fun with the grandkids and friends!!!
    Travel Safe

  3. We left Williams about 9:00 am yesterday in the high winds. We travelled 89 up to Hatch Utah when the sand turned to snow. We were able to get into RV Park that isn’t fully open for the season, the water hasn’t been turned on yet, but we did have power.
    Looking out this morning we might not be moving to early as the awnings on the slides have alot of frozen snow on them. Might have to wait till later in the morning for it to thaw a bit. Our dogs have become accustom to being Yuman dogs instead of the Alaskan dogs they were 10 months ago, they aren’t liking this snow.

  4. We are both very happy to hear that you made it thru the sand storm ok. It must have been frightening for both of you, but especially the driver. We have had the experience of one but just outside Deming NM. This was way back before we had an RV. If you are still planning to head up to Northern California be aware that there is a 20 mileZ of very dangerous stretch between Bakersfield and for the life of me I can not think of the next town(senior moment) that had serious dust storms. Unlike AZ the idiots there do not slow down or if they do they seem to think it is ok to stop in the middle of the road.
    This usually leads to some very nasty usual fatal pileups. Please be careful. This is both on the interstate and Hi-way 99.

  5. Nick, please think real closely about Ed’s comment above about the air cleaner. It was also my first thought. Your engine was gulping all that air while you were pushing on through the sandstorm. Actually, I would probably do a complete lube job, just to push any sand that got in the grease, oil. A little bit of grease and oil is much cheaper than IRON. HINT. The local mechanics would know more than I about it.

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