A Frustrating Start

 Posted by at 3:22 am  Nick's Blog
Apr 062014

Our trip to the White Mountains got off to a frustrating start yesterday morning. We were up a little after 7 a.m. and on the road by 9 for what we expected to be just about a four-hour trip. But it didn’t turn out that way.

From Apache Junction, the quickest route is to take Bush Highway to the Beeline Highway (State Route 87) and then follow it 50 miles north to Payson, then take State Route 260 east across the Mogollon Rim to Show Low. I knew there was a bicycle event of some kind on Bush Highway yesterday so I checked the State Department of Transportation website, which said to expect delays and lane restrictions. No problem, we’d only be on Bush Highway for 18 miles so we could handle that. Or maybe not.

We stopped for fuel and then got on Bush Highway, but in less than a mile we hit a detour, that took us about three miles out of our way. Okay, those things happen, no big deal. But once we were back on Bush Highway again we only made it about five more miles and ran into a roadblock. The Sheriff’s Office volunteers said the road was closed for the bicycle event and we needed to make a U-turn and go back to the Loop 202 and take it to the Beeline Highway, which was about a 20 mile detour. Not to mention the fact that there was not enough room to make the U-turn, even pulling partway into the entrance to a housing development.

“You can make it, now go, you’re blocking the road,” one of the volunteers said. So I gave it a try, and sure enough, it was too tight and I ended up blocking the entrance to the development. Terry had to jump out and unhook the Explorer, which was partially jackknifed, because, even though the same volunteer was telling me to back up, I wasn’t going to damage my SUV, motorhome or tow bar for him. “I don’t know why you couldn’t make that turn,” he told me, “People with pickups towing ATVs have been doing it all morning.” I tried to explain to the idiot that my wheelbase is a lot longer than a pickup, but he couldn’t understand that. And meanwhile, traffic trying to get out of the housing development was backed up, horns honking and tempers flaring.

We finally got the hell out of there, eventually made it to the Beeline Highway, and began the climb up to Payson. The scenery as we crawled up out of the desert was dramatic, with lots of rocky hillsides and lots of saguaro cacti along the way.

Rocky hillside

Cactus curve2

And there were curves. Lots of curves.

Rocky curve

Rocky curve 2

Downhill curve

Lots of curves

There were a few 6% downhill grades, but our Winnebago’s exhaust brake did a good job of handling them.

6 percent grade

Eventually we left the desert behind us and reached Payson, where we hooked up with State Route 260 and soon found ourselves surrounded by Ponderosa pines. A lot of people think that Arizona is all desert, but the high country is an entirely different world.

260 East

In 2002 the Rodeo–Chediski Fire burned 468,638 acres and burned over 425 buildings. It will take a couple of lifetimes for the forest to recover, if it ever does.

Burned area

We finally got to Tiffany’s place about 3 p.m., much later than we expected, and to make things even better it was snowing! Snow! I’m sure there is a clause in my contract prohibiting that. Where’s my agent?

Tiffany and Scott just bought a 10 acre mini-ranch a few miles outside Show Low and Scott installed a 50 amp electric outlet next to the house. And there was a water bib right there too. Nice! He said by the time we come back next time, he’ll actually have a dedicated full hookup site for us. How cool is that?

Parked at Tiffany

Granddaughter Hailey was eager to show me around and to introduce me to a couple of new additions to the family.

Nick and Hailey

This is Pal, who needs some socialization and work to make her into a decent horse.


And here is Pixie. She a sweetie who was happy to allow Hailey to braid her mane and tail. I’m not a horse person, but as you can see, Hailey is fast on her way to becoming a real cowgirl.


Hailey and Pixie

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Thought For The Day – Drunk is when you feel sophisticated but can’t pronounce it.

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  12 Responses to “A Frustrating Start”

  1. I could totally use a techy book. Patty

  2. Just another bump in the road on your trip Nick…..you been there done that many a times. And its all worth it, your with your family once again. Looking forward to seeing mine in a couple weeks! Take care!

  3. what a wonderful son in law you have. . .and your grand is beautiful.

    The volunteer saying they didn’t understand why you couldn’t just back up, made me think of the sales girl at Lowe’s telling my friends they could just run the water line for the icemake to the residential fridge they were buying for their motorhome, through the attic. . .huh. . .come again!

    No clue. . .

  4. as you say you cannot fix stupid even in a volunteer. Your granddaughter is getting so big and is very beautiful. Daddy needs to get the shotgun ready in a couple of years when the young men start coming to see her. Have a nice visit with your family. It is nice of your son-in-law to put in a full hook-up site for your when you are there.

  5. You weren’t the only one caught up in that bike race mess. We volunteer at Usery Mountain Regional Park (which is beautiful by the way and has a wonderful campground) and wanted to take a drive to Roosevelt Lake. We knew we couldn’t take the Bush Highway so got on the 202 to the Beeline, which added a lot of miles to the trip. But the worst part of the trip, and the most beautiful was taking the Apache Trail from the lake back to Apache Junction. VERY SCARY! Dirt almost all the way and very narrow! But after seeing the breathtaking scenery I am so glad that the Federal Government has preserved this land for future generations via the Tonto National Forest. One of the scariest thing we saw was someone who was driving his motorhome on that road! We were driving our Dodge dually truck and wished we had a smaller vehicle. Can’t imagine what it was like in that motorhome! LOL

  6. Good thing he was a volunteer, no one would pay someone to be that ignorant.

  7. Nick: We still have not had a chance to make our first RV trip, but we hope to start driving from Missouri to Oregon in May. I was wondering if you when you started down that 6% grade, if you down shifted your transmission at the top, and then allowed your Exhaust Brake help keep your speed down. If so, to what gear did you down shift to when starting down that 6% grade? I’ve never driven a big rig in the Mountains, and I want to make sure I prepare myself before tackling the crossing of the Rocky Mountains. I’ll start out by driving some of the hills of Missouri first, before tackling the Rocky Mountains.

  8. Len,
    I shift down at the top of the hill, before I start the downgrade. It’s easier to keep a slow moving big rig going slow than to try to slow one down that’s going too fast. After a career publishing small town newspapers in the west and covering way too many bad accidents in the mountains, I always rule on the side of caution.

    Here is a blog post I wrote on Mountain Driving you might find helpful. https://gypsyjournalrv.com/2013/05/mountain-driving-tips/

  9. You really ought to try hwy 60 thru Globe. Of course there are a lot of ups and downs and curves, but I don’t find it any worse than the climb to Payson and then to Christopher Creek. Beautiful drive, much less traffic, grrreat Mx food in Miami.

  10. What a beautiful young woman Hailey is turning out to be!

  11. Same thing happen to us in Yellowstone a few years back. They just do not understand rv, but life goes on.

  12. Don,
    We lived in Show Low for many years before we began fulltiming and have driven US 60 more times than I could possibly count. It’s a good drive, and the Salt River Canyon is beautiful.

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