Trip Update

 Posted by at 12:08 am  Nick's Blog
Jun 112022

After being gone from home for a month, only posting a blog once a week or so during that time, today I thought I would update you on the overall trip. Before you start, I warn you, it’s going to be a long blog, and I will have some other more specific blogs about things that happened while we were on the road in follow-up blogs.

Looking back at the blogs I did post during the trip, in a blog titled 432 Miles, I told you about the first day of our trip, from our home in Edgewater, Florida to the Hampton Inn in Troy, Alabama. A few days later, I posted a blog titled A Quick Update, in which I told you about the three days we spent with our son Travis and his wonderful wife Gila at the home they just bought on nine acres about half an hour or so from Tuscaloosa, Alabama. I also wrote about our first day back on the road after that, when we continued west and spent a night in Marshall, Texas.

The next day was more driving, something like 485 miles to Midland, Texas, where we spent the night at the Hampton Inn. Hampton Inns are our usual choice for lodging when we were on the road, and overall they have been very good. But not this time around. It looked like the housekeeping staff had not done much of a job after the previous guests left, and later on we discovered that the drain pipe under the sink was leaking, dumping a lot of smelly nasty water under the sink. To the hotel’s credit, when I complained, they comped us the room for the night. So there was that.

My next blog post, Almost There, was written when we got to Lordsburg, New Mexico. As I shared in that blog post, I don’t know if it’s due to my ongoing back issues or what, but I was experiencing severe pain in my tailbone after about three hours of driving on every day of the trip. That wasn’t fun at all, and sometimes I had to have Terry drive because I just could not get comfortable or deal with the pain any longer. At least in the passenger seat I could move around a little more and try to alleviate some of the pressure on my tailbone.

It was over a week before I posted my next blog, titled Yes, We’re Still Alive, telling you about the time we spent in Mesa, Arizona visiting with Terry’s parents, sisters, and nieces. Terry’s mom and dad are both in their 90s, and unfortunately, her mother is having some pretty serious health issues, so we are glad we had plenty of time to spend with them, although a week is never enough.

From there we went to our old hometown of Show Low, Arizona, to be able to see our granddaughter Destiny graduate from junior high school and her big sister Hailey graduate from high school. We love being able to be with them for such important life events, and just to spend time with daughter Tiffany and her family. While we were there, son-in-law Kenny introduced us to his Traeger pellet smoker grill. The food he turns out on that thing, including this delicious pork roast, is just amazing, and Terry and I are debating whether or not we should invest in one. There’s no question that it does a great job, we’re just not sure if we would use it enough to justify the purchase price. I wrote about our week in Show Low in a blog post titled Oh, Those Girls!

Marijuana is legal in Arizona for both medicinal and recreational use, and while we don’t smoke pot or use any other drugs, I knew from past experience that products made from marijuana went a long way toward helping me deal with my back pain. My medical marijuana card for Florida had long since expired since I didn’t need it after I had my nerve ablations done back in 2020, but in Arizona nothing was required. So we went to a dispensary and bought some of the sublingual tincture I had been using before, as well as some gummies (one kind for daytime use and another for nighttime), and a salve that was highly recommended. Here is a picture of Navajo County’s biggest joint on display at the dispensary.

On our first day back on the road after we left Tiffany’s house, I was able to drive for six hours without any discomfort, as opposed to the three hours I was only able to handle on the trip west. If it wasn’t for the pharmaceutical industry opposing the use of medical marijuana, a lot of people would be helped without having to rely on opioids and other crap that are cash cows for the people who make and sell them.

It’s always hard saying goodbye to the people you love, but after a week in Show Low, it was time to start the long trek home. Our first day on the return trip took us to Santa Rosa, New Mexico. The next day we had planned to stop at some of the small towns along Interstate 40 in Texas and Oklahoma to check out some interesting museums and antique shops, but it was a rainy day and every time we were someplace where we thought about stopping it was pouring so much we decided not to bother. When we passed Cadillac Ranch outside of Amarillo, it was hard to see the old cars in the mist.

We pushed on to Midwest City, Oklahoma. Driving through Oklahoma City was a challenge because we hit it right at rush hour and it was pouring cats and dogs. But we made it through to the other side, and I wrote about that day strip in a blog post titled Just A Quickie.

It was raining just as hard for much of the next day, so again, we abandoned our plan to stop at some small towns in Arkansas. Instead, we made it as far as Pine Bluff and another Hampton Inn. This one was another disappointment to us, making us wonder if we should start looking for another lodging alternative when we travel. the door would not lock on the first room, and they sent a woman down to see if she could fix the problem. We had not eaten all day so she told us to go ahead and get a bite to eat, and she would make sure the room was secure by the time we got back. We found the Chili’s not too far away and spent our time eating so we wouldn’t get back too soon and interrupt the repairwoman. When we did get back, we found the door had not been fixed and there were our computers, my CPAP machine, our suitcases, and everything else sitting in a room that anybody could have walked in and made off with. So much for making sure everything was secure!

The manager switched us to another room, where at least the door locked. However, the desk chair in that room had a broken leg, and as soon as I sat down on it, it started bowing toward the floor. There were also small ants in the room that Terry found crawling on her arms. By then we were too tired to mess with it and we just went to bed. When I told someone at the front desk the next morning about the broken chair and the ants, she said they were already aware of both issues. Well, here’s an idea, why don’t you fix them?

Whenever we are traveling through a new area, I always check out the small towns on our route to see if there might be something interesting to stop and investigate. But I was dismayed when it seemed like every town we looked at between Pine Bluff and our son’s house in Alabama seemed to have a history of lynchings and other racial hatred. It was too darn depressing to even think about stopping, so we just pressed on.

We did stop at the Jerome-Rohwer Interpretive Museum and Visitor Center in McGehee, Arkansas. During World War II, there were two internment camps nearby, where Japanese-American citizens were held against their will because they were considered to be enemies. The interpretive museum is supposed to tell the stories of these people and their experiences during the war years, and I really wanted to check that out. But the lady on duty at the desk told me there was nothing much to see and not to waste my money or time. Nothing like a friendly Arkansas welcome when you visit a new place, is there? I got back in the truck, shaking my head, and decided there’s nothing in Arkansas I ever really need to go back to see.

About 30 miles from Travis and Geli’s house, we stopped in Columbus, Mississippi to pick up a few things at the Walmart. Though it was the hometown of playwright Tennessee Williams and his house is now a visitor center and museum, we just bought what we needed and got out of there. Nothing about the place appealed to either of us.

We spent several days just hanging out at Travis and Geli’s house, relaxing, enjoying sitting out on the back porch at night watching the fireflies, getting to know a couple of dogs that came with the property and another one that just showed up out of the blue, and cussing their rooster, who started crowing about 4:30 every morning. It didn’t help that one of the dogs frequently joined in the serenade. I had a run-in with that damn rooster which I’ll tell you about in another blog post.

We could have happily hung out with Travis and Geli for another week or two, but we needed to get home because I am scheduled to get the first RF nerve ablation procedure repeated on Monday. It is 600 miles from their place to ours, and we had planned to stop for the night in Tallahassee, Florida, which was about 360 miles from their place. But when we got to Tallahassee, it was so darn busy, and the hotels were packed, so we kept on driving to Madison, where we checked into a Best Western Plus after first having a quick an excellent dinner at the Smackin Lips Diner.

The next morning it was an easy three-hour run home. We loved our trip and had a lot of fun, but it sure is nice to be back and sleeping in our own bed again. We were pleased that the pickup, with its 5.7L V8 HEMI eTorque engine, averaged over 20 miles per gallon, driving between 75 and 80 across Texas. Keeping it at 65 miles per hour got that number up to 21.8 miles per gallon, but if you tried to drive at 65 out there, you’d get run over fast. We saw gas prices all over the board during our trip, from a low of $3.99/gallon to $5.29 in the Phoenix area. It was interesting that when we got to Show Low, a small town off the beaten path, gas was 89¢ a gallon less that down in the big city on the Memorial Day weekend. How do you explain that?

So that’s the overview of our trip. In the next couple of days I’ll tell you some other highlights of the trip that I hope you will find interesting.

Thought For The Day – Nachos are just tacos who can’t get it together.

Nick Russell

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

  11 Responses to “Trip Update”

  1. you must have had a few thoughts of previous travels – tell me –
    had you even thought of renting a rv?

  2. Maybe the lady in Arkansas was a close relative of Hilliary???

  3. We stopped at the Jerome Rohwer Visitor Center a year ago and found it very interesting. Particularly the letters and notes written by workers and residents. Perhaps the lady was referring to the actual internment camps?

    Also, gas in Show Low might have been cheaper because that station hadn’t used up its previous storage tank of fuel yet, which they probably paid less for.

  4. Nick and Terry,
    Welcome back home – no place like home but you made some wonderful memories on your trip (except for rain, ants and other hotel issues).

    I thought for a minute after seeing that picture of the pork roast you were in our kitchen last night. We’ve had Traeger smoker grills for years and love them. Larry smoked a pork butt yesterday and we’ll enjoy pulled pork tonight w/friends. We’ve smoked pork tenderloins, baby back ribs, beef brisket, chicken, pork chops, salmon, turkey breast, even mac and cheese. All scrumptious.

    Looking forward to ‘the rest of the story’ on your trip.

  5. Enjoyed reading your blog since we are now into a month road trip in NE. We also used hampton inn anytime we can and also been disappointed a few times. Have found nicer comfort inn and best westerns

  6. Susan Wilson, the woman told me not to waste my time on the museum itself and then ignored me.

    As for the cheaper gas in Show Low, it was at every station up there and still is now, two weeks later.

  7. Try the Pit Boss tabletop grill. I think it’s better than the Treager. Walmart has them for 227.00. It will cook steaks fer 4 burgers for 6-8.

  8. Our choice of hotels when we are traveling is Microtel and Tru, we found these to be very good places to stay.

  9. Welcome home. It’s good to have you back as part of my daily breakfast routine.

  10. When you visit Arkansas, stay above interstate 40. Try the northern part of Arkansas and visit Eureka Springs, mountain Home, Mountain View, or even Fayetteville or Bentonville.

  11. Welcome home safe – Just out of curiosity – How much of an impact do you believe the constant running your AC at full in the crazy heat had on your gas mileage?

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