First, let me apologize for taking so long to update my blog. A lot has happened since I last posted. I’ve moved back into my house, I’ve done some video work, I’ve caught and got over a bout of Covid, I’ve started writing a book, started playing darts again, just one thing after another. Since moving back into my house about 2 months ago I’ve been able to focus a bit more. Things don’t feel so temporary. 

Getting good at darts

The book I’m writing is nearly finished. I’m writing it as an experiment to see if I actually can write a book. For those of you who have written books, you may relate to what I am dealing with. I’ve written short stories before (they were horrible, but some had good ideas), but the thought of writing a book seemed daunting. A friend of mine has been coaching me. While it still feels like a huge project I can actually see it happening and, more importantly, finishing. What I’m finding interesting about the process is that, like my short stories, the book is unfolding as I write it. I have a vague idea where it will end, but I don’t know how it will actually happen. The characters have taken on lives of their own, so I feel that they are in control of the process, not me. Weird, right?

As I said, this book is an experiment, it will likely never be published. Or I may self publish it on Amazon. It won’t be much good, it is based on a short story I wrote 10 years ago and the premise isn’t something that appeals to a broad audience. Anyway, I’m enjoying the process and I’m writing every day. That’s what counts.

Ok, let me tell you about my latest adventure. Here’s a 4 minute video about it too. Not my best effort, but it was fun.

In early June I finally took a trip out west to see my son (Toby and his sig-oth, Ellen), my daughter (Sarah) and my grandson (Bane). I hadn’t visited them since September, 2019 and I really wanted to see them. 

Several thing lined up that would have delayed this trip even more, not the least of which was the price of gas, which was more than double what it was in 2019. I had expected to pay more than US$5.00/gal on the road, but was pleasantly surprised to find that I paid on average about US$4.60/gal. Still more than twice the cost per gallon in 2019, but every little bit helps.

I covered 5,250 miles (8,450km) on this trip. Heading out I drove the first 18 hours of the estimated 32 hour drive from Winter Springs, FL to Sahuarita, AZ stopping only for gas and bathroom. I had set up my car, a 2014 Mazda CX-5, so that I could stretch out and take a nap in the back if I needed to. I brought along a camping sleep pad and my lightweight sleeping bag, pillow and a light blanket. 

While the idea was sound, the execution left a lot to be desired. First off it was far too hot. The first time I tried to take a nap it was around 9pm somewhere between Houston and San Antonio, Texas. The outside temp was 90 degrees F, way too hot and running the AC in my car would waste a lot of gas. So I drove until I was so tired sleep had to happen, found a rest stop and tried again to nap. This time it was about 87 degrees F. In anticipation of my nap, I ran the AC on high while I drove to the rest stop. There was enough residual cool air in the car to allow me to drop out, and I did, for 3 hours.

The sleep pad I used (ThermaRest Basecamp. I’m going to post a review of this sleep pad soon.) was comfortable, especially with the lightweight blanket between me and the pad. I slept soundly and woke refreshed. I drove the rest of the way to my daughter’s house on just one Red Bull to help me stay alert.

By the way, I should have bought stock in Red Bull. I don’t know what it is about it, but one 8.4 oz can can keep me sharp, help me focus, and not make me jittery. I probably drink more than I should given that each can is 110 calories, but the benefits, for me at least, far outweigh any imagined bad side effects.

As I came over the Galiuro Mountains in western New Mexico I noticed that the outside temperature was around 101 degrees F. The mountains are fairly steep and I saw car after car along the roadside with hoods open, likely because they overheated. As if to further warn me, along the road there were sign indicating were water for overheated radiators was located. I had my car serviced a few weeks before driving out, but my car is used to Florida weather. Yes, it gets hot, but it seldom gets THAT hot and never for that long.  

It’s cookie’ in New Mexico

As I climbed higher into the mountains, however, the outside temperature dropped to around 97 degree F. Tolerable. But as I came down the western side of the mountains I anxiously watched the thermometer climb: 101, 102, 103. There it stayed until I was about 50 miles from Tucson. 104, 105, 107. I pulled over thinking that my car was overheating, but I found the coolant reservoir at the proper level. It was just that hot outside.

I got back in my car, but didn’t run the AC hoping that the lighter load on the engine would keep it from getting too hot. 

Nope! 108, 109, 110!!

By the time I pulled into my daughter’s driveway the thermometer registered 112 degree F (44.5 degree C). That’s just plain nuts!

Anyway, once at my daughter’s I rested because I needed to head out again the next morning to Oceanside, CA to see my son, Toby, Ellen, and their fur-kid, Reggie. It was great to see my  girl again, and my grandson who has sprouted since I last saw him.

I left early to get ahead of the heat. Still, in the Algodones Dunes area, it was 101 degree F. 

The Algodones Dunes is an interesting area nearly white dunes similar to those you’d find in the Namib or Sahara Deserts. Though the southwest US is extremely arid and is a desert with scrub plants and cacti you don’t normally find dunes. These dunes start just west of the Arizona-California border on the western side of The Chocolate Mountains and extend westward to El Centro, CA and Salton Sea National Wildlife Refuge and north towards Joshua Tree National Park. 

As I continued west on I-8 I started climbing the southern arm of the San Berdino Mountains. There the temperature dropped to a far more pleasant 94 degrees F. Coming out of the mountains the temps continued to drop and by the time I arrived at my son’s house in Oceanside, CA, it was a very reasonable 84 degrees F.

I spent 2 days with Toby and Ellen, Reggie and their 2 cats, Koa and Peanut Butter, who adopted me. Whenever I sat Reggie would come over and sit in front of me demanding that I pet him. The two cats would take up positions on either side of my chair and also demanded attention. Fun fur-kids.

Though my time with Toby and Ellen was short, it was full. Toby and Ellen both have started new jobs and couldn’t get time off to hang out except on the weekend. I was glad to have that time. Great food, great music, great family. I enjoyed every minute, but all too soon, I had to leave. 

Again, I left early to avoid the heat. I arrived back in Sahuarita around 2pm. I did stop at Painted Rock Mountains. An interesting area where Native American rock drawings have accumulated over the course of hundreds of years. It is surmised the area may have been a crossroads of sorts and traveling groups would leave markings for others to see, possibly passing on information. Or it could be Native American graffiti. Whenever the reason for the drawings, there are a lot of them.

Painted Rock Mountain in Arizona

I spent the following 4 days chillin’ with my grandson and my daughter. My grandson is becoming quite a programmer. He showed me a game he was developing. The kid is 11! Fascinating stuff. STEM development. He’s a huge gamer too, made quick work of me in any game I challenged him in (the smart little snot!)

Again, all too soon I had to leave. My daughter had recently taken on a new job as well, so she could only spend a limited amount of time with me. So, I started out early and drove, and drove, and drove through the heat. I was less concerned this time. My daughter had assure me that the heat was normal and a well maintained car shouldn’t overheat. (She’s so smart!)

The drive home was uneventful. I had originally planned to stop at several landmarks like Carlsbad Caverns, but with gas prices so high and a limited budget, I just couldn’t swing it this time. Next time though I’m gonna spend several weeks on the road and visit The Grand Canyon and other places like that. Maybe by then I’ll have a hybrid car. 

Stay Tuned