We left Tucson headed for Blythe California, a way station on the road to Las Vegas, Nan still following in the Honda.  The trip to Blythe was boring, not a bad thing after all of the hassles we’ve had with cement bollards in fuel lanes and problems with towing.   I think it’s time to give the Honda a name.  If our “wheel-estate” is called the Edmund Fitzgerald (a name Nan is still not happy with), I’m beginning to think of the Honda as Calamity Jane.  Though in fairness to Calamity, I’ve pretty much decided the tow problems were caused by operator error.

  • We didn’t confirm that the cotter pins were in place the morning of the day Calamity separated from the Edmund in Los Fresnos (though I’ll go to my grave thinking the missing cotter pin was vandalism)
  • We continued to tow even though the guys who recharged the Calamity told us the battery was old and weak, which was probably why the battery died at the “Comfort” Love’s cement bollard FUBAR
  • Thanks to the Internet we now know there’s a fuse we should have pulled on the Honda, though it wasn’t mentioned by the Service Yahoos when they showed me how to hook up the supplemental braking system
  • And I caused the Fort Stockton wire harness connection failure

The harness is connected to the Edmund by an adapter.  I’m supposed to remove the adapter from the Edmund when I disconnect the tow package.  When the Honda broke loose in Los Fresnos and traffic was piling up behind us, I wasn’t thinking calmly.  I pulled the connector from the adapter instead of pulling the adapter from the Edmund.  With adrenaline flowing, me on one end and the Edmund on the other, the adapter/connector locking mechanism never had a chance.  When the locking device was destroyed—though I didn’t realize it until later when I analyzed the failure—it was inevitable that the harness would pull out of the adapter on the Edmund and drag along the pavement at some point

I’m looking forward to the arrival of the wiring harness in Las Vegas so we can start towing again; not only is it lonely driving with just the cat for company, I miss sharing the trip with Nan.  We’re traveling through country that is both beautiful and extreme; it would be nice to share it with each other as we go.

We crossed the California border as we pulled in to Blythe.  The road to the campground actually started inside the agricultural inspection station at the border; it would have been tricky if we hadn’t been told what to expect by the campground employee Nan made our reservations with the previous day.  We pulled into our spot and were set up and relaxing in a few minutes.

The weather was just fine though it was a little cooler than Tucson.  Blythe is a little tiny town right on the edge of the California.  The Colorado River runs along the edge of the campground.  There’s not much to do in and around town but we make a grocery run and I replenished my cigar supply; the Port Isabel cigars were gone.  I found that sin costs more in California, at least in the form of cigars and diesel fuel.

We spent the next day hanging out.  Blythe was the first place on this trip our cell signals were non-existent which was a surprise to us as we had no signals in Illinois and Arkansas.  We’ve come to depend on our phones since WiFi at the campgrounds has been so spotty.

Our neighbors at Blythe represent a phenomenon we’ve noticed before in several campgrounds: the cramming of large numbers of large people and large dogs into a tiny space and not emerging for large chunks of time.  The neighbors are in a travel trailer half the size of the Edmund.  They are a wife, a husband, two teenage lummox-sized boys, and two Labrador-sized dogs.  What do they do in there?  How do they stand being in each other’s laps for hours on end?  I imagine TV is a critical component of this phenomenon.  I picture them packed in like sardines, mesmerized by the TV.

So far our wanderings have been almost completely TV-free.  We watched a western movie (Silverado) at Ann and Dick’s house in South Texas, we watched two episodes of Downton Abby (three and a half hours!) on my android phone, I watched Around the World in Eighty Days on our tiny laptop-sized coach TV while I was troubleshooting the cable connection, and I’ve watched a dozen or so snibblets of Robot Chicken.  We don’t feel deprived at all though when in Walmart I do find myself drawn to the big-screen TVs playing Blu-ray previews.  I stand in front of them in a trance, swaying gently, eyes unfocused, until Nan comes by and metaphorically thwacks me on the back of the head.

When the neighbors at Blythe do emerge—they’re perfectly nice people by the way—they inspire us to explore the outdoor kitchen concept.  As beautiful as the weather in Tucson and Blythe has been, we’ve been conflicted about the interior climate control of the Edmund.  The Edmund is basically just a big metal box with windows, very large windows in the front.  Even on a nice day, the sun streams in and really heats up the interior.  Using the stove just makes it worse.  We hate (I hate!) to run the AC when it’s so nice outside but we’ve been forced to a couple of days when the sun is bright and we’re cooking inside.  The neighbors are cooking dinner on a Coleman camping stove under their awning, looking all cool and comfortable.  What a great idea!  Yes, I know the concept of an outdoor kitchen for hot-weather cooking has been around since the domestication of fire, but we’ve always confined ourselves to campground charcoal grills to cook outdoors and they’re time-consuming, messy, and limited in functionality.  Also, none of the campgrounds we’ve spent any time since Texas has had an outdoor grill, possibly because we’ve been traveling through regions where wildfire is a real and present danger.

We leave Blythe, heading up Highway 95 past Boulder Dam to Las Vegas.  Nan is still following in Calamity and we’ve made it about five miles down the road when she radios me to tell me one of the driver’s side bay doors is hanging open.  I pull over to the shoulder, hop out to find the fuse bay door wide open.  This could have been a disaster if Nan hadn’t spotted it.  I hadn’t opened that bay since Tucson, so presumably it could have opened at any time on the trip to Blythe but didn’t.  We close it, lock it, and start moving again.  If Nan hadn’t been following me, I might have driven for hours without realizing the door was open since it’s right under the drivers seat and not readily visible in the side view mirror.  A new item will be added to the pre-departure checklist: make sure all bay doors are latched and locked securely before departure.

The rest of the trip goes well for Nan and me; the road is winding and full of dips, meaning the Edmund is swaying and bounding up and down much like her namesake on Lake Superior.  I’m enjoying it.  McGregor is not.  Though I don’t realize it at the time, he’s quietly losing his breakfast all over the Edmund.

At last, precisely on the Ides of March, we see Las Vegas in the distance.  We’re going to meet Leah and Darren here and settle down for two weeks.  We expect to have good times.  We’re not wrong.