Living the motorhome dream… 

Hello again! We’re back on our travels. This time we’ve hired out a motorhome, and will be spending a week travelling  around Norfolk and Cambridgeshire. We’re planning on buying a motorhome and have seen the model we like, so we thought it would be a good idea to rent one out to try before we buy. 

The rental firm is based in Waltham Cross, and our pick up time was 3pm. We got there at 2pm and were checked in pretty quickly. I had a bit of a panic when I was told that I needed two forms of ID, as I only had my driving licence on me. Fortunately, I was able to log on to our gas/electric company’s website and download a utility bill. Phew! The interweb to the rescue again! 

It was peeing down with rain and so the handover was a bit rushed, but that was good in a way as we were on the road by 3pm. The moho is a Sunlight T68, and is a manual 6 speed. I haven’t driven a manual for yonks, but apart from pulling off in third at the first set of lights, I found it quite easy to adjust, and we were soon cruising up the M11. 

Our first stop is in a small village just outside Ely. We’ve decided to stay on proper campsites this week, while we’re learning the ropes, and the site we’re staying on is pretty good. Our pitch is on a bit of a wonk, so we had to get the levellers out. 

Tonight we went for dinner at the village pub which was good, and now we’re back in the moho surfing t’internet. 

No pics today, it hasn’t stopped raining. The weather’s going to improve tomorrow, so we’ll take some pics and upload them on tomorrow’s blog. We’ll be driving 30 miles up to Dersingham in Norfolk, and would like to stop off in Ely on the way, but that will depend on whether we can park our 7.5 metre vehicle in town. 

Mike 

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Phoenix… homeward bound

Well all good things must come to an end… today we drove from Sedona to Phoenix via a couple couple of malls, where we bought a few bits and bobs. All very routine, so no photos today.

The traffic getting into Phoenix was a nightmare, it made the M25 look very tame indeed, and Carol did a great job navigating us from the I17 to the hotel. The hotel is next to the airport, quite a way from downtown. Not wanting to drive through all the traffic again, we took the tram downtown, great value at four bucks each, return.

The downtown area looks to be a business area, and most restaurants had already closed. The only activity going on seemed to be the MLB baseball, where the Arizona Diamondbacks were hosting the Colorado Rockies. We did however find a Vietnamese restaurant, and the spring rolls on the menu sounded delicious, so we ate there and weren’t disappointed.

We’re now sat in the hotel bar, our packing all done, not looking forward to tomorrow. Travel days are always dull, and tomorrow is going to be Dullesville Arizona (apologies to Reggie Perrin), a very long day, as our flight isn’t until 7:30pm and so there will be lots of hanging around. We land at LHR at about 1:30pm on Sunday so won’t get home until tea time, but at least it’s a bank holiday on Monday. Still, mustn’t complain, we’ve had a terrific time over here… we’ve seen and done all we wanted to and more, and would definitely recommend it to anyone.

This is the last blog post for now, we’ve enjoyed writing it, and we’ll do another blog on our next big adventure, whenever that may be. Thanks for following, and we hope you enjoyed reading about our adventures.

Mike

Route 66, Petrified and Standin’ On The Corner

Today was one of those days to quickly move from one area to another… in the Tour de France they call it a transition day. We needed to head a couple of hundred miles west today, so that we can drop down to Phoenix tomorrow ahead of our flight home on Saturday, and what better way to do this than travel along Route 66 (well, what’s left of it).

We stayed at a Days Inn last night which, like most things along Route 66, has seen better days. We knew that the breakfast on offer would be pants, so we needed no excuse to go to Denny’s for breakfast. With another Lumberjack Slam under my ever-groaning belt, we filled up with gas/petrol and set off along the historic highway.

Much of the road has disappeared completely, or exists solely as a dirt track which is only driveable with a 4×4. This website has loads of info on what’s left of it. The road from Gallup to the Arizona state line is the original Route 66, but is now called State Highway 118. We followed this, and joined the I40, the road that replaced Route 66 in this area, just across the state line.

Our first stop was Petrified Forest National Park. Petrified is the term to describe timber which fell millions the years ago and became fossilised by the rocks surrounding it. Compared with the other parks we’ve been to, this one wasn’t that exciting, though we have been very spoiled by the parks we have been to. Highlights for me were the original telegraph poles marking the course of Route 66, a 217 million year old petrified log, and some petroglyphs.

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Once we’d left the park we went through Holbrook, an original Route 66 site. Some of the motels are still there.

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Next stop was Winslow, immortalised by the Eagles song Take It Easy. We stopped for lunch before standin’ on the corner in Winslow Arizona. It was such a fine sight to see.

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Once we were done and dusted, we continued on our way to tonight’s B&B in Sedona via Flagstaff. Tonight we had a lovely Mexican meal, and tomorrow we make our way to Phoenix, stopping off at some outlet parks/malls along the way to do some shopping.

Mike

Monument Valley rainbow and sunrise

Yesterday afternoon we were looking out over the valley when Carol noticed the start of a rainbow. After a few minutes this had grown into a full rainbow, starting and finishing in the valley. The rainbow faded quite quickly, so we were lucky to get some pictures.

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Last night we slept with the cabin blind open again. I was awake before six, and was really chuffed see that we would be getting a sunrise, despite what the forecasts had predicted. I quickly got ready, and went out onto the balcony with my camera, with Carol joining me a few minutes later. It was fantastic to see the sky gradually get lighter, before the sun crept up over the horizon. We took loads of photos… here are three just to give you an idea.

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It wasn’t long before the sun was way too bright to look at or take photos of, so we packed the car, went for breakfast and then started the drive to tonight’s destination, Gallup in New Mexico. We went via Canyon de Chelly, a national park in Arizona, which my brother Dave had recommended. We didn’t have time to do any hikes, so we drove along the Southern Rim, stopping at the signposted viewpoints, and the views were great. Again the panoramic setting was needed.

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We crossed from Arizona, into Utah and back into Arizona, before entering New Mexico, the 12th US state I have visited. Arizona is a pain because they don’t do daylight savings, but on the plus side we get an extra hour tomorrow while we’re doing the Route 66 thing. Tonight, we’re staying in a Days Inn motel on the old Route 66. We’re very close to the railway, so can expect to hear trains running through the night. It could be a little noisy.

Mike

In Monument Valley

Last night we sat looking over Monument Valley as dusk fell. No sunset because it was too cloudy, but it was nice watching the colours of the rocks change as the light faded. Our cabin is away from any light pollution, so we slept with the blind open, and we could see the stars between the breaks in the cloud. It’s a shame we’ve just had a full moon, otherwise the sky would have been a lot darker.

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The alarm went off at six this morning and it was twilight. It was cloudy, so we wouldn’t be seeing the picture postcard sunrise over the valley. We did get a hazy sunrise of sorts, and it was good to again watch all the rocks change colour as the light dawned, and the sun shone through the gaps in the clouds.

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There is a figure of eight style loop through Monument Valley made up of unpaved roads. The nearest loop is open to the public to drive round, though you have to pay $20 per car to enter the Navajo land. The furthest ‘backcountry’ loop is closed to the general public, and you can only go here when accompanied by a Navajo guide. There also sand dunes and so a 4×4 is required.

A few months back, I’d arranged a three hour private tour with a Navajo guide in an open top 4×4.  After a buffet breakfast in the hotel restaurant, we met up with our guide John who showed us to his vehicle, and we were on our way. He was a lovely guy and showed us all around the valley, telling us some Navajo tales as we went along. He even played us a tune on his pipe.

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This afternoon we’re just going to chill out in our cabin, watching the ever-changing picture out of the window. It’s still windy here and it doesn’t look like we’ll be getting a sunset tonight, or seeing a sunrise in the morning, but we’ve had a great time here anyway, and that would have just been the icing on the cake. Tomorrow we drive down to Gallup in New Mexico, on the Historic Route 66, then start making our way back to Phoenix for our journey home.

Mike

Another sandstorm…

Last night was our last of six in Moab. We had an excellent time there, and the B&B we stayed at was superb, I would definitely recommend it. Six days was just about right, giving us time to do all we wanted without being rushed. Moab is a lovely town as well, plenty of shops and restaurants, though I suspect the place pretty much closes down in winter.

We packed up all our stuff after breakfast and loaded the car, then drove to the gas station to fill up. The stuff’s ridiculously cheap, by my reckoning about £2.15 a gallon, or 43p a litre. I could afford to fill up with premium unleaded instead of regular if I wanted to, just to show off! Here you either pay by card at the pump, or go inside and pre-pay. I’ve already filled up a couple of times without any fuss, pre-paying by swiping my credit card at the pump, but the one we stopped at this morning insisted that I entered my zip code, so I had a bit of a swear and we found another petrol station which didn’t want my zip code (I shall be avoiding Phillips 66 gas stations from now on!).

We’ve now moved on to Monument Valley, a 150 mile drive. There’s a village North of here called Mexican Hat… see if you can guess how it got its name :

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There’s a really bad sandstorm going on. We stopped the car in Monument Valley to take a photo of where Forrest Gump stopped running:

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and I had to get back into the car sharpish to dodge the sand. I’m surprised there’s any paint left on the car.

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We’ve checked into the hotel, and we have a premium cabin with an unobstructed view of Monument Valley… here’s the view from our balcony.

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We’re just off to the restaurant now, where they serve traditional Navajo food, and tonight I’ll be having the mutton stew. Then we’ll return to our cabin to watch the sunset. Hopefully the wind will subside, and tomorrow we’ll be up just before 6 to watch the sunrise, fingers crossed!

Mike

A night at the Bistro

A quick food update…

We had a lovely meal at the Desert Bistro. Definitely the best restaurant in Moab. We were seated on the terrace at the rear of the restaurant. Not the best view in the world (the car park/parking lot), but it was nice to sit outside. Our waiter was a good guy, really keen on the food.

We both went for the same starter and mains. Starters was the scallops, three each, perfectly cooked with lemons and a tomato, lime and garlic sauce, with a hidden chilli in there. Mains was bison medallions in a mushroom/truffle sauce with ‘twice cooked’ mash and veg.

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For dessert, a little birdie had told them that it was someone’s birthday, so Carol’s Key Lime pie came with a candle. I went for the chocolate mousse which went down well. All this was washed down with a lovely Argentinian Malbec Reserva. A good time had by all!

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Mike