Our modest Jello goal for Wednesday was to be on the road by 9 am. In the back of my mind (yes, there is a 'back') I'm thinking about that 30 mile grade to the top of Chiriaco Summit that begins just west of Blythe, CA. Blythe sits at 272' feet above sea level, and Chiriaco Summit sits at 1,706' above sea level. While we have climbed steeper grades in the past this one sits in the middle of the Mojave Desert and knowing the forecast high for the area was going to be in the mid 80's I wanted to climb that grade when it was still in the 70's.
It's always a little bitter sweet bidding adieu to good friends, especially when is has been 15 months since the last time we were here, and knowing that it will probably be that long, or longer until we return. Nevertheless, we exchanged 'until next time' hugs with Tom and Darlene and began our egress from their property about 8:45 am....15 minutes ahead of our Jello plan.
We turned on to AZ-60 going west for about 8 miles, then merged on to AZ-303 southbound to connect with I-10 which would take us, eventually, all the way to Redlands, CA where we will, on Saturday, transition to CA-210 into Fontana and the Fontana/Rialto Elks Lodge.
We had plans to take a break in Quartzite, AZ about 100 miles into our day to top off our 180 gallon diesel tank at the local ARCO station for $2.73/gallon, and that is what we did. We last topped off our tank in Page, AZ back in late October, and had traveled some 480 miles since that time.....most of it in the last week. We took on 64 gallons at a cost of $175.49. This ARCO has those high speed diesel pumps, and it took less than 10 minutes to pump the diesel.....usually it takes 15-20 minutes.
We were back on the Interstate in less than 20 minutes heading ever westward.......the Colorado River is just 18 miles from Quartzite, and we were crossing her and back in California for the first time since June 10th when we departed South Lake Tahoe for a summer in Yellowstone.
The California Agricultural Check point......"....no, we have no children, pets, or any produce in our trailer"....they never ask if they are in the RV, just the trailer....who keeps their pets and/or children in an enclosed car hauler?
As we began the long ascent to the Chiriaco Summit the temp was in the low 70's still. I was able to climb the grade in 4th gear keeping the rpm's close to 2,000 (the redline on these Detroit Diesel series 92 engines is 2,100 rpm's, and hovering around 2,000 rpm's spins the rear facing radiator fan faster, and keeps the engine temp down under 200º). We made the summit without incident. We re-entered the People's Republic of California just after noon time, and were descending the long grade from Chiriaco Summit into Indio just before 2 pm....our destination for three days was the Indio Elks Lodge where we had made reservations a week prior.
Most Elks Lodges are 'first come, first served', but some are so popular you must make reservations to be sure you have a site when you arrive.....Indio is one of those Lodges. Our reason for stopping in Indio and not just covering the final 100 miles home was to hook up with good friends Steven and Linda Dempsey. It has been 2 years since we have seen them, so when the stars aligned and we knew our paths were going to cross we decided to hang out with them for 3 days in Indio.......
Left to right: Moi, TLE, Steven, Kelly, Linda and Bill (I have that same exact Maker's Mark t-shirt that Steven is wearing)
.....as we were checking in at the kiosk Steven and Linda walked over from their rig and we were once again reunited with long hugs with our very good friends. An added bonus was they were with their very good friends Bill and Kelly whom we met later at the Elks Lodge happy hour. As I have said often, there are just some people whom you meet along the way with whom you immediately connect, and that was the case with Steven and Linda, and now Bill and Kelly. We sat talking at Happy Hour as if we had known each other for 20 years.
There was an Elks Lodge meeting that night which began at 6:30 pm, so after talking non-stop for 2.5 hours we had to vacate the bar area....we bid adieu to each other until Thursday morning and headed for our respective RV's (Bill and Kelly have a 5th wheel, and Steven and Linda a Class A Travel Supreme) for the evening. More than the places we visit on our never ending journey it is the people and the ensuing friendships that make this lifestyle so rewarding. It is the reconnecting with friends after long periods of time as if we had last seen each other yesterday that fills my heart with peace, joy and contentment.
It was another good, uneventful day of travel and we are just 100 miles from our kids, grand kids and great grand child......we will see them on Saturday, and for 3 weeks thereafter when we pull up anchor once again and begin our journey to Maine for the summer!
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