Camp Verde, AZ, to Moab, UT

I had a really good night in Camp Verde, to my surprise, getting a solid six and a half hours of sleep and then dozing for about an hour more. I had a lazy morning and then set out around eight. It was quite cold and very, very, very, very windy.

My first stop of the day was in Flagstaff. I had initiated an INTERAC e-Transfer while I was in Camp Verde so I could make a withdrawal at a Bank of America in Flagstaff. My GPS told me that would be my only opportunity to access a BOA ATM before Moab and I needed cash for the hostel. BOA is part of the same network as Scotiabank, so no ATM fees there. By the time I arrived at the bank, the transfer was done, so I was able to complete my part on my phone and then get in line at the drive-thru machine. I felt bad for the folks behind me because my withdrawal took some time. Like the ATMs in Mexico, the machine would spit out my card and make me start over if I asked it to take out  more than I had in my account (sometimes hard to gauge because of the exchange rate).

That finally done, I took off and was pleased to get off the Interstate even if it would be slower going. Olive green hills that reminded me of home slowly turned to rich brown red and that brought the dust. The picture didn’t turn out well, but the clouds were dirt brown. Pardon my gross windshield — no windshield cleaners in the US!


After several hours, I finally approached Monument Valley! I have wanted to see Monument Valley since November 17, 1986, at approximately 8:05 PM EST. But I was told by a few friends who have been that the tours are the worst kind of tourist trap and that I will be enormously disappointed. However, readers told me I would be able to see some of the monuments from the main highway. Visibility was poor, but I was ready to stop at pull-outs if I saw anything interesting…




Monument Valley straddles the Arizona/Utah border.





And, finally, a bit of a clearing!



Can you see the utter morons in front of me? They flew past me at the really nice scenic pullout right behind me and then pulled over right on the road to take pictures. Please don’t be like them.


There was still more to see. I actually have dozens more pictures!







Happy with my taste of Monument Valley, I pushed on through the very scenic town of Mexican Hat.




And this is why it’s called Mexican Hat, I’m sure!


Neat cut straight through a hill:


I climbed up to 7,000ft during my day and then started to descend to 4,000 feet, enjoying the vegetation changes as I did so, like this contrast of the red stone with the poplars. It got less windy as I started going down and a bit less chilly.





More snow paused at a construction zone.


Another neat rock formation.


And my first arch! This is Wilson Arch.


I pulled into the hostel in Moab around six and paid for a second night since I was immediately not sure I would want to spend five nights there. It’s nothing to do with the hostel — it’s a hostel. I knew what I was getting into and this appears to be one of the good ones. I’m just past the age of living a million miles from a shared bathroom and the wifi only works in the communal spaces. But my cabin is private and the bed is good. So we’ll see how my first day at the park goes.

I went out into town to get dinner. Moab appears to be along a main stretch with a few other roads jutting off of it. There are lots of restaurants. It was fun to look up addresses in my GPS because Utah has a unique addressing system based out of Salt Lake City (eg. 60N 100W Moab, UT). I had a case recently where I learned about this and so it wasn’t a complete shock last night.

For dinner, I found myself at a really good Thai restaurant eating super spicy Pad Thai (I actually requested 3 out of 5 stars!) with a cold Chinese beer. But at 24USD, I won’t be splurging like that every night!

I had an early night since I had no internet access in my cabin and didn’t want to go to the communal space to get online as I was exhausted. I also couldn’t use my phone as a hot spot because I was out of pesos and CIBC declined my purchase of more money so I could buy a data plan. I’ll try again tonight.

I had a good night’s sleep, but the morning is being trying since I can’t relax in my private space with coffee to do my emails and online stuff. Hopefully, I’ll be less cranky after a day in the park…

It’s almost seven and the communal spaces are getting busy, so I’m heading out.

Driving Through the Desert on a Bridge With No Name… Guaymas to Camp Verde, AZ

I was in driving mode today, so you get another novel… but no illustrations. I am the worst blogger on the planet. 🙂

It was a pretty good night in Guaymas. I woke up around 3:30, but managed to doze until 5:30ish. I went to the office to check out and get my key and remote control deposit back as well as receive my coupon for a complimentary breakfast. That was running late, so I went next door to Oxxo to get a coffee. By the time I came back, the breakfast room was open. For egg eaters, the breakfast was decent enough — one fried egg with toast and coffee. I asked for just toast and coffee and got three slices since I wasn’t haven an egg. It wasn’t much, but I wasn’t particularly hungry and was happy to not be leaving on an empty stomach. The coffee was okay, but not worth lingering over, so I left about a half cup.

It was 6:40ish when I finally took off. I didn’t need to get fuel just yet, so I was able to get some miles under me. I stopped at the southern end of Hermosillo to put in $400 of fuel. That would get me to the border with about a quarter tank of fuel to spare.

The roads were good, but there were a lot of “desviaciónes,” where you drive in the opposite lanes and only have one going in each direction. So it was pretty slow, albeit steady going. I know I passed my favourite “Puente sin nombre” (bridge with no name) at some point, but didn’t see the sign since I was on the wrong side of the highway. I had a stop or two by the federales where I pretty much just rolled through. I might have had a fruit stop, too, but I can’t remember. If I did, it wasn’t memorable!

I didn’t let the first part of the day lull me into complacency, knowing I had three major roadblocks ahead of me: the big military checkpoint before Santa Ana, the US border, and then the secondary inland customs checkpoint. So I had no motivation to dawdle since I really wanted to get at least as far as Phoenix tonight.

Before I knew it, I was in line for the big military checkpoint, where I was sent to secondary inspection. The officer thoroughly went through everything he could reach without taking too much out of the truck, asking we what such and such was. I didn’t have the words for “external hard drive” so I went with “thing for my computer that has pictures on it.” And I completely blanked on the word for printer and went with, “the thing that puts my computer things on paper.” That one got a laugh. The soldier was just a kid and very nice. I was there about ten minutes total.

Coming into Santa Ana, I remembered, yet again, that I forgot to pick up some powdered milk to take with me to Canada! A bag in Mexico is about 3CAD while the exactly same product is 12CAD at home! I figured Santa Ana would have a  grocery store and, sure enough, I saw a “Super Norte” as I came into town that had to be a grocery store. I missed the turnoff for it, so I circled around the block and parked on the street since the store lot was cramped. The milk was more expensive than at Ley, but only by about $6, still a substantial savings.

It was about 10:30 by this point and I was feeling peckish. I’d just happened to park behind a taco joint, so I went in and ordered just one taco as a snack. I don’t know if “tacos de burro” needs to be taken literally or not, but I’m fairly certain that I wasn’t eating beef… Whatever it was, it was yummy!

I then realised that I was out of money on my phone so I stopped in at an Oxxo to top up. You might find that odd, thinking why do that when I was right on top of the border, but I have the new “sin fronteras” plan, where I can use my phone in the US and Canada at the same rates as in Mexico. I figured that I’d test with just $100 on the phone and if it worked, then I could buy a banda ancha plan to use while in the US, saving me from having to buy a SIM card and deal with AT&T.

Next, came a fourth roadblock I hadn’t anticipated based on my experience last year: the vehicle permit return. Since I was getting cash back, I had to get a photocopy of my passport and driver’s license (on the same sheet of paper) and go to Banjercito. So I was there about a half hour. The process went smoothly and I got two crisp US $100 bills back. It was nice to get that little influx of cash that I won’t have to convert to CAD.

And then, it was time to ignore the GPS and head towards the Mariposa Road crossing rather than Noagales Centro. I had just one final toll booth for the day, the third. I haven’t done the books yet for today, but tolls were around $145, or 11.CAD. Once that last toll was paid, I was left with about $60! Wow, talk about good budgeting on my part! My last withdrawal amount was exactly right, and that’s taking into account all the unexpected splurges my last days on Isla.

The line up for the border started way back this year and moved very slowly. There were only four of twelve lanes open, and no bus or RV lanes! Those of you who follow me on Facebook were treated to my live Facebooking my wait. I waited exactly 40 minutes to finally get to a customs inspector. He asked me a couple of questions, poked through the back of the truck… and sent me on my way! That was not expected!

Once clear, it was just past 1PM. I was happy to get clear of Nogales and push north. The inland customs checkpoint was open, but the line move smoothly. I was asked if I’m an American citizen and replied Canadian, which got me wave through.

I stopped just past Tucson for a very late lunch. Channeling Tony Stark, all I wanted after my grueling time in the desert was an American cheeseburger, so I decided to try In-N-Out Burger for the first time, having heard so many good things about them. All I can say is meh. Oh, well, at least it hit the spot. I also bought fuel at just 1.899 a gallon! Wow, that’s great price even with a the exchange rate! And I got my stupid phone working on the T-Mobile network after multiple reboots. I just checked my balance and it has barely gone down despite my doing some surfing on the phone, so I know that I can definitely get a banda ancha plan to use in the US. Wow!

I then stopped at the Walmart in Tempe, hoping to find a pair of Earth Spirit sandals I like since I went clear through my pair from the spring over the winter, as expected. As luck would have it, they had both of my favourite styles of the sandals in my size! I grabbed both as well as a couple of tee-shirts.

Then, I tried a couple of motels along my route and the Motel 6 was the best deal for a ridiculous $61 if I wanted internet. I decided to push on a bit. I knew this would be my most expensive hotel night and I didn’t mind splurging, but if I was going to spend 80CAD or more, I wanted some value to my expenditure.

Well, I ended up climbing and climbing and climbing to over 4,000 feet and then descending a bit to land in Camp Verde for the night at an off chain motel (my GPS thought it was a Super 8). The attendant gave me the AAA rate so I paid close to what the Motel 6 would have charged, only I got a pool, a much nicer room, and a semblance of breakfast in the morning. Even though it was past seven by this point, I hit the pool for a few laps then soaked my kinks in the hot tub!

I was peckish by this point, so I went to the Denny’s nearly next door and it was hopping. I knew I would not get out of there quickly unless I did soup, so that’s what I ordered. I’m pretty sure they just open up a tin of store brand cheddar soup and mixed in some frozen broccoli… It really wasn’t great, but it was nourishing and cheap and I got out of there before people who had been ahead of me even got a chance to order their food!

It was a very long haul today, but I only have 600KM to do tomorrow and the hostel in Moab isn’t expecting me till about seven. I plan to leave pretty late (nine) and I have one major stop en route.