On Monday morning 9/10 I set out from Albuquerque to Tim and Heidi's place in Rio Verde, Az. On the advice of Ted, the KOA employee/my savior, I decided to head to the Painted Desert. I made the mistake of plugging Painted Desert, Az. into Google Maps on my phone and used the GPS therein to guide me. I ended up in the middle of nowhere! In fact, my drive there was my least favorite of the entire trip. It was desolate as hell, and the terrain was not really very appealing to me. I think the part I disliked most was Indian Route 15. When the Google voice said, "You've arrived" I was driving by someone's home, and not a very nice one! I still don't get what happened (though Tim told me later not to trust Google Maps in the southwest).
I took the picture of the train because the containers were stacked two to a car, which I don't recall ever seeing before.
When I got into Az. I stopped right as I crossed the border at the Motor Vehicle Office since there were some really cool rock formations. The picture of me holding MKR is in the parking lot at the DMV right after we crossed the border. His first time in Az!
These are from further into Az. Note there are no Painted Desert pictures! I am continually amazed and how incredibly beautiful and varied this planet is.
These are from the Truck Stop/Trading Post, a common combo out here. Look how cool this rest stop is, it has a pool hall! And I just loved these rocks. They are carved out of sandstone - beautiful!
Now we come to the final resting place for the van, at least as far as I'm concerned! After I left the NOT-Painted-Desert location, I plugged in the address to Tim and Heidi's place in Rio Verde. I called both Tim and Heidi and got each of their voicemails, I was eager to tell them I was really and truly about to make it to their place (after about 5 different times saying, "I should be there in a day or two"). Right after I turned onto Route 377 Tim called me back. Moments after that, I started having problems with the accelerator (again; this was the same problem I had the previous Wed. when I got towed to Santa Fe). I was glad to be on the phone with Tim while this was happening. This time was different than the previous week, however, in that after a few moments of pushing on the gas pedal, the van accelerated for a moment, then stopped, then started again and again.
Tim and I both agreed that if I could, I should turn around and get back to civilization, which I had just left recently. The thing is, I was on a stretch of road with gulleys on either side so I couldn't turn around unless I did so in the middle of the road. That was no good, because what if the accelerator stopped working all together?! I'd be stuck in the middle of the road. I did the stop/go thing for a little ways further until I found a safe spot to turn around, then did the stop/go thing for about a mile or so until I pulled into the Navajo County Public Works Dept. driveway. I just barely made it into a parking space.
I called Roadside Assistance (yet again), which is actually called Coach Net, and they said there is likely some underlying electrical problem with the van, such as the starter, that is causing all these problems in the first place. I asked why the Santa Fe Chevy dealership would not have found that and he said there is a standard set of procedures that is followed in isolating problems like this. I had to wait over 90 minutes for them to call me back to say they'd found a garage to take the van, but no tow truck could come until the next day.
I then called AAA to try to find me a hotel in the area. They were helpful, but then when I tried my Uber app to get a ride I found it was not available in the area! (shocking!). I then called the Best Western Arizonian in Holbrook, where my reservation was, and asked if they had ideas of how I might get there since there'd be no tow truck that night (I later found out the tow truck would have been going in the opposite direction, anyway). I was told there is a Holbrook Shuttle for which I am deeply grateful. April of Holbrook Shuttle came and got me and brought me to the hotel for $7. One way rides within Holbrook are always $7.
This lovely sign was on the wall in the back area of the Public Works office (where the bathroom is). Below that is my shit as I plopped it on the bed in the hotel room, and then my buddy MKR on the bed (tag finally removed, he's even cuter now!). Once I got settled, I called Outdoorsy.com Customer Support to tell them I wanted a different van. I was tired of all the repairs and breakdowns and just wanted to have a vacation! They told me that Diane would have to refund them the money that I'd paid them before they could issue me a refund, but they would absolutely help me find another van. The woman even said there was a possibility that I could find a one-way rental from Az. to New Haven...
Barb Nangle is the founder of Higher Power Coaching and Consulting, an entrepreneur and an eternal optimist. She loves motivating others to become better and better versions of themselves, just as she has become better and better versions of herself.