Thursday, July 22, 2010

Summer Vacation: Arizona and New Mexico

After a relaxing evening at the Grand Canyon Tuesday and a good nights rest we pulled out of our camping spot Wednesday morning to explore more of the Grand Canyon and the Grand Canyon Village with the intent of making it to Albuquerque, New Mexico that night. The plan mostly worked.

We enjoyed visiting the visitor center and the girls set out right away to go through the Junior Rangers program to earn a special badge. Getting to the Rim of the Grand Canyon from the Visitors Center ended up being a long round about trek due to construction. We almost wanted to turn around and go to another view point—which we’d been doing since the previous evening anyways—but decided to persist and make our way through the poorly marked walking path detours. We made it and it was beautiful. We were glad we did it but were so worn out by the time we got there we didn’t go far down the path (By we were worn out, I of course mean Cora was worn out. She’s only 6, has short legs and wastes a lot of energy flitting from side to side looking at bugs and vegetation on the path instead of concentrating on achieving the final destination.) After making our way back to the Visitor’s center to turn in the Junior Rangers books and be sworn in as official Junior Rangers we went into the Bookstore for a while and accumulated a few souvenirs: postcards, a magnet, a bookmark, National Parks trading cards and a star chart, and hit the road. Kinda.

We got in the RV and started driving but ended up going in circles around the park. There was construction everywhere, detours everywhere and signs nowhere. After quite a bit of map studying and a few wrong turns we finally found our way out and headed south to Flagstaff where we took a left and headed for Albuquerque, New Mexico. So be warned if you intend to go to the Grand Canyon the East Entrance (from Utah) is much prettier, easier to get into and has shorter lines getting in AND good luck trying to find the south exit—give yourself an extra hour of travel time.

All was going well until we crossed the state line into New Mexico and stopped at their welcome center to trade drivers (very nice welcome centers and Rest Stops in New Mexico, by the way). This is where the RV stopped working. Sputtered and died.

The same thing had happened at the Grand Canyon as we pulled up to the East Gate Entrance, it sputtered and died and we couldn’t get it going for an hour, and going well until the next morning. The park Rangers suggested it was Vapor Lock and said it happens all the time at high altitudes in high temperatures. New Mexico was hot but the altitude was not high and Dave had already figured out that our RV has fuel injection and thus cannot vapor lock which of course means: “Houston we have a problem”.

While we let the engine cool we went in and visited the nice welcome center and made ourselves dinner and cleaned up a bit and Dave made a few phone calls trying to figure it all out. After a little more than an hour and quite a bit of prayer the RV started again and we decided not to stop until we hit Albuquerque, our next destination, several hours away.

Before going on I feel I must reassure you. We have AAA plus and are Good Sam members for emergency roadside assistance and repair discounts. We have a generator on board that will keep our rear Air Conditioning working and we have a huge water tank and a good size LP tank. We can be self sufficient on the side of the road in case of emergency. We also only had problems with the engine when we came to a stop after long hot drives, especially with the front AC (powered through the car portion of the RV not the generator) going. AND Dave knows a thing or two about working on engines. We did not make the decision to continue rashly.

So, continue we did. We made it into Albuquerque without any further problems and experienced some fantastic lighting shows and sunsets along the way.

Albuquerque is a beautiful city to drive into at night. Lots of cool lights and amazing vistas. We stayed the night in a Walmart parking lot just a few miles from the Albuquerque Temple (Dave and I planned to visit there the next morning to celebrate our wedding anniversary) and the Amusement/Water park we intended to take the whole family to the next day.

photo by Dave in New Mexico


another in New Mexico by Dave.  Notice the RV Service!


crossing the continental divide photo by Heath


photo by Dani


A New Mexico Sunset by Dani


A storms a brewing! More about Albuquerque in my next post. photo by Heath

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