The Catt Box

 

'The Things People Don't Tell You'

(when making a trip across the country)

 

Oh, yeah....the folks who have 'been there, done that' are out there...telling you what to do, where to go, what to see...but they don't tell you the 'other stuff'...the things you really needed to know. 

When planning my trip out west I asked several people for information, personal opinions, etc.....nothing...no one told me any of the little things we needed to know. Well, I am not one of those people....I'm more than glad to tell you what we've learned.

Arkan-hell  is bad for everyone traveling the interstate, especially while pulling along a camper.. They will never fix their roads. And I will not keep my opinions about Arkan-hell  to myself...I am here to tell the world that it's awful....They do nothing to ensure that anyone will enjoy their state at all.

While on our journey I decided that when doing a section of our trip on my site that I would include all the little stuff that no one tells you. If you should make this trip, and I encourage you to do so, I want you to be prepared. 

They don't tell you.....

...that you will see mountains in the desert. As a matter of fact...you will see mountain range of some sort nearly every inch of your travels out west. And that's cool...just something we did not expect. 

...the road to 'Hell' begins in Arkansas....and ends at the state line, right when you are entering the wonderful state of Oklahoma.

...there are vicious cross-winds and head-winds throughout most of your travels out west....you get 'em coming, and you get 'em going. This will slow you up, considerably. What may have been thought of as a five hour drive will actually be a six or seven hour drive. The head-winds really mess up the traveling plans. No one told us these things existed or to allow time for it.

...you will not see any 'cowboy cactus' until well into the state of Arizona. 

...you will not see any 'cowboy mountains' below Utah....at least none on the main drag...like Interstate 40.

...you will not see 'sun-bleached' animal heads along the road in the desert areas.

...that with each bend in the road, with each hill that you crest, with each turn that you make around a mountain that everything can change...totally....you will see new scenery, new plants, new trees, new colors, new mountain range, new signs, new sky...and that's a great thing.

...you will see hundreds of signs along the way that warn you of animals that you will never see.

...you will not see Tarantulas and snakes crossing the road all the time. We never saw a single one. I have heard all my life that snakes and spiders just 'cross the roads...all the time....all the time.' They don't ....at least not while we were there.

...if Rand McNally says that it's a four hour drive somewhere, and you are pulling a camper, add at least two hours....Rand McNally didn't figure in for pulling a camper against vicious head-winds in the desert plains....as brought out in a paragraph above...but pulling a camper makes the journey slower.

...and if you are pulling a camper, you will average about 8 miles to the gallon of gas...and if you are pulling a really big camper, it'll be worse. 

...you increase your chances of having a heart attack while visiting The Grand Canyon....you are at an elevation of over 7,000 feet. They warn you of this fact while on the bus...'at' the canyon.

...if you are with The Grand Canyon 'Grand Bus Tour', and you spend 'more' than the allotted 15 minutes at any given look-out point, they will leave without you....we saw it happen to some people. The cab fare back to Williams, Arizona is $137.00. And I can understand why they do this...they give each look-out point a certain amount of time...we all have the same amount of time ...if a person is late, then the entire bus sits and waits...taking away from our tour. You only have three hours in which to see the main spots. Someone who is thoughtless can ruin it for you. After all it took for Les and I to finally live this dream vacation, I certainly wouldn't want some selfish person ruining any of it for us. 

...that you will not have the money or the time to do every single thing that everyone suggested for you to do during your vacation. And, that when you got back and shared your wonderful experience with people, at least a few of them will give a look of disappointment on their faces and tell you what you "should have done". You know, like you had the time and the money to live out 'their' dream vacation and do the things that 'they' liked to do. 

...that the wonderful Meteor Crater closes promptly at 5:00 pm every night...no matter what...no matter how long you've traveled in hopes of seeing it. This was probably the only thing we didn't research enough ....the hours of visiting. I suggest you do so.

...you are not allowed to 'take a rock' from The Grand Canyon. So, in case you have friends who ask you to bring them back a rock from The Grand Canyon, you'll know what to tell them.

...that Pistachio nuts are in the Mojave Desert....on hundreds and hundreds of trees.

...that it could be 34 in Williams, Arizona in September.

...that while in California you will have to go to an inspection center and declare your fruits and vegetables...and have to hand them over. 

...that when you are on Historic Route 66, there will be no signs telling you that you are.

...that some places that sell coffee will simply 'not have any'. They will merely look at you and blink. See my review on Arkan-Hell..

...that even though you are on Pacific Time, your body will still be on Eastern Time.

...that paying high prices to enjoy tours isn't enough....they all expect nice tips, too. We were not aware of this and did not have a lot of cash on us. You will be expected to tip the 'balladeers' who sing the cowboy songs to you while on the train. You have one that will play and sing for you on the way to the canyon, and you will have a different guy sing and play for you on the way back from the canyon....you are to tip both of them. 

You will be expected to tip the bus driver on the Grand Tour of The Grand Canyon. You will be expected to tip the train people....like the bartender, etc. I mean, I am not saying that these fine folks are not deserving of tips, but for those of us who do not travel a lot, how are we supposed to know that we have to tip everyone we see just for doing their job?  How are we to know how many 'tip-able' folks we are going to see throughout our day? The prices for enjoying these events already zapped us of our spare dollars. The train tickets and Grand Bus Tour alone cost us $234.21. 

Oh, and the horse and carriage guy gets tipped, too. And the Grand Tour  will provide lunch, but you are expected to tip the lady who cleans the dishes off your table. Then you can go buy souvenirs and postcards for your friends and family. Just thought you'd like to know. Some of us travel on a budget and need to know these things before hand. 

...that bus drivers at The Grand Canyon only make an average of $6.00 an hour and you can only pray that they don't decide to 'end it all' on the day you are sitting on their bus. Better let this guy know that you have every intention of tipping him at the end of the tour....give 'em something to 'hang in there for'....know what I mean?

...that you can get married at A Special Memory Wedding Chapel for the advertised price of $25.00, and right under that listed price they inform you that there is also a mandatory gratuity of $25.00 tacked onto that charge. 

...that after all the time that you put into planning a trip like this, the hours and hours of traveling together...the excitement that was welling up in you over the first glimpse of The Grand Canyon...that your spouse will take one look at the canyon, grab the 'good camera' and abandon you. 

...if there is a major event going on in the town you are staying, the KOA will not accept your discount card and they will also raise the price of the night's fee. We think this is totally unfair....we were not there to see the event in their town....just passing through. This happened in L.A.

...that just outside of the Palm Springs area in California...there are signs telling you to turn the air conditioning off in your car...the sun is so hot, and the hill is so steep, that your car will be in danger of over-heating. There are lots of water barrels along the way, in case your vehicle does over-heat.

...we never saw a single tumbleweed...not once...not even with all the winds we encountered. All we wanted to do was see a tumbleweed go across the road...just once...just like in the movies. However, we did see a Road-runner. We observed no coyote chasing him with Acme brand explosives.

...that while traveling 'west-bound' you will see mile markers as you enter the state...which gives you a clue as to how many miles across you will be traveling before reaching another state. But....when traveling 'east-bound', you will not see that...the miles count 'upwards' instead of backwards, so, you have no idea as to how many miles you have left to travel. And the mile markers in California are totally different altogether.

...that you must be prepared to pay a 'cash deposit' at some KOA's that you may want to visit...some will not take a credit card number. They will provide an envelop for you to place a $20.00 bill in and then slide it under the door and settle up any difference in the morning.

...that it's best that when traveling, to have more than one variety of credit card, which we did. Not all KOA's accept American Express...not all places accept all credit cards. I hate to carry cash on me, but a little does come in handy. Have a Visa and a Master Card....to be on the safe side....maybe even a Discover card, as well.

...that there are pick-pockets in Vegas and they are out in full force during the nightly entertainment. This is why I always wear my fanny pack under my clothes...I do not want to temp pick-pockets and purse snatchers. They count on the crowds at the main entrances of the casinos to gather around and watch the shows. Then, while you are busy filming and taking pictures, jam-packed tightly together, they go to work on you. Be aware of this. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that the criminals know we all have money and that we are all tourists....they know how easy it is for us to be distracted and they wait for it.

...that we wouldn't see an 'adobe'....we never saw an adobe.

...that while traveling in California, the signs for exits won't necessarily have 'numbers' on them...just 'names' of the roads....which means that you may not know how much farther you need to travel to reach the exit you need. 

...that after about 12 or more hours of driving, five thermos' of coffee, and total delirium, your spouse will begin to 'challenge' things that are laying on the road...like tires and fire-extinguishers....turtles., etc.

...that the campground in Nashville, Tennessee will give you written warnings of 'aggressive squirrels' in the campground area. 

...that there were so many '1960's model of single-wide trailers' still in existence....and especially in Arkansas, New Mexico, and the upper part of Texas and Arizona. We just didn't expect to see so many. And we certainly didn't know that a person could actually take a camper and attach it to a trailer and create a new room....and then build onto the camper section and add yet another room. Amazing.

...that houses out west, in comparison to houses in the east, are much smaller than you would imagine. 

...that it is very difficult to find a place to mail letters and postcards. They don't put up mail boxes along the Interstates, of course, and you'd have to take the time to drive into a town and try to find one. This is very time-consuming....people don't realize that this is much harder than it seems. And I don't trust just 'anyone' with my mail. We mailed out our bill payments while on vacation and there was no way I was going to just hand them over to some teenager somewhere and trust that they would mail them for me. So, if someone asks you to mail them a card from everywhere you go, keep in mind that though you may 'purchase' a card everywhere you go, you may not get it 'mailed' for several states. I am glad that the few people that I did mail a card to understood my situation.

...that you should not wait until you are completely starved to death before beginning your search for a place to eat...you will settle for stupid, bad food. Personally, I could not kill my husband because he was my only way back home. Being hungry makes you 'ill'...but basically, we didn't take it out on one another....just made bad food decisions.

...that slow drivers are in every state. And I think that they are desperate for some sort of power....have to be....there is no way an idiot like that can see the 58 cars behind him and NOT know how angry we all are. Hey...if you are one of these people....pull over and let us through, or speed up...you know, this is a pathetic way of attaining the 'power' you desire....we are not all 'following your lead'...we're stuck there....and we are angry....and especially if we are not in a position to pass you.

...that you will not see that 'long stretch of barren road that no one else is traveling on and you have a 'last chance gas station' to visit before going off on it for 5 or 6 long hours'. Never happened.

...there are no signs in Los Angeles pointing the way to the local KOA....we had to follow the directions in our 'Directory And Road Atlas' in order to find it. We also noted that signs telling you which road you were on were limited, too....you had no way of knowing if you were on the right road, or which interstate highway you were on.

...that a man can actually spend 11 days of his life fretting over two chains. 

...that 'out west' is nothing but desert, desert, desert. And that only three colors exist out west.....Terra Cotta, Beige, and Aqua. And do they even have lawn mowers out west? We never saw a yard that needed mowed. Come to think of it, I don't remember seeing grass at all.....just some kind of dead, puffy plant-like thing....everywhere. Not everyone thinks the desert is 'beautiful'...it's not for everyone. 

...that after 11 days in a van and a camper, your house will look huge....absolutely massive, when you return home. You will feel like Alice In Wonderland....

And we'd do it all again tomorrow....well, if we were still married to one another we would!

 

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