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.
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
...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.
road to 'Hell' begins in Arkansas....and
ends at the state line, right when you are entering the wonderful state of
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.
will not see any 'cowboy
cactus' until well into the state of Arizona.
will not see any 'cowboy mountains' below Utah....at
least none on the main drag...like Interstate 40.
will not see 'sun-bleached' animal heads along the road in the
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.
will see hundreds of signs along the way that warn you of animals that you
will never see.
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.
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.
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.
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'
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.
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
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
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.
Pistachio nuts are in
the Mojave Desert....on hundreds and hundreds of trees.
it could be 34º in Williams, Arizona in September.
while in California you will have to go to an inspection center and declare
your fruits and vegetables...and have to hand them over.
when you are on Historic
Route 66, there will be no signs telling you that you are.
some places that sell coffee will simply 'not have any'. They will
merely look at you and blink. See my review on Arkan-Hell..
even though you are on Pacific Time, your body will still be on Eastern Time.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
we wouldn't see an 'adobe'....we never saw an adobe.
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.
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.
the campground in Nashville, Tennessee will give you written warnings of 'aggressive squirrels' in the campground area.
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.
houses out west, in comparison to houses in the east, are much smaller than
you would imagine.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
a man can actually spend 11 days of his life fretting over two chains.
'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.
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!