Its probably not most peoples idea of normal to arrange to meet someone for a pizza that requires a drive of nearly 300miles but it was worth it for Bryony to catch up with her friend. The drive was about 4.5 hours long despite the various pit stops. Arriving 15 minutes early ironically we got lost on foot in the carpark trying to find Barros so were almost late. A quick call was all it took to soon be consuming delicious pizza & catching up with all the news.
The winking warning light was still bothering me despite our detour to a garage near Boulder City, the purchase of a manual tyre gauge & reporting the problem to the Van company. So we were really grateful to Jess who arranged for her husband to take a looks as he works for an auto parts company & had a number of testing gadgets that he could use to check the system out.
KOA campsites are great in as much as they are usually pretty consistent in what they offer but I like to change it up a bit & stay at some of the state park or recreational government sites. Whilst these sites are a little more basic they are usually in places of outstanding natural beauty & way cheaper than an RV park. Whilst only a half hour drive it was a little hairy trying to navigate in the dark as the headlights were shockingly dim but we made it & were rewarded the next day with a beautiful view over Lake Pleasant. The large outdoor recreational area lies on the county border lines of Maricopia & Yavapai, northwest of Pheonix, Arizona. It is about 1700 feet above sea level and covers 7,500 acres with a depth that ranges from 70 – 170 foot. Small boats were evident & while I was taking photos a mass of hot air balloons could be seen & the cactus were really fascinating shapes & varieties.
Camp Verde provided a great place to stop for coffee & I treated myself to a bag of ‘Cowboy Coffee’ in a great cafe we found. The lady in the tourist information office was really lovely & we found a garage where the mechanics checked our tyres for free. Just showing there really are still some kind people in the world as although the light was still on I had now concluded there was little to be done about it in just about every way possible.
Travelling towards Grants, New Mexico we realised we had skipped from PacificTime to Mountain time & hence why the previous day our journey seemed to be taking longer with every mile we drove forward. To be staying in the same time zone was definitely a blessing as we faced the longest drive of the trip at nearly 400 miles which was going to take at least 6.5 hours not counting stops.
It was hoped that we would be able to incorporate the scenic drive via the Petrified Forest near Holbrook but having to had made so many unscheduled pit stops the previous few days this was sadly no longer an option. Still we did manage to catch a small section the Joshua Tree National Forest & that sort of compensated as the landscape was really unlike any other forest we had ever seen.
Grants KOA was a great place to break the journey overnight before heading towards Albuquerque then consulting google maps to ask the all important question ‘is this the way to Amarillo?’ There are not many occasions to screen shot the sat nav instructions but when it tells you drive on the Interstate 40 East for 348 miles before making a right turn this was definitely one. I normally try to avoid this type of road as inevitably whilst undoubtably quicker they are infinitely more boring to drive. However from this a great new driving game was invented. Think of variation of ‘eye spy’ in which every time a particular advert or nominated thing was spotted the passenger had to insert a suitably cheesy song into the days playlist. To qualify the song ideally had to have a place or state name that we were likely to visit or have a suitable country & western vibe although not sure the algorithms of my Spotify account have completely recovered from some of the gems we found.
Arriving at Fort Amarillo, Texas minus another hour as we had left mountain time for central time we were glad to take a rest & do some laundry before heading across country to Dallas.