We recently set off on our 5th western adventure from the UK and as usual, we had a fantastic time.
We will cover over 3700 miles, visit 5 States (California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas), 6 National parks, plus National Monuments and State Parks while discovering some history of the 'Wild west'.
Here follows our Trip report.
We had always travelled to the USA sometime between mid September and early November in the past, but due to circumstance we missed out on our 2018 tour and was determined to make it during 2019. I kept browsing and 'Day dreaming' about our next trip throughout 2018 and then during an Internet search, right there in front of me was a great value flight from Heathrow to LA departing in February. Sometimes you click on these 'Too good to be true ' flight deals only to discover they are too good to be true and you are directed to an updated page with 'fresh' prices. On this occasion I went to the booking page, filled out all the details and there it was staring me in the face ! What could I do ? I clicked 'Buy now' and that was that. Big Bend was on our 'To do' list and it seemed an ideal time to visit, before Spring break starts and before it heats up too much, so that was the focus of the trip and the full planning begun. I waited for a while for a decent deal to appear on Cruise America's website and then there it was, a mileage reduction charge of 9 cents a mile and a good rental deal of $850 for 17 nights. ( A 9 cent per mile saving doesn't sound much, but the kind of mileage we cover it was a saving of almost $350 !) We decided on a 25ft RV as there was just the 2 of us travelling this time and some of the upcoming roads and campgrounds had length limits starting from 24 feet.
Day 1. 17th February 2019.
We had a 10:30am flight departing from London Heathrow, which I think is an ideal time for an International flight. We didn't have to get up too early and with the time difference it gets us into LA around 2:30pm (local time) and by the time you have cleared customs and got to your Hotel it's normally close to 5pm. As beat as we were, we always resist having a lay down and instead have a coffee, freshen up and walk around the block and find something to eat around 6pm. Our Hotel was the Baymont in Lawndale CA which hasn't a great deal to offer in the neighbourhood, but it did offer the furthest free shuttle bus service from LAX that put us the closest to the Cruise America pick up site and offered good value. I had found a nice little Burger bar just a couple of blocks away called 'Corner Burger' that had good reviews and seemed ideal for a couple of tired travellers who had been awake for over 20 hours and who wouldn't really appreciate a 'full on' slap up meal. We ordered our food and sat at a counter, while we were waiting the local fire crew turned up in their fire truck to pick up their food order. Promising sign ! Yep, the Burger and fries were great, so after we walked it off for a few blocks and returned to the Hotel we were ready for a good nights sleep.
Day 2. 18th Feb.
The hotel offered a free Continental breakfast which turned out to be pretty good, by the time we had showered our pre-booked taxi arrived at 11am sharp to take us to the RV centre. We hadn't arranged an early pick up with Cruise America (which is normally from 1pm) but I thought we would show up early and hope for the best. They were really good and we had sorted the paper work, loaded up the RV and was ready to hit the road shortly before 1pm. First it was a 400 yard drive to the gas station, the RV was low on fuel and $145 later we were topped up and heading north on I-405. The traffic (as expected) was busy but flowing OK with a few snarl up's close to LAX and where the I-405 joins I-5. The congestion gradually eased and we made reasonable progress before taking CA14 through Palmdale towards Mojave where we stopped to shop for supplies. Snow capped mountains had come into view and the excitement and realisation hit home. We're back !
Click here for this RTA Library Map
North through Antelope Valley Lancaster CA.
We drove through Red rock canyon. It was our intention to stop for a break, but the parking area sign appeared rather quickly, to quick to slow the RV for the turn in. As the time was getting on we decided to keep going rather than turn back. It was good to be driving among Red rocks once more though!
Highway 14 then merged with US395 and we were on the home straight to our overnight stop, the Olancha RV park. First of all we needed to top up with fuel ready to tackle Death valley in the morning, so we stopped at Pearsonville as scheduled and payed the 'Hubcap Lady' a visit. Pearsonville came into being when the Pearson family started a wreckers yard and grew as a business rescuing stranded motorists in this remote area and clearing wrecks from the road. Lucy Pearson started collecting Hubcaps and was said to have collected something like 80,000 of them and after a couple of TV appearances was dubbed the Hubcap lady and Pearsonvile became known as the 'Hubcap capital of the world'. There isn't much sign of the wreckers yard there these days and it's a bit of a ghost town, but the 'Hubcap girl' still watches the Highway. Another $72 for the thirsty RV and it's on our way.
So it was a short run to Olancha in the dark. There was no sign of life in the office as we pulled up but there were lights on in the Cafe. The folks that run it were inside but there were no customers. It looked cosy with the log fire burning on this cold night so we asked what time they were closing. They said soon, but if we wanted to eat they would stay open. We said yes please ! We were shown to our site and walked back over to the cafe. They were very welcoming and put more logs on the fire and we didn't feel rushed at all. They brought us drinks while we studied the menu, I decided on steak (no surprise!) and Lezli had Quesadilla with a chicken filling. The food was delicious in this place in the middle of nowhere. Great find !
Olancha RV park. You can rent a Wig Wam to !
Olancha Cafe. Great food !
We returned to the RV as the temps dropped well below freezing (it did get down to -7C) and made the bed up, unpacked our cases, had a hot drink, turned the Furnace on low and got tucked in for the night. I did not connect to the water mains due to the low temperatures which turned out to be a good call, the outside pipes froze overnight but having the furnace on protected the RV lines.
Todays mileage: 206 miles.