A week ago we were visiting family in Floyd, Virginia, near Roanoke … we then left for two nights camping near the Smoky Mountains. Late Monday, 10/22, we became aware of the weather system (then Tropical Storm Sandy) brewing in the Caribbean and decided to point our truck and camper west with all deliberate legal and safe speed.
As a point of reference on this fall’s cross-country trip we generally traveled on two-lane secondary byways at no more than 55 mph, covering between 100-175 miles a day.
That was a thing as a past. On Tuesday morning we slipped onto I-40 in eastern Tennessee and passed an overturned Coachmen Freedom Express travel trailer (see photo) reminding us not to get too anxious. We clicked off 450 miles, moving through Nashville and Memphis. We camped that night in Arkansas‘ Silver Creek State Park, a few miles north of I-40.
Wednesday had us battling strong winds from the south (gusts to 30-35 mph) in mid-80s temperatures. For the next 10 hours, we only stopped for a quick breakfast and fuel as we bounced along 530 miles to Foss State Park in western Oklahoma. The high winds cut our mpg from 14 to about 9.6.
Thursday was our longest day, we left Foss around 3:45 a.m. (The ranger had let us know that a cold front with high winds from the north was moving in over night, dropping temperatures 30 degrees.) We put in 14 hours, traveling 717 miles, through two time zones crossing the Texas panhandle, New Mexico and into eastern Arizona. We camped near Winslow at the Homolovi Ruins State Park and woke up to 27-degrees.
We were packed and on the road by 7 a.m. on Friday heading across Arizona and into California’s Mojave Desert encountering more strong Santa Ana-type winds. After nine hours and 506 miles, we felt we were safely through all of the challenging weather and pulled over for the night at the Mountain Valley RV Park in Tehachapi, Calif., just off CA Hwy 58.
On Saturday we encountered new driving challenges–California’s bumpy Hwy. 99 and an amazing number of inconsiderate drivers who darted in and out of traffic lanes crowded with 18-wheelers, RVs and normal drivers. We made it back to our site in the SKP Park of the Sierras south of Yosemite by early afternoon … covering 202 miles.
We’re still a little dazed Sunday morning from our race west across the country, but we are tremendously relieved when we look at the Weather Channel and realize that where we were just a few days ago is being pummeled by now Hurricane Sandy.
— (Julianne G Crane)
Photo: Overturned Coachmen Freedom Express travel trailer in Tennessee. (Julianne G Crane)