The first leg of our trip was an excellent way for us to have a shakedown of our truck and camper before beginning the international part of our trip. It was also a way for us to stall our trip and arrive in Arizona in time to visit our friends and families for Thanksgiving.

Leaving Indio, CA, we wanted to see Joshua Tree National Park but were running out of time and decided we would save it for another trip. Being so close to the park, we left the highway and took a couple photos of the Dr. Seuss looking trees along the road.

We left California and arrived in Phoenix on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving and it was immediately apparent that the temperature was climbing as we approached Phoenix. RV traffic began to increase  as well. Throughout the desert near Quartzsite, AZ, campers were scattered in groups which we assumed were snowbirds settling in to live off the grid for the winter. Once again, we participated in rush hour as we pulled into the western edge of Phoenix but we arrived at my parents’ house just after dark.

Thanksgiving arrived before we knew it and we were excited to celebrate with everyone. This year, we celebrated twice as Laughlin’s Dad worked on Thanksgiving day so Thursday we had a traditional Thanksgiving meal with my family and Friday we had a smoked New York strip roast to mix things up. As always, we were thrilled for more home cooked meals!

Having a place to spread out our gear and regroup is a luxury we haven’t had in a while so we took advantage of it. The first order of business was to rebuild the platform that our camper sits on in the bed of the truck. Our original plan was to use the open space under the camper as storage and to use the space between the cab and the cabover of the camper as a place to store a solar panel. Our plans changed as we determined our battery would be large enough to provide power while we were parked for a few days so the solar panel wasn’t necessary and the storage under the camper was pretty insignificant and wasn’t easy to access.  The benefits of dropping the camper were better aerodynamics and better security between the camper and truck bed. After pulling the camper out of the truck, we rebuilt the platform by placing the 2x4s on their side, which dropped the camper about 2 inches and afforded us the benefits mentioned above. With our gear out of the camper, cleaning and organizing was possible and, when finished, was a big weight off our shoulders!

Laughlin thought this was sooo funny.

Some basic maintenance was on our to do list and included a tire rotation and oil change. Without air tools and a floor jack, we decided the tire rotation would be time consuming and laborious during our short visit. Disposing the oil also created a challenge in the city so we began considering our options. My Dad got us lined out with a Pep Boys just down the road that would rotate our tires for free with an oil change. Score! We got a great deal on the service but did have to return to the shop as the oil was too thin for the temperatures ahead of us. No big deal. Along our trip, we will be doing the tire rotations and filter replacements ourselves, but the time and effort saved was worth the extra time with our families.

After relaxing for a few days on our initial Phoenix visit, Flagstaff was our next stop!

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