Las Cruces, NM to Phoenix, AZ

We left Las Cruces, NM pretty early so we could get into town, check in, change, and go to the Mid-Week Meeting in Phoenix this evening (Hebrews 10:23, 24). 

On this portion of I-10 we drove through dust storm warning areas. 


We passed the Mae West Peaks and saw some awesome rock formations. 


We also drove through Tucson and admired the surrounding peaks 

When we passed the Saguaro National Park I made a literal note to go back and explore there soon. 

It was so serene. 

During this drive we found out where truck stop coffee comes from… a tanker. That would explain the bitterness. 

We beat rush hour and checked in to the Ramada in Glendale, on the north side of Phoenix (see review warning/notes below). 

Meeting with the Bellair Congregation was lovely. Their Hall is beautiful and the people were very warm. We met a family who just came back from the North Rim and they gave us tips on what to see at the Grand Canyon. 

I would NOT recommend the Ramada in Glendale, Arizona:

  • Very sketchy people in the parking lots at all hours of the day and night. 
  • Non smoking rooms reeking of smoke. 
  • Huge stains in the carpet. 

Tomorrow we head to the Grand Canyon!!

Las Cruces, New Mexico

The drive from Fort Stockton, Texas to Las Cruces, New Mexico was lovely. Driving west on I-10 gave us nice views of the Sierra Blancas to the south and the Organ Mountains to the north. 


I want to go back and hike there. 

Driving through El Paso was crazy. Lots of people in a hurry. Saw two almost accidents. Waved at Mexico from the interstate (it was so close!). Also, we are now in Mountain Time. 


Right past El Paso I saw a Camping World RV lot so we stopped. Wouldn’t it be great to do this road trip with a travel trailer? Then we wouldn’t have to chance iffy budget hotels. Hmmmm. I liked this Launch Mini Extreme 18QB model by Starcraft. Only 3,100 pounds!

Anywho, on to Las Cruces!


Along the way we reserved at the EconoLodge using the Hotels.com app and the hotel definitely exceeded my expectations. The rooms have just been updated so that was a nice touch. Their staff is friendly and the breakfast area looks promising. The price, though, is amazing! I’d definitely recommend if you’re on a low budget road trip. 

We noticed Titan limping when he got out of the SUV and worried it was because he is recovering from surgery and perhaps reinjured his knee. The husband quickly realized that during his walk outside of Camping World he stepped on a prickly seed pod and removed it. Titan walked a little better. Then in the room we saw him limp again. Upon closer inspection there were a couple of the prickles in his paw pad. We used tweezers to extract them. We have to add tweezers to Titans bag especially when he is well enough to go hiking with us!


I’ve wanted Vibram five-finger shoes for hiking for a while now and we found a retailer at Ride On Sports here in Las Cruces just a couple miles from the hotel. I found my size but they only had orange ones. So I’ll order on Amazon and have them sent to the hotel at the Grand Canyon South Rim Village. 

We ate dinner at Pho A Dong (which the blurb in the menu says means “Asian Soup” but I’m skeptical). 

It’s owned by a Vietnamese immigrant family that moved here in the 60s. Downer was that they didn’t serve wine. The food was flavorful, though. The husband got beef Pho and I got Hu Tien Xao Mein (Soft Fresh Rice Noodle).


 It was so good that I forgave the low tech menu insert update. 

All in all I would recommend Las Cruces as an overnight stopping point. It’s the perfect size, has a lot of amenities close to the interstate, and even some outdoor opportunities if you want to go hiking. 

In the morning we head to Scottsdale, Arizona. 

Cotulla and Fort Stockton, Texas

We chose the Microtel Inn in Cotulla, TX and were pleasantly surprised that an inexpensive Hotels.com choice turned out to be perfect for us and our service dog while in town. Their complimentary breakfast included eggs and bacon. 

Early morning started out rocky… or didn’t start as it actually happened. We have a dual battery set up that runs through an inverter. During our trip down to Laredo one of the cables came loose and wasn’t allowing the main battery to charge. My husband fixed the cable and a nice guy in a semi truck gave us a jump. 

The real drive to Fort Stockton started out flat and turned into a bypass of plateaus, draws, and ridges. We saw a good amount of wind energy being collected along the way, too. We also passed a pretty river that I had to stop and get a photo of. 

In Fort Stockton, Texas we stayed at the Super 8 on West Dickenson Boulevard. 


The front desk clerk was super nice and helpful. She suggested a place for dinner and we ate right down the road at K-Bob’s Steakhouse. I loved their “salad wagon”. 


I had the fajitas. 


Yes, they are shrimp. Yes, as a South Louisiana girl I knew they wouldn’t be as good as our fresh ones. I enjoyed them anyway 🙂

The Super 8 is under renovation and should be a lot better looking in a month or so. But, for the price and the fact that it’s a Super 8 it is good for travel in a pinch. Titan didn’t seem to have any complaints. 

Tomorrow we drive to Las Cruces, New Mexico. 

Our TransAmerican Road Trip

So there we were, all prepared for a 3-month Mexican road trip…

Then we tried to cross the border and import our vehicle and get our tourist and resident visas stamped. No go. We were told to go back and get additional paperwork. Back to Louisiana? It’s not so far… but what if this difficulty is simply a reminder that when life hands you lemons that you should make a lemonade spritzer?

So we went back to the hotel in Cotulla and got over our feelings. We looked for the silver lining and guess what? It was right there all along.

It started with the realization that neither of us has been to the Grand Canyon. You know what else? We think it *would* be amazing to visit.


We’ve got friends and family spread out all over the US in some pretty amazing natural settings that we haven’t ever really gotten to enjoy. For instance, places like NorCal, the Oregon Coast, Glacier National Park, the Rocky Mountains, Arkansas Hot Springs, and the AppalachianTrail are all places that we would love to see.

We’ve got time, a beast of a vehicle, and all of the great wide unknown. So we decided to reframe the situation and see the huge window opening just as one door was temporarily closed. We’ve made a two-week tentative plans to head west to CA then north to the PNW.

First, we are off to the Grand Canyon by way of Fort Stockton, TX, Las Cruces, NM, and Phoenix, AZ!

Trip Gear 2017

I went a little crazy ordering gear and clothing for our 3-month trip through Mexico and Belize this summer. I read a lot on how to combat going through multiple climate zones with minimal luggage and decided to try a couple of base layer ultra lightweight wool t-shirts for some of our trip through the highlands and UPF clothing for the sunny coast. I will video reviews of the clothing and luggage once we return.

LUGGAGE/GEAR

  • Eagle Creek Cargo Hauler Large Duffel
  • Eagle Creek Cargo Hauler Extra-Large Duffel
  • Timbuk2 Wingman Carry-On
  • Eagle Creek Pack-It Large Garment Folder
  • Eagle Creek Spectre Folder 18
  • Running Buddy XL Pouch

CLOTHING

  • Woolly Clothing Men’s Merino Wool V-Neck
  • Woolx Men’s Daily Boxers
  • Speedo Men’s UPF 50 Swim Tee
  • Woolx Women’s Sophie Merino Wool Tee
  • Kanu Surf Women’s Rash Guard Tee
  • Holysnow Women’s Yoga Board Shorts
  • Woolx Women’s Mia Tee
  • Woolx Women’s Perfect Capris

SHOES

  • Men’s Five Fingers Men’s
  • Naot Business
  • Women’s Birkenstock Gizeh
  • Women’s Naot Prophecy

VITAMINS/SUPPLMENTS

  • Megafood Women’s One Daily Vitamin
  • Megafood Multi for Men
  • Reset 360 Vanilla All-In-One Shake

ELECTRONICS

  • iKlip Selfie Stick/Tripod
  • Otterbox Waterproof Phone Case
  • Garmin Nuvi 2757LM GPS
  • Viper Car Alarm

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Smokey the Beast – 1999 Ford Expedition  

For our trek across the country we outfitted our first generation Ford Expedition.  It’s a 1999 “Expi” 4×4. We are building it for long and harsh road trips, off-roading, and overlanding. Its has just about everything replaced from the engine to all the suspension. Lots of accessories have been added including a dual battery system, winch, roof basket, LED light bars and much more.

Spying Out Venice, Italy

We will be in Italy this fall attending an English congregation about an hour from Venice. Here is some info about La Serenissima.

 

map-italy
Venice (Venezia) is in Northeast Italy

 

 

This post is from Gracia’s Travels blog. See link at bottom of post.

 

We had an overnight in Venice before we boarded our ship.  We had no agenda for this visit…just wander the streets and alleys.  Since we had been to Venice before, we tried to visit some of the more far off corners of the island.  Every turn brought a photo opp.  The weather was overcast and threatened to sprinkle but, having no heavy shadows, was good for pictures.

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DSC02563 C    I have another 130 pictures of Venice.

But I don’t want to wear you out.  Next, we board the ship and set sail for Dubrovnik.

 

Read more from Gracia’s Travels at https://graciamc.wordpress.com/2015/03/14/venice-hard-to-take-a-bad-picture-here/

 

 

italy-northern
Venice is in the Veneto Region