As I pilot my rig across the straight edge desert divider that is I-10 through New Mexico yesterday, I ponder my lonely driving problem. After all I have nothing much else to think about (THANK GOODNESS – dear Lord please don’t think I am asking for more challenges on my RV trips!!). Driving from Las Cruces to Albuquerque today I decide to give Alexa a test ride as my co-driver. After all she can tell jokes, answer some questions, play music and there is an electric plug right beside her seat so I can power her up.
At first she performs as expected. She complies with my initial request to play music. But she plays it so softly, I can hardly hear her. Like a maniacal recording, I shout “Alexa, Volume UP… Alexa, Volume Up…etc.” Did she go deaf overnight or she is ignoring me? When I inquire about attractions along our route she becomes agitated and is unable to come up with answers. Wait a minute… those are the exact complaints that Storm had about my co-driving sometimes.
She does not fuss back at me as I might have done with Stormy, but she makes her feelings clear. Out of the blue, she blasts (at full volume) some crazy rap sounding song featuring a police siren followed by a heavily accented person screaming something in Spanish. This is not what I expected from my George Jones iHeart radio station. Audition over, I pull her plug.
A Great RV Trip Planning Tool
I will probably never be able to share all the great info I learned spending time with Jane and Leyman, but I have to let my fellow RVers know about the book they let me use called Mountain Directory West. You can purchase a hard copy online or at a truck stop. You can also download the ebook (there is also an Eastern version). Locations and descriptions of mountain passes and steep grades are listed by state in this handy guide.
I have been asked why I chose to backtrack east a couple hundred miles, then turn north to Moab adding an extra day to my travels. There are several reasons. First, I was warned by a couple of friends not to transit the Navajo Nation right now east of Phoenix because of the pandemic concentration there. Also the temperatures above 100 around Phoenix would be dangerously uncomfortable for both me and the RV.
Finally the Mountain Directory describes two long, steep grades north of Phoenix that I could not avoid. Clawing slowly to the summit of a near vertical obstacle is a task more suited to the Jeep than the RV. The stress of babying the RV engine over these summits would have fried my brain if not the RV engine. Add in the bonus of seeing Michele and George along my eastern, less challenging route and I think you will agree that my decision was a no brainer.