Our Annual Cross Country Trip

Being that my husband and I are originally from Vermont and Massachusetts, respectively, and that our families still reside there, we make an annual trip in our fifth wheel trailer from Arizona to Massachusetts every summer. This year was a little dicey with Covid-19, and having left our trailer at our RV park in Mass, drove with just our truck. This year, I flew home for a week during the holidays but, usually, we do not see family for 8-9 months.

During our first year in Arizona, we lived in a fifth wheel trailer at Pioneer RV Park, in North Phoenix. Feeling the pangs of leaving our entire family, for months at a time, was emotionally difficult for me so we stayed at the park for only 4 or 5 months. But the next year, we stayed a bit longer and the next a bit longer. Now that we have a home in Sun City West, we leave sometime in June and come back in the fall.

The first year we visited Arizona was for a national single action cowboy shooting match. We had started in St. Augustine for a match held there and, after a month, traveled to Phoenix. The best route from Florida to Arizona was rt. 10. Miles and miles of deserts, dotted with small, green scrub brush made the trip seemingly endless. Fuel stations were 100 miles apart and, except for some attractive rest areas, the terrain was monotonous. Heavy winds through Texas created problems, slowing us down to 5mph, in one place, and causing major damage to our slide in our first (not present) trailer. What I did like were the frequent, long trains that passed us, on either side, the purple-blue mountains, in the distance, and the vast blue sky, surrounding us. Although we are grateful to have had this experience, we do not wish to travel this route, again.

After some trial and error, we have decided that rt. 40 is the best way to go. Traveling through metropolis states has it’s advantages, such as better roads and plenty of restaurants and rest areas. Some of these rest areas were closed this year but, fortunately, we had to use the side of the road, only, once. We were nervous about eating inside any food service places, so we ordered take out, instead. After a uncomfortable first night, sleeping in our truck, we finally agreed to finding a hotel on two different nights. Unlike other years when we stopped at different gift shops to stretch our legs and buy a few things, we drove all day, each day, only stopping for fuel and food. The hotels were a welcome break.

One particular year, on route to Arizona, we started on rt. 40 and, for some reason, turned onto rt. 20. The weather had become treacherous and warnings were being broadcast in two welcome centers we stopped at. I was a little concerned and prayed we would not have an accident. My prayers were answered when we found a Wal Mart to pull into for the night. The next morning, the parking lot attendant told us it was good that we stopped for the night and that there were accidents up and down rt. 20. When we did get back on the road, we saw cars and trailers, one after another, flipped over on the sides of the road. Some were taped off, which my husband said signaled fatalities. We were stunned to see the tragic outcomes of the storm and were grateful for our safety. I truly believe God took us off rt. 40, which had been more treacherous. I believe he helped us find a safe place to stay for the night and have never forgotten his providence. I always say a prayer when we start a new day of travel for God to keep us safe on the road and ask him for help when I drive. Except for a bad sensor, we have never been stranded on the road and I thank God every time.

It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you, Do not fear or be dismayed. (Deuteronomy 31:8)

Our trip, this time, was without incident but was nowhere near as fun as some of our earlier trips have been. Many of the gift shops out west have all kinds of merchandise from clothes to Native American jewelry as well as artwork, dolls, moccasins, clothes, and other toys. Some of the shops include little restaurants where you can buy breakfast, lunch, or ice cream. We used to welcome these stops as a way to break up the monotony of our trip. With Covid at the helm, our goal was to arrive safely and soundly.

The other missing piece to this trip was my lack of taking pictures of the fantastic scenery, especially through the lush forests of Arkansas and Oklahoma, the steep, rocky mountains of New Mexico, and the copious flowering plants dotting the vast desert terrain. It is sad that this magnificent tableaux has become commonplace and unappreciated. We hope, next spring, to own a smaller RV, a class C, hopefully under 30 ft. so that we can travel for our enjoyment and not just out of necessity. I hope my appreciation for our surroundings will be renewed, along with my desire to photograph our travels in words and images.

But for now, we are here in a small western Massachusetts park called Southwick Acres. Surrounded by pine and oak trees, our camper is partly in shade and conveniently located across from the laundry shed. Two visitors at a time are allowed to visit and I am hoping to have the grandchildren overnight, as in the past. Our families are 60 to 90 minutes away making it necessary to arrange meeting times. If we are able to buy that smaller camper, we hope we will be able to camp outside our kids’ homes to spend more quality time with them. My prayer, for now, is that relationships will renew or strengthen and that some will heal. May we continue to make memories that will warm our children’s and our grandchildren’s hearts in years to come. My fear is the year we will not be able to do so.

Published by Sheila Scherlin

I am a retired special needs teacher originally from Massachusetts, now residing in Arizona. My husband and I each have three adult children and many grandchildren and some great grandchildren. My passions are singing, single action cowboy shooting, writing and my faith in Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior. I have danced and acted, on stage and in competitions, but swim aerobics is the closest I come to dance, at this stage. My husband and I travel back east, every summer, to be with our families. I adore our grandchildren and wish we lived closer to them, year round.

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