Monday, February 6, 2012

Decisions, decisions


We are at the Flying-J truck stop in Eloy, Arizona (map). While we had a fairly nice spot, in the very corner of the lot, furthest from the freeway and most of the idling trucks, we had planned on being in quieter and less populated, if not actually nicer, digs last night. In hindsight, we probably should have stopped at one of the casinos in Tucson.

We had a very pleasant drive from Sierra Vista to Tucson. The route north of Sonoita does become a bit twisty as well as very hilly, but it is beautiful and a refreshing change from the freeway. From Sonoita to Tucson one gives back some 2,500' in elevation, and a good 1,500' of that is between Sonoita and I-10, so I was on the retarder quite a bit. The good news is that we got excellent fuel mileage and I did not need to touch the brakes.

In Tucson we made a stop at the Camping World embedded in Lazy Day's RV dealership (formerly Beaudry), which also has an enormous campground (and thus no free overnight parking). The gas struts on the engine tailgate have given out, and I was hoping to find replacements there, but they did not have any in the right size. We've been looking for a while now, and Camping World was more or less our last attempt at just buying them over-the-counter. We also needed a few groceries, and so stopped at the Fry's supermarket a few blocks away.

It was still very early when we wrapped up our business in Tucson, and the casino options are all a good ways off the direct route to Phoenix, and so we decided to continue on, as our Day's End directory listed a handful of overnight options a bit south of here, starting at Picacho Peak. There is, of course, a state park there with a nice campground, but for an overnight stop where we did not need any of the services they offered, we chose not to partake.

At that same exit, though, are a trio of sites that once held businesses now long defunct, including Nickerson's restaurant, now boarded up, a small motel which burned to the ground, and a store. The parking lots of these establishments, other than Nickerson's which is fenced off, have long been a potential overnight stop. Unfortunately, when we arrived yesterday afternoon, the old store location has reopened as an adult emporium, and the lot for the ex-motel sports a new sign saying "Truck Parking." Since we had no desire to spend the night among the randy truckers, we moved along.

On the other side of the highway there are several gravel turnouts between the frontage road and the railroad tracks, which I would figure mostly to be on the railroad's right-of-way. A couple of the lots, including one adjacent to the tiny post office in the burg of Picacho, were also listed in Day's End. None was appealing, as many were adjacent to the noisy freeway, and all had plenty of trash from overnight trucks, including the infamous p-bottles. By the time we had passed all the listed locations, we were nearly to this exit, where we knew there was both a Flying-J and a Pilot.

The Pilot was actually on the correct side of the freeway, but we opted to cross over to the Flying-J instead because they tend to have more facilities appropriate to RVs. This one does have RV-specific dispensers and a dump station, but uncharacteristically there is no RV parking in the front lot, so we came around to the back with the trucks. We're used to it, and we look enough unlike a conventional RV that we don't really stick out back here and the truckers don't harass us. The place was nowhere near full last night, so we weren't acing anyone out of a spot. Only later, when I looked closely at the satellite views, did I realize that the Pilot actually has a handful of RV spaces in the front lot, separate from the trucks, and would have been a better choice, which we'll remember for next time.

If there even is a next time -- with relatively pleasant casino parking only an hour in either direction from here, it makes little sense as a stopping point, which is why this is our first stop here in many passes. As I said, in hindsight we should have made a shorter day and stayed in Tucson, but we were lured by the call of dark, quiet, and deserted parking that turned out to be a delusion.

Our next stop will most likely be Wild Horse Pass casino just south of the city. Our big quandry right now concerns where we will spend the following two nights. Tomorrow we want to visit our restaurant investment downtown, where there is really no RV parking at all. And Wednesday we are squeezing in a quick visit with Louise's mom, who quite coincidentally is in Phoenix for a business meeting over the next two days, and has just a couple hours between the end of her meeting and her flight out of Sky Harbor.

We go through this every time we are in Phoenix, and we still have not settled on a routine solution. There are several places to park within city limits, including a pair of Elks lodges and a handful of casinos, but none is convenient to downtown where the restaurant is located. Since parking options come and go, sometimes rapidly, I will spend a few hours this evening working on the problem.

Photo by Phae, used under a Creative Commons license.


  1. Keep in mind that Phoenix does have a very nice, new light-rail system that provides service to downtown. You may be able to find some RV parking convenient to the light-rail line.

  2. I keep telling you guys to try the SKP place in Benson. Lol Boon docking is pretty inexpensive. $5.00 Even saw a bus on a site this year. A bit frustrating to get a lease here. We've been on the have patience list for 4 years and we're just under 200 on it. By the time we get one, I'll be one of the old guys waiting to pass on. I think a condo in Gilbert or Chandler might be the solution. We have a great rig, but the condo without wheels for the winter is gaining in appeal believe it or not. The only potential problem is the three dogs, but that will work out one way or the other. WE wouldn't consider the Phoenix area, but our son and family live in Scottsdale, and if we're going to grow ground roots we might as well do it near them. We still have a nice home in Wisconsin that Karen does not want to sell. We can always winter there too. But, it's not Arizona and a lot colder. (in the winter) Safe travels to both of you. Next month we'll be at a very crowded and expensive RV park in Mesa so we can visit the family there and head for home in April. Hope your restaurant in downtown is doing well. Safe travels. Ed Thomas
    Ed Thomas

  3. For your gas strut issue, have you searched McMaster-Carr? They have many, many things. Plus a decent search function in their site. They're located in a burb of Chicago.
    I don't think I can put in a link here, so you'll have to do a search, or plug '' in your browser.
    Good luck.

  4. Good tip from Bob, I was going to suggest the same.

  5. Sean, what is the length of the struts you need? I will check my Setra's to see if any of them could/would work.
    ;D BK ;D


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