Friday, February 10, 2012

High desert stopover


We are at a familiar gravel siding on BLM land near Burro Creek, between Wickenburg and Wikieup, Arizona (map). This has become something of a traditional stop for us, being nearly halfway between Phoenix and Las Vegas, and we've grown quite fond of it.

While we are only a few yards from the paved road to the BLM's Burro Creek campground, camping is clearly allowed on this siding as evidenced by a traditional BLM "14 Day Limit" marker. Across the road and through an unlocked cattle gate are some nicer spots further from the pavement, and if we planned to be here more than a single night we would go there instead, as it is a bit more rustic and the gate tends to deter the looky-loos, most of whom assume that the gate is to bar public access (it's not -- it's to keep the cattle inside the lease, and another 14-day limit sign confirms this is BLM land available for dispersed camping).

Even this close to the road, there is no traffic at all here after dark, and even US-93, visible in the distance in both directions, is mostly deserted overnight. There is no civilization for miles in any direction, and only the power transmission towers and the steel arch Burro Creek bridge on US-93 distinguish this spot from more primitive ones further afield. It was dark and quiet here last night, although the nearly full moon in such conditions illuminates the landscape considerably, and we could easily have gone hiking at midnight.

Notwithstanding the bright moon in the sky, it is so clear here that I was able to see, in succession, Venus, Jupiter, Mars, and Saturn with my binoculars last night. It was so nice that I was tempted to take out the Celestron to observe those bodies, particularly Saturn which makes for spectacular viewing, but setting up the telescope and getting it dialed in with my cheap photographic tripod requires a table or other stable platform, and I didn't want to fiddle with it. Still the viewing was pretty good just with the glasses.

Wednesday afternoon we parked Odyssey in the west economy parking lot at Sky Harbor (map), escorted Edith to the terminal for her flight back to San Jose, and then hopped on the free shuttle to the Metro light rail system. Construction of this system had caused no end of grief for our now defunct restaurant investment across the street from its showpiece station, yet this is the first time we'd actually ridden the system since it opened.

We had a nice evening at the Ghost Lounge and Bistro 202 in the historic Hotel San Carlos, our lone remaining foray into the restaurant business in Phoenix. For what amounts to a short-order restaurant, the menu is eclectic and we found the dinner items interesting and tasty. We also had a nice visit with our friends Mack and Lisa and enjoyed catching up. We had planned on taking the light rail back to the airport, but Mack dropped us off instead.

When we arrived back at the bus, there was a note on the windshield about how we were taking up more than one space and we would be charged accordingly. That seems fair, although many other airport lots we've utilized do not distinguish. I was glad that I had made the effort to squeeze into just two spaces end-to-end rather than parking cross-ways, which usually means we occupy five. Other than the note, and an airport boom truck replacing parking lot lamps in the middle of the night, we were undisturbed.

When we drove out of the lot yesterday, however, we got a load of attitude from an underpaid but over-officious parking attendant who claimed we could not be in that lot. This in spite of the airport parking web site clearly indicating that oversize vehicles should park in either the east or west economy lots, and even signs at both ends of the airport directing vehicles above 14'0" that way. At the entrance to the lot is a sign clearly saying "No Trailers," but it made no mention of motorhomes, trucks, or any other oversize vehicles. The graphic on the sign is virtually identical to the one in the photo above, so it clearly is not the same as the RV icon. When we parked, we observed a large broadcast satellite truck also taking two spaces, so it seemed like the logical place.

In any case, this woman went non-linear about it. When we pressed her to tell us where we were supposed to park, she could not answer, other than to say that there was an 18' length limit at all airport lots. It took us nearly five minutes to get them to run our credit card for the $18 fee ($9 per space) with her arguing the whole time. We plan to call the airport parking authority (whenever we have cell coverage) to complain -- I have no problem with the rule (if that's even the case), but they need to be clear about it on the web site and the airport signage, and their attendants need customer service training. She was rude and abusive, and simply could not understand how we didn't just magically know that vehicles over 18' were prohibited.

Speaking of airports and our various successes and failures therewith, we had planned to pick up our friends and their wedding party at McCarran tomorrow and shuttle them to the Bellagio in style. I had even planned to wash Odyssey and maybe don my tux for the occasion, and what I remembered from the last several times I have been to that airport, there would be no issues. Ha.

When I went over to the McCarran web site a few days ago to double-check on airport roadways and routes and figure out where we needed to be, I discovered that in the last couple years they have completely rebuilt the roadway system and segregated all the traffic. Private passenger drop-off and pick-up are now done on the second level of a multi-level parking structure with an 8'0" clearance. There are, of course, much larger lanes for airport and commercial shuttle buses, but after speaking directly with the airport parking and traffic folks, they will simply not allow us in those lanes.

Harumph. There is a way to access the airport, involving parking Odyssey in the remote long-term lot and taking the airport's shuttle to and from the terminal (exactly what we did at Sky Harbor). But the long term lot is very nearly as far from the terminal as the Bellagio itself, and this would mean two separate rides for them from the terminal to their hotel, and transferring luggage in between as well. Understandably, they have decided to just take a taxi and we will instead meet them later at the hotel for cocktails.

All of which means that my goal of being in Las Vegas tonight so we can get settled and figure out the details of washing the bus in the morning is now moot. We might wash the bus anyway, since we've been putting it off till now for the occasion, and it really needs it. But there is no point in pushing all the way to the strip tonight, adding one more night to our on-site parking there that we try hard not to abuse. Instead we'll stay somewhere between Hoover Dam and Henderson, which will give us a short drive of perhaps 45 minutes left for tomorrow.

Photo by chrisinplymouth, used under a Creative Commons license.

1 comment:

  1. That sign actually looks more like a tractor-trailer (for a semi) sign. Customer service sure makes a difference in attitude.


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