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Andrew Pollock


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Sunday, 25 November 2007

Thanksgiving below zero

We got home from our week in Arizona late last night. We decided to drive non-stop yesterday, and get home in a day, rather than split it over two days like we did getting there. It ended up taking around 15 hours (we had an unexpected delay at Lost Hills because we found a stray dog (we initially thought it to be injured to boot) and Sarah was trying to get hold of some local animal control people to do something about it), otherwise it'd have taken closer to 14 hours.

The drive to Phoenix was pretty uneventful. We took our time leaving Mountain View on Sunday (we had an early Thanksgiving dinner with all of our neighbours on Saturday night), and decided to call it a night at Cabazon. For about the same price that we stayed in a crappy motel last time we went this way, we stayed at the Morongo Casino, which was really nice. We were in a "Canyon View" room, and, well this is what the view looked like...

We arrived at Craig and Sarah's place at about 5pm on Monday afternoon. Their new place is really nice. It's huge, with a huge yard, and a nice view of the hills. I've found suburban Phoenix (well Peoria to be precise) to be the closest looking thing to what I consider "normal Australian suburbia" that I've seen so far in the US. Granted, Peoria's a bit upmarket (at least the part that Craig and Sarah live in).

So we spent a day and a half vegging out at Craig and Sarah's place, then on Wednesday afternoon, we headed off to Woods Canyon Lake, in the Sitgreaves National Forests. I rode most of the way with Craig in their new motor home, and then swapped to drive our car after we got close to our destination. It turns out that the headlights in RVs are universally crap, so it was better for the Prius to be out front lighting the way on the gravel road.

I'd always associated Arizona with cacti and sand, but as it turns out, the majority of the state is forest. We arrived at the campsite after nightfall, and set up shop. We met some of Craig and Sarah's friends that night, who were all very friendly towards us. It was ridiculously cold that night. We went to bed rather under-dressed for the temperature, and absolutely froze.

The next day (Thursday), we all drove from the campsite (Craig towed their Jeep behind the RV) to Woods Canyon Lake itself, and went fishing. Arizona fishing licences for non-Arizona residents were a bit on the expensive side, so Sarah and I just hung out on the rocks and chatted to people and took photos. The collective haul of trout from about 5 hours fishing was pretty impressive.

I'm not quite sure why, but Friday was the group Thanksgiving dinner. Everyone pitched in, and cooked up a storm. They deep-fried three turkeys (which came out very nice and looking much less like KFC than I expected), and we had way more food than we needed. We all ate outdoors at around 3:30pm, and it was about 33°F (0.55°C). The only downside of this (aside from it being bloody cold) was the leftovers went cold almost instantly, so going back for seconds was a bit of a disappointment. Everyone gravitated back to the fire pretty quickly afterwards. It got pretty cold that night. I think it was down around -4°C when we went to bed that night.

We left a bit before 8am the next morning, and the car thought it was -7°C outside. One of the other campers told Sarah his thermometer was reading something closer to -14°C. I'm not sure how cold it was when we were in New York in January, but I didn't think it was that cold.

It was a good week away. The mix of camping and not camping was about just right. Now it's back to work for two weeks before we head off to Australia.

Photos from the trip are here.

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