Sometimes the trip to or from the show is as eventful as the show itself. The trip to the Phoenix area I particularly enjoy because there’s a short-cut from Mecca to the I10-eastbound up Box Canyon. On the outbound trip, which is during the day, the geology is very scenic. On the inbound trip, which is usually around 10pm, it’s one of those dark-sky zones where you can stop and enjoy stars without the interference of city lights. The alternative is to go up to the I10 in Indio, but the Box Canyon cut-off is 25 miles shorter.
On the way to Carefree, I got to the top of Box Canyon, where it joins the freeway, only to find the on-ramp was coned off and blocked by several pieces of heavy machinery. The next on-ramp to the east is at Chiriaco Summit, maybe 4 miles, and to the west, the Indio on-ramp. Yes, a 50 mile round trip. Aargh.
Just to complicate matters, I’d been having some slight thermostat problems with the truck. Although it wasn’t overheating very much, from the last trip, it seemed that if I stopped to let it cool, it got hotter. The plan had been to try to drive to Blythe to get a replacement thermostat, if necessary, doing the work in the parking lot. I had not planned on stopping between home and Blythe – a 2 hour leg of the trip. And it was starting to look like I was going to have to stop at Chiriaco anyway, that second cup of coffee was working overtime, and I didn’t think my bladder would make it another hour to Blythe.
I hopped out of the truck and talked to one of the workers who pointed me in the direction of the foreman. He said that at the last bend in Box Canyon was a side-road, marked by two cones, which went up to Chiriaco Summit. Perfect.
However, when the foreman used the word ‘road’, he didn’t quite say how ‘roady’ this was. At first there was a dirt stretch, followed by gravel and more dirt, and eventually panning out into ancient blacktop for a while, then changing between the three options before it joined I10 at Chiriaco Summit. I had the ‘road’ to myself. It passed little bridges where washes ran down, and these were inevitably full of trees and bushes. Ah, if ever there was a road I could leave the truck running at the side of it and run behind a bush!
No need to stop at Chiriacco! When I got to Blythe and bought the thermostat, I think the truck realized I was serious about doing this open-hood surgery myself in a parking lot without a mechanic in attendance. I’ve not had a problem with it since.