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To New Mexico and Beyond

Driving to New Mexico with 3 cats, a dog and 3 people in a 19 foot RV is about as fun as it sounds. Well, it wasn’t that bad, especially since my mom spent every night with the cats in a hotel. Surprisingly I was able to find hotels for her that take pets and cost under $40 the entire trip, Motel 6 being the most common one she stayed at. Often we were even able to use the shower in her room – less often the internet but that was usually our own fault for not asking for the password.

A couple nights we stayed down the street from the motel, once at a Walmart, other times truck parking outside Casinos or we were able to stay in the parking lot of the motel – Motel 6 being the coolest with using showers, bathrooms, internet and their parking lot.


The first part of the trip went smoothly. We didn’t run into any mechanical problems and covered allot of ground the first couple days. After the first night in Goldendale Oregon, an uneventful place where we spent hours at a kinkos just slumming the parking lot and printing services, we headed on to our shortcut to New Mexico, a mix of small curvy highways across Nevada. The first highway between the I5 and Reno is a horrible, dark little highway over a tree filled, icy mountain range. We had allot of trouble staying awake for that stretch and ended up staying in Susanville, CA rather than pushing on to Reno, our goal. Susanville was a horrible little town 80 miles from anywhere and next to a state and federal prison. Susanville didn’t have a Motel 6 but we managed to find a Motel 9 that was open ( not any sort of chain, nor an upside down 6). When we went into the office to get a room, for only my mom, the concept of my asking how much a room is for one adult – while being in a group of 3 was too confusing for the rude bastard behind the counter. About the time his blank face got its blankest, I explained we had an RV. His response “what do you mean you have an RV – I have an RV too – I dont think this is going to work” – having the assumption that we planned to use the shower and bathroom in the room, while sleeping in the RV in the parking lot of his hotel. I promptly told him “no, we plan to go park at a Walmart or something. You could have just asked rather than assume we plan to scam you.” (being the blunt person I am). He soon got much less assholish and told us a decent place to park since Susanville has no Walmart. The hotel was a total piece of crap and just to make sure we didnt scam him, he put my mom in a room directly across from the office and was standing outside in the morning watching us load her things into the RV – making sure we didn’t take long enough to shower or flush a toilet. We were glad to leave.


The next night we made it past Reno and on to central Nevada – somehow convinced we would make it to Vegas. We would have, even if it would have been 2 am by then – had the alternator not died on us 20 miles out of the closest populated town, Tonopah. We were in a town when we noticed the but a town without a gas station open after dark was no place to be stuck the next day. We limped back to Tonopah after our trusty iPhones told us they had a Napa Auto parts and a Motel 6. The next morning we went straight to Napa who told us they would have to order a part that would be in the next morning at 9, then gladly referred us to a mechanic just across the street. Since we were running only on battery, driving the Brougham all over town was risking a worse fate, needing a tow (really we would have just had to charge the battery with our generator or drive with a house battery but I like to dramatize). Next day we were there and ready – completely unaware of whether the mechanic could see us right away or we would be waiting all afternoon. Luckily he was ready for us right away, even putting off picking up a stranded hunter (we liked that) to install our shiny new alternator and fan belt. We left full of hope, heading to a casino/restaurant next door and returning just before he was due to go to lunch. “Ive got bad news for you” was the first thing we heard walking up. The new alternator had fallen apart after running for about 30 seconds – just literally cracked open. The mechanic blamed the defect on it having been rebuilt in China. Lucky for us this wasn’t your average shop or average mechanic (like the ones we often get) and while we were gone he had already scouted out a used alternator to install. This was great, even if the arrangement for the used one meant the owner of the used one got our reordered one (to come the next day), we still didn’t have to wait another day in Tonopah and that was great. We got out of town about 1pm, having to stop only once in Pahrump to get a voltage regulator (to stop the new alternator from frying our stereo) then on to Kingman by midnight.


Arizona was a great state to pass through and we did it in only a day. The highways were smooth and pale pinkish black (if that wasnt a color it is now), and we had no mechanical troubles till we met the bumpy rugged roads and insane freeway drivers of New Mexico. About the time we passed Gallup by about 20 miles (our lucky breakdown number), we stopped at a rest stop to find radiator fluid under the cab. We lifted the hood and concluded it was a fat short hose going from the radiator to the engine, filled it up a little and headed back to Gallup for the night. Gallup also being a town with a Napa and Motel 6, our new favorite types of towns. We were able to stay in the parking lot of the Motel, use their showers and make a pizza before bed. The next day we messily replaced the hose in a Denny’s parking lot. We later noticed it was not that hose,… but the one next to it. We bought more hose, and sealed the pinsize leak with electrical and duct tape till we had time to change it (which worked great for a day by the way).

The next day – late at night. We made it to Santa Cruz, NM. The drive after Albuquerque to Santa Cruz was a rough stretch of angry drivers and rough roads destroying the frame of our RV. It was much colder than we expected, getting down to 35 at night, and my mom’s place was without heat when we arrived because of something wrong with the heater. We loaded her up with blankets, helped out a bit, hung out a bit and went to bed. The next day we worked most the day and quickly realized, especially after I was reprimanded by AT&T for “off network data usage”, that we would not be able to work from her place. We had planned to stay a week but with the work issue and the weather planning to drop to 24 degrees at night that Wednesday, we left for Arizona.

By the time we got to Tucson we were so completely drained and behind on work, well, it took us till now to blog about it. Our normal traveling time was intended to not be a rush but getting my mom to New Mexico was a bit of a rush job for many reasons. We’re vaguely keeping track of mileage and gas costs and rushing across the country as fast as possible is not the cheapest way to travel we are discovering quickly. I also didn’t get to stop as much as I usually would to take photos so many are from Tonopah during the 2 days we were stuck there – so here’s a few at least.  Many more to come as the wandering becomes more paced out and we can hang out, work and enjoy our trip!

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  • Elaine

    Finding your blog while searching for something totally unrelated is hilarious. You said Susanville HAS no Wal-mart. I think You’re sorely mistaken. Right across from Super 8 Motel there is a Wal-mart. And Also a Walgreen’s, but that is recent, I believe. Which makes me think that this is an old journal you wrote this in, and only just recently (last year) decided to put it online.



  • Katya

    Im pretty sure it was Susanville but I guess it could have been somewhere else. We were told and laughed at by the hotel clerk for asking and had to go stay in some other parking lot. This was in October 09. Doesn’t matter either way, we found a place and I hate Walmart anyway; Any opportunity to not stay at one is fine 🙂 We only use them for their bathrooms and free parking hehe

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