The first trip we took in the new motorhome turned out to be quite an adventure.  We brought it home from Texas in July and except for the congestion getting through Houston the trip was open road, relatively straight and flat. We had many miles to get familiar with the feel of driving something this size. Getting it down our curvy driveway was another matter but we managed not to take down any cactus or add any desert pin striping (scratches from thorn bushes) to the sides.

After spending a couple of weeks getting all the stuff that was in the 5th wheel sorted and stored in the motorhome we were eager to take our first trip. Timing is everything and the bluegrass festival up in the White Mountains was only a couple of weeks away. We were ready.

We were looking forward to the scenic trip up to the mountains, the desert is green and lush after the summer rains, lots of wild flowers and the cactus are all plump and happy. The rugged Salt River Canyon is a treat after the summer heat in the desert. It should be a beautiful drive.

The first part of the trip went as anticipated, the desert was lovely, on the other hand, the trip through the canyon was something else altogether. In a car or truck you become accustomed to the feel of the vehicle and don’t think anything about where you sit in relation to the wheels, windshield, etc. In the motorhome there is no hood or fenders in front of you and it seems you are sitting right on the windshield.  Admittedly one of best things about the motorhome is the huge front window and panoramic views. But not so much when the cliff edge appears to be right under your seat.

The big windshield and side window along with the lack of significant steel in front of me might explain my anxiety about being on the outside edge of the canyon while Monty was sitting comfortably on the center line. There was no guard rail to allay some of my concern about hanging over the edge. I believe I did mention, just in passing, that he might move over a little, OK, mentioned in passing, might have been what I should have done but I believe it was more like shouting ‘forget about the on coming traffic, you gotta move over’ !! He calmly explained we had plenty of room. I wasn’t feelin’ it.

After my slight panic attack, everything was going pretty well, until there were several rocks in the road. I guess all the summer rain had dislodged them from the cliff above the roadway.  We cruised around one curve and couldn’t avoid a sharp rock in the path of the tire I was sitting on. We heard it blow out and I had visions of hurling into space over the edge of the cliff but Monty kept it steady while we glanced around for a place to stop. You’re kidding, this is one long stretch of winding road to the bottom of the canyon, then up the other side. Wait, there is a short, narrow spot on the other side of the road, on the mountain side, (thank goodness) can we fit in there? We quickly check for oncoming traffic and point the beast that direction. We squeeze into the spot and come to a stop. Yep, the tire is a goner.

We are resting on such a slant that Zoe can’t even walk in the motorhome, she just kept falling over. Needless to say this is not a good situation. Monty has changed a lot of tires in our twenty-five years of traveling but this is a whole new ball game. The motorhome gives new meaning to the need for road side assistance. Vehicles this size don’t come with a jack or special tools, so you don’t even have to think about a DIY operation. We got out the trusty cell phone to call AAA and nothing, nada, not even one bar, there is absolutely no phone service in the canyon. Monty even walked over to some rocks sticking out on the canyon edge and perched on them but still nothing. “Houston we have a problem”, comes to mind. Putting our heads together, all we can come up with is trying to flag down a car and see if they can get us some help or Monty can catch a ride up out of the canyon to the next town and get a ride back with a tow truck or tire guy.

Unfortunately we were right around a bend, thus the wide spot in the road, but there was not enough time for someone to see us and stop before the next curve. Monty was doing the guy thing, standing outside the vehicle kicking the tire, hoping someone would stop, while I was sitting inside keeping Zoe company. I laughed when Monty sheepishly came to the door and asked if I would help him, he confessed he just wasn’t good at this type of thing. We traded places and I got out and started waving at all the nice people, Monty said, “They’re waving back”, well OK, that’s something.

Finally a young couple passed us and managed to turn around and came back. Everyone got out their cell phones and the gal said, she had two bars, we suggested margaritas.! We gave them our insurers phone number hoping they could call when they got out of the canyon and tell them we needed roadside assistance. We sat to wait, pretty soon here comes a highway patrolman. He told us some people flagged him down and they’d already had lots of calls about us. So the good Samaritans come through. Although people couldn’t really stop, many of them called the highway patrol when they got cell phone service. My faith is restored.

The patrolman used his dispatcher to find us a garage in Showlow. We have a spare tire on board but we gave the patrolman all the info for a new tire if the service guy wants to bring one. It’s been a couple of hours so far but we wait another hour, and yes, it was toasty, we are all three huddled around the screen door sharing the breeze from the semis passing about four feet from the screen door.

Salt River Canyon

Salt River Canyon

Hooray, here’s the guy from Showlow in a big truck, looks good. Wellllll, not exactly, the guy does have a big truck but he has nothing else, no jack, impact wrench, compressor. Nada. Why he thought we’d have a jack or impact wrench, was beyond us, we found a lot of motorhomes don’t even carry a spare tire. Well, he can’t do anything. So after much discussion and encouragement on our part he heads back to Showlow, another hour, with the promise he will send someone else, another hour.  Monty did impress upon him that he was the only way we were going to get out of the canyon that night. The guy was as good as his word, and as the sun was beginning to drop below the mountain (the blowout was 1:00) here comes a young fella, from Superior, Arizona in a truck with everything, including a new tire. He was an old hand at fixing tires for big rigs, RVs, etc. We were amazed, he got the rim off and put the new tire on the rim and had the whole thing put together before dark.

We pulled into the bluegrass festival parking at 10:00 that night. Only 12 hours after leaving home!!! (let’s see in twelve hours we could have actually been someplace!!) But you know, it was fine, we had food, water, a place to sit, and a potty. Our faith in our fellow man was boosted and it was all good.

The bluegrass festival was great the music was enjoyable and we had a fine time. We’re ready for the next adventure but hope it is not quite so exciting.

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