Out West 2021 – Part 1 (OKC, Amarillo, Albuquerque, Sedona)

We had originally planned to go “out west” in the summer of 2020, but thanks to COVID-19 we didn’t do the trip. The plan was to do a giant loop around the west half of the USA, visit the 4 remaining states (excluding Hawaii) we haven’t been to as a family, and visit a couple of new Canadian provinces also. With COVID-19, most of the national parks we’re closed, or at least a visitor centers were, and some states had quarantine periods. Just not worth the hassle and to have to miss out on seeing some things. So we postponed the trip to this year.

Last December, while we were in Florida, we bought a new tow vehicle (a Jeep Gladiator Rubicon), and have been preparing it for overlanding trips. We have been thinking about selling the motorhome and traveling in just the Gladiator once in a while, since our traveling will have to slow down for several reasons (we found a church we like, kids want to go to a school, Carla‘s antique booth, Avin wants to get a job and also attend youth group every Wednesday night, etc.).

We listed the motorhome in one of the Facebook groups we are members of, but the more we thought about this big trip the more we thought we should probably take the motorhome on one more big trip and tow the Gladiator. And that’s what we did!

Just a few weeks before heading out, I had to get the Gladiator ready to tow, which meant installing the very involved brake system and also the wiring for the tail lights and turn signals. There were tons of other things to do as well to prepare for a 6000 mile road trip (which will include some off-roading and camping) in just a few weeks. We had quite the to do list!

Day 1

All loaded up, jeep connected, and ready to hit the road!

About 40 minutes into the drive, we started smelling a burning kind of smell. It continued to get more intense so we pulled over on the side of the highway. Carla noticed smoke coming out from the rear wheels! I grabbed the fire extinguisher and ran to the back of the RV. Something was definitely about to burst into flames, so it seemed. I can only tell the smoke coming from duly wheels

There was a tractor repair shop with a nice big parking lot about 300’ from where we were parked. We decided to unhook the Jeep and drive to the parking lot. So….When I disconnected the air brake coil hose going from the RV to the Jeep, the end just fell off, like it had been cracked.

This is the air hose that engages the brakes on the Jeep when you apply the brake sin the motorhome. And if it’s cracked and leaking air, the RV’s brake system can’t maintain air pressure and compressed air is what keeps the brakes from engaging in an air brake system until you press the brake pedal (safety design so a leaking air hose will cause you to stop instead of losing your brakes).

It’s not an easy hose to find locally, just like when I could find a replacement after I accidentally ripped one off in Albuquerque a few years ago.

The online stores who carry it said they couldn’t get one to us quickly (about 5 days or more). We were starting to think our whole trip was about to be canceled or drastically rearranged (all those RV park reservations we made…).

Fortunately, Lowe’s had a fitting that we needed to make the hose usable again! We were SO glad!

All hooked up and ready to roll again! Tripp loves climbing on vehicles!

We arrived at the El Reno West KOA just west of OKC around 11pm. It’s a great park for an overnight stay! What a day!

Day 2

We woke up to great weather and headed toward Amarillo.

Daytime photo of the KOA

We stopped off at a Texas rest stop and it was a nice break! The rest stop building is designed so that after you go through the building, you come out on the other side and it’s super quiet because the building blocks all the freeway noise. It’s a really nice panoramic view of the valley.

We got a nice pull thru site on the end of a row at Oasis RV Resort, just down the road from Cadillac Ranch.
We were going to eat at the big Texas steakhouse, but decided to go somewhere else. Before we left, we shot a few targets at the Shootin Gallery!

We then drove around on some country roads, which was really peaceful! There have been some storms forming in this area, but everything is slipping past where we are located.

We headed back to the RV park and played at the playground. It was so nice outside! Really windy, and we could see storms in the distance.

We kept seeing this red circle bobbing above the wall behind the playground. Turned out to be a really pretty weed growing all along the wall.

It’s super windy tonight, and the whole RV is shaking. Supposed to do this all night, so we probably won’t get a ton of sleep.

Day 3

The wind wasn’t too bad last night, or else we slept through it. Woke up to beautiful weather and headed toward Albuquerque.

I love seeing the landscape change! Been wanting to see southwest scenery again for a long time!
I’m dying to disconnect the Jeep and find some dirt roads!

We are staying at the American RV Resort in Albuquerque. Really nice place! We would definitely stay here again.

Carla did some thrift shopping, and then we ate barbecue at Rudy’s BBQ, which wasn’t as good as it usually is.

Tripp was having fun climbing a tree while Carla was in a thrift shop

We had a huge cup of sweet tea spill in the back seat, but fortunately the camping water tank in the truck bed was full of water and I had a rag with me as well. We were able to wash out everything right there on the spot! That was nice to have.

Then we checked out some trails in the Sandia Mountains! That was definitely the highlight of the day for me. It was a lot of fun! The truck did amazing! Tripp and Avin had fun walking alongside the jeep at times, and Tripp had fun taking videos for me. He loved to be running around near the woods. Had to watch out for cactus!

Tripp took this video!
This reminds me of a tree that dad and I saw across the street from Echo Lake in Colorado many years ago!

Day 4

We headed toward Sedona, AZ today, and while we were on the road the engine light came on the dashboard of the RV. We pulled over at a truck stop, and we found the trouble code.

We called Freightliner to ask them if it’s something to worry about or if we can keep driving. Fortunately, we were able to keep driving and it actually went away eventually. If it comes back on with the word “check “under the engine symbol, then we have something to worry about.

We arrived at Distant Drums RV Resort in Camp Verde, AZ. It’s a really nice place!

As I was starting the jeep so we could head into the town of Sedona, I noticed the rear locking differential kept engaging and would not disengage. We called the jeep helpline, but they couldn’t do much. We ended up driving on the highway to see if it would disengage, and eventually it did, but it kept re-engaging frequently.

When we got into the outskirts of Sedona, we ate some REALLY good pizza at Peago’s Pizza. While we were there, I called a Jeep dealer in Flagstaff to ask if I could just remove the fuse that powers the locker relay, and they suggested disconnecting the wire going to the rear differential (removing the fuse would have also disabled 4WD). That did the trick! Another disaster had been overcome!

Such a pretty scenery! It reminded us of Moab.

We headed north toward downtown Sedona, and happened to see a sign for the Church of the Holy Cross, so we drove over to see it up close. Really neat!

The town of Sedona is so neat! Can’t wait to come back here tomorrow when the shops are open.
Heading back to the RV

Day 5

Today was an awesome day! We knocked out a bucket list item for me…off-roading in Sedona! We started off by eating a great breakfast at Randall’s Restaurant in Cottonwood, although I had a Reuben (They seem to be popular in the southwest. I remember an awesome one I had in Moab).

We then headed back to the RV to get ready to hit the trails! We started on the Loy Butte Road off Highway 89A. It’s an 11 mile road that is not too bad if you air down your tires. We were in a hurry to get to the ancient Indian ruins before they locked the gates so I didn’t take the time to air down until we we’re done there, which made for a pretty jarring ride!

The green route shown toward the left is what we did today. The long road leading out is Loy Butte Road, and the left portion of the loop is called the Outlaw Trail. The ancient Honanki ruins are located toward the end of Loy Butte Road toward the top right corner of the loop.
The drive toward the ruins got prettier the farther we went!
We got parked in hurried over to the trail entrance to see the ruins. We only had about 25 minutes before they closed!
If you look under the cliff, you will see the walls of the dwellings, which were built between 1100 and 1300 AD.
We saw lots of pictographs! They say most of them were created between 900 and 1300 AD, but some are estimated to be 2000 BC! That would put them in the Old Testament. That’s really wild!
18 years together baby!! I love our adventures!
I finally took the time to air down the tires to 20 psi for a much smoother ride with more traction, which would be needed on the upcoming Outlaw Trail!
Such awesome scenery! I’ve always wanted to do trails like this here out west! What an awesome time! The trail was challenging enough to make it interesting and fun, but nothing too crazy! We did notice we were the only ones going the direction we were driving…every other person was going the other way! Oh well, it was nice to not have anyone coming up behind us, but we did have to squeeze by a few people when the trail was narrow. We saw lots of side-by-side‘s, but only a few full-size vehicles.
I had Carla drive for a little while and she did great! I kind of think she liked it!
So many cacti! They were literally everywhere. It was neat to drive by them so closely.
What a view!!!
Some fun twisty action!
So much red sand and dirt!!
Time to air the tires back up and get back on the pavement to head into the downtown part of Sedona to look for some gift shops.
Lots of “Pink Jeep Tour” Jeeps! They pick people up in the tourist section of town where we were going and take people on trail rides. Kind of like the off-road version of “Ride the Ducks” in other cities.
On our way out of Sedona to the RV, there are lots of Adobe houses like this one. They start around $800k for a 3 bed, 2 bath house on a small lot! Most are around $1,000,000 or more. What a view, though!
Carla found an awesome Mexican restaurant just outside Sedona in Oak Creek, called Maria’s. Really great food!! One unique thing about this area is that the tap water is pure snow runoff and there are no additives. It tastes better than bottled water…actually there’s no taste at all! Our waiter said he had lived there since 1985 and it’s always been like that.
Avin found a cobra-shaped chicken nugget! 😂
Back home for the night!
And to make the day even better, we found Tillamook yogurt!

3 thoughts on “Out West 2021 – Part 1 (OKC, Amarillo, Albuquerque, Sedona)

  1. Okay, now you got the worst part out of the way and the rest of the trip will be great! Right?
    We’re looking forward to pics from all the fun places you’re going to.
    Love you guys.
    Mom and Dad

  2. Wow!!!!! We took another look and tons of great pics opened up this time. Can’t believe we didn’t get them the last time we looked. BEAUTIFUL scenery. Neat off-road pics. Love the cacti and cool trees. And the Indian dwellings. And you’re finding some neat places to eat…..your mom’s jealous. It’s fun seeing all that without leaving our house 😂. Keep’em coming!
    Love you all
    Mom and Dad

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