Arizona & Utah Trip 2.0

Hello everybody! We’re back in the RV for V2.0 of the trip Dean and Graham did with Grandma and Grandpa. But this time it’s me, (Mira) and my sister, Brynn. I’m 13 and Brynn is 11.

Days One & Two-June 28-29

Day one: We drove from Corning, NY to Rochester, NY. Then we flew to JFK from ROC, then from JFK to PHX.

We left Corning at 1 PM Eastern Time and got to ROC at about 3 PM. We had an amazing dinner at ROC of BLT’s and chicken sandwiches. We boarded the first plane at 6:25 and landed at about 7:20 then we had to hurry to our next flight which was very far away, we reached the gate just as boarding started. Phew! We landed in PHX at 3:00 AM (Eastern Time) which was really a little after Midnight in Phoenix. Then, after getting our luggage we had to wait for the hotel shuttle, and by the time we got to our room it was 1AM in Phoenix. Which really felt like 4AM because our bodies were still used to Eastern Time.

Day Two: We had breakfast at the hotel which was AMAZING. Then we took the truck, which was parked at the hotel before Grandma and Grandpa flew to Corning to see Graham graduate High School. (Congratulations to him!) Anyway we left Phoenix behind to drive to Flagstaff. On the way there we got stuck in an hour of traffic. Finally we got to the first of many campgrounds. The RV was left in a campground that Grandma and Grandpa had previously stayed at on the way down from Montana. Anyway we got the camper set up and went on an adventure to Sunset Crater.

Sunset Crater is a NON-ACTIVE volcano. That in Volcano Terms, erupted recently as in 1,000 years ago. It was really interesting because the reason it’s called Sunset Crater is because the top of the cone is covered in oxidized red splatter.

Hey, I’m Brynn, Mira’s sister. The second part of visiting Sunset Crater was exploring the short little trails. There were lots of lava rocks broken down EVERYWHERE! Of course we took our cameras, because there was lots of things to take photos of! We saw some very interesting things. Some include: A very big and crooked tree, a plant called Apache Plumes, and different types of Lava Rocks and how they’re formed.

Around the Visitor Center, there were a lot of burnt trees. We found out that the reason happened on April 19th, 2022. A wind driven wild fire called the Tunnel Fire came in and burned 61% of the monument. It grew to almost 20,000 acres in 48 hours. Most of the trees were black and some were even completely burned.

The second adventure of our day was hiking\climbing the A’a Lava Trail. Basically, you get to climb on cooled lava rocks. They were really big and jagged. It was super fun and awesome! We saw a bunch of geckos and lizards. They were always scurrying around and on top of the rocks. We had lots of fun on our first 2 days!

We look forward to sharing the rest of our trip with you!


Brynn and Mira Simons

Hello Again!

We’re back!

We weren’t going to restart the blog for another week, but today’s events make it seem worthwhile.

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We’re on the road again to take two more grandchildren (Mira and Brynn) through National and State Parks in Utah and Arizona, like the trip we took with Graham and Dean (their older brothers) five years ago.  Kathe and I may create some new blog entries during this trip, but we’re especially looking forward to our two granddaughters recording their impressions of the trip and sharing their pictures. That part of the trip will start in just over a week, but… about today!

We’re on our way from Helena, Montana, to Flagstaff, Arizona, where we will start the trip with our granddaughters. Closing up the camper this morning in Fillmore, UT, Kathe commented that we really should have pressure washed the camper before we left home.  About 50 miles south of Fillmore, Kathe noticed a sign for a truck and RV wash at the next exit.  “Turn left, one half mile,” it said.  At the bottom of the exit, signs for the wash pointed right…  We went right, into a big Flying J truck plaza; we didn’t see the wash, so I walked over to a large garage area to ask directions of two men heading out in a golf cart.  Yes, we should have gone left. We started to pull ahead but had to wait for a few semi rigs to pass by, As we started again, the guys in the cart pulled up fast on Kathe’s side, flagging us down.

“You have a broken leaf spring! Your tires are rubbing against each other.”

Oh, no.  We’re in the middle of, basically, nowhere. “Is there a spring shop anywhere in the area?”

“Yes, we are, and we stock the parts you need. We fix a lot of these trailers. Just pull in over there.”

As we looked at the suspension in general, everything but the axles and brakes needed replacement.  I agreed with their evaluation of parts that needed replacing; they weren’t trying to upsell.

One leaf spring was broken. Two others were recurved, from being loaded (overloaded?) for too long.  Leaf springs are supposed to bow down, with the axle at the lowest point. When recurved (probably the wrong term), they bow upward.  So we replaced all four springs with heavier ones (eight instead of six leaves).

What a leaf spring should look like, bowing down and with a curl on each end for attachment. This is one of our new ones, being installed.
Here’s what ours looked like! Oops!

Why did the leaf spring break? A trailer suspension has devices called “equalizers” to accommodate independent motion when the axles need to go up or down at different times. The equalizers on both sides had broken welds which caused them to bend and bind, putting extra stresses on the springs.  Two new, stronger equalizers went on the list.

Our broken equalizer. Bad equalizer! Bad!

One of the reasons the equalizers had broken is that the stock suspension of the trailer had poor stabilization for them causing them to flex to the side while going around corners. So we added a stabilizer bar to protect them.

The two tires that were rubbing against each other were trashed. (No blowout, thank goodness!) (Also, no pictures; I forgot. Drat!) All the tires were six years old, so time to replace them all, anyway. Four new tires.

Fortunately, there were no other repair jobs in the shop; all four men at the shop went to work on our rig right away. In under two hours, we were back on the road!

Our heroes!

If we hadn’t talked about cleaning the trailer while closing up at the campground,

If Kathe hadn’t seen the sign for the truck wash going down the highway,

If the sign at the bottom of the exit ramp hadn’t been incorrect,

If the two guys coming out of their garage on the cart hadn’t noticed our rubbing tires…

Our day would have been very different! We’re very thankful that everything happened the way it did. The camper is now safer than it has ever been.

Then we went to the RV wash!  Right where the billboard on the highway said we would find it. All is good.

And it is good to be back on the road in the Southwest. This will be a short trip, about five weeks, three weeks with the girls. We can’t wait for them to join us!

I just love this scenery; one of the things I really miss living in Montana.

Heading south from Fillmore to Page, AZ

See you again, soon! Watch this space.

Al and Kathe, the Lobsters