Birthday Trip – Home Again, Home Again, Jiggety-Jig!
Blog entry 10/9 for Friday, Sep 26.
Our trip down the West Coast finally over, on Ali’s actual birthday she and I used I-8 to get her home to Phoenix, Brian, and their kitties. It was an uneventful trip, thank goodness, and took place on a typically sunny desert fall day. It got so warm at one point that Ali asked for something to hang on her window to block the sun – a request with which I was happy to comply, since it lowered the truck’s cabin temperature for both of us without my having to freeze (in the shade) while she was barely comfortable (in the sun).
I was surprised to see at least seven westbound trains while we traveled east, between Yuma and Gila Bend. I know that the Union Pacific line there is busy; it’s part of the line that runs along I-10 between Casa Grande and Tucson, and I regularly see about four trains on that segment whenever I travel between Tucson and Phoenix. But Gila Bend to Yuma isn’t *that* long a section of track, and to see *seven* – and all going in the same direction – seemed to be a high number, even for that line. I discovered a possible cause later in the day, as I drove home: There had been a derailment near Picacho Peak, which is about 50 miles or so northwest of Tucson on I-10. I didn’t know when it had occurred, but it was nearing the final-cleanup stage. A few container-car hulks, a nice stack of railcar axles, and a couple of bent containers were all that was left, along with the recovery and cleanup equipment. So I surmised that the derailment blocked both of the tracks there, backing up rail traffic for a while (and probably messing with Union Pacific’s schedule nationwide, much the same way that delays at O’Hare or Atlanta Hartsfield can ripple through the entire country’s airline schedules). Neither the heavy rail traffic nor the derailment had any effect on the Interstates, though. [Ali and Brian later told me that the derailment had happened on the 16th.]
We left I-8 in Gila Bend and took AZ 85 north to I-10 toward Phoenix. Shortly after leaving Gila Bend, I turned on my headlights, anticipating the “Daylight Headlight Safety Corridor” signs I remembered seeing on previous trips. They never appeared, and in fact, I was surprised to find that the road never narrowed to two lanes, as it always had in the past. Instead, the entire length of road, with the exception of the few miles right *in* Gila Bend, was two lanes in each direction, with a separating median. I guess it’s been a few years since I drove that route. I used Google Earth, after I got home, to check the history of the road, and found that at least some of it had been rebuilt around 2010 – one of the satellite photos of the north end of 85, taken in 2010, showed the construction underway. So that’s a good thing to know, because 85 is touted as being part of “the Phoenix bypass” if you need to get past Phoenix but don’t want to drive *through* it.
It’s only about 6 to 6 1/2 hours from Sandy Aygo to Phoenix, so I had Ali home by midafternoon. I wished her Happy Birthday (again) and left so I could get *myself* home, because I knew I had a busy weekend coming up.
The truck, as always (well, except for the dead battery in Washington, but that hardly counts), ran flawlessly the whole time, and I added over 4,000 more miles to the odometer. My magic electric cooler was great. One of my suitcases was just a *little* ripe – the cycling outfits were trying to get out by themselves – but I took care of that.
So, except for a little goof on my part back at the Chandelier Tree, when I asked Ali to take pictures of me driving the truck through it, instead of going through it *with her*, everything pretty much worked out all right.
Happy Birthday again, Sweetheart! I had a good time.