The thermometer showed 27 degrees this morning, and with our early departure, it was freezing as I got the outside stuff packed up and ready to go.
We pulled out around 8:15 and headed west. After about 20 miles, we stopped at the Pie Town RV Park where we dumped tanks and left our $10 in the self-pay box.
We continued on U.S. Hwy 60 west into Arizona, where we eventually picked up U.S. 180 heading north and then northwest. The roads were a little rough, but nice and wide.
Oh, and we had to change our clocks. Arizona doesn't observe "Daylight Savings Time" and their time doesn't change. So, when the rest of the country is on "Daylight Savings Time", Arizona is effectively on Pacific time, and when everyone else is on "Standard Time", Arizona is on Mountain time.
We had Plan A and Plan B today.
Plan A was to stop at the Crystal Forest Gift Shop at the south entrance to Petrified Forest National Park. We stayed there in November 2008 while we explored the park. Camping is free for no hook-ups and there is no dump station or any place to take on water. When we were there before, you could pay $10 a night and have 30-amp electric, but I had read recently that the electric was no longer available.
Anyway, we decided we would stop, and we would stay there if we could get the $10 electric site deal. Nope - no electric. So we went with Plan B, and continued on another 50 miles to Winslow.
We considered the Homolovi Ruins State Park, but we just needed a place to overnight and we were scared off by the $15 extra vehicle charge listed on their website. We may have gotten that waived, but there was another option.
We could have done the Walmart parking lot thing, but we prefer other options, and we were arriving early in the day so I could watch the Louisville - Duke game.
We drove out to McHood Lake Park. On the west of the lake/river, there is a gravel road. There are two very large pull-off areas with a ramada, grill, and picnic table. We pulled into the first one and then scouted our other options.
There is another area with side-by-side, paved, pull-through sites off the water and up by the restrooms and the park ranger/host house.
Down below is another section on the lake with several sites. You could pull off into the gravel sites paralleling the lake, or you could back into the gravel sites across the road. Since there was no one else in that area, we chose a lakeside pull-off.
There was one more lakeside ramada site a little farther back and more private, but the ranger said that lots of locals go back there on weekend nights and it could be noisy. He recommended the spot we took as folks know he is home, and he can see everything from on the bluff above.
Lakeside parking for free. Not bad. Here's our view.
Once we got all set up, I walked around the lake and took some shots from the other side.
Unfortunately, this park could use a lot of trash clean-up, but it's great for our overnight stop. There were quite a few vehicles and ATVs that came in and out all afternoon. But no one bothered us. I'm guessing weekday parking here would be very quiet.
I got the satellite dish up and we locked on to both our TV and internet (although we also had good 3G service on our JetPack and cell phones). Game time.
I was nervous as I felt Duke had the best team remaining in the NCAA tournament and probably the best coach. It was close early on and then tragedy struck the Cardinals. Reserve guard Kevin Ware, landed awkwardly and snapped his leg in front of the Louisville bench. It was a gruesome compound fracture that nearly made everyone sick.
It was the worst injury I've ever seen in a basketball game and the announcers said the same. They wouldn't even show it on the highlight shows later, it was so bad. Players, coaches, and fans (including me) were in tears. Kevin was put in a splint and rolled off the court on a stretcher and taken to the emergency room. But he called all his teammates over and kept telling them "Go win this game!".
When the game re-started it was emotional and the half ended with Louisville up by three. In the second half, it was tied and then Louisville went on a tear going up by double-digits. I got quite excited as they maintained the lead and pulled away from the great Duke team for their second-in-a-row trip to the Final Four. Whew.
While that game was ending, the Louisville women's team was playing in their Sweet Sixteen against defending national champions and the number one team in the country, Baylor. I was expecting a Baylor blow-out. However, in one of the most shocking upsets in women's college basketball history, Louisville managed a one-point victory. Wow!
It was a historic day for my alma mater, and we were very excited.
I know most of our readers don't care about my love for college basketball, but I just report what happens during our day, and it was a really big deal for us. :)
Later, Linda heated up some chili and we had a nice, calm, quiet evening. Tomorrow, we'll make the 145-mile to our Grand Canyon base camp in Tusayan. Hopefully, we'll get our first close-up look at the canyon together tomorrow afternoon. :)