DAY 4 ‘Road to MA’ (Mon 21 June): west Needles, California to Williams, Arizona

I woke this morning to find that closest gas station was some 40 miles distant and since my gas (petrol) gauge was already on empty, there was no way I’d be able to make that. So I asked many people as they came into the rest stop if they were carrying any cans of gas (petrol) that I could buy. No one had any. Truck drivers who knew this area said the next place for fuel was in Needles, about 40 miles further east.

As an insurance policy, I agreed with one fellow traveler that he would look out for me on the shoulder and stop if he saw me and take me to the next place to refuel, if I could not reach my breakdown service. So I got going. not knowing how far I’d get.

Then, most unexpectedly, at the very next highway exit only a few miles ahead, I saw a sign for gas. After passing under the highway, I headed towards wind turbines and a gas station. After buying some very expensive gas and checking my receipt, I noticed the name of the gas station – ‘Sahara Oasis’.

Oasis in the desert – how apt considering my situation !!!

An Oasis in the desert saves us. A miracle just when I need it most, though at $4 a gallon, it is the most expensive petrol on this trip to date.

After the ‘Sahara Oasis’ drama, I refuel as soon as I get to Needles, our last stop in California (watch out the gas is $4 per gallon here too!). Needles is so called because of the needle shaped hills over the Arizona state line, apparently. I take a few quick photos but do not ponder too long, for I am leaving my beloved California at last.

My van with Needles in the background

The weather is kinder than it was two weeks ago when we’d started the Run for the Wall ride across Arizona and New Mexico. This time the temperature inside the van is around 90, not like 110 F before. After a lunch break in Kingman at mid-day to avoid the hottest time, we head off on I-40 again. It gets windy in the afternoon but thankfully the winds are either behind us or from the south (from the right) so helping us along. We need the help as there were some very long upward gradients. I’m grateful when I can tuck in behind some big trucks on the road up to Williams …

maybe not such a good idea to tuck in behind this truck; we don’t have the power to go by

… then later, as we exit the highway to stop in Williams, we find a nice shady place to stop and cool down

Realizing I’m far more tired than I thought, rather than going up to see the Grand Canyon, I drive into the center of Williams to find a McDonalds for a refreshing ice cream sundae and I see this wonderful entrance to the town.

… Williams, Arizona! Don’t you just love this?

And soon I discover that we’re on Route 66 again!

I  walk up and down main street (Rte 66) and enjoy the sights and sounds of this quaint and lovely town.

There’s not only horse drawn buggies but local music from entertainers is pouring from outside a couple of restaurants; blue grass music at its best, really great. Then I find a local brewery and taste a glass of the local Grand Canyon ale. Yummy, too. I can even buy a 6 pack, so I do and take it back to my camper van!

As I return to the VW, I overhear a family talking about the van so I tell them it’s mine. They regale me with happy memories of their summer vacations in their campervan, and the time their boys had locked the smallest in the VW’s closet! One of the ‘boys’ (now well into adulthood), laughs, too. His son is clearly amazed to hear all this and the grandparents are in their element talking about such happy times.

One of the nicest things about traveling in my Vintage VW is how it makes people smile when they recount their happy times in their own VW, way back when! I tell this family about the Van’s Facebook page and hope to see them there soon. We also swap emails and promise to write.

[N.B. I’m delighted to report that since then I have heard from Ted and his parents, too. Making new friends on the road through the Van is a joyous experience].

It’s been a wonderful evening and I’m thinking of going up north to see the Grand Canyon early tomorrow morning. I tour around town looking for a campsite or a nice park but do not find anything nearby and I’m too tired to look further afield, so I park the van overnight in a side street outside an old church building and fall asleep wondering if we’ll make it to the Canyon by sunrise!

Today’s route is shown below.
Miles today = 220

Williams is a quaint little town and well worth a visit. Make sure to add it to your list if you visit this area.

P.S. on Facebook this post received this comment:

Leslie Jones I think it’s great how cars and animals can bring strangers to just start talking to each other. There are still a lot of nice people out there and you seem to finding them wherever you go. I’ll keep thinkin the good thoughts for you. Again, thanks for the stories. 25 June at 16:07

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