Into the Fire

Our mini-tour of National Parks complete, it was time to make the long-dreaded trek back to Yuma, Arizona for Kathie’s June dental follow-up visit. The heat we encountered at Zion was nothing compared to what was in store for us!

The trip from Zion to Yuma was going to take two days so we headed south and decided to stop and spend some time in the Las Vegas area before completing the trip to Yuma. We spent two nights at the Valley of Fire State Park campground (photo, top of page) but it was much too hot to be enjoyable at over 110°F during the day (anyone who says, “But it’s a dry heat” will be beaten severely). The heat also meant Opie’s walks had to be kept very short, even with a pre-walk hose-down. We didn’t do any sightseeing (we’ll have to come back during a cooler time of the year) but we did have a visit from a couple of bighorn sheep! They grazed just a couple hundred feet from Rover and seemed to be handling the heat just fine.

A couple of Bighorn Sheep wandered by.

Since the heat was going to be unavoidable we decided to move thirty minutes away to Lake Mead and the Hoover Dam. Staying at the Lake Mead National Recreation Area RV Park meant we were very close to the lake and could take Opie there to cool off every single day.

Since Lake Mead’s water level is so low it was a mile or so walk from the campground to the lake. We tried it once but halfway there we realized the pavement and air was ridiculously hot for Opie (we hit a high of 117 while there), so the rest of the time we drove to the lake. Since Opie loved hanging out in the water and it was the only way to keep him cool, we brought some chairs and sunblock and tried to relax by the lake as much as possible.

Lake Mead was Opie's only activity during our stay.

Lake Mead was Opie’s only activity during our stay.

Since there’s no shade trees at the RV Park we picked a site that faced northeast so that Rover’s giant windshield would be out of the sun all day long. When Rover’s pointed into the sun the temperature in the front rises quickly due to the windshield. Facing northeast also meant we could also use our big awning on the passenger side to block the sun from hitting the RV for most of the day. Unlike a regular home, when it’s that hot outside, the AC can only cool Rover down to 80-85 degrees, so there’s a lot of things we have to think about when it’s crazy hot outside!

Walking the strip in Las Vegas.

Walking the strip in Las Vegas.

Although we didn’t do much from a tourist perspective during our stay, we did get out one morning to re-visit Las Vegas since it had been a very long time since our last visit. We knew it was going to be another hot day so we got an early start and popped into an air conditioned casino once in a while to escape the heat.

We were a little surprised at how much the Las Vegas skyline has changed since our last visit! There were so many new buildings and casinos, and the trend seems to (mostly) be away from gimmicky buildings like the Luxor and Excalibur (not that there’s anything wrong with gimmicks) and towards more conservatively classy buildings that look like traditional hotels or office buildings.

The Las Vegas skyline has changed a lot since our last visit!

The Las Vegas skyline has changed a lot since our last visit!

Having killed all the time we could, we packed up for the final drive to Yuma. While we knew it would be 110°F again we did have one ace up our sleeve. While in Yuma during the winter we scoped out an RV Park (River’s Edge) that’s right on the Colorado River and has tall shade trees lining all the sites. We got a site facing east, tucked Rover in under the trees, and had shade for much of the day. Both of our air conditioners still ran continuously from 8am-8pm but the trees meant it was a little cooler inside than it would have otherwise been. Even the overnight lows were in the 80’s! Opie of course went for his dip in the Colorado every afternoon.

We took care of Kathie’s dental followups, walking into Mexico as before, but this time without the crowds. Los Algodones was still active but many of the street vendor stalls were vacant, and we had no line whatsoever re-entering the US customs station. It was finally time to leave Arizona, and not a moment too soon. A heat wave was heading toward the southwest and Yuma was forecasting highs of 120°F. We hit the road for the 180 mile drive west to San Diego, watching Rover’s dashboard thermometer slowly drop as we climbed over the mountains, up and then down 4,000 feet. By the time we arrived at Mission Bay RV Resort in San Diego the dashboard was reading an amazingly comfortable 75°F! We’ll be spending a month in San Diego enjoying the weather before heading back to Yuma in July for one last set of appointments.

Michael Fischer

After a high-tech career spanning software development and systems administration to leading hundreds of engineers across cities and continents, I'm now slowing things down a bit. Traveling full-time in an RV with my awesome wife Kathie and our two big dogs Max and Opie, I'm now pursuing smaller personal software projects while seeing North America up close.


  1. John   •  

    yeah, the coastline and high altitude locations are preferable during the summer heat, that’s for sure :)

  2. DebbieM   •  

    Ya gotta do what ya gotta do! Those temps are a killer though! Good to take care of that dental work though. At least you had some water for the pooch to enjoy.

    • Mike   •     Author

      Kathie’s dental work is finally done for the summer. Yay!

  3. Crunch Hardtack   •  

    Love the bighorn sheep photo; looks like a museum diorama!

    • Mike   •     Author

      Thanks! It’s handy having a good zoom on the camera!

  4. Laurel   •  

    Looks like you guys made the best of a challenging situation. Those temps are insane! Have fun in San Diego—hopefully it will be much cooler.

  5. Laura   •  

    This is something we learned real quick on the way back from picking Barney up… the AC’s can only do so much. Our first couple days, it wasn’t that hot or we were parked in the shade and the rig stayed cool. When we moved to other campgrounds, we actually thought something was wrong with the AC because it just wasn’t cooling down (90 degrees is NOT cool!!). Little did we realize that would be a constant issue. I guess we’ll be leaving the shades down a lot during the day in the summer. Or driving due north!!

    • Mike   •     Author

      One other trick… we use the cabinets above the sofa as our food pantry. If the sun is on our left while we’re camped, we’ll leave those cabinet doors open so the air conditioned air can circulate in there, otherwise it gets really hot inside the cabinets which probably isn’t great for our food.

  6. MonaLiza Lowe   •  

    OMG that is like living in a furnace.
    And yes you have to go back to Valley of Fire, we spent a week there. Its nothing like you have seen before, a small scale southern utah :)

    • Mike   •     Author

      Can’t wait to visit during a more reasonable time of year :-)

  7. Richard   •  

    Awesome thing you guys are doing with your lives. Maybe I’ll catch you here in Yuma!

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