Thursday, March 23, 2017

Gunning for Texas, Clear Skies, Strong Tailwinds

Today is Thursday, Mar. 23rd and we pulled out of a very full lot from when we pulled in yesterday afternoon. To be expected so even though a reefer parked right beside us sometime through the night, we slept quite good with ear plugs.

The sky is clear and blue so it looks like a great travel day. Our goal is Texas today, we’ll see where we end up for our overnighter. We’ll check somewhere along the way at free sites.
Love their overpasses in New Mexico
I read a little tidbit from back home this morning which brings my daughter’s ‘real’ world into focus. Bridgette has sold her house in a small town, Ontario, and gets possession of a ‘new to her’ house on April 1st, in a city about 3 hours east of where she started. She is the Operations Manager of Regency Fireplace Inc. which has relocated from London, On to Guelph, On.
Funny how I was just talking about Bridgette and on the left in this picture is a Mini Cooper
Which she a different colour

Quite the uprooting of a settled lifestyle for her and her sons. I wanted to mention her here as I know she reads my blog. Now that the company stuff is in order I’m sure she is very excited with the prospects of her new home. We are thinking of her with this transition and can’t wait to see her pretty home in person. Pictures to follow at a later date for sure!

We actually walked in for one thing and walked out with only that one thing. Amazing!
We detoured off to the Camping World at Albuquerque to pick up a water filter, our last purchase this trip. A quick in and out and back on the highway at 10:20 before pulling off at exit 153 to top up fuel at Flying J. Not as good a deal as our last fill up but easy in and out at least.

Not far down the road and we see the sign for Tijeras and the Zuzax gas bar. This is where we went into Hidden Valley RV Resort on the way down for 2 nights. We remember it well, trying to find it and then the tight spots. It was pretty though and no regrets, we met a nice couple from B.C., Jill and Mike. We are now travelling the part of I-40 we came down on, seeing familiar things.

Hidden Valley RV Resort is up on the hill behind the Gas Bar
By 11:30 we needed a break where we could open our slides, make a coffee and a sandwich. Seems like a lot of little pit stops but each one is worth it for various reasons and each one refreshes us. After a half hour stop we can carry on. The temperature is sitting around 68F and there are gale force winds making it hard to open and close the truck and rv doors.
Texans are nothing if not original
Driving along and just before Fort Sumner, exit 277, a tractor trailer driver honks as he is passing us, pointing to the back of our unit. Oh no, what happened? We couldn’t see anything in the rearview camera but pulled over immediately just before the exit. Bill saw what the problem was and thank goodness, it was minor.
Clemson sleeps with his seatbelt on
It is nice that others help out. The strap that goes over the bikes on the cargo carrier had come loose and was flapping out behind us. Not yet was it concerning that the bikes would fall off, they were secured pretty good. This was a quick fix and we are soon on the road again.
These are beautiful and well cared for

We are seeing more rolling flatlands dotted with green trees, all the same kind, and then fields very congested with wolf cholla cactus. I don’t know if they flower at all but they are looking quite brown. The temperature has risen to 87F and we are at 4093’ elevation. Beautiful day to be travelling even though we are experiencing 37 mph winds.

Stopped near Tucumcari at a Flying J to top up fuel again from a half full tank. We wanted to look at our park status too since we realized that we won’t be out of ROD’s membership system for a full week (which is required before going into another ROD park) so we hope we can use AOR at Eagle’s Den. Should be able to do that and we’ll call them in the morning.
as Bill was refueling, I noticed my car up on the top rack
We first wondered if we would cut off at Tucumcari onto Hwy 54 up through Kansas. Rv’ing friends have suggested it as an alternate route to the interstate with good roads and no tolls. If we couldn’t have gotten into this park in Oklahoma, we would have probably done that. Kansas does not have a membership park for us to take advantage of so this original plan still works. We hope.
Beautiful horses not concerned about the wind today

Are you kidding? I have been enchanted from the moment I left home
Clouds have moved in or rather we have moved under the clouds and the temperature has dropped to 84. 
Okay, so now that we are in Texas I won't expect to be enchanted anymore
Winds are behind us so we have a great tailwind but boy is the dust ever blowing around!

We soon came to the smelly cattle fields, they are packed in there like sardines and how lovely that the wind is blowing our way. Not! Never seen so many bovine in one place before!

Next thing I know Bill’s arm comes across my line of vision pointing out my passenger window. There is the Cadillac Ranch we stopped at on the way down. I still think it is so cool!
If you wish to hear more about this historic marker check out my post here
So, with the strong winds, we are glad to have arrived at 5:19 pm at the Texas Travel Information Centre on exit 76. Pulled in on as much of an angle as we could as there is a storm approaching from the south. It is hot, still registering around 80F and we are being bounced around quite a bit. You can’t help but be a bit on edge with the winds gusting to 60 mph, so we are keeping an eye on the weather.
This tractor trailer had us concerned, look at his back end blowing in the wind

Not deterred, he passes others
There is a building here that is open 24 hours with washrooms to provide us shelter in the event we need to make a run for it. By 7:00 the biggest and blackest cloud to our southwest has moved on to the north. The sun peeked through briefly before being swallowed up once more. If the winds keep it up through the night, which no doubt they will, we will probably pull our living room slide in.
San Jon water tower
I had planned on sausage on a bun for Bill tonight as it is something I can cook inside. For me, I wanted to follow Lori’s instructions on how to heat up my leftover calzone without a bbq or an oven. It worked! Mostly, I either added too much water or overboiled it as seepage made the bottom bread soggy. Ooops! Surprisingly, I was hungry and the filling and top crust still tasted darn good.
Tons of turbines but it is very hard to see them with the blowing dust/sand
I’m going to post this and settle in with my book and try not to notice the winds. I hope you have had a fantastic day.
This is after the black storm clouds started moving to the north
It is only 6 o'clock here
Thank you for reading, we have had a great travel day. I love receiving your comments.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Skeletal Remains, Destination New Mexico, The Slow Journey Home

Wednesday, Mar. 22nd is a good friend’s birthday so our first item on the agenda was to give him a call. Since we only have emergency cell service here in the pines, we called Colin on Google Hangouts to wish him Happy Birthday. Unfortunately, the call only lasted a few minutes and we lost connection but at least got to let him know we are thinking of him. For those of you who we discussed plans with to go home through Vancouver, this terrific man and his wonderful family was the reason. We will not be seeing them this time for various reasons and are sad for the change of plans.
Happy Birthday, Colin!
We were warm and cozy last night in the Suite with our little blue flame heater on low. The temperatures up here got down to the first 42F we’ve had in a while.  As I was walking around our site yesterday, I began noticing skeletal remains of something. A backbone, hip joint bones a femur and finally the skull of what I assume to be an unfortunate deer.

There isn’t a titch of a breeze this morning, the tips of the evergreens are as still as a soldier in salute formation. There are low lying clouds but a blue sky overhead and I caught a gorgeous sky before the sunrise at 7:10.

Bill called his dad this morning on hangouts as well, we wanted to touch base with him before trekking on. Unfortunately, Dad is dealing with a few tests and such so keeping close contact is important to us. It was good to hear his voice and even better to hear him laugh. I sit back and smile when they laugh together and it is often.
Hi sunshine!
I boiled the kettle and made a pot of tea this morning since the sun is too low at 7:30 to charge our panels, no Keurig. Bill made up a bowl of oatmeal and I found something to fill my void in the fridge. Yogurt and cheese will tide me over until lunch time.
Not too much traffic at 8 am
Making use of our early rising, we were hooked up and on the road by 8:10. Once again I’m awed by our surroundings, the landscape is mesmerizing. Off to the west is flat prairie land with the odd livestock grazing and on the right the same flat lands end at some high mountain peaks off in the distance. Snowcapped mountains no less!
Snow-capped mountains with a very strange cloud formation hovering over it
At first we thought it was a second mountain 
We drove back out the 60 miles on AZ-64 to I-40 just two miles shy of Williams. Our left turn (east) will take us across the last couple hundred miles of Arizona to New Mexico. One of the worst highways we have encountered so far for road damage. Both lanes are bad so it is a toss-up which one to be in.

We are 7200’ above sea level so I shouldn’t be surprised to see snow along the roadside, but I am. It is 54F and Bill said I am probably seeing the remnants of their winter. Bypassing Bellemont and I see one of my water towers. I’ve missed seeing this newer bobble style. And as we passed, we also noticed a Camping World. Darn, missed it!
It's so pretty!
We’ve got some great tunes playing this morning on our Sirius XM radio. Nothing like the 60’s on 6 to keep us bebopping along. Finally, at mile marker 210 we are through the rough riding. Pavement is fairly new and very smooth. Blessings.
Rest area surrounded by red boulders
At 10:15 we stopped at the Meteor Crater Rest Area. Surprised it was OPEN!!! So many were closed on our trips down. We made a Keurig coffee to go and answered nature’s call once more. Back on the road immediately enjoying the red rock and earth in the scenery.
Snow on the side of the highway

Minus the blur, beautiful red earth surrounding the greenery

Got in touch with Rob and Pat, our Durham and Rock Glen friends, who are also down here and making their trek home. We wondered whereabouts they were at this stage of their travels and it was good to hear of their ‘jello’ plans.

Other Rock Glen friends, Gerry and Melinda, George and Suzie and my sister and brother-in-law, Gayle and John are making their way home as well, so for the time being we have New Mexico, Texas and North Carolina covered with an Ontario presence.

We have seen more railway trains on this stretch than all the time travelling around the southwest. It is the mile-long train extravaganza with most having at least 4 engines and one with 5 engines at the beginning, 3 in the middle and 3 bringing up the rear. I’d love to see them from the sky. These pictures are for Dad.

These 3 pictures are of the same train (sorry it is so dark)


Moving on down the road we were also watching for a Flying J or Truck Stop for diesel. Once we get below the half, we start looking and found it at Winslow. The price looked great at $2.35/gal. but what a rigmarole getting in and around their lots.
Pretty good price but we did even better!
We tend to go to the trucker’s side because of ease of access to pumps but there were at least 3 or 4 lined up at each one. The regular area for gas and diesel did not appear conducive to making the turns from the right direction with a large unit like ours. It was definitely high enough but so many vehicles every which way. We opted out and then saw a separate set of 2 fueling stations with the middle section the machines for rv’s. 
This was a weird set up

After another shot around the lot we were able to slip into one but needed some guidance on how to make the pump work on the right side of the truck. Geesh! The bonus was that we only had to pay $2.18/gal because of having the Good Sam Club card. Check out Bill's post here (yes, I finally bugged him enough to write!) for details on how this thing worked.

All topped up with fuel, coffee and a couple of peanut butter cookies and on the highway again. See how far we can get before we need a piddle break again. LOL it is a crazy circle.

Just met two tractors relocating houses towards the west. Is this their idea of full-timing? I think they missed the point!

Holbrook RoadRunner silo

Holbrook water tower
We’ve seen multiple advertising signs for Trading Posts. Everyone has a cheaper blanket or t-shirt. These places are just a blink of an eye on the side of the road jam packed with Trading Posts and teepees and clean restrooms. One sign said “you have to stop here, it is different!” yet all the same signage we’d seen over the last 30 miles.

 Lots of rolling plains as far as the eye can see but no cactus and no mountains. Hmm, we are nearing the edge of Arizona, watching things disappear before our eyes. Then up out of the blue or should I say partially white cloudy sky pops this  beautiful mountain ridge at Lupton, Az.

Well Bill, we aren’t in Arizona anymore. In the middle of these beautiful mountains of red rock we pass into New Mexico

Off to the side are more Trading Posts and there is the infamous Route 66 again. We need to remember this and come down this way so we can detour off and explore more of the historic route. It is gorgeous!
Stunning! That is the Historic Route 66 that you see at the bottom of the picture
At 1:00, (but wait! in New Mexico the time changed with daylight savings time so we are now 2:00) it is time to pull off into a Rest Area. Bill is tired and needs to close his eyes and stretch his legs. Not necessarily at the same time though. I am also ready for a break to stretch as I’m sure Clemmy feels the same. I also have some great photo ops here.

We were on the road again by 2:30, too noisy for any shut eye but at least the walkabout, snack and a drink helped refresh my driver. That was a beautiful Welcome Centre Rest Area.
My friend, Brenda, would have loved the Native flute music playing in here

At 3:10 pm we crossed the Continental Divide at 7275’ elevation and the temperature dropped from 74F to 69F. The sky is clearing though which is good because we want the sun to charge our panels. This highway has become a little rougher too since entered N.M., darn it!

This is a different feeling we have when we are not heading to an rv resort as opposed to when we are just heading to an overnight stop. We learned quickly coming down in October/November that there isn’t a lot of point in pulling into a Walmart or Flying J at 2 o’clock in the afternoon. You can’t sit outside, so unless we have sightseeing to do or shopping, we want to drive as far as we feel we safely.

Driving along we could feel wind gusts between the truck and the Suite, first time we’ve noticed that while driving although there are a few spots all over the southwest where signs to be cautious of them. Our 10 wheels stayed planted on the pavement with no unplanned wavering.

 As I look out along the highway I see things that perhaps some tourists would look at as ugly and junky. I’m talking about the homesteads, many of which are old trailers, single wide park models and some shanty they call home. True, they don’t look nice, nor do the rustic old farm machinery abandoned around their property and broken down sheds.
This stone house is obviously abandoned and not one that I refer to above
I refrained from taking pictures of those today, it didn't feel right

I think it makes me feel #1 grateful for what we have and where we are in our life, #2 sad that this is what they have to live in and #3 a bit of admiration for how they must be taking some pride in the fact that they own something, no matter how it looks to us, and they are doing the best they can.

I don’t want to dwell on it either way so mostly I just look and then look beyond at what this country has to offer me, the beauty of the terrain and the opportunity to come and visit and explore.
Traffic back up due to construction and merging
We have reached a slow down with a lane merge before coming into Acoma. Construction for 5 miles and traffic is pretty much at a standstill. No problem for us, we have a destination 8 miles ahead and know we are stopping for the night. We are in no hurry.
When we got closer we saw the workers and this machine dropping this load to break up the dirt

Although this is a very hard mesh iron weight, seriously?
You see how the earth is broken up in the forefront of the photo
Arrival at Sky City Travel Centre/Casino on Silver Dollar Rd. at 4:30 pm, 85F. 

Parked well away from everyone else
Got a very secluded spot in the corner and popped into McDonald’s for a Big Mac Combo. Filling and once in a while on the road I rather enjoy them. I’m not cooking!
We checked with the security guard while inside just to be sure we wouldn't have to move and he gave us a positive thumbs up.

Going to tie up this long post and call it a night. This was a long day but a great one and we are 350 miles closer to home. We had not traveled this route before so it was also full of new experiences.

Hope your day was a good one. One more note for Dad, today we counted 18 freight trains and thought of you with every single one. I have pictures to prove it! 

Goodnight from Acoma, New Mexico

Thank you for reading and sticking with me. All comments are welcome.