Thursday, March 13, 2008
On The Road Again!!!
After a couple of false starts....having to have some additional "adjustments" made to my new (to me) RV, I finally hit the road for New Mexico on Wednesday, mid-morning. This was the first time I had driven it on the Interstate and it was a "white knuckle" affair for an hour or two.
I'm used to towing a trailer behind a big SUV, but it's totally different to be sitting high in the air and right over the front wheels of a giant brick shaped vehicle. It actually requires a light touch, rather than a death grip on the steering wheel. After two full days of driving I feel much more comfortable but it will still take more time for it to feel "normal".
The first stop was Trinidad, CO. When I was there last, on my trip with Guitar, we went to the cemetery to try and find "Uncle" Dick Wooten's grave. We were there on a weekend, couldn't find it and there was no one to help us. This time I found someone not only who knew where the stone was, but also had a great story to tell about the grave.
It seems as if some years ago, some of Uncle Dick's descendants wanted him to be near other family members....but they didn't want to spend a lot of money to do it.
The solution was to provide a new headstone next to the family....but not to move his body! The picture above is the memorial stone and somewhere in the next picture, where you see a lot of "blank" ground, is the bodily remains of "Uncle" Dick. Even after his death, Uncle Dick provides a good story!
Three quarters of the day on Wednesday was driving on the Interstate; Denver to Raton, NM. At Raton I took a smaller road to just past Des Moines...New Mexico. I chose Des Moines as my stopping place for two reasons. First, I wanted to visit Capulin Volcano National Monument and second, because there is a state operated rest area in the area that allows overnight stays at no charge.
I got to the rest area at about 4:30 pm. Because of daylight savings time this gave me a couple of hours before it got dark so after I set up camp, I broke out my metal detector to see what I could find. It was a rest stop after all, so most of what I found was "antique" metal pull tabs from drink cans. I did find one 1967 Roosevelt dime which was cool. I'm still trying to find my first Mercury dime with the metal detector.
The night was very windy and pretty cold. As you can see in the picture above, there was not a lot to hinder the wind so I rocked around for most of the night. The wind died down as soon as the sun came up and after breakfast I was off to Capulin Volcano, 10 miles or so up the road. I was there right after the National Monument opened and there was no one else in the park except the Rangers....I'm glad because the drive to the top is on a very narrow road!
The top of the volcano is 2,200 ft. above the surrounding plains and the view from the top is just spectacular. At the parking lot at the top is a trail that winds around the rim of the crater and is about a mile long. I hiked the trail and took lots of pictures but it was a bit hazy to get a really good picture. I had to do some adjustment to this picture so that you could the the Rocky Mountains (over 100 miles distant) clearly. Believe me, nothing I could do to the picture on the computer matches the incredible beauty of the real thing.
I was down off the volcano by about 9:30 and headed in a round about route to Tucumcari. My original plan was to stay at a small town to the east of Tucumcari that has a city park that allows free over night camping. Several things caused me to alter my plan.
The atrocious mileage the the RV gets, the rapid increase in gasoline prices and the distances I have been traveling means that I have been spending in excess of $100/day on fuel. I just cannot justify that expense, especially when I am traveling alone. If I am going to continue to do these outings, I will have to do shorter trips or drive less miles per day over a longer period or find some other way to contain the costs.
It really is disheartening to come to this conclusion after planning for and looking forward to this lifestyle for so many years but that is the reality. It would be different if The Bride and I were "full timing" and did not have a stick house and all of the associated expenses that entails....but we aren't and we do and that will not change. Don't start crying for me just yet...if you want to send money that's OK but don't cry. There's still plenty to do without driving these very large distances and I will do those things. Tons of stuff within one days travel from the Denver area that will keep me busy for quite a while
The other reason I chose Tucumcari instead of the free camping at San Jon is....Tucumcari itself. A classic relic of Route 66 culture. I've been through Tucumcari about twice before but I never had the time to stop and explore. There are literally dozens of motels and other businesses with classic neon signs and the thought of being able to see the Blue Swallow Motel sign at night lit up was irresistible!
I checked into the Cactus RV Park just a couple of doors down from the Blue Swallow at about 4 pm. The Cactus is a defunct motel that an enterprising Indian or Pakistani family had turned into an RV park with hookups and WiFi...$20/night. It's on old historic Route 66 so I couldn't wait for sundown and a neon treat. I was disappointed.
I will continue the story tomorrow. It's late. I am staying in Tucumcari all tomorrow as the forecast is for very heavy winds and I don't want to drive in that. Check again tomorrow for "The Rest of the Story" about Tucumcari.
Thanks for visiting.