September 23, Friday
A few of us opt to stay one more night at Salida, CO even though the convergence is officially over, and despite the strong winds, drizzle, and cold temperatures, the evening just doesn’t feel right without a campfire.
So we huddle around in our cold-weather gear with our feet almost in the fire pit. The rain blows over and it’s like someone has flipped a switch, the clouds vanish and the stars come out in force. They’re brighter than they’ve been the past week, maybe because the rain has cleared the dust from the sky. Brock gets one last night photograph, and it’s a real winner. The halo of light from the fire does interesting things to the color of the milky way.
Then the clouds come back in and it’s snowing and sleeting. We tough it out for a while just for the bragging rights of sitting around a campfire under such conditions, but before ten pm I’m snuggled in my sleeping bag under the covers, toasty and comfortable.
September 24, Saturday,
Some mornings, I wake up ready to travel. Today is not one of those days.
But one of the beauties of this lifestyle is the flexibility. I have until the 3rd to get to Texas, there’s no need to rush. I take my time working on the blog and packing up. By the time I pull out it’s nearing 2 pm and I’m the last one left in camp. Whoever stays here next will love all the firewood we had to leave behind. It’s goodbye to my fellow Xscapers for now, but I’ll be seeing a lot of them again in Quartzsite this winter.
Bertha rolls down US50 east along the Arkansas River. It’s a beautiful drive, at times cliffs press up right against the road and river.
In other spots, the valley opens up and snow dusts the peaks of the mountains from last night’s precipitation.
At Texas Creek, I drive past my turnoff without recognizing it even though my GPS is pulled up. 69 looks like an ally between two buildings in town, narrow and unassuming. I have further misgivings when the road climbs sharply up into the hills – Google Maps doesn’t know I’m pulling a trailer and sometimes it chooses some… interesting routes.
Bertha handles the incline well and the steep part ends relatively quickly. After that, the valley widens and the land becomes more arid. I’ve left the high mountains behind.
69 ends at I25 near Walsenburg. When stopping there for gas I realize that this is the same travel center I stayed overnight at last year when coming down from Yellowstone. The sun sinks below the horizon. For a truck stop, it’s relatively quiet overnight.
September, 25, Sunday
It’s a clear and sunny morning, most of the trucks have already left when I roll out of bed. The drive down I25 to New Mexico is short, Colorado was nice but after my unexpected extended stay it feels nice to be somewhere else. At Springer I turn east onto US412 and at the next town, south onto 39 into Kiowa National Grassland, where I hit a small bird.
I always feel horrible when I hit an animal while driving, this is the first time it’s happened since I became a full-timer. A flock of finches or sparrows is on the road, and this one is too slow to take off. As soon as I’m able to, I stop and get it off the grill. It looks perfect, no visible damage from the impact. I hope it died instantly and didn’t suffer. Sorry little guy.
Going around a corner past the grassland, a vista unfolds. Oh, guess I’m going down. It’s an 8% grade for two miles, the speed limit drops to 35 mph because of the curves. I was naturally a little concerned about how Bertha would perform on this first major drive post-repairs, but my fears are unfounded. She’s behaving perfectly fine, and before long I’m safe and sound at the bottom.
39 ends at the small town of Loga, and from there it’s a short hop on US54 to tonight’s destination, Tucumcari, NM (named for Tucumcari Mountain, if you’re curious like me and wonder about the odd name). This little town has two RV parks, I stay at Mountain Road because it’s cheaper than the KOA. The facility are dated but clean, and my site is level enough to park without unhooking. Somehow I fail to get a picture of the place, it’s not a destination park so there wasn’t anything worth photographing but it’s fine for a stop-over.
September 26, Monday
South of Tucumcari, a network of small roads takes me to Clovis. The lower gas prices seem a good indicator that the Texas boarder is approaching. Truckers are pouring into Love’s for a quick bite to eat while I cook on the stove in the parking lot. It’s so handy being able to eat well no matter where I am.
Around 4 I arrive in Lubbock, TX, where I’ll be moochdocking in a friend’s driveway for a few days. Misty cooks an amazing stir fry for dinner and we spend the evening on the couch watching Netflix. Just because I don’t own a TV or have a Netflix subscription myself doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy the opportunity when it comes along! Her house is in a good neighborhood and the evening is warm and pleasant, it feels great to spread out in the bed and not be confined to my sleeping bag.