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Monday, May 18, 2015

Ugh!

We made it home after a killer drive. In the past I've always had respect for the long haul truckers. That appreciation has greatly increased these last few days. So if you know a trucker, Thank them. The stamina it takes to drive over vast distances is truly remarkable. Now I know I'm not up for that task.
The leg up to Colorado was dark and rainy. My wife and I switched off regularly if one of us felt tired in any way. Knowing that neither of us were fully rested was unnerving enough. We were taking a route we've never taken before so the road conditions were dubious. Add to the fact that storms up in the panhandle are impressive and frightening at the same time. It was sobering enough knowing one mistake and they'd pull your body from the wreckage in a few days. Ambulance time response is measured in hours out there. That thought alone is enough to make me drive even more cautiously than I did. More than once I reminded my wife not to outrun the headlights. If a deer or hog strayed onto the road, there would be no time to swerve or react. Our trip would end before properly beginning. Confession time: I did see a frog jump out of the way and a jackrabbit decided to play chicken with us the following morning. Thankfully, we didn't hit anything.
Playing Tetris all those years ago gave me good practice for what lie ahead.
Packed to the gills

Memo to me: Next time have her mail whatever can be boxed up before hand.
Who needs rear view mirrors? We managed with the side mirrors for the return trip.


She had no wriggle room

We got her dorm room cleaned out just before the electronic locks were to change. If any boxes were left inside after twelve noon, than that was too bad. Well, I'm sure we would have gotten an R.A. to unlock things, but that would have been a lot of trouble. 
My friends warned me of snowfall in Denver recently. I cautiously kept an eye out for bad weather and hoped for the best. There were a few patches on the ground, but most of it had melted, so I felt optimistic.
A few hours later we made it to Red River, New Mexico, and rented a cabin. Unbeknownst to us, bikers were starting to ride in. 
Memorial day weekend and bike rallies. When did they become synonymous?
My mind told me it was the middle of May. My eyes had a visual update: Snow and sleet flurries.



I think that video got embedded into this post. Here's a pic of one of the mountains the next morning.
A light dusting
Nothing stuck. Just chilly enough to wear the jacket you had the foresight to pack. Coming down it was certainly pretty. I'm especially grateful the cabin had a wood stove. We had dinner next to a cozy fire while white flakes drifted down outside the window.
Memories like that are the ones that will stick with you for the remainder of your days.
The shops in this quiet little hamlet were closed for the most part on Sunday morning. We left shortly after seven in the morning and had breakfast and pinion coffee in nearby Taos.
In my travels, I try and look for the silver lining... the good and interesting stuff that turns the journey into an adventure.
The morning we packed Musketeer number one's dorm, we had breakfast at the Campus Cafe. Not only do they serve an awesome breakfast, they have cinnamon rolls the size of your head. There are pictures up in that link to show I'm not exaggerating.
In Red River I'd like to give a shout out where we stayed, The Three Bears lodge. A family owned business that fits my idea of a perfect vacation stay. They certainly lived up to everything I could possibly have hoped for. The people were friendly. The cabin was perfect. Inviting as the pictures look, they don't do it justice. It was that good.
My wife hinted on our way back to San Antonio that we should take a vacation and do the tourist thing in New Mexico. I'm not opposed to that. In fact, I think it's a wonderful idea. The trip would have to be carefully planned, there's so much to do depending on what time of year you wanted to visit.
This post is perhaps long, but I wanted to get it out of my brain before it evaporates completely.
The drive back took a little over fifteen hours. Since I am at my best during daylight hours, I took the first thirteen hour stint. My body, especially the legs, are paying the price. 
I'm fighting to stay awake as I type this. The wife wanted to see Albuquerque on the way back. It was only a little out of our way and I had an ulterior motive: I wanted to avoid the smell of the Texas Panhandle if I could. I'd forgotten how bad the sulfurous rotten egg odor permeates everything. We came down interstate 285 that went through Roswell and Carlsbad before hooking up to I-10 in Fort Stockton. The trip itself would't have been bad at all if we weren't so short on time. The wife had to be back in San Antonio to teach her class this morning. For my part I had to empty the rental and return it. As much as I hated to admit it, I had to call in. My mental facilities and sleep deprived body weren't in any condition to do what I normally do during the week. My ego did write a check my body couldn't cash.
Sleep is in my future.
One last note: When planning a trip using your phone for a map, the shortest route isn't always the best way. Last year when I dropped the kid off for college, we ended up on a cattle trail winding through the back country of someone's property. Shortest route as the crow flies? Possibly. Can you fit a car on the road or go more than fifteen miles an hour at a stretch? It's best to stick to the major highways as much as possible. At least I didn't go over any cattle guards and have to drive through a herd of cows like last year.



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