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An Unusual Journey (Part 2)

tbutler

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In Part 1 I described the first day of a trip from Edinburg, Texas in the Rio Grande Valley to Dakota Ridge RV Park in Golden, Colorado. I spent the first night in Ballinger, Texas.

My goal for the second day of the trip was Amarillo. I always prefer to park on the far side of large towns so I don’t have to start out driving through town in busy morning traffic. The weather was mostly cloudy

until I got near Amarillo. Being just over a week from my last cataract surgery, I really appreciate cloudy days. I have those big dark glasses and they work fine but they work better when the sky is cloudy. Coming into Amarillo I needed fuel. At a roadside stop I checked my phone. Gas Buddy told me the local price for diesel ranges from 3.62 to 3.75. Of course I would have preferred the former price but the stations were off the highway and were small stations. I don't know the streets so I'm off to the Flying J on the east side of town.

There aren't any RV pumps at this Flying J so I circled the islands and ended up pulling in where the truck towing an air tractor (aerial spray plane aka crop duster) on a trailer had been. I have the Pilot-Flying

J charge card which gives me a discount from the fuel price but it also allows me to put 100 gallons in the tank with one swipe of the card! I didn't even have to go inside to leave the card and pick it up later. That was nice.

Leaving the station, a right turn put me on the loop around town which is far better than taking the N/S highway through downtown Amarillo. It is new highway and the intersection with the US 287 isn't marked with any city names. Is this the road I normally take or is there another somewhere? I don’t remember

highway numbers unless I travel them frequently. The GPS wants me to go straight ahead so I follow the GPS, no second opinion to tell me where to turn.

When the GPS does finally indicate an exit from the loop highway, the road is a very small curvy road, FM1061, and I wasn’t sure where it was taking me. There is no place to pull off and check the map so I

drove on. I finally reached US 385 and shortly thereafter crossed the Canadian River. There was a picnic area so I pulled off and parked for the night. I had phone service which was a real surprise. It was almost dark when I parked. I ate, called Louise to advise her of my progress and went to bed.

The next morning I washed the bugs off the windshield, tidied up the interior and then headed north on US 385, a decent road with passing lanes on the hills. Our normal route, US 287, takes us through the Oklahoma panhandle. The road is one of the worst we ever travel as we leave Dumas, TX until we get to the Oklahoma line. US 385 was definitely a better road than US 287.

A look at the map showed that I can still get back to the normal route by continuing north from Dalhart on US 385 but the GPS was indicating a turn to the west to Raton, yes, I-25 and the Raton Pass. My initial reaction was no, I don't want to have to go through the pass and I-25 is no picnic either. Then I thought about driving west into Denver on I-70 into the sun in the late afternoon. That stretch of I-70 late in the day is pure torture. I've driven it many times and it gets longer every time. Beside all that, I would be driving I-70 through Denver at rush hour. So, what the heck I'll follow the GPS. I turned northwest on US 87 in Dalhart and headed across the northeast corner of New Mexico to Raton.

I'd never driven this road before and was pleased to find good road with four lane highway and then good two lane road all the way to Raton. The scenery was wonderful. I passed Capulin Volcano National Monument, another volcano to climb someday. The Raton Pass wasn't as bad as my memory made it out to be. Interstate 25 is exactly what I expected, too many vehicles, too little road. Curves through Pueblo make the drive interesting. Road construction on the north side of Colorado Springs turned the highway into a four mile parking lot.

Approaching Denver I turned onto C-470. I figured this would be a quick trip to Dakota Ridge RV Campground in Golden. On this day, it was not. Once again I was in stop and go traffic which lasted for about three miles. I pulled into the campground right at closing time, parked and took the toad across town to pick up my most valuable navigator.



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