Whew… We made it back to Colorado. We left Birmingham, AL on Dec 28th. That’s five nights and six days on the road, for what should have been a two night/3 day drive. I’ll cover our trip in a little more detail below, instead of my last half-hazard blog entry.
We had heard about the snowstorm that was hammering Colorado and New Mexico. We spent a night in Sallisaw, OK, just before a turnoff which left us an opportunity to determine whether to take a southern route or northern route. We decided on the southern route, heading out on I-40, but it wasn’t far south enough. We arrived in Amarillo, TX just before the storm hit. Amarillo got hammered with an inch or so of ice and a few snow pellets. It actually wasn’t too bad in Amarillo, but we did loose control for a split second on an overpass when returning from dinner. Due to the weather conditions, we actually expect to spend two nights in Amarillo, but as mentioned in the previous entry, we ended up spending New Years there too.
After night #2, We drove 20 miles or so before being turned back to Amarillo! It became pretty apparent to me that New Mexico wasn’t used to getting this kind of snow and their road maintenance crews simply couldn’t handle it. Albuquerque had a record snowfall for December… nearly two feet. And this is the desert?
It was aggravating enough spending New Years Eve (night #3) in Amarillo, but the New Years day was even worse. What should have been a four hour drive, turned out to be a nightmarish ten hour drive over to Albuquerque. Apparently Teresa, Simon, and myself and about 100,000 other stranded travelers heading West on I-40 all left around the same time. We would stop, sitting on the interstate turned parking lot for no apparently reason. Then we’d go up to the speed limit again for a few minutes… only to stop again. In one incredibly stupid move, we decided to stop at this gas station, Bowlin’s Flying C Ranch. These guys have their marketing down pat. We’ve seen their other travel centers (Bowlin’s Running Indian) along I-10 in Southern New Mexico with the same story. An infinite sea of billboard signs leading up to the travel center. For those of you in the South, think “See Rock City.” We must have seen at least a hundred billboards leading up to the darn place. Apparently it works. There were about 20 cars in line to get gas and/or food. The worst part about it was the fact that only a narrow slice of their parking lot was open. And basically, once you were in you were in line, you were stuck. I guess the idiots running the place didn’t see the need to plow their parking lot! I thought we were about to end up in a gridlocked situation, but we were fortunate. We got through the line in about an hour only to park out on the interstate again. To make matters even worse, someone in the restaurant told us that the New Mexico state patrol had planned on closing I-40 to all motorists at dark. I was relieved to find out this wasn’t the case, since it took us over 2 hours to move 30 miles to the supposed closure point… and darkness had already fallen upon us.
On this day, I saw traffic that makes Atlanta traffic look like a dream. Itwas by far and away the worst travel day I have ever experienced. We did eventually get into Albuquerque, and drove to Las Vegas, NM for the night without any traffic problems. We found out that travelers in Las Vegas, NM had the same problems. Luckily, all had moved on and we had no problems finding a room for the night.
The next day, we headed out along I-25 heading North towards home. We stopped in Trinidad and snapped this shot. That’s a lot of snow!
Everything was going fine along I-25… nice speed limit ride until we stopped in Walsenburg for lunch before heading off on CO-69 towards home. We drove past a BBQ place, and I felt we should turn around to check it out. Unfortunately, I picked the WRONG parking lot to do so. I got the truck stuck in some lightly packed snow. However, I was very proud… we got it unstuck about 20-30 minutes later without any help! We managed to make it to our trailer just before dark, leaving plenty of time for Simon to sniff around.
I think Simon gets the picture that this is home for the next year or two. He sniffed around the trailer for a minute or two before plopping down and taking a long nap. I guess he was glad to be “home” too.
We felt the same way. As Teresa said, “it’s a tin can on wheels, but it’s still home!” For now in any case…