Travels With Vidya
Sharing My Summer of Travels in 2018
This is just a little diary of my travels around the USA in 2018. I had hand-written it in my notebook, but decided to try using a speech-to-text app just to see if it could transcribe. And it did! Here it is:
After six months of living in Apache Junction, Arizona, Sammy (my dog) and I headed east toward New Mexico traveling over US 60 and US 70 through Safford Arizona, and then across the New Mexico border. First, we cruised down a long straight-away to Lordsburg, and then another hour to Deming, New Mexico. Arriving at the little Vineyard RV park, we found a space and went to raise up the top on my Hi-Lo trailer.
Arghh! It wouldn't raise. My suspicion was the battery but I was under the impression that connecting to shore power would override the battery. It didn't take long to discover that theory was flawed.
What to do? what to do? Being exhausted from the traveling, I knew I wasn't up for lots of effort. But no matter how things transpired, I knew I had a mattress and camping equipment in the Suburban. But what a hassle it would be to have to unload everything and reload it all in the morning -- and still not have fixed the main issue. I took the easy way out and called AAA road service. I would never, ever travel anywhere without having the security of the AAA card.
After an hour, the AAA truck arrives. The solution was so simple that I could slapped my forehead. He attached jumper cables to the trailer battery and the top slid right up! Yay! Except I realized if I had known, I could've jumped the battery myself without calling AAA.
Even though past 8 PM, I grabbed the weak battery and went off to Walmart to get a new one. Upon returning, I went directly to bed as I was too tired to do anything else. In the morning, battery replacement worked like a charm.
April 16, 2018
Every two weeks on Sunday is the conference call with friends in the New Humanity training. Thus, it was after noon before I packed everything up
and headed out. Rolling down I25, after an hour I passed through
Since there are so many miles between towns in the desert, I always find it fascinating to observe how cities get situated. First criteria is always a river running through town. In many cases, cities butt right up against mountain walls. Las Cruces was no different. You drive down down into a valley such that you're surrounded by hills and mountains.
Then north on US Route 70 with no way out of the valley, except over the mountain pass. Up, up and up we went until topping out with a magnificent view of the Tularosa basin for 100 miles north and east. This enormous flat area was selected for missile proving grounds 'way back in the early part of the 20th century, and is still used for that purpose to this day.
Sixty miles north is Alamogordo New Mexico, But on the way is the White Sands National Monument, which is just what it sounds like -- vast acres of white sand! Walking through the area feels just like walking in a winter wonderland, except it was 80 degrees.
Today was all about getting to
No problem. The people at RV parks tend to be really friendly and the driver here was no exception. Simply a misunderstanding. He had every intention of moving on, anyways. A little earlier turned out to be just fine. I was all set up and taking it easy by 5 PM.
First things first -- parks for walking Sammy. Then finding the grocery stores. The city park must've been a half a mile long but only a couple hundred feet wide with toy train tracks along the whole way. Works for me!
Big cities like
Having bicycled through
Packing up was not easy but after rolling through Cloudcroft and back down, I found that the temperatures climbed back into the 60s. That was my memory of Cloudcroft. Today, driving up to Cloudcroft I turned off onto that national Forest Road, and looked around trying to guess where I encamped 21 years before. It was a lovely area really, except when it is freezing.
Just as you top out in Cloudcroft proper is the Trestle Recreation Area, aptly named due to the tall and long (but rickety) railroad trestle bridge (still existing.)
The recreation area is small but has a little trail through the forest with views of the vast valley floor below. Signage reveals how they constructed the railroad up the side of a mountain, which was pretty fascinating, I thought.
Cloudcroft itself isn't much to speak of, being a typical tourist town with typical expensive tourist shops. But it sits on a lovely setting. Tall Ponderosa Pines create mountain sceneries as good as any in the West. Plus you find lots of places to camp if you're okay hanging out at 8000 feet.
I'm not. So after a picnic lunch at the local wayside, I headed back down the mountain, the way I came.
Ruidoso, New Mexico
Just north of
But once you get past Mescalero, here comes Ruidoso. Situated in the midst of mountain beauty is a tourist town to beat all tourist towns.
Narrow curvy streets are populated with colorful displays of tourist chitz. Mansions and ski areas reminded me of
Of course, tourist towns don't exist for no reason. People come to the area attracted by its natural beauty. And driving out the other side of town, natural beauty is evident if you don't mind all the Keep Out and No Trespassing signs.
Once on the eastern side of town, you pass the airport and go down the hill to an interesting old-time fort called
Bypassing Ruidoso on the way back, we happened to find a multitude of RV parks. But it's not likely I'll be staying in Ruidoso as it is higher elevation even than Cloudcroft.
May 1 to June 2, 2018
To get from Southern New Mexico to
It's an exhausting drive but being in
This road goes north through Carrizozo (really!) and thence through vast miles of open range, until passing Interstate 40.
And then you go a short hop that takes you to
I 25 from Las Vegas to Raton New Mexico
From Las Vegas to the Colorado border is miles and miles (and miles) of flat prairiegrass. The scenery is great if you like looking at grass. Thus, it's always a relief when Raton rolls into view at the end of the day. The Willow Springs RV park is a good place to stay. And first thing in the morning, you head up Raton pass.
I end up traveling all over the US from east to west, from
Down we go to Trinidad and then roll up I25 past the congested
Compare this to Phoenix -- a much bigger city whose roads are actually pleasant to drive on (except, of course, for rush-hour.)
Getting north of
But I was heading for Berthoud, CO just past
While I was sleeping in the house one night, it rained a cloudburst. But I never even knew it until stepping outside in the morning.
And really when I'm sleeping in a big empty house at night, it's a little scary. Maybe it's something left over from childhood but I have always been uncomfortable sleeping in a big house all by myself. But I've never felt this way in my trailer, no matter where I was. Go figure!
Sleeping inside also revealed to me that I have some sleep apnea where I don't get enough air when sleeping. Opening the windows solved that issue. There's always enough moving air at night in my trailer.
That's why I was so glad when Rennie and Kirsten returned from
I can honestly say that living in my trailer is the best place I have ever lived. That might explain why it's been two years now.
Berthoud is a bedroom town for the bigger cities of
The town park at the center of Berthoud has large sculptures of what you'd expect in a western town. Cowboys, elks, horses -- but also a fat walrus. Never did get a good explanation for that one.
Over on the south side of town just below the miles of suburban dwellings is a walkway around a marsh.
Such a pleasant place to be in the spring and fall. As everywhere in the West, temperatures can be extreme during the summertime.
On the front range above
But a spot is always available if you know the secret. It's called the Boulder County Fairgrounds RV park which is only first-come first-served. Getting there on Sunday evening, you always find a spot but there is a 14 day limit per year. This is good enough to visit friends for a little while.
For me, summertime means traveling across the
Having gone across the
Corps of Engineers campgrounds are the name of the game. These parks are federal, meaning the senior passcard gets you in at half price.
I like to pick the ones where I end up paying about $8 a night. Here's my route across the
Just north of the highway is
Sometimes, I stay in the campground right in front of the dam but I kind of feel anxious being in front of such a huge dam.
When ready to leave Iowa, you continue East on I80, eventually passing the Iowa 80 truck stop near the state border,
which is billed as the largest truckstop in the world. Here I usually leave I80 and head south toward I70.
Otherwise you have to drive through
For me, it's usually Friday afternoon when I leave
Saturday then becomes a drive down I74 in
Sunday is a drive across
Next, you go across
Actually, I did the I70 route only once. Bad choice. Roads in
On the way back West, I like to go back the same route as far as
Yankton has a really fine campground. In fact, it may be the best I've ever seen. The
Weekends, however, are really jammed with RVs. That's why I appreciate that I usually stay Sunday eve to Friday afternoon.
On Friday, it's back West on I 90 across
Even in August, the grass is still green. But who wants to drive several hundred miles of road with billboards every 100 yards?
It's possible that Wall Drug has more billboards on highways in the
After Chamberlain on the Missouri River, you head across western South Dakota, straight for the Black Hills, which have always been a fascinating place to me. However, if you're just cruising by on the expressway, the scenery isn't all that great. Too many towns. But soon, you cross the border into Wyoming. And soon after that is the turn off for Devils Tower.