Thursday, April 2, 2015

SPRING SOUTHWEST SWING - Part 5: Homeward Bound!

MONDAY, March 30
Edgewood, NM to Cortez, CO
318 miles

          A chillier night than anticipated after a warm day!  We didn’t put the heater going last night and the trailer was a brisk 40 degrees when I got up at 6:30 this morning.  Brrr!  But it warmed up quickly as the sun rose over the horizon. 
          Rick and I got the trailer packed up, went inside to eat breakfast and saw goodbye to Regan, Jax, Mom, and Jed, and we were on the road by 8:25!  Right on schedule!
          Our stop in Moriarty took longer than planned however.  We pulled off at the Travel America center because it advertised free RV dump station.  Well, a 7Up truck was blocking the dump and there was now a charge.  First the lady said $10 and Rick balked.  She switched it to $5, so we went ahead.  By the time Rick got it worked out the truck was leaving.  Job accomplished. 
          We chose our route today as a variety from the boring route going back through Albuquerque (we had driven that road enough this week!), on to Gallup, and up to Cortez.  That is probably the shorter route, but today’s route was MUCH MORE SCENIC!!  We decided to cut up to Santa Fe from Moriarty, then past Ghost Ranch and up to Pagosa Springs, Colorado.  From there across the southern edge of Colorado to Cortez.  A great choice!! 
Rock formations south of Ghost Ranch
Northern NM
Meadows and mountains near Pagosa Springs
          The skies were rather dusty or hazy in the early hours, but as we neared Ghost Ranch and the northern parts of Hwy 84 near Chama, the views were clearer – the red rimrock, the hoodoos, and distance snowy mountains.  The meadows became green with new grass, the hills covered with pines.  After 5 weeks in the desert southwest, what a welcome drive!  We were going to stop for lunch at one of two picnic areas which we never found.  Hence, Rick ended up driving clear to Pagosa Springs.  We gassed up and eventually ate lunch in the City Market parking lot, recalling various locations and landmarks from our month here on our first volunteer-cation.  I took pictures…plenty of them! 
Chimney Rock west of Pagosa
Just west of Durango
Mesa of Mesa Verde National Park entrance
          Hwy 160 from Pagosa through Durango and on to Cortez rolls up and down as it crosses at least six major rivers draining the mountains of SW Colorado. Plenty of good views, beautiful ranches and meadows.  We passed the high butte mesa of Mesa Verde National Park and descended down into Cortez around 3:30pm.  Full tank of gas and then we find the Sundance RV Park across the street from the Colorado Welcome Center.  Not the cheapest place in town, but we get a spot, settle in, and take a leisurely walk around the extensive city park to stretch our legs.  We were surprised upon signing in to the register at the RV park to find Jennifer and Rick Holden from Baker City had been there just 10 days earlier! 
          Forecast is for 34 degrees tonight.  Guess we will keep the heater out and ready to use! 
 
Southern Colorado mountains
Tuesday, March 31 
Cortez, CO to Tooele, UT
371 miles

          I think the heater kept things warmer last night as it was 57 in the trailer when I got up this morning!  A beautiful morning, but a cold front is coming in and tomorrow is forecast for 20 degrees cooler in Cortez, and a low in the 20’s for the night.  (We heard on the news that Denver hit the 80’s on Sunday, but could have snow soon!  LOVE Spring weather!)  This cooling trend is a good sign to get home now! 
Rick's favorite Beehive
formation north of Monticello
          I drove first today from Cortez up to Moab.  A pretty morning and Rick even took a few pictures with the camera!  Snow on the peaks, winter wheat poking up green shoots in the fields, and tilled RED soil waiting for planting.  The high country between Monticello, UT and Cortez is prime wheat, pinto bean, and sunflower growing areas. 
    
Sun on rocks entering Moab
      From Monticello you enter the redrock country, lined with snowy peaks in the distance.  Always a pretty drive, especially in the early morning when the sun hits the rocks and turns the colors intense.  But Moab itself was an absolute ZOO!  There is an Easter Jeep Fest going on…people and jeeps everywhere.  I considered driving a bit further, but I wasn’t sure I could get us out of the Maverick gas station!  So….Rick drove the rest of the day! 
Leaving Moab
          We stopped briefly at a rest area about 15 miles south of Price to grab a bite to eat and restrooms.  From there…Rick drove straight through to Tooele from there. (Past Provo to Lehi and then on Rte 73 to Tooele – a new route!) A rather long haul!  But we arrived at 3:30pm and now are set to cross the Great Salt Desert in the morning and will have avoided ALL Salt Lake City traffic and congestion!  Hurray! 
Willows blossoming near Price
Dropping down into Spanish Forks
          I got two more walls finished for the needlepoint cr├Ęche stables AND spent time highlighting the roads we have driven in several states in our atlas.  A fun activity, especially when we have NEW roads to highlight. 
      
Road into Tooele - not exactly SLC congestion
    Vorwaller RV Park in Tooele isn’t anything exotic, especially in the overnight spots up by the highway.  No shower facility or restrooms, so Rick made a point to light the hot water heater!  But full hookups for only $20.  No internet unless I buy it.  I can handle it. I have good T-Mobile so maybe I will tether the phone for a short while.  Rick is able to get some TV with the antennae!
          Quiet night.  Early night!  But I am going to call my bro’ tonight!   
         
WEDNESDAY, April 1 
Tooele UT-Nevada-Idaho-Baker City, OR!!
526 miles

          I should have know this morning that once we got into Idaho, the homing pidgeon, ‘horses to the barn’ syndrome would set in!  And once we committed (as we passed the RV Park in Glenn’s Ferry) we felt good about it!  And I drove at least 225 of those miles, so my share! 
Mountains west of Tooele
Sun rays of morning sun breaking
through clouds
          We were out of Tooele by 8am heading west into a mild but not horrible wind across the flats of the Great Salt Desert.  The mountains were pretty in the morning sunshine with shadows and tips of snow.  I drove until Wells, NV, with a brief stop at the rest area at Bonneville Raceway and the Salt Flats, just a few miles east of Wendover and the
Humbolt Mountains as you drop down into Wells, NV
Nevada border.  Rick got some great pictures of the Humbolt Mts. as we descended into Wells.  They were beautiful.  Wells completed our giant circle….the rest of the way home retraces our original route. 
          We gassed up in Wells and got an early lunch at the Subway.  That fortified Rick for the drive up toward the Idaho border and I-84.  This is NOT the shorter way from Salt Lake, but we sure did avoid a lot of morning SLC traffic. 
Crossing Snake River north of Buhl on Hwy 46
          We gassed up again in Filer (between Buhl and Twin Falls) for the final 45 minutes into Glenn’s Ferry.  At that point it was just a little after 2pm and we realized we could be HOME by 6pm Pacific Time.  I was good for another stretch at the wheel, so once on the interstate, Rick pulled over and let me take the trailer through the WIND TUNNEL into Boise!  And boy was there a west head wind  coming at us.  It probably would have been
Snake River near Farewell Bend, OR
better in the morning.  We joked that whatever we saved in not paying for another night’s RV spot, we used up in gas!  Not the easiest 80 miles of driving for me – hard to keep up a decent speed but not push the engine too hard when you have 30mph coming against you!  LOTS of trucks and cars passed me, but we made it to the rest area just east of Boise where I let Rick tackle the construction and traffic of Boise and on home! 
Lush hills of Burnt River canyon
      
The FIRST reminder that I
am almost home. 
    A quick stop at Caldwell for gas (much needed!) and the final 100 miles into Baker City.  And what a beautiful final 70 miles it was.  The Burnt River canyon is at its prime in the spring.  The hills were covered in lush green grasses, carpeted with the yellow blossoms of balsam root.  I couldn’t get pictures of the flowers, but the shadows of sun and cloud on the hills was so welcoming!  Lots of clouds to shadow my Elkhorn view at Pleasant Valley, so even so, that is always the view that says we are almost home! 
A tint of the yellow balsam color!
      
Not the best of my Pleasant Hill Elkhorn shots...
    We pulled into our driveway at 5:36pm (clocks have been turned back to Pacific Time!) and I am thrilled by the thick yellow mass of baby daffodils in my garden.  I didn’t know I had planted that kind of bulb!  SOOOOO pretty and such a ‘welcome home’ surprise. 

          That ends another Southwest Spring Swing for volunteer work.  It was a good trip.  A few new roads, new faces at CHRPA, and a quality visit with Mom R, Jed, and Randy's family.  Some homes that we know we made a difference in and spread a little of God’s love.  Some incredible vistas and reminders of God in the beauty of creation.  

PS.  One of those little 'math things' that I find amazing.  Our trip down to Tucson was 1215 miles.  Our trip home from Edgewood to Baker City clocked in at..... 1215 miles.  Go figure!  God figures!!