3:10 to Yuma

Yuma? Yes, Yuma bound. But first, back in South Dakota, I’d just become a resident by getting a driver’s license and registering the 5th wheel. No luck with the truck.

Near Rapid City, Custer State Park is a 71,000 acre wildlife preserve in the Black Hills and a great place to see herds of Buffalo.

I was lucky to visit when I did. Tragically, the Lake Fire in South Dakota has Custer State Park closed right now (December 2017) and nine of the burros have suffered burns in the blaze. The fire is now 100% contained.

On through Lake De Smet, Alcova, and Rock Springs in Wyoming, Duchesne and the disappointing Crystal Geyser in Utah, we arrived at Green River, UT – base camp (at a truck stop) to see Arches National Park. This should be on everyone’s bucket list (the Arches, not the truck stop).


On to Sevier, Utah where I was stuck in a snow storm for 2 days, then Las Vegas where about six miles away the largest mass shooting in US History happened during my stay. So, yeah. Of course there’s nothing that could have been done to prevent that – who could have imagined that someone buying scores of automatic weapons and thousands of rounds of ammo might want to use them. Really, he was an NRA hero, showing just how much you can accomplish when you buy a congress. We should get him a statue.

Hmm, I may have gotten off topic there.

OK, on to Needles, Quartzsite and finally Phoenix to end the Big Truck ClusterTr**k.

Finally 310 to Yuma

On the old RV I had a solar power system installed by Starlight Solar in Yuma and it’s just about time to do the same on the new RV. Just 310 miles to go – Phoenix to Gila Bend to Holtville CA to Yuma. Sort of a cinematic epic.

Starlight is only open from November 1st to May 1st each year, because, you know, who wants to work outside in Yuma the rest of the year. When I got the new RV I thought it wouldn’t be a big deal living without solar for 4 months or so, but really it was. I had a little generator, but having to run it every day, listening to the noise, smelling the fumes, running out for gas every other day, and having to run it to even charge up my laptop … well it really made me appreciate the solar power. Silent, clean, always there for anything I need short of air conditioning. When I pulled in on November 13th for installation I was almost giddy.


[ List of places visited is not shown on this browser ]

[ Map of places visited is not shown on this browser ]

Into the Plains

After the Meteor Crater stop, I’ve been in travel mode, sucking down the diesel and heading north.

Raton

I stopped in Raton, New Mexico, before crossing the Raton Pass into Colorado. Raton means “little rat” and I couldn’t find out why they named the town that. Both days there had thunderstorms with lots of hail and tornado warnings. Raton was mentioned briefly in Jack Kerouac’s On The Road.

OTRCover

We passed Walsenburg; suddenly we passed Trinidad, where Chad King was somewhere off the road in front of a campfire with perhaps a handful of anthropologists and as of yore he too was telling his life story and never dreamed we were passing at that exact moment on the highway, headed for Mexico, telling our own stories. O sad American night! Then we were in New Mexico and passed the rounded rocks of Raton and stopped at a diner, ravingly hungry for hamburgers, some of which we wrapped in a napkin to eat over the border below. “The whole vertical state of Texas lies before us, Sal,” said Dean. “Before we made it horizontal. Every bit as long. We’ll be in Texas in a few minutes and won’t be out till tomorrow this time and won’t stop driving. Think of it.”
–Jack Kerouac – On the Road

No, I’m not really a fan of On the Road, tried to read it a couple of times but couldn’t get into it. Of course, I do love an epic road trip.

Roamward Bound struggled over the Raton pass (8,000 ft) and I was down to 25 mph several times. Piles of hail lined the roads looking like snow in the shadows.

Fountain

Just south of Colorado Springs, in Fountain, my campsite was along the Fountain Creek, a beautiful setting.

Fountain Creek. Ten yards from campsite in Fountain, Colorado.
Fountain Creek. Ten yards from campsite in Fountain, Colorado.

Fountain Creek flowing over a rock dam
Fountain Creek flowing over a rock dam

I love the sound of the water falling and the little rock dam could be heard throughout the park. Later this summer I want to see the Fallingwater, the Frank Lloyd Wright home in Pennsylvania, and Niagara Falls.

Many of the campers here seemed to be pot tourists and unaware that most of the counties, including this one, ban recreational sales – it’s pretty much limited to Denver, Pueblo and Boulder.

Death Drive

Taking I-25 north from Fountain traffic was slow and it seemed like every other exit recalled a mass murder. Colorado Springs (New Life Church), Bailey (Platte Canyon High School), Centennial (Arapahoe High School), Littleton (Columbine High School and Deer Creek Jr. High – twice), Aurora (Dark Knight Rises and Chuck E. Cheese), Denver US 40 (Morey Jr. High School 1961), and Stapleton (UAL 626). Maybe I missed a few, these were the ones I noticed. Grim enough for such a beautiful area.

Cheyenne

Cheyenne reminds me of Flagstaff with it’s preserved historical downtown and the rails. The area is surrounded by rolling hills covered with grass 3-6 feet high, and ranches the size of a small county.

Lusk

Lusk, a high plains town in eastern Wyoming, is known for being the county seat of the least populated county in the least populated state in the US. It’s the gateway from the west into the Black Hills of South Dakota.