I had a super slow morning in Douglas, just enjoying the supremely comfy bed. A fairly meagre breakfast was provided, but there were make-your-own waffles, which I have to confess I rather enjoy! 🙂 I shut down the computer at about 10:00, but that failed because I needed to save a document. That turned out to be a good thing since I caught an email asking me to take a rush job! I had just enough time to do the job and still checkout on time (11:00).
The weather was quite nice as I pointed Moya south towards Wheatland, where I planned to get fuel. I stopped just before at the Dwyer Junction rest area, which was smartly set up to be accessible from either direction of I-25.
After Wheatland, I drove into a storm. Rain turned to slush and my windshield wipers became useless. I considered getting off at the next exit because I could barely see, but I was in the middle of nowhere and there was no traffic. It made more sense to limp into Cheyenne at about 40KPH with the four-way flashers on. This way, if the weather got worse, I’d be in a position to hunker down. But by the time I was done with lunch, the weather was clearing and I was rewarded with bright blue sky when I crossed the Colorado border.
All was going well until Denver, where there was a huge accident. I’m pretty sure I could have crossed the city faster on foot… Like last year, I was really grateful for my GPS. That delayed me enough that I gave up on my idea of going to the Apple store to see if they might be able to fix my keyboard and just drove straight to my destination. I’m staying with one of you lovely readers tonight.
There is more bad weather incoming, so I’m hoping to be on the road to Texas early tomorrow. I’m really liking the forecast in Amarillo!
Google says I did 871KM, but my odometre says 830KM.
Okay, I know I have A LOT to catch up on. What I’ve concluded from the last week is that it is no longer possible for me to be “semi-online.” My 10 months in Europe have made me accustomed to living in the 21st century and I’m lost without access to Siri and the ability to be able to do what needs doing online when I need to do it. It has nothing to do with not being able to unplug, which I absolutely can do, just not in the context of trying to plan an international move! I was so discombobulated and disorganised this past week. 🙁
I am going to try do proper backdated posts about the myriads of things I had to do to prepare to leave this morning, but here’s the short of it:
-I returned to Haven late last Tuesday night, thanks to my neighbours C&C picking me up in Regina;
-I stayed with C&C so that I could more easily pack up (never mind that Haven had no power, water, or Internet). They have tons of room and a similar routine to me so this worked out super well;
-Caroline kept me well fuelled with one delicious meal after another. Here’s the brunch she made for the two of us on Sunday, what she calls an “apple pancake,” but which I find is more like an apple upside down cake even if the apples end up floating to the top:
-I had some work done on Moya to ready her for her final epic voyage. Among the things I tasked my mechanic to resolve is why my overhead light stays on, requiring me to pull the fuse when I park lest I drain the battery. That wound up being harder to diagnose than expected, so he told me to keep pulling the fuse like I’ve been doing and gave me this to make it easier:
car fuse puller
I was suitably amused by his solution, especially since he didn’t charge me for poking around;
-I was able to renew my driver’s license, but it didn’t come before I left so now I have to figure out how to get it to Mexico (my host in Chelem suggested I have it sent to her in Ontario for her bring it down in the fall rather than have it couriered to Mexico);
-I got my property tax assessment and went to town ready to pick a fight because I thought that the amount was a mistake at best or a cash grab at worst. Turned out that the number was real and reflects the current market. So Haven is now valued at 5.35 times what it was valued the last couple of years and I’ve been assured I will only get a token property tax increase. Looks like the expected real estate boom has started!!!
-The traitorous weather was not conducive to packing:
It was freezing in Miranda and I was not able to give her a cleaning before taking off again. By the way, I had some serious mouse damage (my scarf drawer was decimated), so that’s another reason I couldn’t have stayed in Miranda since she needed serious disinfecting.;
-All the Tetris I played as a kid paid off. There isn’t an ounce of space left in the truck:
Here’s how I loaded the cab, filling it with boxes…
And then stuffing soft items into the gaps:
I got about 95% of my most prized possessions into the truck! I’m not that disappointed since I’m headed into a humid climate and so it doesn’t make sense to bring all my journals, photo albums, and the rest of the books into that climate until I fully commit to it. I am going to have to fully unpack when I get to Chelem otherwise I risk packed items moulding over the summer.
So today was departure day. I’d hoped to leave yesterday, but that was a moving target and I was fine with leaving as late as Friday. For one thing, I desperately wanted one day before departure where I could just stop to sit for a moment and think about anything I might have forgotten. I managed to get the afternoon and evening off.
Caroline made her amazing homemade pizza (with homemade venison salami!) for dinner so I could have leftovers for my drive today! After dinner, she and I sat down at her computer so I could show her a few things. She has moved to a Mac and has had basically no learning curve. I’m so proud of her and happy that she now has a computer that works well so we can keep in touch better. It’ll also be so much easier to help her troubleshoot issues, although based on an email she sent me today, I think she’ll be able to handle many of her own issues. We then played cards, visited a bit with my immediate neighbours K&T, and I ended up going to bed way, way, way, way too late, well past midnight.
I wanted to be up at 6:30, but was, of course, awake at 5:00. I got up around 6:15 and was delighted to find Charles up and the coffee already perking. The border didn’t open till 8:00 and I had less than an hour drive there, so I sat for a bit before dressing and putting the last of my bags in the truck, as well as mug of coffee for the road.
Goodbyes are always difficult, but we all three vowed to see one another again in two years in Mexico!!!
Standing by the truck, looking east. Goodbye, Canada, it’s been good knowing you, but I’m heading somewhere new…
I made a pit stop in Coronach and got to the border at 8:30. Based on my experience recently at airports, I made the decision to cross while wearing a wig rather than a headscarf. The atmosphere at the crossing was very different than it was under the Obama years, much more no nonsense than conversational and friendly. For example, I was greeted with “Passport?” rather than, “Hi! How are you today?” I was asked the usual questions about where I was going, where I live, did I have any ATF, etc. All seemed to be going well, but soon as the officer opened the rear of the truck, he asked me to step outside and go into the waiting room. There, he had me fill out a customs form. As I did so, I overheard him say to someone, “This one is going to take a while.”
Well, at least they weren’t making me unpack the truck, but, dang, I’d forgotten my coffee! When the officer came back after just a few minutes to get my declaration, I asked if I could get the coffee and he said, “We’ll be done in a few minutes.”
Sure enough, he had me back in the truck a minute later, at most 12 minutes from the time I’d started the interview! The last thing he said to me was, “You wrote a book?” which tells me that they have Rae as an alias on file for me, that he Googled me, and that whatever he found told him that I likely was not carrying contraband or otherwise a threat (by the way, I had provided him an inventory of what I have in the truck).
One of the questions I was asked was how I plan to support myself in Mexico and he didn’t seem happy with my answer that I was going to work there for myself and that Mexico was satisfied with that. My answer should have been, “That’s what made it possible to get my residency visa.” He also asked me if I’m keeping a Canadian bank account and it was obvious that he liked my answer that I am not cutting ties with Canada at this time.
So it was another absolutely uneventful and easy, it not particularly welcoming, entry into the US. I pointed Moya south, fuelled up in Scobey, then continued south towards Circle, where I made another pit stop, before pulling into a Wendy’s in Miles City at 12:30 to get some lunch (most of the pizza had been breakfast, with a bit left for an afternoon snack!), use their WiFi, and find a room for the night. The greeting there was so friendly and a reminder of why I’ve so enjoyed my travels to the US in the past.
After a bit of research, I decided to push on to Douglas, Wyoming, where I would land around 6:00. That was a much longer day than I wanted to do, but there aren’t a lot of cities in that part of Wyoming so I would either stop too late or too early. I’m staying with one of you lovely readers just south of Denver tomorrow and will have a relatively short (400KM) day from Douglas, so I can get a late start.
I just love this corner of the US, just rolling hills not unlike home. It was a very isolated drive, of course. I stopped in Broadus for fuel and coffee and then drove straight to Douglas, with only one pit stop at a rest area about 45 minutes from my destination. After weeks of GREY, it was amazing to get blue sky the deeper I got into Wyoming. There was a brief thundershower right before Douglas, but it cleared quickly.
The hotel rate I was quoted was 79USD. I asked if they had an “Exhausted Canadian driving to Mexico” rate and… got a 14USD discount. WOW! That covered some takeout and a beer for dinner. The liquor store is right next to the hotel and the lady there was super helpful and friendly in showing me what they had for single beers. Interestingly, I no longer get carded when I buy booze in the US so I must be starting to look my age at last… 🙂
I’m sure there should be more to this already novel-length post, but I’m ready to drop. Hopefully, I’m back to a more regular posting schedule. April really has been sheer madness. But I’m on my way!
I learned about this song just before heading down to Mexico for the first time. It no longer applies to me, but I love the tune. So here’s an earworm for you. 🙂
No pictures today, I’m sorry. I was in driving mode!
I slept poorly in Gillette and so didn’t get back on the road till nearly 7:45. At least, the hotel provided me with surprisingly decent coffee and a bit of breakfast, so I was able to get going straight away after buying fuel.
It was going to be a very long day, so the plan was to haul ass to just shy of Denver, which would take me to lunchtimeish, the perfect opportunity to pause for a breather and to face the traffic on a full stomach. It would also be half of the day’s mileage, with the second half broken up into a few stops, so the worst of the day would be behind me once I got through Denver.
So I drove and drove and drove. Wyoming is exceedingly beautiful, much like home, only instead of rolling hills, it has peaks. I saw lots of buffalo!
I pulled into the McDonald’s in Douglas to get another coffee and send a proof of life. I came in with my own to-go cup and my coffee was on the house! How many big corporations will let you enjoy a comfy seat in their building, use their WiFi, and give you coffee with you giving them nothing in return?!
It was nearly 1:00 when I got to Loveland, Colorado. I had thought to do Cracker Barrel for lunch, but didn’t want to spend that much time paused since I had errands to run after. So when I saw a sign for a Panera Bread, it was easy to change my mind. The restaurant was really chaotic, but my lunch of a cup of soup and half a sandwich (with an apple to eat later) hit the spot and didn’t take long. Then, it was time to face the Mile-High City.
Thankfully, traffic through Denver wasn’t too bad, just really thick. The trick is to stick to the second lane from the left and just coast through. Once I was past the city, I exited at the Cabela’s in Lone Tree since I needed a new pair of Keens, having worn clean through my last pair in less than a year! Silly me, thinking that I could find sandals in Colorado in October. I was about to leave when a clerk finally freed up and came to ask if he could help me. He confirmed that they had absolutely no sandals beyond some Crocs and cheap flip flops left in the main part of the store, but that I should go comb through the ‘Bargain Cave,’ where I might find something else suitable. Bargain Cave?
He took me there and I went to the large rack of shoes. I’d come in hoping to get the charcoal and black Newport Keens, which would be more neutral than my grey and light blue pair, but now I’d be happy with any solid sandal that would be good for light hiking and walking heaps in Maz. About midway through the rack, I found the brown and black Newports in 8.5, the size of my old pair! Good enough! But they looked a bit big, so I tried them on and they were definitely a half size too large! I wonder which pair was mislabeled… I was really bummed because the rest of the rack appeared to be boots and shoes, but I kept going. The very last pair of shoes on the rack happened to be sandals… and they were black and charcoal Newport Keens. In a size 8. I kid you not. The exact sandals I wanted, in my size, and for almost $30 off. I think the shoes gods were looking out for me!!!
I promptly changed into them because, surprise, the weather has been WARM. It was so nice to get out of my boots and let my toes breathe!
Then, I drove another hour or so to the Apple Store in Colorado Springs. It was easier to find than I had expected in a large retail complex. I’m pretty sure this was my first time ever shopping at a real Apple Store. My experience shopping online through their app store and their products store has been generally atrocious (they completely screwed up my last order, for the very thing I had to pick up today), so I’m not surprised that I came out of the physical store absolutely underwhelmed. You walk in and there is no obvious place to get information. Instead, store clerks wearing grey tee-shirts with a very discreet Apple logo mill about and come up to you. There are tables set up with all the main products (computers, tablets, phones), and there are wall racks for accessories.
No associate greeted me when I came in, so I had a glance around and saw the rack with the adapters at the far end of the store. Of course, the one I wanted, the Thunderbolt to Ethernet adapter (so I can hardwire my Mac to the internet this winter) was at the very top of the rack, out of reach. I pretended to reach for it and that got someone’s attention. He got me what I needed then told me to go back to the front of the store and someone would check me out. Did that and that clerk passed me off to someone else in the middle of the store. This third clerk rang me up using a handheld device, then headed somewhere out of my line of sight to get my change. When he came back, he asked if I wanted an emailed or printed receipt. Since this was a business expense, I asked for a printed one. He hit a button on his POS device, then bent down under the table in front of him that held a bunch of iPads and came back up with my receipt!
Talk about inefficient! Yes, the store looks neat and slick, but that was a lot of extra steps since they don’t have an actual till area. I was not impressed and, in fact, felt very intimidated since they tried to upsell me by asking if I was sure I didn’t need anything else and did I want to look at the new iPhones (no thank you, I’ll be getting a free upgrade in the spring)? Apple’s products are great, but I much, much, much prefer shopping at a reseller that knows how to actually sell things!
That was my last stop, so I just had another hour and a bit left to do in the setting sun to reach Walsenburg. I would have liked to get closer to Santa Fe, but I was going to arrive at just shy of 6:00, so that was really as far as I could go since I avoid driving in the dark. By the time I came out of Safeway in Walsenburg with a banana for tomorrow morning, registered at the motel, and brought my bags into the room, it was dark. I actually had to pull out my warm weather clothes, something I wasn’t planning to do till Nogales at the earliest! Even with the sun down, the evening was really pleasantly warm!
I headed to Corine’s restaurant, practically next door, for dinner, which was world apart from the last meal I had there. I guess the moral of the story is not to have the special? I had the chicken fajitas this time and they were excellent! The guac was particularly delicious. I wish I had a fridge here so I could have brought back leftovers, but the portion wasn’t ginormous and I made it through while chatting with a lovely lady from Arkansas.
The Anchor Motel is just as acceptable as it was about five months ago and only $50 a night. Even with my $92 room last night (!!!), I am going to be well under budget for accommodation since I got such a good deal in Nogales. Fuel is also much cheaper than I had budgeted for, so even with the higher prices in Mexico, I’ll be well under budget for that, too. Pretty sure this is the first trip of my life that’s going to cost me less than I had budgeted for!
I’m meeting John for brunch in Santa Fe tomorrow, then we’ll see how far I get. I just realised that I’ll gain an hour Monday so if I want to stop early tomorrow, and do a longer day Monday, that will be fine. I just have to make sure I have time to stop at the Walmart in Benson to do my final errands (and figure out how to fit a few boxes of cat litter into my truck) and not get to Nogales tooo late. Hopefully, the shoe gods will still be with me and I’ll find a pair or two of Earth Spirit brand sandals to supplement my Keens for when I want to dress up a bit more. I still have the pair I picked up in May, of course, but I’m afraid I’ll wear them clean through before the winter’s over. It doesn’t matter how much I pay for a pair of sandals, they rarely last me longer than a season, so I’m glad that Earth Spirit is such a reasonably priced brand for the quality you get. Wish I could say the same for Keen…
Off to bed. I want to be on the road by 7:00 tomorrow!