Walsenburg, CO, to Deming, NM (with a Stop in Santa Fe)

Another very, very, very long day, but it was the last big one. It’ll be a short haul tomorrow, then three days of sort of rest, then 2.5 reasonable days to my Mexican casita.

I had an okay night of sleep and was on the road by about 6:45 because I had plans to meet John for brunch in Santa Fe, 3.25 hours away. It being the crack of dawn on a Sunday, the espresso bar I’d been hoping to get my coffee at was shut tight, but there was a fresh pot of decent coffee on a the 7-Eleven, where I had to get fuel anyway.

It was still quite dark out when a car passed me honking madly. It wasn’t until the passenger rolled down his window and yelled, “GO RIDERS!” that I realised they were fellow Saskatchewanites!

I paused at a rest area and caught a Colorado sunrise.



Next rest area, probably in New Mexico at this point, had markedly different vegetation than what I’d been seeing up to that point:


I’d asked John to choose a place not too far from the interstate and he suggested Cafe Fina, which was right at the on and off ramp to I-25. Very convenient! You order at a counter, get a number to place your on your table, and then your meal is brought to you. John had Tex-Mex brunchy food and I had lunch food. We both had a very delicious coffee. We ate outside and the weather was perfect for it!

Vicki has requested photos of food, so here is the yummy chicken, bacon, caramelized onion, and cheese sandwich (hold the mayo) I had with a really good salad:


John and I had a quick catchup, then it was time for  me to head off again. I was due for fuel, so I asked him where I should go and he said that if I wasn’t desperate, I should wait to get fuel at a pueblo a short distance down the road. He was right. I paid less than $2 a gallon!!! AND they gave me a free coffee. 😀


My next stop was Socorro, where I paused to do some hotel research and scored another deal on Priceline. From there, it was a very long 2.5 hours to Deming, where I am hoping to get a good night’s sleep. I’m in no rush tomorrow and probably won’t get going till mid to late morning. There’s a Walmart almost right next door, so I might do my shopping there instead of stopping in Benson. Perhaps I should check the sales tax rates before I decide!

I’ve been seeing Mexico tourism-related signs for a bit now. I can’t believe I’m already essentially at the border!

Off to find a cold beer. It is HOT out!

Gillette, WY, to Walsenburg, CO

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!

Walsenburg, CO, to Cheyenne, WY

There really isn’t anything interesting to report about today, I’m afraid. If you were planning to go to bed soon, keep reading as I’m sure you’ll fall asleep halfway through. 😀

I stayed at the Anchor Motel in Walsenburg and it was a great stay. The room was $50 with the tax. The motel is located at the quiet end of Main Street so there was almost no road noise. The room was very dark and the bed nearly as comfortable as the one in John’s RV. I only slept six hours straight through, but they were solid hours, and then I snoozed for another two and a half. 🙂 The room itself was neat, clean, and not worn or shabby even though it hadn’t been updated in my lifetime, I’m sure (except for that mattress!). I like that it had a proper desk and chair and that the shower was hot with good pressure.

The only negative was that they didn’t offer coffee. I did a quick Google search and found a coffee shop a couple of blocks away. I drove because it was pouring rain. The lady working the shop was a complete flake, but the coffee and scone were both excellent.

I didn’t leave till nearly 10:30 since I wasn’t doing too much mileage today. I had to drive through downtown Walsenburg and wished the weather would have been nicer as I would have stayed for a bit to poke through the antique shops, but it was definitely not weather for walking around. The streets were deserted, it was just that nasty and miserable.

I bought fuel before getting on I-25 and then headed north. By 11:30, I was ready for another coffee and getting peckish. So when I passed near Pueblo a sign for a Cracker Barrel, my guilty pleasure, I decided to stop for lunch. Service was unbelievably slow because the restaurant was packed, but my server was attentive, the coffee kept coming, and I had a full charged phone with good service, so I didn’t care.

Next stop was the Walmart in Colorado Springs because the forecast for the weekend is just more and more wet and I needed at the very least some waterproof footwear and hoped to find a fleece hoodie and some sort of waterproof windbreaker. I found a really cute pair of rubber booties for $15, but struck out on outerwear. They only had summer stuff. I didn’t think to check the time and headed to a Target, where I struck out, too. It was only as I was about to head to JC Penney’s that I thought to look at the clock and realised that at the rate I was going, I was going to hit Denver at 3:00, right at the start of rush hour! Moron!

By this point, I was so deep into Colorado Springs and away from I-25 that I had to drive 15KM to get back on it, so I got a chance to see quite a bit of the town. It’s really nothing special. The name Colorado Springs features on two favourite TV shows of mine, Dr. Quinn and Stargate, but of course those Colorado Springs have nothing to do with reality. I’ve been to the Stargate Colorado Springs; it looks suspiciously like the Greater Vancouver Area. 😀

From Target, I hurried back to the truck and drove and drove and drove, not daring to take any time to stop even though I passed a Cabela’s where I could have gotten what I needed.

Heading out of Colorado Springs into Denver.

Heading out of Colorado Springs into Denver.

Traffic through Denver was thick and slow, but fluid, and I made it through in 30 minutes flat. Phew! Only the scenery around the city looked familiar to me after 20 years. There was a bit of clearing and a wisp of blue sky past Denver, but it didn’t last.

Castle Rock.

Castle Rock.

I pushed on from Denver, with the plan being to stop in Cheyenne for the night. That was as far as I was willing to go tonight and it would mean a reasonable day tomorrow to Mount Rushmore.

Something tells me the Wyoming border is approaching.

Something tells me the Wyoming border is approaching.

I was right. :)

I was right. 🙂

It started to sleet heavily as I crossed the Wyoming state line. I pulled into the rest area to do some motel research and found the pickings dire. There is tons of accommodation, but it’s firmly divided between luxury accommodation and roach motels with barely any middle ground. I read recent review after recent review of motels in the $70 range that are the cheapest in the area pricewise and have bedbugs and other major issues. It looked like my two best options were the iffy Motel 6 (middling reviews) and the Super 8 (great reviews, but pricey at over 100USD. Yes, for a Super 8!!!).

I came into town and checked a couple of the better reviewed non-chain motels and they were terrifying! The cheapest one I could find was $75 and I’m not sure I would have used the bathroom! I went to the Motel 6, which was $50 and right on budget, but there were four people ahead of me in line complaining about their rooms. So I headed to the Super 8 and was quoted $83 with the tax, much better than the online rate, and it includes a basic breakfast of toast, fruit, and coffee. I really wasn’t happy dropping 100CAD, but I was done shopping for a bed and the room was nice and about as far from the railroad tracks as I can hope to be.

There were no food options period within walking distance (which I would have done even in the sleet to avoid getting back in my truck), so I resigned myself to either not eating or doing more driving, neither option being particularly appealing. I searched for pizza and found a Little Caesar’s 10 minutes away, so that was perfect. I made it there without incident and they had my favourite $5 pizza (sausage) ready, so I took that as a sign that I’d made the right dinner choice!

I got back to the motel and called Zenni Optical between slices of pizza. My latest order is taking a bit longer than usual to process, so it won’t make it to Mount Rushmore by Friday, as I had hoped. I was able to have the shipping addressed changed to home, so now I don’t have to worry about having the order sent on to me by reader and host Vicki.

I’m so close to home I can almost smell it… I am really glad to be taking in the Black Hills this weekend and still want to make the relatively minor detour there, but wish the weather was looking better so I could enjoy my stay more. I’m getting to Mt. Rushmore later tomorrow afternoon and will be working Thursday and Friday. Vicki, a friend of hers, and I are going to do touristy stuff over the weekend, including Mt. Rushmore and the town of Deadwood. Monday, it’s off to Devils Tower and then an overnight in Scobey. I can’t believe I’ll be home this day next week.

Santa Fe, NM, to Walsenburg, CO

I’ve decided to split my day up into two posts. The more interesting one will follow. 🙂

Unfortunately, I got to bed very late last night, a combination of having dinner with John (I cooked and he can attest to the fact that I can cook, even with a very limited pantry! 🙂 ) and the File From Hell that would not finish. So it was a slow and molassy kind of morning for me. My to-do list felt daunting — finish packing up the fifty billion bags I brought into the rig, schlep them all the way to my truck and repack it (John fixed my tailgate again, btw, THANK YOU!!!), and then clean the rig and throw on laundry. Of course, it all came together very quickly. I was ready to pull out at about 9:30, an hour and a half later than I would have liked, but still a half hour ahead of my ‘this is the absolute latest I want to leave’ hour.

John and I both tried to figure out how long I’d been there and drew a blank. I later figured out it was 12 days!!!. My Santa Fe stay really felt like a moment out of time. I am really grateful to have been there as it enabled me to recharge my batteries and my bank account a little as well as do loads of touristy stuff. It was definitely time to move on, but John said I was welcome to return if I wanted to tonight since my day’s fun was to be had not very far down the road. It’s nice to feel that welcome. 🙂

After getting fuel, it was time to head to Bandelier National Monument, the subject of my next post.

It's unbelievable the places my life takes me...

It’s unbelievable the places my life takes me…


Right to Bandelier!

Right to Bandelier!


After several hours of fun that I am convinced Disney World couldn’t rival, I decided to go to Los Alamos for lunch and a bit of tourism.

Los Alamos has great significance for me. Judy Blume’s book Tiger Eyes was one of the defining stories of my adolescence. I must have retreated to this story set primarily in Los Alamos more than a hundred times. It painted a world that was absolutely alien to me and I promised myself that if I ever was in the area, I would check out the town and its environs.

I thought I’d done my research and that Los Alamos is now open, with no more guard houses and plenty of museums and other touristy things to do. So imagine my surprise when there was a checkpoint coming into the town. A surely woman asked me where I was going. I told her the truth, going downtown to have lunch and visit the museums. “You’re on government property. I need to see your ID,” she replied. I handed her my passport and she told me to turn around and go the way I came. So, that was that for Los Alamos. Can’t say I didn’t try. 🙂 But I did see the canyons that Judy Blume paints so well with words and they were exactly as I expected. I’m not disappointed about not seeing the town as I doubt it would have borne any resemblance to the the 1970’s town she described.

It was then time to head northeast.

Last chance to go back to John's for the night!

Last chance to go back to John’s for the night!



I put Mount Rushmore into my GPS and it plotted out the same route I had to I-25 and beyond, so I followed its directions, heading northeast through mountain passes. Traffic was very slow through the tourist town of Taos and I had no desire to stop.

Quesnel Road! I wonder how they pronounce Quesnel here.

Quesnel Road! I wonder how they pronounce Quesnel here.

From the mountains, I eventually emerged into a plateau as I entered Colorado. I went to three places in 1996, Quebec City, Colorado, and New York City. If I had known then that of the three, Colorado is the first one I would return to a second time, I would not have believed it.


Colorado was looking a lot like Florida the last time I was there. :)

Colorado was looking a lot like Florida the last time I was there. 🙂

Snow capped peaks in the distance.

Snow capped peaks in the distance.

I didn’t want to drive too much today and hoped to stop around 4:00. But motels were far apart and expensive. I decided that I was stopping in Walsenburg, CO, no matter the prices. By the time I got there around 6:45, I’d seen about four roach motels wanting more than 80CAD a night. Google told me that the average price in Walsenburg was about that. So when the first place I stopped in was clean, neat, and 60CAD, my maximum budget, I was done for the day! BTW, it’s cold and rainy; not truck camping weather at all!

Having done so much exercise today, I needed a proper dinner, so I walked the block to a sit down Mexican restaurant. I ordered a beer (Budweiser!) and wasn’t asked for ID. Mexico officially aged me! 😀 The menu was uninspiring, just your typical ‘Mexican’ and American fare, so I ordered the two enchilada special (opting for chicken with green sauce). It was tasty enough, spicy as hell, and a good deal for the price ($7). The beer brought the tab up to $10.30 with the tax, still a very reasonable price. The enchiladas were topped with cheese, lettuce, tomato, and… black olives. Strange. I started to eat olives last summer and haven’t had them since I left home, so I tried one and didn’t hate it, so I ate them all. 🙂

It was a good day on the road. I could easily get to Mount Rushmore tomorrow, but I’d rather split it up into two or even two and a half days. We’ll see how the weather is. 🙂