Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The quick trip back to the desert

We were up at 6 AM on Monday, packing the car and finishing all the chores necessary to close up the house.  We had all this stuff and such a small car!

After a bit of breakfast and a very packed car, we left by about 9AM.  Not too bad, but I still had to go by the bank for some spending cash.  I typically rely on the credit cards for most things, but when traveling across several states, it is usually nice to have more than $15 in your billfold.

It was still snowy and in the 20's but the sun was to be out all day.  The forecasters had predicted snow for most of Kansas on Tuesday, so we felt the window of opportunity was right then. The roads were clean, and I could see the snow ran out if we went West rather than South.  Eastern Kansas and most of Oklahoma had snow on the ground.  Even Texas had been hit by the Christmas weather.

We went West to Hutchinson, Kansas and drove right out of the snow.  It was immediately warmer.  Kansas is mostly brown and dull in the winter, but with the sun out and temps of 50 degrees, we felt warm as we traveled.

We passed into Texas North of Dalhart about sundown and stopped at a Subway for a sandwich about 6 PM.  From there it is 90 miles to Tucumcari, Nm.  That's about all we could do, as it was another hour and a half.  We grabbed a Motel and passed out.

Tuesday morning, we had gained an hour since we were now in mountain time zone.  We had the continental breakfast and were on the road by 8:30.  The next storm system from the West had arrived and the wind and cold were apparent.

East of Albuquerque, you pass thru the mountains at about 7,000 feet.  Once we went over 6,000, it began to snow.  The snow became worse as we climbed, and at the summit the visibility and road conditions were nasty.  There were no plows yet, but the trucks seemed to keep the interstate clear.

Over the top, you drop rapidly into Albuquerque, and the storm was gone at about 5,000 feet.  The city was completely clear and had no snow at all.  We gassed and headed on.

We stopped in Gallup, Nm to get more gas and have a Wendy's.  This was around 2 in the afternoon.  As we headed West, you could see the unsettled clouds and snow in the air, and at the Arizona boarder, it was snowing fairly steadily.

We usually head off across the mountains at Holbrook, but we could see the snow showers pouring out of the clouds to our South.  We headed West to Winslow.  The clouds still looked nasty.

Stopping at the Flying J truckstop, we watched the storm, which seemed to be not as bad to the Southwest where that highway headed up over the pass to Payson, 80 miles away.  We decided to take the chance and headed that way.

I watched the cars coming at us to see if they were covered in snow and mud, but they seemed to be clean.  Usually that is a good indicator of the road ahead.  Again you climb up to about 7,400 feet thru some of the most beautiful forest we have ever been in.  Tall lodge pole pine trees line the mountain sides for miles.   It looks much like Colorado!

The snow showers began at about 6,500 feet, but were flurries that barely wet the windshield.  We hurried on, as it looked like it would be worse at any minute.  Once over the top, we descended into Payson.

Loyce wanted to stop in the quilt shop, there since they had a book waiting for her.  It was after 4 PM,  and they would close at 5.

It is still another hour and a half to Mesa, down the mountain all the way.  The storms were behind us and we had made it!  It was above 60 as we entered the Phoenix area, but darkness cooled that rather quickly once we were home.

Retired Rod


  1. Happy New Year Rod & Loyce... Sure glad that all went well for you on your trip. I bet you’re glad that you’re finally back! Have fun & travel safe...

  2. I'll bet it's nice to be back in the sun. Quite an adventurous drive - glad you're back safely.


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