Last day on the road!

Wednesday, March 28, 2018 – Location: Home!

Enjoyed a great night’s sleep in the Missouri rest area.  I was surprised when I opened the door to take Yuma for his walk around 7 o’clock.  There were at least 25 trucks and one other MH in the parking lot.  They were so quiet, I didn’t even realize they were there during the night.  Thanks truckers!

As usual when I travel long distances, we get right on the road without breakfast.  I did take the time to make a cup of coffee for the road.  Overcast and the roads were wet with some fog especially in the beginning as I traveled through the Ozark hills of Missouri.  Temperatures in the 40s with highs in the 50s for the day. 

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Before getting to St. Louis, I stopped for gas and fixed waffles for a brunch.  Last stop before I get home.  As I closed in on St. Louis, I made a last minute decision to take the I-270 North bypass around the city.  It was very busy, but I think it was better than fighting the downtown traffic going directly through the city.

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Popped out on I-55 on the northern outskirts of Maryville, Illinois after crossing the Mississippi River.

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The rest of the trip was uneventful and I pulled into my driveway at 2:30.  Didn’t get to rest long.  My grandson, Lane Gibbons is having his 17th birthday dinner at Logan’s Roadhouse tonight.  Got to get ready for that.

Here’s the Laning/Gibbons crew present at the dinner.

Left:  Dolly, Evan, Dixie, Kristi, Lane (BD boy) and Nick
Right:  Tracie, Steve, Jim, Keaton, Sarah and Erin

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Another three month winter adventure is over.  Had a great time, but I’m glad to be home.  I won’t be writing a daily blog anymore, but will continue to follow the blogs of others that write year round.  I have appreciated those that followed along with the adventures of Yuma and me.  And the comments! 

Thank you!  See you later.

Rest area near Conway, Missouri

Tuesday, March 27, 2018 – Location: Conway rest area in Missouri

Had a great night’s sleep again last night.  There were thunderstorms and rain most of the night, so poor Yuma spent some time on the hallway floor.  For some reason, I woke up at 4:30 and could not go back to sleep.  It was quite warm and I had the window open.  Too early for the Grackles.  Caught up on some blogs and checked the weather forecast for the Ardmore area.  Looked like there was going to be a lull in the rain for the next hour or so.

I decided not to just lay around and get up and go.  So, at 5:30 while it was still pitch dark out, we headed out.  Thank goodness for GPS.  I decided to not go directly up to Oklahoma City and catch I-44 East.  Instead, I took the backroads north to the east and caught I-44 at Stroud, Oklahoma.

Missed all the OKC traffic and also saved a few bucks on the toll fee.  Because it was dark I depended on my phone GPS to guide me through the maize of backroads up to Stroud.  No problems and I remembered to fill up with gasoline before getting on the I-44 toll road.

When I arrived in Tulsa, for some reason my GPS directed me west on I-44 instead of east.  I caught the problem quickly and exited and turned around to the east.  Decided to just turn the GPS off and follow the signs since it was now light outside.  Of course, this is about the time the rain started coming down.  I had been lucky and it didn’t rain while it was dark.

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Ended up four hours later at 10:30 in Joplin, Missouri before I stopped for breakfast.  For some reason, I just can’t slow down and relax when it comes to driving.  Especially, if I have a destination in mind.   Of course, it rained the whole time from Tulsa to Joplin.  Luckily, I was on the interstate so wasn’t bad.

IMG_4074I took an hour break and fed Yuma and I had my breakfast.  Looking at the maps, I decided to go two more hours and spend the night at the Walmart in Lebanon, Missouri.  I’ve spent the night there a number of times before.  That’s where I stop the first night on the road from Bloomington.

However, as I was approaching Lebanon, I saw a sign saying Missouri Rest Area.  I remembered that George and Suzie (Our Awesome Travels) had spent the night there and said it was a nice place.  Pulled in around 3 o’clock and shut down for the day.  Traveled about 280 miles today.  I have another 260 miles left.

Didn’t sleep, but spent the next few hours laying on the bed resting with Yuma.  Had to turn the Wave heater on.  It is 46 degrees here and spitting rain so I had to change from my shorts to long pants and put on a sweatshirt.  I guess shorts are done for awhile.

Decided to put the local TV antenna up and watch the local Springfield news and weather.  Lots of flooding south of here in the Ozarks.  Looks like most of the rain is staying to the south and should be out of here by morning.  They’re calling for fog, so may not get an early start tomorrow.

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Now I’m watching NCIS and just relaxing.  After I publish this post, I will fix dinner and watch a little more TV before calling it a night.  Should be tired enough not to wake up at 4:30 in the morning.  I’m excited about arriving home tomorrow.  I’m sure Fergie will just love to see Yuma again.

See you later.

Ardmore, Oklahoma

Monday, March 26, 2018 – Location: Ardmore, Oklahoma

Had a great night’s sleep with the windows open.  Woke up to the sounds of Texas Grackles making all kinds of noises in the tree outside my window.  Amazing how many sounds they can make.

Got going around 8 o’clock, thinking we would have breakfast somewhere down the road.  Our goal today is Wichita Falls, Texas near the Oklahoma border.  It’s warm and cloudy this morning and they’re calling for thunderstorms north of here this afternoon.  Hopefully, I miss them.

I took highway 180 east and stopped at Lamesa, Texas for Yuma’s walk and then we had breakfast.   Lost an hour with the move to CDT. 

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At the little town of Anson, we turned north on hwy 277 heading for Seymour.  At Seymour we caught hwy 82 going towards Wichita Falls and the end of my day. 

Saw a number of these fabricated houses today.  Must be popular out here in Texas.

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However, it started raining as I arrived at Seymour and it rained all the way to Wichita Falls.  Sometimes it was a downpour with some hail and lots of thunder and lightning.  Just outside of Wichita Falls, I stopped for gas and made the decision to drive myself out of this pouring rain.

Knowing how I hated paying all the toll fees on I-44, I looked eastward and Ardmore, Oklahoma is only an hour and a half more northeast.  So, I took hwy 79 which then connected to hwy 70 east right into Ardmore.  About half way there, the rain stopped.  I’ll worry about where to go tomorrow later tonight when I’m rested.  

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Been a long day, but that will make the next two days shorter.  Got here around 5:30.  I’m now high and dry in the Ardmore Walmart parking lot in a great spot way out in the north forty next to a fence with a soccer field on the other side.    Should be another quiet night.  And they have lots of Oklahoma Grackles here to wake me up in the morning.  The temperature is 73 and it is cloudy and humid here.

Just as I’m finishing up I hear a loud thunder.  I guess the rain has caught up with me.  Hope it’s gone by morning.

See you later.

Carlsbad Caverns National Park

Sunday, March 25, 2018 – Location: Hobbs, New Mexico

Nice and quiet last night except for the wind gusts.  Temperatures stayed comfortable, even at that altitude.  Woke up with the sun and Yuma and I took our walk and then had breakfast.  On our way to Carlsbad Caverns National Park, forty miles north by 9 o’clock.  Hwy 62/180 is a great road.  Four lanes most of the way and no traffic.

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It’s a 7 mile scenic road from the highway up to the entrance to the caverns.  It twists and turns all the way to the top of a  high plateau overlooking the countryside and dead ends right at the entrance building.

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They offer guided tours and self-tours.  I elected the self tour again.  When I retired in 2007, I drove out here and visited the caverns for my first trip to the southwest.  It was July and I was in a Mustang convertible.  Much different than my mode of travel today.

I also had the option to take an elevator down 800 feet to the Grand Room or walk the original entrance down.  The walk down is 1 1/2 miles.  The tour of the Grand Room is another 1 1/2 miles.  I elected to walk down as I did back in 2007.  What’s sad, other than the entrance building, I did not remember anything about the caverns.  I guess it’s good in one way; I got to do it or the first time again!  The cost is $10 and nothing for those with a senior pass.  So, it was free for me.

Behind the Visitor Center are the buildings that housed the workers building the walkways in the caverns.

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This is the open air atrium where people sit to watch the bats leave the caverns at dusk.

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The original entrance we walk down.

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Looking up towards the entrance.  Those are Swallows flying around up there.

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The entire walkway is paved and fairly easy to walk.  There were very young kids walking and some older folks too.  It was crowded and I got here when it first opened.  I’m sure it will be worse later on in the day.  Three miles was a lot for me.

From here, I will just let you look at some of the many photos I took.  I will just say, I was amazed at what I saw.  The cavern is huge and just filled with beautiful formations of all kinds.  I highly recommend anyone who travels through this area to stop and take the time to see this beautiful cavern.

The photos can’t convey the immense size of the rooms and some of the formations.  You have to go see for yourself.

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I finished with the tour around 1:30 and we were off.  I didn’t want to go far because I was tired and wanted to rest.  We drove 100 miles to Hobbs, New Mexico and called it a day.  We are camped at their Walmart for the evening.  The weather is warm at 82 degrees and partly cloudy.

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Dolly mentioned the last two games of the Final Four were on today and I was able to catch the last game.  Kansas beat Duke in overtime.  I was for Kansas.  Dolly’s team Villanova beat Texas Tech and of course I was for Villanova.

Been a busy day but an enjoyable one.  Time for a couple of hours of The Walking Dead and then off to bed.

See you later.

Guadalupe Mountains National Park, Texas

Saturday, March 24, 2018 – Location:  Guadalupe Mountains National Park near Salt Flats, Texas

It was a beautiful setting at the Roadrunner rest area last night. 

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Started out slowly this morning.  Took the time to wash dishes and fix bacon and eggs for breakfast while trying to decide where to go today.  Tough having to make these life changing decisions.

The weather is going to be good everywhere it seems in this part of the country.  Not so back home, so better not get in a hurry.  Several comments mentioned I should visit Carlsbad Caverns which got me thinking.  I did visit the caverns, but it was in the summer of 2007 and I remember very little of the tour.

Checked the mileage and it is only 200 miles.  Perfect days drive!  It was close to 10 o’clock when we pulled back onto I-10 heading towards Las Cruces and beyond.  My GPS said to take Texas Loop 375 to hook up to hwy 62-180 towards Carlsbad, New Mexico.

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Kept going up and up and up!

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This loop by-passed El Paso, but what a ride.  I think this is the bypass Al, Travel With The Bayfield Bunch:)) mentioned taking to get around El Paso.  The highway went up and over the Franklin Mountains and parts were a grade 8 incline which is tough on my poor RV pulling the Jeep. 

Beautiful scenery, but couldn’t get many pictures.  I had my foot through the floor trying to keep moving on up and white knuckles trying to push us up through the steering wheel.  Got down to 35 mph at one point, but luckily, it is four lanes so everyone just went around me.

Had no problems going back down the other side.  Didn’t have to use any of the truck runaway sand boxes on the way down.  Then I turned onto hwy 62-180 heading northeast for the Chihuahuan desert and the Guadalupe Mountains.

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Took this near Salt Flats, Texas.  No town, just some old buildings left.  Absolutely beautiful mountains!

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Dolly, Fergie and I stayed one night at the Pine Springs Campground a few years back and really enjoyed it.  So, as I was driving along, I decided to stay there tonight.  That way I can get an early start tomorrow morning for the Carlsbad Cavern tour.

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After many stops to take pictures of the beautiful Guadalupe Mountains, I arrived at the campground around 2:30.   The road to get up here was tough, but not as bad as the Franklin Mountains earlier in the day.  Feeling like a hardened mountain climber now!Smile  We’re at 5738 feet here at the campground.

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The fee for a night is $8 and $4 for seniors.  Just a beautiful day too.  They have lots of trailheads leaving from this campground, but the shortest one is eight miles round trip.   I know better than to even try.  Plus, no dogs on the trails.

Yuma and I took several walks around the camp and took pictures of the beautiful scenery all around us. 

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Then Dolly told me the Loyola-Chicago / Kansas State game was on so had to set up my Dish and watch the game.  Very exciting and number 11 Loyola-Chicago won beating number 9  Kansas State to go to the Final Four!

That’s it for today.  We’re having some strong wind gusts here in the mountains and it is actually spitting a little rain.  Mild temperatures though.

See you later.