May 2014 Coach Trip to Denver and Georgia – Part 1

Bummin’ Across the Country!

May 5-23, 2014

Day 1, Monday, Home to Winnemucca, NV via SR88, US395, I-80: 330 miles

2014-5b DriverOn the road again ♫ ♪ ♪
Goin’ places that I’ve never been ♪ ♫
Seein’ things that I may never see again…♥ ♥ ♫

I’ll take the road less traveled; y’all can have the hurried Interstate!

As usual, I wrote entirely too many words to record this trip to Denver and on to Georgia. And I took too many photos. But in days to come, after I have forgotten most of my RV trips, I’ll have these travelogues to entertain me and to help me relive the good times on the road aboard our coach. So enjoy what you can of this overwritten story of our trip, and I hope you find at least some enjoyment here.

And please note – clicking on the photos will enlarge them and clicking again will make them huge!

The day finally arrived, after three years, to head for Denver once again to visit the kids. They leased out their large, lovely home in Greenwood Village to live in a condo because their kids were grown and gone. But there was no place near the condo to park the coach. They have since decided they liked all the room they once had, and have moved back to their big house. And now we can visit aboard the coach once again!

We had been looking forward to this trip for a long time. The morning of the trip, as always, was a lot of work. We load so many things for a long road trip, and the “we” means dear Wifey and me. We were already about whipped from all the loading as we began the day’s drive. We planned to be at Allen and Nancy’s for Mothers Day, a most appropriate time to visit them. Lavonne’s youngest son, Craig, and his daughter, Bre, would fly in to join us. It would be a family reunion! Lavonne and I considered driving down into Arkansas after the Colorado visit to visit her kin there, and also in Arizona. But she decided that would be too much RVing for her. I figured that while in Denver, I might as well head southeast and visit my cousin, Chuck, in Georgia. So we arranged for Lavonne to fly back home with Craig and Bre on Sunday evening, and I’d head for Georgia aboard the coach on Monday. All plans were subject to revision, of course, and we would see just how our plans played out over the coming weeks.

2014-5-5b highway 88Heading up SR88 from Stockton – a gorgeous foothhill and mountain drive.

2014-5-5c highway 88 summit was 8574SR88 climbs above 8000 feet into the high Sierras and snow country.

2014-5-5d Silver Lake along SR88Silver Lake in the Sierra Mountains.

Once again we headed up SR88 to avoid the madness of Sacramento and to enjoy the beauty of the drive. SR88 is a long, steep climb and tops out around 8500 feet at Kit Carson Pass. It takes a bit longer, and is a lot of driving to get through the twists and turns, but I always seem to enjoy that drive. Lavonne tolerates it but still prefers it to the drive through Sacramento. We stopped somewhere in the mountains for lunch. Lavonne whipped up hot meat loaf sandwiches and chili. It was a good lunch and a welcome rest.

2014-5-5estill climbing SR88 Still climbing the beautiful Sierras.

2014-5-5f Caples Lake along SR88Caples Lake still icy in May.

2014-5-5g in Nevada along 395 maybe. Windy. Cruising US395 in Nevada, bucking a cross wind the whole time.

2014-5-5i rain along I-80 Finally driving eastbound in the rain on I-80. The rain was a portend of things to come!

The wind was a constant companion that day. Some of the time it was a help as it blew as a tailwind. Sometimes it was a cross wind and tried to blow us off the road. Such driving was very tiring, and we were mighty pleased to pull into the Walmart lot in Winnemucca, NV for the night.

2014-5-5j Corvette racing truck blows by us
2014-5-5k Corvette racing truck blows by us 2
The Corvette Racing team passed us along I-80. I guess there’s no shame in that! What a gorgeous rig!

2014-5-5m jacks down at Winnemucca NV WalmartJacks down for the night at the Winnemucca, NV Walmart lot.

We planned to have dinner at Denny’s and just be waited on after such a long day. And we both knew that every town has at least one Denny’s, and certainly every Flying J Travel Plaza has a Denny’s. We were wrong on both counts. We stopped for a quick dinner at the Arby’s next to Walmart. What a disappointment as we dug into our lukewarm sandwiches. We hadn’t visited an Arby’s in at least 20 years, certainly not since we’ve been married. It will likely be a long stretch before we visit another!

We were happy to settle comfortably in the coach for the night at the safe and welcoming Walmart lot. I got online with my smart phone’s hot spot. What a great gizmo that is! I also edited the day’s photos and began this travelogue.

Day 2, Tuesday, Winnemucca, NV to Tooele, UT via I-80: 334 miles

The evening in Winnemucca was blustery, followed by a rainy night. At one point during the evening I moved the coach to face into the wind to lessen the sound and motion on the coach. It seemed to have rained all night long. Even so, we had a restful night and awoke refreshed around 0530. We took it easy during the morning, getting our chores done and doing our usual internet browsing.

2014-5-6a rainy night and morn WinnemuccaIt was a wet and breezy Winnemucca that we awoke to on Day 3. 

We hit the road a bit before 0800. The rain had let up for awhile, but soon we were driving in the rain and nearly all day long it rained on us. We even drove through blowing snow a few times, but it didn’t stick. Fortunately.

2014-5-6c this represents most of the day's driveThis warning summed up the day’s drive: EXPECT WINTER DRIVING CONDITIONS – USE CAUTION.

We were tired of the rain and the threat of snow ahead so we pulled into Elko, NV’s Denny’s and enjoyed a good, hot breakfast. We asked around for any info about road conditions ahead. Even online I couldn’t get much info. So we headed on, hoping for the best.

We gassed up at Wells, NV, then continued on. Our main concern was Pequot Pass at 7000 ft. As it turned out, it was dryer at 7000 ft. than we’d seen for miles. We continued on, relieved, looking forward to reaching Tooele, Utah.

2014-5-6d I-80 Nev near Pequot PassNearing the 7000′ Pequot Pass in Nevada. It was a long climb!

2014-5-6h 80 mph limit across flats in Utah - for everyoneUtah must have made this change to 80 MPH along the 100 mile stretch across the salt flats since our last trip. Good job, Utah! Still, we chugged along at our usual 58 MPH.

2014-5-6i jacks down at Tooele Walmart. finally.Finally! The end of another long, stormy drive when we parked for the night at another welcoming Walmart store in Tooele, UT. Again, it kind of felt like arriving home.

I took my daily walk around Walmart, mostly in the store as it was pretty cool outside. It’s always an interesting walk for me as I like people watching and checking out the different Walmart stores. I had some shopping to do but it would wait ‘til morning.

When we got settled, I began editing photos and writing. Lavonne whipped up her dinner. I wasn’t hungry, having eaten peanuts she shelled for me as we drove across the salt flats. But later I zapped a frozen dinner and was satisfied.

We whiled away the evening, Lavonne at her games online such as Scrabble, and me watching the WWII documentary series for the umpteenth time. We were in the Mountain Time Zone, so we hit the sack at 2100, an hour early, to adjust to the time zone we’d be living in the next few days.

Day 3, Wednesday, Tooele, UT to Laramie Wy via I-80: 407 miles

We were up around 0530 and began our day with the usual chores. I headed into Walmart for some things we needed on the trip, and wondered why I didn’t do the shopping the night before when I was there. I walked through a pretty heavy rain the length of the parking lot as I returned to the coach. And so it was this trip – it seemed like November. And it was a portend of things to come that day.

2014-5-7a Great Salt Lake best I could shoot in the storm

A poor shot of the Great Salt Lake during the rain – this photo probably shouldn’t have made the cut.

We pulled out of Tooele about 0830 through a respectable rain, and onto eastbound I-80 beside the Great Salt Lake and on through Salt Lake City. It rained the whole time.

2014-5-7c heading toward Park CityThe long pull up to Park City and beyond; the weather only improved ’til we crossed the Wyoming line.

Somewhere before Wyoming, we came across this semi being righted after and accident put it on its side. We have no particulars of the accident, but it took two heavy duty tow trucks to right it:

2014-5-7g just righted rig that was on its side 2014-5-7h just righted rig that was on its side 2014-5-7i it took  two big rig tow trucks to right

2014-5-7j welcome to WyomingWelcome to Wyoming!

I had fears of a snowy climb up to Park City and beyond, but the rain stopped and we drove through rather decent weather on into Wyoming. As we crossed the state line, the rain began again. Except for short, sweet respites, we drove through rain, snow, and high winds the entire trip along I-80 to Laramie. It was not pleasant and we did not have a good time. But we were cozy and safe in our coach as we battled the elements.

2014-5-7l I-80 WyomingThe second Continental Divide along I-80 in Wyoming, but how can there be two of them?

2014-5-7m Desolate I-80Wyoming is a very desolate place. With a bit more than half the population of the city of San Jose, CA, it has a density of 6 per sq. mile, second only to Alaska. I could see why.

2014-5-7m SnowingThe drive through Wyoming was rain, snow, rain, wind, snow, etc., etc. Ugh.

We finally arrived in Laramie and promptly gassed up. I added eight gallons about 50 miles earlier to make sure we’d make it to Laramie. Added to the fill-up in Laramie, I pumped on a total of 75 gallons. We burned a lot of gas fighting the winds.

2014-5-7n Laramie KOA with cutie watching outAt the Laramie, Wyoming KOA RV campground for the night. The muddy, gritty tap water and the mud and gravel of the camp site made this our last stay at this campground (I’ve sworn that place off before). But I loved their free cookies! (Maybe I will return.)

We always stay at an RV lot on our third night out so we arrive at the kids’ place with tanks dumped and ready for the trip home. I like the KOA in Laramie only for the wonderful cookies they give us. As I checked in, they told me they had no cookies – but would have in half an hour if I wanted. I wanted. And I returned as agreed and was treated with two cookies the size of saucers. I asked for two more. Heck, I had to make a special trip! They gladly gave me two more and I headed to the coach a very happy Cookie Monster.

Lavonne took only one cookie, as I expected. I had three and counted them as dinner. Mmmmmm. The cookies helped me forget the wind and the rain and the snow.

We spent the evening inside, tucked away from the cold and wind. Our Itasca is very well insulated, with dual pane glass including the windshield. We were cozy.

I wrote this travelogue, reviewed the day’s entirely too many photos, and put off the editing ‘til another time. I headed to the shower and Lavonne played her online Scrabble and other games. I watched more WWII documentary, and downed a couple very relaxing Tom Collins cocktails. We hit the sack at 2200 local time and we were thankful that we had winter flannel sheets on the bed!

Day 4, Thursday. Laramie, WY to Greenwood Village, CO via I-80, I-25: 159 miles

Snow accumulation to 3” was predicted for Laramie, and we figured we’d wake up to snow on the ground. But no, there was no snow and not even rain. The night was cold, but apparently dry.

I set about dumping tanks after chores. I had to move the coach to the next space as our sewer access was too far from the coach. It was a strange arrangement. But I managed to get the tanks dumped and in the process found how poor their water was. I put some water in a bucket to charge the holding tanks with chemicals, and discovered it to be a bit muddy with sediment. I hadn’t planned to load on fresh water anyway since we could do so at Allen’s before I continued the trip, and having seen their water I surely would not load any. It was disgusting.

I also had to walk around in dirt, mud and gravel as I worked outside the coach. It was a mess. And so were the throw rugs on the steps into the coach when I was done. Honestly, I don’t think I’ll ever stay at a RV campground again. The last stay was the recent trip to Death Valley where we dealt with barking dogs and a neighbor RVer spilling sewage into the open. And now the mud and muddy water at the Laramie RV park. I have never had to put up with any such nonsense at a Walmart lot – nor did I ever pay to stay at Walmart, as I did these RV parks!

2014-5-7p pulling toward summit from LaramieCruising up to the highest elevation along the entire length of I-80, Sherman Summit. A Lincoln monument is there, but we wouldn’t be stopping due to the new snowfall. The snow was beautiful – from inside the coach.

A few minutes before 0800 we headed back onto I-80 and continued our trek east. We were soon climbing to 8650 feet, the highest spot on all of I-80. A Lincoln Monument is built there that we have visited in the past, but not on that cold morning. A fresh snow had fallen and while the road was clear everything else was covered in white. It was all very beautiful but only when viewed from the warmth of our cozy coach.

2014-5-7q over the summit heading east to CheyenneEast of Sherman Summit was a winter wonderland. There was a fresh layer of snow everywhere.

We continued the drive along I-80 to Cheyenne, then headed south on I-25 toward Denver. We pulled into a Denny’s at the junction for breakfast. We enjoyed a good, hot breakfast and while it’s pleasant to eat in the coach, it’s nice to be waited on once in awhile, too.

We continued south toward the kids’ place near Denver, and decided to pay a visit to the Walker Mower factory in Fort Collins for which we were a distributor/dealer during our business years. We retired back in 2002, so most folks we knew back in the day have moved on. But low and behold! Mary Beth, whom we worked with way back when, answered the phone! Lavonne had a lovely chat with her and she told us to be sure to drop in and they’d be happy to see us.

2014-5-7s pulling into Walker factoryPulling into the Walker factory at Fort Collins, Co. I have hauled many a new Walker mower from that factory in years past.

This old photo from the late 90s shows a load of Walker Mowers we sold as dealer/distributor. I hauled many a load of them and at the time we had the market cornered for such high end commercial mowers.

2014-5-7t with Mary Beth at WalkerWe pose in Walker’s lobby with our Walker friend, Mary Beth, who worked there way back in the day when we were distributors. Our visit was very pleasant and warm. I almost miss those working days! 

We pulled into the factory, just over a mile off I-25, and spent a very pleasant hour visiting the few folks we knew. It was a very warm visit, and we were reminded of the pleasant business relationship we had with those fine folks way back when. We were very glad we stopped.

We continued south, through Denver and its crazy Kalifornistan-like traffic. The kids’ place was just a few minutes south of Denver, and we were very happy to pull into their driveway a bit before 1300. We would park the coach there for the next few days for a wonderful Mothers Day family gathering. Lavonne’s son, Craig, who lives near us, would fly in that evening along with his daughter, Breanne.

2014-5-7v Denver skylineI can never resist shooting the Denver Skyline. We were getting close!

2014-5-7wMile High Stadium in Denver. It was quite a sight as we drove through Denver.

Allen arrived shortly after we pulled in, and had some Chik-fil-A sandwiches for us. We were warmly greeted by Allen, and joined him at the dining table for lunch. He returned to work for awhile, and we settled in for the visit.

2014-5-7x arriving at the kids' lovely homeThe kids’ lovely place in Greenwood Village, CO. We made it!

In the evening we were all together except for Nancy who had to work late. Craig and Breanne arrived earlier as I napped in the coach. We had a grand visit and Allen brought in some great Pizza and salad for dinner.

When Nancy got home, we all visited ‘til at least 2100 when I headed off to the coach for the night.

Day 5, Friday, Jacks down at Allen and Nancy’s in Greenwood Village.

I was up and around early. Lavonne was too, although she spent the night in the house, as usual during these visits, while I stayed in the coach. She came to the coach just as I was getting ready to head for the house around 0600 or so. Lavonne wanted the coffee maker, and after I made my instant coffee in the coach, I joined her in the house.

2014-5-9a Allens around the tableMe, (L to R) Allen, Nancy, Breanne, Lavonne, and Craig gathered ’round the table and, as usual, eating. My  gosh – did we put away the food during the visit!

Slowly as each awoke in their own time, the family members gathered in the living room for coffee and visiting time. It was while we were all gathered there that Erica, Allen and Nancy’s daughter, walked in and surprised us all. We did not know she was joining us from Salt Lake City, and we were delighted that she did. Everyone, including Nancy, was surprised except for Allen and Craig who were in on the secret. We all had a lovely morning visit.

One by one each member took off for work or whatever they had planned for the day. I headed to the coach for breakfast and later took my first walk in three days. Greenwood Village has a beautiful park nearby, and I walked there.

2014-5-10d late guest for brunchThe backyard of the kids’ place attracts a lot of different critters including bunnies (lots and lots of ’em), squirrels, coyote, and deer. This one joined us one day while we were on the patio and I got this shot as she was looking right at me. 

Allen, owning his own business, was able to spend most of the day with us as we just hung around the house. Craig, also owning his own business, made a day-long business call to a Colorado client and got home quite late – as we were eating dinner. He dug into the fixins’ and we all continued our warm visit.

At 2100 I headed to the coach and I later learned that the others played poker late into the evening. I watched more documentary on the TV and hit the sack around 2300. It had been a very pleasant day.

Day 6, Saturday at Allen’s

The big day of our trip included a brunch with the whole family. Allen and Nancy whipped up a great meal with the help of most everyone. Nancy left for awhile to pick up her dad, Seff, from a nearby care facility where he lives. It was wonderful to have him join us and he is just a pleasure to visit.

2014-5-10a happy momma with her guppiesLavonne visits with her two boyz, Craig (L) and Allen, while they soak in the hot tub on the patio before they got busy cooking up the big brunch. She’s never happier than when she’s with her kids.

We had the works for brunch! Pancakes, egg pie (quiche), bacon, sausage, and I don’t remember what all. And of course we had mimosas, too. A bit after the feast started, Nancy’s mom, Norma, also joined us and completed the family Mothers Day celebration that the day was all about. We were a day early, but that was the day we could all be together.

2014-5-10c all 'round the brunch tableThe whole tribe gathered ’round the patio for a wonderful Mothers Day brunch. From left, Erica, Nancy, Lavonne, Dale, Breanne, Norma, Seff, Craig and the MC of the show, Allen. It was a very warm and enjoyable family get-together.

Craig began promoting a trip for the bunch aboard the motorhome, and with stormy weather forecast for Sunday, we had to crowd it in on Saturday if we were going to make it happen.

2014-5c Coach WashCraig and I washed the coach as it was awful dirty from the trip. Allen helped out as well, and we did a great wash job very quickly.

2014-5-10 goldenThe beer party posed in front of the coach as we began the walk through the downtown Golden, Colorado attractions. We were a happy and sober bunch, and we stayed that way. Mostly.

2014-5-10w Beer patioHere’s to ya! From the Golden City (very micro) Brewery where some downed brewery samples and the poor driver settled for soda pop!

Seff and Norma couldn’t make the Beer Tour with us. But at 1300 the rest of us boarded the coach for a short drive to Golden, Colorado to visit the very touristy town and enjoy the local breweries. We had a grand time, including the fun we always have aboard the coach together. We spent only two to three hours at Golden, but including the time aboard the coach it made for a very enjoyable outing and everyone had a good time.

After returning home, Allen and Nancy brought in Chinese from P.F. Chang’s, one of the very best Chinese Restaurants around. I love the stuff! Naturally. Our buffet style Chinese dinner was a real treat.

It was soon time for me to head to the coach to write this travelogue, edit photos, and watch more documentary. It had been a very memorable day with the family and I was about done in. I hit the sack around 2300 and slept like a baby.

Day 7, Sunday, a snowy Mothers Day in Colorado

I looked out the window of the coach a couple of times during the night expecting to see snow. There was no snow, but I heard the rain on the roof most of the night and the weather man still predicted snow. Up to five inches of the stuff…

2014-5e snow houseIt was a snowy day in Colorado!

…and it seemed that he was right! Snow fell all day long and it accumulated over everything but the streets, walks, etc. For those of us from Kalifornistan it was novel, but the novelty wore off pretty quickly. We were all thinking of the flight home that night for Lavonne, Craig, and Breanne. And also my drive east the next day.

Allen drove to the store for some breakfast groceries, and whipped up a wonderful breakfast of oatmeal, sausage, bacon, and quiche. We had the usual great meal. And the snow kept falling.

2014-5-11a Allen making breakfast
Allen, with family helping out, whipped up breakfast to begin a cozy day at home with the family.

2014-5-11b just watching it snow and snowWatching the snow coming down – and that wasn’t half of it!

2014-5-11c some people are suspectSome family members are suspect. Here Craig and Allen gave us reason to believe that there’s just something wrong with those boys!

We stayed home all day, except for a couple of short jaunts to town when several decided to go to a manicurist. I was happy for the gals, but had a very hard time picturing Allen and Craig with pretty feet! Other than that, we spent the day visiting and having a grand time.

2014-5-11d after a visit to the manicuristAfter a visit to the manicurist the pretty feet came home to show off! I think that was Allen (left) and Craig (top) but I can’t swear to it.

In the evening we had another grand meal, this time a Mexican feast cooked up with the help of Nancy’s mom, Norma. Her friend Bobby also joined us.

The snow continued and our concern grew for the flight out that night and my continued drive the following morning. As it turned out, after a bit of drama about delays and flight changes, those flying home made it on time, and arrived at Sacramento and then on home safely around midnight.

After they left for the airport, I visited a bit with family and then headed to the coach for the night. The snow continued and was predicted to accumulate to several inches.

Day 8, Monday. Snowed in at Allen’s and Nancy’s

By morning we had more snow, sure enough! It was piled up on the streets, sidewalks, etc. and was a beautiful sight. But it delayed my plans to head for Georgia that morning.

2014-5-12a Allen moving snow

I watched Allen throw snow from the driveway with his snow blower, and the snow plow also drove through the neighborhood clearing the streets. But the snow kept piling up.

2014-5-12b Dale's IglooMy igloo during the snowfall. Still, I was warm and cozy.

I would spend another day in Colorado and hope to leave the next day to continue my travels. The school buses drove through the neighborhoods on time, and I figured I could hit the road as well but I was in no hurry and stayed put. I hate driving in snow!
2014-5-12d this after snow blower and snow plow a couple of hours earlier
After Allen’s snow blowing and a pass by the street snow plow, the snow continued to pile up. And it was a wet snow.

By mid-morning Allen and Nancy had headed off for work after waiting for the commute to thin out after snow and traffic slow downs. I stayed in the coach, snug and warm and feeling much like an Eskimo as I looked out at the winter wonderland and the still falling snow.

I spent the day waiting out the snow. It came down pretty heavily at times, and it came down wet. I watched my WWII documentary for some of the time, took a nap, and generally whiled away the cold, snowy day. The electric heater kept up with the cold, and it ran 24 hours a day while we were there.

By afternoon the snow had melted from the roads and walks, and conditions were really improving. I even saw patches of blue sky. I was confident that I would finally hit the road for Georgia the next morning.

When  Allen and Nancy came home from work they wanted to go out for dinner. I was ready for anything after a whole day in my igloo, and happily agreed to go along.

We took a short drive to a steakhouse called Cool River. It was a very ritzy place, and I was somewhat surprised that they let me in – apparently it wasn’t that ritzy. But it was relatively quiet, my first requirement. And they served truly great food. We ordered Devil Creek shrimp as an appetizer, and it was so good I ordered it for dinner, along with the best mushroom side I’ve ever eaten. The shrimp was stuffed with pepper jack cheese and wrapped in smoked bacon. It was wonderful! Mmmmmmm. Allen ordered prime rib and Nancy had Chilean sea bass. We were ever so satisfied and I looked forward to another feast there our next visit to Colorado.

Back at home, we visited awhile before I returned to my igloo for the night. I watched a bit of documentary, and hit the sack at 2200.

Day 9, Tuesday, Greenwood Village, Colorado to Dodge City, KS via I-25, E-470, SR83, SR86, I-70, US287, US50, and I can’t remember the other highways: 344 miles.

I bid farewell to Allen and Nancy after converting the coach from an igloo into a comfortable highway cruiser. It was 0630 when I pulled out of their driveway and headed for Dodge City, KS.

2014-5-13a just out of the Denver areaDenver behind, rural Colorado ahead!

I planned the day’s route to stay on US highways as much as possible. I had to drive a couple of Colorado state highways, and part of those were pretty rough. Otherwise the roads were good.

About 0715 I drove through through the little Colorado town of Kiowa, population 716. While driving through an absolutely barren school zone, no doubt well before school started and with nary a soul present, I committed the heinous crime of driving 32 MPH past the school zone.  Granted, the caution lights were flashing and I did see them. But in Kalifornistan, one is instructed to a lower speed limit by a sign that reads when children are present. Nobody was present because it was so early.

A short time later the flashing blues and reds of an unmarked police SUV behind me caught my attention. At that time I was already out of the corrupt little town and it took a mile before I found a place to pull over. I got a $315 ticket.

2014-5-13b Kiowa, CO fund raiserUh-oh. This can’t be good. Let’s see… an early morning empty school zone, an unmarked police car… a 20 MPH zone… so who’s the real criminal here?! I’d rather the blue meanie mugged me at gunpoint instead of the phony charge of driving too fast. At least that would have been an honest mugging!

There is only one reason why the town had an unmarked cop watching over a completely empty school zone, limited to 20 MPH so early in the morning when nobody was around. Yep. And they cashed in on me. With less than 800 population, it was a sure bet my mugging was a part of the annual budget.

When I got home I examined every angle of fighting the phony ticket, but Kalifornistan and Colorado have reciprocity as regards traffic tickets. Also, to fight the ticket I would have to appear in Kiowa, Colorado. There was no alternative.

I sent in the $315 check. (It was very telling that I was instructed to make my check out to The Town of Kiowa, CO, not to a court or justice of any kind.) Kiowa, it is clear, in Injun lingo, means MUGGED.

2014-5-13d road side dinerDale’s Roadside Diner. Fair to middlin’ food and portion controlled!

Other than having my crime wave squelched so early in the day, and of course the endless wind, my drive was pleasant. I ate breakfast and lunch at the side of the road, and enjoyed my own food for a change. At least when I prepare food, I don’t eat so much of it. Usually.

2014-5-13f KansasWelcome to Kansas.

2014-5-13g Kansas sky scraperKansas skyscrapers.

2014-5-13i many of these lots in KansasCows, steers, hogs, chickens, etc. do not live long in Kansas…

2014-5-13j welcome to Dodge CityWelcome to Dodge City, pardner!

2014-5-13k Dodge City WalmartJacks down for the night at Dodge City’s Walmart lot.

I arrived at Dodge City’s Walmart at 1530 their time – the Central Time Zone – and home time was then two hours earlier.

I walked into the store and checked at the customer service counter to confirm that they allowed overnight RV parking, and as usual they did. I walked back to the coach, moved to the section of the lot they requested I park for the night, faced into the infernal wind, and dropped the jacks. I was one day into my trip to Georgia!

I wrote this travelogue and then edited and posted photos. Writing and editing so many photos (I’d guess that I deleted five photos for each one I used during the trip) consumed a lot of time, and I usually had plenty of time at the end of the day and it kept me busy. But I needed to be a bit more concise and not so trigger happy with the camera.

I then took a walk and visited the first Hobby Lobby store I’ve ever seen. It had a awful lot of un-hobby stuff it seemed, but maybe home decorating is a hobby for some people. It seemed very well run with a very clean appearance and busy employees. I liked the place. The manager told me they have several in Kalifornistan with more to come. Still, I’d never seen one before.

I then went into Walmart and paid my space rent by buying a bunch of stuff I needed for the coach, including some groceries. Back at the coach I stowed the stuff, then showered, etc.

The stuff included a box of Walmart’s Crunch ‘n Munch toffee flavored popcorn, one of my old favorites. I don’t allow myself such a treat often, but I couldn’t resist. And beer must always accompany the stuff.

I watched some more documentary for an hour or so, and it was soon time to hit the sack. I slept very well.

Day 10, Wednesday, Dodge City, KS to Ardmore, OK via US283, US270, I-40, US81, US70: 374 miles

I was up a bit after 0500, turned on the heater and headed back to bed while the coach living room heated up. It was a cool night in Dodge. And it was nearly time for me to get outa Dodge.

After the morning chores and a quick visit to the store to return a couple of things I didn’t need, I hit the road at 0830. I drove a short distance to a nearby station and pumped 73 gallons at $3.50 per. The gas tank holds 75 gallons, so I was pretty low on gas. Later, of course, I saw gas as low as $3.29 during the day’s drive, but I had to buy gas when I needed it.

2014-5-14a flatlands of KansasThe flat lands of Kansas. Peaceful, uncrowded, and a great drive!

After my crime wave of the day before, I considered hitting the interstates for the rest of the trip to avoid the small towns and their Blue Meanies. But I stayed on my favored US highways and all went well. And the drive was terrific!

2014-5-14b old man driving walking old dogThis old dog was being walked in some small Kansas town by his old owner who simply drove on the wrong side of the street with a leash extended out the window. It was just funny and here it is for all to have a chuckle. This is something one would never see while blasting through the country on an interstate. 

The Kansas roads were smooth and pleasant and I enjoyed the beauty of the endless grasslands. Oklahoma’s highways were generally good, but some were as bad as Kalifornistan and the coach and I got beaten up. Some of Oklahoma’s roads, a small percentage, are made of the old jointed concrete sections that are rough as cobs. But I made it.

2014-5-14c another Dale's DinerAnother Dale’s Roadside Diner. I found one everywhere I went!

I had breakfast at Dale’s Roadside Diner again, and the photo I took was pretty cool, I thought. For lunch I grabbed a couple of Mickey D’s dollar sandwiches and a cup of their excellent coffee – to go.

2014-5-14f Oklahoma rolling and greenOklahoma’s rolling, green hills. It was a beautiful state and seemed to go on forever.

I loved my drive along the US highways. It was miles and miles of lonely highway with relatively little traffic. It was a real pleasure and so many people aren’t even aware of that option – and of course most wouldn’t have the time anyway.

2014-5-14g Ardmore OK WalmartParked at Ardmore, Oklahoma’s Walmart for the night. I was next to a lovely park away from the main parking lot and right where they asked me to stay.

I arrived at the Ardmore, Oklahoma Walmart at 1715. As usual, I was told it was fine to park for the night, and they told me which section of the lot to do so. I parked, dropped the jacks and converted my highway cruiser to a cozy cabin for the night after driving it down the highways all day long. What a marvelous invention!

I walked about 25 minutes after arriving, then settled in to write this and edit photos. Somehow I lost most photos in the transfer from camera to laptop and don’t know how I did it. I spent way too much time writing and editing, and also mapping for the next day.

Mapping is very important when driving all the different highways I chose to avoid the interstates and bigger cities. I map with a computer program on the laptop called Delorme Street Atlas (I’ve since learned to use Google Maps which is a much easier and free system), then program my route onto the Garmin navigator as a separate plan. Both programs need to have way points added to follow the way I want to go, and not the way the computers want to go. And I’ve driven many an unnecessary mile because I didn’t program the Garmin navigator as I intended. But I digress…

The evening was pleasant although a bit rushed and I didn’t make it to bed “on time”, as if I have a firm bedtime. I watched more documentary, and I finally hit the sack around 2300 and slept very well.

Day 11, Thursday, Ardmore, Oklahoma to Rayville, LA via I-35, US82, US271, US67, US71, I-220, I-20: 411 miles

I was up and at ’em around 0530 or so, and hustled through my morning chores so I could hit the road fairly early. I was out of the Walmart lot a bit before 0800 to begin my 400+ mile day.

2014-5-15b I almost missed my Texas welcome signI nearly missed my welcome to Texas, but I quickly drew the camera and shot. Texas drivers seemed to drive friendly.  

I thoroughly enjoyed the long drive. I drove through Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas, and Louisiana. I drove more interstates than I wanted but sometimes it doesn’t make sense to drive a lot of unnecessary miles to stay on the backwater roads. I drove over 100 miles on I-20 through Louisiana. Speaking of which, Louisiana has miles and miles of good roads, but there are too many miles of jointed concrete that makes one feel like one is in a popcorn popper. It was just bang-bang-bang along such roads and I hated it. Oklahoma also had some very rough city and transition roads on and off the freeway because of all those joints.

2014-5-15c Texas WWII monument.2At a rest stop in Texas I found this memorial to WWII. I am aware of what a great sacrifice the Greatest Generation paid in those days, and sadly, we don’t even teach such history in most of our schools nowadays.

I stopped to fill up at some point along the way, and pumped on 72 gallons at $3.38 per. I had seen gas as high as the $3.60s during the drive so I thought I did pretty well.

I weighed that morning for the first time this entire trip, and was delighted to see just 199 on the scale. In celebration, I stopped at a Mickey D’s and ordered two egg, sausage and cheese McMuffins for breakfast. I knew that made no sense when I did it, but they were delicious.

2014-5-15d In the south lawns are a big deal.In the South, big lawns are a big deal. Whether rich…

2014-5-15d In the south lawns are a big deal.3…or not so rich.

Here are two photos that show why I love driving the back roads:2014-5-15e Why I love to stay off the Interstates 2014-5-15e Why I love to stay off the Interstates2The backwater roads are uncrowded, rural, and friendly. I wished I lived somewhere like that!

Around lunch time I stopped at a Pilot Travel Plaza and pulled into the truck parking lot to whip up a meal in the coach. I checked the Garmin for rest areas and found none on that long interstate stretch, so figured a truck stop would be fine for a change. And it was Ok for a quick stop but it was noisy. I used the coach air for the first time that trip because it was 80° in the coach there. I also used the dash air for the first time for awhile as I drove along the interstate. The weather sure had changed since leaving snow country. It had been very mild the prior couple of days, and I reckoned hot weather would soon be upon me. Back home it reached 100° and I was glad I missed it.

2014-5-15f Arkansas is beautiful as alwaysArkansas welcomed me during the day’s drive…

2014-5-15h Welcome to Louisiana…as did Louisiana. I was welcomed everywhere, it seemed.

I dumped the tanks and loaded fresh water at a RV park just off the interstate. The good folks there charged me just $5 and I was pleased to be freshened up and ready for a few more days.

2014-5-15j busy Monroe LaMonroe, LA was too much like home! I missed most cities, but drove through Monroe.

I arrived at Rayville, Louisiana’s Walmart at 1715. I checked at the store for where they wanted me to park for the night, if that was Ok. Of course it was Ok, and I set up the coach for the night.

I took my walk around the lot and the store, then began the writing and photo editing for this travelogue. Honestly, I took way too many photos during the day, and had to wade through them to decide which to use. It made for more work than necessary. Again.

2014-5-15K jacks down at Rayville, LA WalmartJacks down for the night at Rayville, LA. It had been a long and pleasant drive.

It was a pleasant stay in Rayville. It rained on and off during the evening and overnight, and I enjoyed the patter of the rain on the roof. My evening was as usual, working on the travelogue, watching a bit more WWII documentary and relaxing with a cool one. Or two. I slept well, as always, aboard the coach.

Day 12, Friday, Rayville, LA to Opelika, AL via I-20, US80, I-85: 393 miles

The day started like any other this trip. I was up around 0545 and got the chores done, including tending the bug collection on the windshield. It got buggier the farther south I drove. I pulled out of the Walmart lot about 0815 and headed east on I-20.

2014-5-16 Beautiful LouisianaWhat a great way to start the day – driving through beautiful Louisiana!

I drove a lot of interstate but also some of US 80. I got into really heavy traffic near Montgomery, Alabama. First it was the evening commute and I had to drive through town to hit the interstate. On the interstate three lanes merged into one lane due to a bridge repair. It was a mess and I was in bumper to bumper traffic for well over an hour. In the middle of all that hassle I had to gas up. Ugh. The Montgomery drive pretty much screwed up my day. Still, I loved the drive all day long ’til I hit Montgomery.

2014-5-16a Crossing the Miighty MIssissippiCrossing the mighty Mississip’ into Mississippi.

2014-5-16d Chunky, MS. Reckon they have a weight clinicChunky, Mississippi. Reckon they have a weight clinic there?

2014-5-16g thank God for my navigator2Thank God for my Garmin navigator!

2014-5-16e Alabama welcomed meAlabama welcomed me.

2014-5-16h Alabama RiverThe Alabama River.

2014-5-16i must be heaven on earthWow! I imagined that living like this would be heaven on earth.

2014-5-16j jammed up MontgomeryThe traffic jam near Montgomery.

2014-5-16k your speed may vary. Jammed up Interstate three lanes to oneYour speed may vary! I drove 0 – 15 MPH in an even worse traffic jam on the interstate.

When I finally arrived at Opelika’s Walmart store at 1750, I checked about parking and parked as they asked. It sure was a relief to finally drop the jacks and be “home” for the night. I took my walk, then went to Mickey D’s in the store and bought dinner. I really wanted some Mickey D’s and it was very satisfying.

I spent the evening as I usually do, writing this travelogue, editing photos, and watching TV. This time I watched a bit of O Brother, Where art Thou? I was in the mood for some silliness, I guess. Gosh, I love that movie! I was in bed at 2300 and slept well.

Day 13, Saturday, Opelika, AL to Warner Robins, GA via US280, SR96, SR49, SR247C: 118 miles

I hit the road plenty early even though I slept in ’til a bit after 0600. I got through the chores and even got in a little shopping for a few items in the store. After all, I wanted to pay some space rent.

2014-5-17a beautiful GeorgiaA beautiful Saturday drive through Alabama heading for Georgia.

I continued my trek east at 0800, having only about 120 miles to drive to the Walmart nearest my cousin Chuck. The drive was uneventful, and I arrived at Warner Robins at 1120 which was the Eastern Time Zone once I crossed the Georgia state line. I was then three time zones away from home, and not far from Florida and even the Atlantic Ocean. Wow.

2014-5-17c Eastern timeAs I entered Georgia, I was three time zones away from home. 

I called Chuck a bit before I arrived as he requested, and he met me at the Walmart lot right after I pulled in. It was great to see him! I hadn’t seen him since my last Georgia run back in 2007.

Chuck was a preacher his whole life and was always strong and healthy. But now he was dealing with pulmonary fibrosis, something he would not likely survive. He struggled for breath and really should have been on oxygen, but doesn’t like carrying his portable tank around. He looked good, and he spoke like the same ol’ Chuck, but he was not well.

2014-5-17d With Chuck at buffet. Dig those paper towels.Lunch with Chuck at a country buffet. I told him I wanted some good southern fried chicken. I got it – and a lot more! It was good food. Note that roll of paper towels, and no napkins – now that’s a serious eatin’ place!

We visited in the coach for about an hour, then headed to a country buffet after I told him I wanted, more than anything, some good southern fried chicken. The buffet was great I thought, and I pigged out on mashed potatoes and gravy, creamed corn, fried chicken and pulled pork. Twice. Poor Chuck, he admitted as we sat down that he never has an appetite and really didn’t want to eat. He picked his way through half of his plate. I offered to trade my appetite for his, which would be great for me, at least for awhile, but he laughed it off. I was serious.

2014-5-17e with Chuck looking at family photos etc.At Chuck’s condo I showed him recent photos of the family he hadn’t seen. It was a good visit and we enjoyed ourselves a great deal. 

After lunch we drove by the coach and I picked up my laptop so I could share some family photos I’ve taken over the years during my travels. He enjoyed photos of our Auntie Dawn and Uncle Norwood I took in Texas a few months earlier, photos of his sisters from my visits in Fresno, and of my sis and brother-in-law, Gale and John, in Gridley. He thoroughly enjoyed the photos and the stories as we reminisced about our family.

Chuck, always the preacher, inserted sermons at every opportunity, trying to help me see The Light. Although we were both raised in the most fundamental of churches, we surely do not agree on faith and religion. He advised me that he would be praying for me daily, and was genuinely concerned about my eternal soul. And I love him for that.

2014-5-17f Chuck drops me off after our visit. Goodbye, ol' friend.Chuck in his truck as he dropped me off after our visit. At our ages and his medical challenges, it seemed this was likely our last visit. I love you, Chuck, you have always been a good friend and cousin. God bless you for your concern and care. Chuck is a man of faith with a lifetime of good and righteous works.

After another hour or so at Chuck’s, I asked him if he needed to drive me back to the coach so he could rest. He said that’s what he needed, and it surely seemed so. I gathered my stuff and he drove me back to the coach where I bid him farewell. It was a splendid visit and I enjoyed it very, very much. But it was likely our last, and that just broke my heart. (It was our last visit.)

There are not many left from our family now, and that makes such visits as I had with Chuck all the sweeter. I was aware that our time together that day might be my last visit with my hero cousin, and tears welled up as I wrote this.  There are so few of us left from a huge family and sometimes life is just cruel.

Back at the coach I set up for the night, and began planning for the rest of the trip. I could make a bee-line for home and be there in a week. Or I could see more of the country and be there in two weeks. I would have to make that decision soon.

I stayed up ’til midnight for the first time since I can remember. I watched more documentary after writing this blog and editing photos. I supposed the emotion of the day had something to do with my sleeplessness. My cousin Chuck’s illness had touched me deeply. I also called his sister and brother in Kalifornistan and brought them up to date on his condition. It had not been a wonderful day.

Please click here for Part 2, the return trip home.

The trip home is on another post as this long trip and all this text and many photos were a bit cumbersome for one post. 

About FishWisher

Over the years I have posted many exciting fishing and boating stories here, but now in my seventies, it was time to sell the boat and find less demanding pastimes. All the fishing stories are still here! I will now post my travels aboard the motorhome and other activities. I hope y'all will still enjoy the fishing and boating adventures and perhaps peek in on my post-boating activities on occasion. Thanks for dropping in and I hope you enjoy your visit.
This entry was posted in Travel: Allen's, Travel: Interstate Adventure!, zTravel: Adverse Weather Adventures (never on purpose!). Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to May 2014 Coach Trip to Denver and Georgia – Part 1

  1. Marty says:

    meant to rate this high but hit the mouse to fast sorry. you have me in tears now as I look back at all I said good by to and always felt I would see once more at lest and never did thank you for that jog of my memory’s as there sweet as they are now sad. I to now suffer bad health and dream of a lot like fishing every state and in that seeing them also. you have had a good life and I thank you for sharing it with us all please do not stop

  2. nlbwalters says:

    What a special trip that was.

  3. FishWisher says:

    Thanks for the visit, Nancy. It sure was a special trip for us after the years we couldn’t all get together at the party house!

  4. Elfido Montez says:

    I enjoy your story-tellin! Keep up the good work. Safe travels sir.

  5. FishWisher says:

    Well, thank you for the visit and the kind words, Elfido. It’s good to hear that you enjoyed my site. Come back often!

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