As we began our trip back home, the first page of this travelogue was becoming too long and unwieldy. It was time to start a second page for this long trip to Denver and Arkansas and this is Page 2.
Page 1 is here.
(Note: These photos are HUGE if you double click on them.)
Saturday, Day 12, Sept. 26, 2015 Mt. Ida to Elk City, OK via US270, US71, US64, I-40: 381 miles
We slept well that night out in the Arkansas woods where the Yeamans live. We heard dogs a couple of times, but out there the folks all have dogs and one barking from a neighbor a hundred yards away would get Yeamans’ dogs going. But it didn’t last long.
Someone’s Shangri-La in the beautiful Arkansas woods. That must be some life way out there and I envied them!
We were up and around sometime after 0600 and after the morning routine we ambled across the yard to the Yeamans’ home. The plan was to just say good morning and goodbye, as we planned to leave early. They offered breakfast but we declined as we’d wait ’til some place down the road around 0900. We chatted for a few pleasant minutes before thanking them for the hospitality and then heading for home.
We needed to dump the coach for sure that day before we settled in for the night, and we also wanted to wash the very dirty coach. We managed both.
Our journey home would be via I-40 which was about a hundred mile drive north from Mt. Ida, the same drive we took to get there. I enjoyed the greenbelt drive through Arkansas’ curvy two lane highways to I-40.
Arkansas highways can be very picturesque, as is the highway through the hills above Mt. Ida and beyond.
We found a car wash in the Fort Smith, Arkansas area with an open bay on which I could wash the coach, so I pulled in and got right after it. It was easy and the high pressure soapy spray did a nice job in a hurry.
Beyond Fort Smith, Arkansas the humdrum drive on the interstate soon began. Our left turn onto the interstate was closed by a car-semi accident, so we drove down a bit farther and U-turned back so we could turn right onto the onramp. It looked like it might have been an injury accident but we couldn’t be sure.
Just a few miles down I-40 we came upon a rest area with a RV dump, and Big Blue really, really had to go. I pulled in and gladly set about the chore of dumping the waste tanks and loading on fresh water. I had washed the coach and dumped her as well that morning. I was pleased and Big Blue was greatly relieved. Life is good.
We continued on down I-40 all day long, stopping just for lunch aboard the coach at another rest area. Lavonne whipped up PBJs for us and I really enjoyed mine as I normally don’t allow myself the simple pleasure of peanut butter.
One drawback of running the interstate highways is that it’s not so easy to dodge the big cities. Here we drove through Oklahoma City and the traffic was not particularly pleasant.
Farther into the drive we pulled into a Mickey D’s for a sugar and caffeine jolt to help me beat the sleepies. We really fell off the diet wagon at that stop; I saw the new pumpkin and cream pie and had to have one, along with a McFlurry and a large coffee. Lavonne ordered a McFlurry, too, and a small fries. We climbed back aboard the coach and continued our westward trek while pigging out. I was wide awake after all that sugar and caffeine!
We thought we’d drive to El Reno, OK and pull in for the night, about a 315 mile drive. But we had made pretty good time so we continued on to Elk City, OK which was closer to 400 miles for the day.
When we pulled in to Elk City’s Walmart I set off for my daily walk of about 25 minutes. Lavonne and I both got our noses buried in the laptops as I updated this travelogue and Lavonne visited her favorite sites. I zapped a frozen meal for dinner, so we had all three meals aboard the coach. We prefer travel on the cheap, and eating aboard is certainly a thrifty way to see the country.
Our evening passed as usual aboard the coach. After I caught up on the travelogue – this endless travelogue – I poured a couple of nightcaps and settled back to watch one of my favorite movies, Driving Miss Daisy, ’til after Lavonne went to bed. I followed soon after and slept like a baby, as usual.
Sunday, Day 13, Elk City, OK to Albuquerque, NM via I-40: 419 miles
We took our sweet time getting underway that Sunday morning. We slept ’til 0630, then Lavonne enjoyed her coffee at a leisurely pace. When we finished the usual morning routines, we headed off to the store for some grocery shopping. The Elk City Walmart was a big one, and we enjoyed all the choices we had. They even carried Fresca, something my local store at home refuses to carry for some reason.
After the shopping trip we returned to the coach and Lavonne stashed the groceries while I tended the bug collection on the huge windshields. It was after 0900 when we continued our homeward drive.
We were welcomed to Texas with their very attractive sign, and they do generally drive friendly in Texas.
An outrageous rest area along I-40 in Texas. We figured the big wall and star were just for art’s sake. hmmmm. Poor spending, Texas!
…as seen on the Travel Channel and other shows as well, I suppose. You get the steak free if you finish it within an hour. (And then maybe a free funeral?)
We made a point of eating breakfast, lunch, and dinner in the coach. Lavonne made PBJ sandwiches for lunch again, something I’ve denied myself for years, and I enjoyed mine greatly. I began thinking that I should afford myself such little pleasures more often in my old age and make up for it some other way. But we can’t keep the stuff at home as I would snack on it ’til it was gone in just a few days.
The day’s 419 mile drive, actually 426 miles according to the GPS, was rather tedious. We drove against a wind too much of the time, especially in Texas and New Mexico.
The leaning water tower of Groom, Texas was a gimmick used by a long closed and forgotten truck stop on that site. The downpipe acts as a third leg and it was never in danger of toppling over.
The 11 story cross of Groom, Texas is said to be visible from 20 miles away. We first noticed it at 10 miles away, and it is certainly huge. If you double click on this photo you’ll more easily see a few of the 14 Stations of the Cross with life size statues.
The truth of Groom, Texas is, I think, that it is mostly wind and corn. But the town does know how to attract attention!
And we did enjoy the attractions of the Groom, Texas area as we drove by, including the tallest cross in the country and the slightly famous leaning water tower. They are both interesting in very different ways, and the stories are here on Wikipedia.
A small spread that looked serene along I-40 in Texas.
Situations like this make me very happy to have an extra smart GPS navigator along that shows me as well as talks me through the many opportunities to get confused and lost. Sheesh!
Again, as in at least one prior travelogue, I have to say it’s good to remember who did so much to get our interstate system built.
It seemed that the whole day was climb, climb, climb. We reached 7000 ft. on two occasions and actually dropped perhaps 1500 ft. to land at 5200 ft. or so at Albuquerque’s Walmart store. It also seemed that the farther west we drove the more expensive gas became.
We stopped at the crummy little tourist trap at Clines Corners, NM where they wanted me to pay $2.60 per gallon. I knew it couldn’t be that expensive except at such shysters as they seemed to be. To add insult to injury, after I paid for my 7 gallon purchase to get to the next town, they required I go into their over-priced store to get my receipt. So I made my own receipt and made a mental note to never stop there again! New Mexico has the splashiest welcome of any state I’ve seen. Double click on this photo and read the small yellow sign visible on the left. That sign is pretty creative!
We finally pulled into Albuquerque and dropped the jacks at yet another Walmart store. Thanks, Mr. Sam! It was pretty warm, something in the 80s, when we arrived. We fired up the generator and stayed comfortable under the air conditioner ducts. We ran it ‘til almost bedtime.
Lavonne whipped up a dinner of frozen Mexican style lasagna for dinner. It was quite good for a zapped meal, and along with some zapped/steamed veggies we were satisfied – again on the cheap as we like.
Our evening in Albuquerque was as most evenings. We both burned up bandwidth on the two computers, Lavonne on her games and other sites, and me on the travelogue and editing photos. Lavonne retired an hour ahead of me, and I watched some TV and enjoyed a couple of cool ones. I went to bed around 2300.
Monday, Day 14, Albuquerque, NM to Kingman, AZ via I-40: 464 miles
We were up around 0530 for some reason, I guess we wanted to get going a bit early to mark two weeks on the road. After the morning routines, I took a walk and bought a couple of items from Walmart as well. We pulled out of the lot about 0715 and continued our westerly drive toward home.
We were mighty pleased to be heading west out of Albuquerque at the speed limit. Note the eastbound side traffic jam!
I’ve posted photos of this little New Mexican village at least twice before, and with that mission at the top of the hill, it is an irresistible sight.
Big Blue pulled against wind and grade all day it seemed, and never missed a beat. She was a comfortable ride and an even more comfortable home each night.
Somewhere before leaving New Mexico we stopped at this tourist trap that advertised free ice water that turned out to be tap water that stunk to high heaven of sulfur. The place sold the usual touristy junk, and I recalled yet again why I usually avoid such roadside joints. Those gas pumps were closed and they did not sell gas. We thought the place looked like it was about to go broke.
As one enters Arizona this beautiful landscape is on the state line. It is, unfortunately, accompanied by some junky tourist trap and tacky signs.
It seemed that the farther out in the boonies a tourist trap was, the more world famous it claimed to be.
We stopped at the Petrified Forest National Park and walked into the visitor center and their gift shop. It also sold the usual tourist stuff such as T-shirts and key chains. When it came to paying to drive a long loop through the park, we just weren’t that interested in looking at rocks. We drove back to the interstate and continued west.
Somewhere along US40 in Arizona we drove past this huge coal-fired electric generation plant. That huge, long pile in front of the distant stack on the left is coal.
Now this is one attraction worth the visit. A few years back we visited the Meteor Crater and it was very interesting. Check it out on my original RV site here and scroll almost to the bottom: Meteor Crater
The mountains loomed high before us as we climbed to Flagstaff, AZ.
We stopped for lunch at The Cracker Barrel in Flagstaff, and enjoyed only our second sit-down restaurant meal of the whole trip. The food was good and we enjoyed our stop. At one point during our planning of the day we considered spending the night at Flagstaff, but we were there way too early to quit driving for the day.
Just west of Flagstaff the scenery was all forest and green. It was quite a change from the desert rocks and sand and lizards.
The Arizona Divide, whatever that was, was very high at 7335′. We had already crossed the Continental Divide earlier that day, so again I was confused. There are two divides in Wyoming, too, that confused me. Anyway, I looked it up and found this:
Arizona Divide – 7335 ft – Riordan, AZ
N 35° 11.968 W 111° 45.093
12S E 431585 N 3895422
Quick Description: The Arizona Divide is high point that defines the watershed & changes the direction of the flow of water from south & east to south & west. There is a sign on both east & west-bound I-40 at A-1 Mountain Road (Exit 190).