On the surface it may have been a perfect trip to deliver the wooden scooter to Denver, its next stop on The Tour but there was no time for side trips. We mostly hypotenuse'd our way down and back which was great as far as I was concerned......I was on roads and through towns I've never visited before. A later start than we'd have chosen but U-Haul has hours that don't necessarily coincide with ours.
It wasn't all U-haul's fault either; the 4.5" of rain we'd received the night before was a bigger problem than early office hours.
We did not need another 4.5" of rain.
It wasn't like this when we finally did drive through, giving it 2 hours more than we wanted to but I can state that we left a really big mess at the local car wash on our way to pick up the trailer. We had checked into OneWay trailer rental in Raton, New Mexico but One Way rental rates were through the roof. There was no way that we'd burn an extra $300 of gas renting in Minnesota and dead heading our way down. Not only that but we had (more) control over availability and scheduling doing it that way.
We had motel reservations in Colby, Kansas that first night and rolled in just after 11:00 It's a big country with lots of space, just in case anyone needs reminding.
Leaving Kansas, entering Colorado on I-70
Along the Santa Fe Trail, Comanche National Grasslands......beautiful country!
At the top of Raton Pass, the border between NM and CO. MS Train Simulator, the only computer game that I've played the last 20 years features this section of track over the pass. I'd never paid much attention before to where or what. Seeing those tracks snaking up that steep valley to get up and over was way more impressive than I'd ever imagined. No wonder I've struggled so hard to get decent consists up and over that place.
Peg and I were watching the elevation readout on the GPS after lunch and a gas stop in Trinidad and sure enough, our reading was within a few feet of the 7384' that was stated on the sign. The poor little van was working its heart out to climb up and over, the trailer still empty. Luckily, Raton didn't drop very far so our climb north again wasn't as long coming back the other way.
Loaded and climbing over the Raton Pass, this time headed north. We were on our way not long after 3PM. The 3.8liter has never spent so much time at 5k RPM.
Spanish Peaks, south of Pueblo, CO
Just south of Colorado Springs, in 70 mph prevailing busy traffic, a truck was on I-25 doing about 30. Safe but hard braking activated the trailer brakes on our trailer and though the wheels would roll, they certainly didn't want to. It was all I could do to get off the freeway. Peg was quick on the draw and found that a Uhaul dealer was only a minutes away; we only minutes to spare before their closing time.
GRAHAM RENTALS in Fountain, Colorado. Tom and Jennifer absolutely and very kindly went above and beyond to get us back on the road. Jennifer finally went home to make dinner, Tom determined to wait with us until Roadside Assistance arrived and things could get resolved, one way or another.
"I'll make and take the call, why don't you guys go and get some dinner....."
"Bathroom inside.....does your dog need some water?....."
Cindy on the phone at Roadside Assistance called to confirm that there was in fact a service person on the way. Once underway, she called again to make sure that everything was OK, our trip home continuing.
Almost better than that, I had asked about using US 24 to avoid Denver and our Service person (forgot his name and I'm ashamed) confirmed that 24 was the way to go. Peg and mom-in-law behind, I was only a couple of miles north when my phone rang again with the same CO SPRINGS number.
"I'm right behind you and am going to pass.....follow me up to Platte, I'll put my right signal on where you should turn right....I won't but you should."
GRAHAM RENTALS, a UHaul dealer in Fountain, CO. If I were 500 miles (maybe even 550) away, I'd call them for help. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!
It was after 10 and we were beat, no motel reservations made thankfully and for the very reason that we could not have predicted how long everything was going to take. When on a mission such as this, I like to know that a place to stay is locked in. We (well I) needed gas, so we stopped in Limon, anxious to continue NE but unable due to fatique, Peg quickly locked in a reservation using her phone at the motel 2 blocks away. Confident that we had things nailed down, we arrived only to find out that in Peg's haste, she'd made the online reservation for NEXT Friday night. The motel was booked, no more 2 Queen Rooms available. A Single with a Roll-Away was available but NO DOGS.
So, with the front seat in the van already very warm from a day's drive, it was tilted back so that Stewie and I could get some sleep. He really missed Gramma, already a very traumatic day for him. Finally, neither one of us all that comfortable, we got some sleep. I woke up at 3, Stewie stirring so we went out for a walk in the motel parking lot. I was of course in my Tshirt and shorts, the van temperature read 48 degrees and though it felt good outside right away, our parking lot walk and then getting back inside the van was just a bit too fresh. I had a light rain shell to put on, grabbed a blanket that was in back and with Stewie on my lap and covered, we kept each other mostly comfortable for another couple of hours.
He's even more handsome than he looks.....and we've become quite good friends.
Back in Nebraska, just south of Alma.
We were back in our dried mud messy driveway just before 11 last night. We slept well.
This morning was a late one, I pulled the loaded trailer into Red Wing and since it was Sunday, mom-in-law's downtown upstairs apartment allowed for easy unloading. We had almost everything upstairs relatively quickly, ready to get more help for a couple of very heavy pieces, putting those off for another day. Desperation and some things remembered from long ago physics classes, we incorporated wheels and straps......job done. I returned the trailer, Peg and her mom are getting unpacked and making a place for a husky mostly white dog.
We're all very tired and personally I'm looking forward to a more motorcycely weekend soon. A 2320 mile drive to once again appreciate our big western wide open spaces, always a very good thing. Pikes Peak was beautiful in the evening clouds.