New Mexico and Beyond; Part 4 (Final)

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Colorado wins for being the most surprising state: After the Loveland Pass I think I fell asleep and missed Denver because when I woke up it was FLAT! Like, Kansas flat. I wasn’t expecting that.

As for Kansas, I fell asleep 3 times besides the rest area where we spent the night near Fort Dodge. I picked Historic Fort Dodge off the map to stop at since we were due for a museum. Alas, it’s not really a museum. It’s been a home for Retired Soldiers since 1890. We decided not to stop and just got the heck out of Dodge, haha.

We did have a problem in Kansas, though. He ran out of cigarettes as we stopped at a grocery store and I was not happy when he bought a pack the very next time we stopped. We both knew that he was going to run out at some point on our trip and given how emphatic he was that he wouldn’t buy any outside of Virginia and how he made grand claims that he’d quit before we got home, I’d been hopeful that he’d at least make it a day and after a tense stretch of road he’d decide he’d gone long enough. Instead, it was 3 hours, a relatively empty road and a long line at at the bathroom at a gas station. I gave him the silent treatment for awhile because I was sad as well as mad and because talking about his cigarettes is taboo that makes him want to smoke. He will push himself way past where he should to drive a truck across the country (before the heart attack) or to stay up  all night in order to dismantle a car because he needs the parts and it’s going to the junkyard at 9 am the next morning, but he can’t push himself to want a cigarette for 12 hours? You can see my frustration. Once I started talking to him again and we did discuss the taboo subject, he told me that he’d planned to start his prescription for Chantix that morning and had forgotten. He did take the pill the next morning and we’ll see how he does. With him spending the afternoon in the tow truck, I suspect his pack is empty or nearly empty now. At least I was home today to wake him up long enough to take his morning pill and will be able to do the same tomorrow and Sunday. Chantix put him to sleep last time he tried it, so much so that he started skipping pills simply because he wasn’t awake to take them. I hope he can figure out how to push himself to really quit this time because regardless of what he may say about how it helped him, he never stopped buying packs last time he took Chantix.

I didn’t take many pictures of Kansas between being asleep, mad, and it simply looking the same from point A to point B and Missouri looked too much like home to take pictures, so here’s Whitehaven, where we spent our first night in Kentucky. I wish we could have toured the house, but apparently tours are only from 1-4 pm when available.


While in Kentucky, we decided to go to Mammoth Cave National Park. We got there shortly before 1 pm and since we knew we only had time for one tour, we decided on the Historic Tour. I didn’t take any pictures inside of the cave because I’ve learned that the camera I borrowed (a Canon Powershot SX130 IS) takes horrible pictures when there’s not enough light and I don’t use a flash. The Historic Tour covered the parts of the cave that visitors have known about the longest. I was fascinated by the “typeface” used by visitors a hundred years ago as they wrote on the ceiling with the soot from a candle. Gorgeous!

We got a hotel room in Kentucky that evening, sleeping until almost checkout.

I actually didn’t sleep while driving through Tennessee! I closed my eyes for a few minutes, but never lost consciousness. We decided to mosey our way down to Asheville, NC where The Kid will move to with his girlfriend next month. It is an adorable town, though a bit too busy for my liking this time of year. I’d love to visit the Biltmore Estate…but at $60/person (holycrapola!) I don’t know if that will ever happen. Phew! Good grief! wow.

Where was I? Oh yeah–the Kid’s new digs. Boyfriend had been excited to take the Explorer off road the whole trip to the Southwest, but he didn’t get the chance. He did when we got to the neighborhood which is essentially straight up a mountain on the equivalent of a dirt road. It was a wee bit scary in an Explorer and the Kid’s primary mode of transportation is a 2000(?) Mustang. I don’t even want to think about snow.

See–I was so concerned by the road, I didn’t take any pictures of it!

After we got down off the mountain we wiggled our way to the Blue Ridge Parkway. It was 7pm and there was fog rolling in. Did we stop? Never! Because Wednesday is Adventure Day! No, it was not our intention to make Wednesday adventure day, it just happened that way. We saw a black bear (probably 2 years old) on the road and I was able to snap a picture of it. A couple miles later we saw another of similar size though I didn’t get a picture of it. We stopped at a few of the pull offs and took pictures all the while watching the clouds roll in. It didn’t get really bad until after sundown when my wonderful boyfriend decided to drive a good 2 miles off the parkway to where there was a visitor’s center with bathroom. I told him afterwards that next time his gut says not to stop, he needs to tell me to find a tree! Though it probably wouldn’t have helped too much.

The fog was literally as thick as pea soup to where we couldn’t see more than 10 feet in front of the Explorer (if that much), plus it was dark. Boyfriend wanted to stay on the Parkway until we got to Virginia, but eventually he decided to try HWY 221. Turns out it was much much worse, with sharp switchbacks, badly faded paint for the double yellow lines, and though there were reflectors on the lines, at times the lines and the reflectors both disappeared. I was actually asleep for much of this part and when he decided that the Parkway was a better choice and got back on. Somehow him slamming on brakes to avoid multiple groups of deer didn’t wake me up one bit. I only woke up when he stopped at a picnic area in NC for a bathroom and cigarette break and then as he maneuvered through more switchbacks to get off the Parkway to get gas at a Love’s in Virginia. He likes Love’s because they have the long handled squeegees (this became a running joke, which I shall share pictures of in later posts). Before our trip I told most people that I was certain that we’d spend at least one night at a truck stop, but this wasn’t to be. After getting gas he debated sleeping at the NC or VA rest area, finally deciding on the VA one, which meant taking a later exit to turn around on Interstate 77 after he’d already aimed for the NC one. Of course, this is what graces the front of the VA welcome center, so we didn’t get too far away from Love’s, haha.


Back in Virginia, finally we decided that while we could wiggle our way around the state to get back home on Saturday as originally planned, we were more than ready to get home (this was Thursday the 4th because Truck Driver). We took I-77 up to Hillsville and then 58 East to home.

Of course, we were in a 20 year old Explorer. Most of Boyfriend’s friends thought him crazy for taking that old a vehicle (though a lot of parts went into her before we left). She did beautifully on our excursion with just the user error window (not me!) and then the thermostat, but things did get a little serious as we entered Virginia. The speedometer seemed to completely give up on life; at best it swinging 40 to 20 mph below what we were actually going. At worst it fell dead to the pin and this is when it affected the transmission. We stopped for a new speed sensor which he changed in Advance’s parking lot, but that didn’t help. He was going to try to figure out what went wrong today, but then he ended up with 3 tows.

We stopped at a friend of his house in Southern VA which was nice, though I was too tired and socialed out to be much more than a lump in a chair. It was wonderful to finally get home last night and sleep in our own bed.


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