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Author Topic: Heading back to Colorado for the 2017 Thanksgiving holiday . . .  (Read 302 times)
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« on: February 04, 2018, 03:44:48 PM »

Since it worked so well last year .  .  .
November 17 - 25, 2017  

I've mentioned previously within these boards just how much my ex-wife loves to travel.  I've known her for 22 years as of this writing, during which time she has unwaveringly abided by the same core philosophy – We live on a spectacular planet, and should see as much of it as humanly possible when given the opportunity.  

This philosophy was engrained early on.  Growing up in eastern Austria where the border to Hungary was 20 minutes away meant sightseeing visits to a different country were common.  Trips to other nearby countries in Europe occurred with regularity.  Getting married and moving to the US gave her a whole new continent to explore.  But since her family still lived in Austria, flying back and forth to Europe happened quite often.  Taking a job in the travel industry was the icing on the cake.  

My experience was similar in concept, but vastly different in terms of scale.  Dad had been in the travel business since 1969 which gave me the opportunity to go places as a youngster.  Working in the travel industry allowed me to continue to travel, although sparingly.  While not a "seasoned traveler," I wasn't afraid to do some exploring.  This was one of the commonalities that initially drew my ex-wife and I together.  

We started off slowly by exploring places in Pennsylvania we had never seen.  The Sunday Drive became a regular part of our routine.

February 23, 2003 – The golf course at Willow Valley Resort, Lancaster, Pennsylvania

Moving to Columbia, Missouri in 2003 took us to the Midwest and opened up a whole new area of the country to explore.  Just like we did in Pennsylvania, we started off slowly by exploring nearby destinations.

July 6, 2003 – Audrain County Museum, Mexico, Missouri

We would occasionally take advantage of a three-day weekend by checking out a big city neither of us had seen before.  "City Tours" are a great way to see the highlights of a place when faced with a limited time schedule.  We made that our M.O. - drive to a place, take a city tour, and drive home.

July 3, 2004 – Weekend trip to Minneapolis, Minnesota

My wife's field of study at Mizzou gave her the opportunity to attend conferences and conventions all over the country.  I would tag a long once in a while if I had enough vacation time built up from work.  

November 17, 2007 – The Painted Ladies of Alamo Square, San Francisco, California

Mixed in with all of this were visits Home, either via an 800-mile car ride to Pennsylvania or a plane ride to Austria.    

May 18, 2006 – The Austrian town of Kirchschlag as seen from Burgruine Kirchschlag

Even though we both liked to travel, a couple of significant differences between our viewpoints became clear.  My ex-wife was never interested in seeing the same place twice.  There were exceptions that mainly occurred when her family was visiting from Austria.  But as a rule of thumb, her view of travel was always guided by her core philosophy - "We've been there, let's go somewhere different."    

I, on the other hand, have never had any objection to returning to a previous destination if I enjoyed my trip the first time around.  The highlight of my summer during the '80s and '90s was my annual pilgrimage to the Supercar Showdown drag racing event.  In this case, I returned to a familiar destination to participate in a familiar activity TWELVE TIMES from 1986 – 1999.

June 21, 1986 – Todd getting stomped by a 440 'Cuda at the 1986 Supercar Showdown

Other familiar destinations from my past include Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, San Francisco, California, and Hilton Head Island, South Carolina.  More recently, I've made three trips to Jekyll Island, Georgia since 2014 to do nothing but relax and wander around on the beach checking out the wonderful nighttime sky.  I had a great time during all of these trips and would return to those places again for that reason.  

November 24, 2015 – Heading to Jekyll Island, Georgia

My friend, Heather, moved from Georgia to Greeley, Colorado in 2015, and invited me for a visit over the 2016 Thanksgiving holiday.  I had never been there before, and decided to make an adventure out of it.  I had a wonderful time, and didn't hesitate to accept the offer of returning to a now-familiar destination for this year's Thanksgiving holiday.  And therein lies the perfect segue to the other significant difference between me and my ex-wife.

Normal people, when faced with the task of traveling 1,500 miles from point A to point B, would immediately look at flight schedules and availability.  Both Atlanta, Georgia and Denver, Colorado are major hub airports that are served by multiple carriers that offer competitive fares.  A roundtrip flight can be had for as little as $200.  Travel time hovers around 3 hours via a nonstop flight.  Even if I add the time for getting to/from both airports, the entire trip can easily be made in the course of one afternoon.  

If you've read any of my adventures posted elsewhere on this site, you may have noticed that several themes are frequently repeated.  First and foremost, I am by no means "normal," (read any of my car search threads !).  I have also spoken many times of just how much I enjoy my time behind the wheel, sometimes to the point of absurdity, (like driving from Columbia, Missouri to Chicago, Illinois on my birthday in 2008 just to have lunch).  But perhaps the most significant theme is that of the recent wonderful rediscovery of a passion not seen since my younger days.  

Something about the mystique of a convertible speaks to me loud and clear, and has done so since long before I had a driver's license.  Where this came from remains a mystery.  Neither of my parents were "car" people, and viewed the automobile as something you have rather than enjoy.  I don't consciously remember ever riding in a convertible before my beloved 1965 Cadillac Deville convertible came into my life in 1984.  But I was hooked !

July 1984 – My first convertible experience

Selling that car in 1999 was both a high point and a low point in my life.  The proceeds from that sale financed the year I spent in tech school which enabled me to start a new career.  This was the foundation on which my wife and I rebuilt our lives together.  Regardless of where we were heading, selling that car was step 1 in the process.  

I also realized that a very significant part of me was disappearing, and probably would not return for a long while.  I was quite sad on September 11, 1999 seeing the car drive away to its new home in Washington, DC.  But I was also excited to get started with the plans my wife and I had made for us.  And life was good.

Unfortunately, "us" unraveled in 2011.  I will forever regard that era as the time when I began the process of learning how to Adult.  It took 45 years and two divorces.  But I finally started to look inward in an attempt not only to figure out how I arrived at the position I was now in, but also how to move forward from it.  Both of these mysteries require a lot of in-depth reflection, and I will spend the rest of my life doing exactly that.  But I've learned a few things in the 7 years that have passed.

I realized that a lot of what you're "supposed to do" wasn't working for me.  I also began to discover not only a sense of who I am, and what's important to me in life, but also how to facilitate and enjoy these things.  I figured out a great way to accomplish this by revisiting an old friend from my past who reminded me that troubles in life are temporary if you have the right mindset.

September 3, 2011 – Rediscovering my past

Getting behind the wheel of a convertible again revived all of those great Sunday Drive memories from years ago.  Getting an awesome sunburn from a cruise to nowhere with the roof down felt good.  I have referred to my 1996 Jaguar XJS convertible as the perfect form of therapy that allowed my mind to figure out who I am and what is important to me by reminding me that life is good.

My 2016 Colorado trip brought these ideas together.  I enjoy traveling and seeing new places.  I also cherish my time behind the wheel and will go to great lengths to experience it.  And I also believe that there is no better way to experience time behind the wheel than with the roof down.

And that is the other significant difference.  If given a choice, my ex-wife would always choose to travel by air because it could take her to more places in a shorter amount of time.  But after my first road trip to Colorado, I can safely say that I have no intention of ever setting foot on an airplane again unless I have absolutely no alternative.  It's not that I don't enjoy flying, because I do.  I just can't get an awesome sunburn on an airplane !

April 29, 2012 – I-81 near Radford, Virginia

Heather would make a point to ask me every so often throughout the year, "You are coming for Thanksgiving this year, right ?"   The answer to this question had been Yes since last year's trip ended.  And how I was going to get there was never in doubt.  But this year's return trip to a familiar destination would also feature a couple of new elements added to the mix.  The most obvious difference is that I now have a new traveling companion.

June 3, 2017 – Georgia side of Lake Hartwell

The end of the 2016 calendar year saw me raving about what a wonderful job my "Beautiful Disaster" 2001 Jaguar XK8 convertible had done in redeeming itself after a rough summer.  Cooling system and convertible top repairs occupied a lot of my free time in July.  

July 6, 2016

But once those repairs were completed, the car did a complete 180, putting on a J. D. Power-worthy performance.  I added around 8,300 trouble-free miles to the car's odometer by the end of the year reviving all of the reasons why I fell in love with it in the first place.  Maybe my luck with this car was on the upswing ?  Uhm .  .  . no.

January 29, 2017

Three weeks after turning the calendar to 2017, I found myself in need of more Jaguar parts, specifically a right rear window regulator assembly.  Life with this car had become an intermittent yet never ending roller coaster ride that was showing no signs of improving.  This latest incident was the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back.  I replaced the broken window regulator and traded the car in one week later for a 47k mile 2005 BMW Z4 roadster.

February 4, 2017

The other new element of this familiar trip involved the routing.  Last year, I scheduled the week of Thanksgiving off from work which meant I had a maximum of 9 days available, (Saturday thru the following Sunday).  Four of those days would be reserved for driving, (two days in each direction).  I did some research and planned a route that would make the best use of my limited time schedule.  Looking at a map, following I-75, I-24, and I-70 seemed to be the most direct route to and from Colorado.  

Reflecting on last year's trip made me realize just how important the statement I made earlier is to me.  

I enjoy traveling and seeing new places.  I also cherish my time behind the wheel and will go to great lengths to experience it.  And I also believe that there is no better way to experience time behind the wheel than with the roof down.

This made me wonder if I could get a little more creative this year.  I would have to use the direct route for the return trip to Athens out of time constraints.  But I started looking into a more scenic outbound route and came up with a plan.  

Instead of heading north from Atlanta toward Tennessee, Kentucky, and Illinois, I could follow I-20 west from Atlanta through Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas.  I've never been any further west than Douglasville, Georgia on I-20, (which is, incidentally, where I bought the XK8).  Interstate 20 comes to an end in west Texas when it meets Interstate 10.  From there, I could follow I-10 west to El Paso, Texas before turning north toward New Mexico and into Colorado.  Essentially, I would be converting my otherwise straight path into a giant right turn.

The mileage estimates shown on both maps above suggested the scenic route would add around 700 additional miles to the agenda, which translates into another full day of driving plus one additional overnight hotel en route.  That means the timeline of this year's trip would need to be shifted back by one day compared to last year.  I scheduled the appropriate amount of time off work and started planning:

~  Friday November 17  -  Athens, Georgia to Terrell, Texas via Interstate 20, approximately 830 miles.  I've never been any further west on I-20 than Douglasville, Georgia.  So all but the first couple of hours of this day would be a new experience.
~  Saturday November 18  -  Terrell, Texas to Alamogordo, New Mexico via Interstate 20, Interstate 10, and US Route 54 through El Paso, Texas, approximately 745 miles.  This is all uncharted territory for me.  I've never driven in Texas before, and have never been to New Mexico.
~  Sunday November 19  -  Alamogordo, New Mexico to Greeley, Colorado via US Route 54 and Interstate 25, approximately 630 miles.  This would be an entirely new experience until I arrived in the familiar territory in and around Greeley.
~  The return trip to Athens would be identical to last year, (Greeley to St. Louis, Missouri on Friday November 24, and St. Louis to Athens on Saturday November 25 via I-70, I-24, and I-75).

A few preparations were still needed when the week of departure arrived, the biggest of which involved getting the car ready.  By this time, I had lived with the Z4 for about 10 months and roughly 7k miles, all of which were completely trouble free.  All that was needed was to perform the car's 55k mile maintenance service, and I would be good to go.  I scheduled that whole week off from work in addition to the week of Thanksgiving so I would have plenty of time to get everything done.  

I was looking forward to seeing all of the new places, especially New Mexico where I decided to forego the interstate to take advantage of the wonderful scenery.  I would also be passing by Pikes Peak in Colorado Springs, Colorado.  I was able to see it from a distance last year.  This year would not only feature a drive right in front of it, but also a drive to the summit, which I'll get to later.

What follows is an intense photographic essay of my 9-day journey to Greeley, Colorado for the 2017 Thanksgiving holiday.  I'll warn everyone now that when finished, this will be a long read !  I took around 1,700 photos total with the idea being that I've got a large memory card, so why not !  But not all of the photos will be featured in my story.  Chapters will be added as I get them written that will include a link to all the photos taken for that particular segment for those so interested.  

So check back often and enjoy the trip .  .  .
« Last Edit: Today at 01:56:37 PM by Oldcarsarecool » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: February 11, 2018, 02:04:12 AM »

Athens, Georgia to Terrell, Texas .  .  .
November 17, 2017

Departure day this year began in much the same way as last year – with me putting my suitcases in the trunk of the car at sunrise.  There were a couple of differences, though.  I was beginning my adventure on Friday morning instead of Saturday.  And this year, I didn't have any what if concerns with the car.  Cars are mechanical objects designed and built by human beings, so anything is possible.  But my brief 9-month ownership experience with the Z4 to this point had given me no reason to be concerned.  

I made my rounds through the house one last time before getting underway.  Just like last year, the roof was down thanks to clear skies and temperatures in the low-40s.  But unlike last year, when Mother Nature spit a few raindrops at me in Tennessee, clear skies were in the forecast for my new route not only today, but for the entire outbound journey !  As an added bonus, this year's route would be taking me into warmer weather, which is always a good thing.  Low-40s were expected to give way to low-70s by the time I reached Texas which means I wouldn't need as many layers.  

I was looking forward to venturing into unfamiliar territory today, in this case, everything beyond Douglasville, Georgia on I-20 west.  There was, however, one glitch that I would have to endure first – actually getting to I-20 on the western side of Atlanta.  I not only have to travel to Atlanta from Athens, (which is never a fun experience to begin with), I must also circle about one-third of the way around the Perimeter of Misery that is the I-285 perimeter highway that circles the metro area.  I only needed to endure 13 miles of it last year, (from I-85 to I-75 on the north side of the city).  My exit this year, (the I-20 interchange on the western side of the city), is 10 miles further, meaning I'll be on this dreadful stretch of pavement longer.  To make matters worse, I was doing this on a Friday morning instead of last year's Saturday departure.  Leaving my house around 8 AM meant the morning rush would be over.  But all the other usual weekday concerns would still be fair game, (heavy traffic, endless construction, accidents, etc.).  I kept reminding myself, "I'll be fine once I get to I-20."  

The first two hours of my adventure proceeded as expected.  Since Athens, Georgia  –  home to the largest university in the state  –  has no direct interstate access, traveling to Atlanta always involves driving on a crowded secondary road, with Georgia Route 316 being one of the worst.  My departure time meant traffic wasn't bad at all near Athens.  Population density increases dramatically as you get closer to Atlanta and traffic became quite heavy near Lawrenceville.  Route 316 has been under some form of construction in this area since I moved to Georgia back in 2009, and shows no signs of ending.  Ever !

The pace picked up a bit once past Gwinnett College and onto Interstate 85.  Another traffic jam near my exit for the I-285 Perimeter highway put an end to that.  After the exit ramp delay, I made it onto the outer loop of I-285 on the northern side of the city.  Travel was actually pretty smooth aside from a couple of construction zones and a traffic accident.  Twenty-three miles later, I had arrived at the exit for Interstate 20, my home for the next 1,250 miles.  

Passing by Douglasville, Georgia twenty miles later officially put me in uncharted territory.  Best of all, I had also crossed over into a much less densely populated area.  Even on a Friday morning, the crowd all but disappeared leaving me with a sparsely populated roadway.  Not too long after crossing into Alabama, I noticed something rapidly approaching me from behind.  The speed limit on I-20 in eastern Alabama is 70 mph in most places.  A stunning black Porsche 911 passed me like I was out for a Sunday drive.  But I could still make out the word "Turbo" on the deck lid.  We both made a fuel stop near Lincoln, Alabama.

Fuel stop near Lincoln, Alabama

If only it were a convertible !  I'd still take it anyways.  


Birmingham, Alabama came and went with little fanfare. The I-459 bypass around the city is far enough away from downtown to keep the crowds at bay.  Tuscaloosa arrived next.  But being a UGA employee, we won't talk about that.  

I stopped at a rest area outside of Eutaw, Alabama to stretch my legs.  So far, so good for the Z4.  I've covered just over 300 miles without the slightest hint of drama.

I-20 rest area near Eutaw, Alabama

This rest area was larger than others I have seen in the past.  


Along with the main building, several picnic shelters had been built throughout.  

Walking trails had been incorporated into the rest area's design.  

I got some exercise while snapping random pics here and there.

I've traveled extensively by car in the eastern US.  While the terrain in this part of the country may vary based on where you are in relation to the mountains, the scenery all looks very similar.  I would best describe it by saying that someone took a giant mass of trees and carved a highway through the middle of it.  It doesn't matter if I'm passing through the Appalachian Mountains in Virginia, driving through the Low Country in South Carolina, or heading west on I-20 through Alabama like I was at that moment, the scenery looks very familiar to me.

I-20 west outside of Birmingham, Alabama

If it weren't for the signs, I wouldn't have recognized crossing from Alabama (the photo above), into Mississippi (the photo below), based on the scenery.

I-20 west near Chunky, Mississippi, (yes, I laughed when I saw that name on the map !)

Honestly, this could also be anywhere along I-80 or I-99 in Pennsylvania.  It brought back great memories of my daily commute to Bedford Ford in Bedford, PA.    

I did recognize when I arrived in Louisiana because of crossing over the Mississippi River.

Crossing the Mississippi River near Vicksburg, Mississippi

Until 1973, both vehicular and rail traffic crossed the river on the Old Vicksburg Bridge that dates from 1930.  The new bridge now handles all of the vehicle traffic while the old bridge still carries the rail line.

The scenery changed when I crossed into Louisiana.  The trees gave way to wide open spaces.

I-20 west near Delta, Louisiana

This region is part of the Mississippi Alluvial Plain, a large flat area that was created millions of years ago by deposits of sediment from the Mississippi River.  The entire alluvial plain is huge, stretching from the Gulf of Mexico to southern Illinois.  Some of the most fertile farmland in the nation is contained herein, which explains the sudden change to wide open spaces.

I-20 west near Mound, Louisiana

All I know is that the dense clusters of trees disappeared.  

I-20 west near Waverly, Louisiana

That turned out to be temporary.  Familiar scenery returned once past Monroe.  I was able to snap a few pics of the sunset outside of Ruston, Louisiana.

Sunset over Ruston, Louisiana

The sunset coupled with the passing clouds created some great colors in the sky near Ada, Louisiana.

I-20 west near Ada, Louisiana

Interstate 20 passes through the city of Shreveport, Louisiana roughly 20 miles from the Texas border.  I began to see signs for Harrah's casino as I approached the city.  I'm always up for a good casino buffet and decided to have a look at the place.

Harrah's Louisiana Downs, Bossier City, Louisiana

This is Harrah's Louisiana Downs Casino and Racetrack.

I stopped hoping to find something similar to my go-to feasting location of Harrah's Cherokee in North Carolina.  It was not to be, however.  Harrah's Louisiana Downs is actually a horse racing facility.  There is a buffet.  But it's only open at certain times during horse racing events.  Oh well.  I'm glad I stopped.

I headed back to I-20 west and soon crossed the border into Texas thus beginning my second visit to the state.  My first visit occurred in late 2000 for Mercedes-Benz training in Houston.  Today marks the first time I have ever driven in Texas.  

About two hours later, I had arrived in Terrell and my first overnight stay.  The stats for today's journey are as follows:
~  Total miles traveled – 838.1, every one of them with the roof down !
~  Total fuel used – 29.6 gallons for a total of $73.27.
~  Average mpg – 28.3
~  Number of times a tow truck was needed – zero !

I'm happy to report that the Z4 completed the task at hand without any hint of drama whatsoever.  BMW seats are wonderful !  And even though it's not really a concern for me, I'm thrilled with the fuel mileage.  The Z4 averaged slightly higher than the XK8, which was expected considering the car's smaller engine and lighter weight.  I also believe the Z4 was less affected by turbulence that results from having the roof down due to its smaller cabin.  

Now it was time to get a good night's sleep.  I had a big day planned for tomorrow .  .  .

Link to all the photos from this segment of the trip:  Athens to Terrell pics
« Last Edit: February 15, 2018, 12:09:27 AM by Oldcarsarecool » Logged

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« Reply #2 on: February 12, 2018, 12:41:16 AM »

Terrell, Texas to Alamogordo, New Mexico .  .  .
November 18, 2017
Part 1 of 5

I usually don't stay at a fancy place for my overnight stops en route.    Traveling by myself means I don't have to worry about another person.  So I'm all about convenience and a cheap rate.  The Super 8 in Terrell is located along the interstate and checked both of those boxes.

Super 8 hotel, Terrell, Texas

It's also located south of the city away from anything that resembled a crowd.  The hotel sits next to a giant field off of Texas Route 34.

My mildly autistic mind liked the nicely arranged and organized bales of hay that were all the same size !  

And yes, there actually is a large outlet mall here.  But you wouldn't know it from where I'm standing.  The official entrance to the mall is located along the interstate frontage road further to the west.  The sign below sits at what I'll call the "back way" into the complex.

Tanger Outlets, Terrell, Texas

Time to quit gawking at the scenery !  I said goodbye and good luck to the other holiday travelers and hit the road.

Have a good trip !

Mid-60s were with me this morning.  So the roof came down immediately.  The hit-or-miss cloud cover made for some great sunrise photos.

Sunrise over Terrell, Texas

I arrived in Texas yesterday to find a lot of wide open spaces.  That theme continued but was now mixed with intermittent stretches of rolling hills.   Westbound I-20 would drift in a southwesterly direction on occasion giving me a better view of sunrise.  The photos above and below were taken near mile marker 493 outside of Terrell, TX.

Interstate 20 passes south of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex and its 6 million residents.  Thankfully, a majority of them were still sleeping on this Saturday morning.  I was actually surprised (and relieved) at how light the traffic was.  Once past the metro area, the theme of wide open spaces returned.  I would pass several intermittent stretches of rolling hills in eastern Texas separated by flat sections that were truly flat.

I-20 west near mile marker 493

Some of those rolling hills started to appear on the horizon near Millsap, Texas.

I-20 west near Millsap, Texas

I noticed that my perception of distance seemed to vary while driving in Texas.  I started today's journey in Terrell at mile marker 501.  The photo above was taken near mile marker 391.  I don't know how to explain it other than the combination of wide open spaces and a wonderful 75 mph speed limit made the miles seem to pass quicker.  Before I knew it, I had traveled all the way to mile marker 359 and the Eastland County Rest Area near Ranger, Texas.

Westbound Eastland County Rest Area, Ranger, Texas

My years of road tripping, especially in places like this, have taught me to always pull over at anything labeled as a "picnic area" or "scenic overlook."  The photo opportunities are usually worth the effort.  

Both Eastland County eastbound and westbound rest areas opened in Spring 2016 to a lot of fanfare because of their sustainable design.  Buildings are constructed using environmentally friendly methods and materials.  The large tank seen in the photo below is part of a rainwater collection system.

This facility is a tribute to Civilian Conservation Corps buildings from the 1930s that were located nearby and features a host of interpretive displays that pertain to the history of the area.

The building sits on a high bluff next to the interstate.  Several picnic areas have been built to take advantage of the view.

A warning greeted me as I started to check the place out.  

Probably a good idea !

The view from the picnic area was a little overgrown, but you get the idea.

Looking south across I-20

I managed to capture a bird in flight on the far left of the photo below while zooming in on the hills off in the distance to the south.

Also off in the distance to the south was yet another wind farm.  My camera decided to focus on the nearby branches first.

The second attempt was much better.

Wind power is quite prevalent in central Texas.  I saw a number of wind farms during my journey including the one seen below to the south of the interstate .  .  .

« Last Edit: February 15, 2018, 12:14:09 AM by Oldcarsarecool » Logged

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« Reply #3 on: February 12, 2018, 12:43:53 AM »

continued .  .  .
Part 2 of 5

Another overgrown view sat at the end of the picnic area.

This overlook faces east where I had come from a few minutes earlier.

Looking east at I-20

Despite the limited view, I was still able to get a few decent shots of Interstate 20.

I was starting to see more and more of the flat-topped hills as I traveled further west.  The term "Mesa" is used to describe an elevated area of land with a flat-top surface and steep cliff-like sides.  In the US, the term is applied to any elevated area of land with a flat surface.  I don't know the names of the two prominent mesas to the east near the city of Gordon, Texas seen in the photo below.  There are many in this area, most of which measure between 1,000 and 1,200 feet in elevation.  

I continued my walk around the rest area snapping more random pics even though my camera didn't want to cooperate at times.  Below is an interesting looking birdhouse.  

"Bird Condo Complex" may be a more accurate term as this place appeared to house multiple residents.

There was also an antenna of some kind nearby.

Below is a photo looking north to the hills off in the distance behind the rest area parking lot.

I circled back to the car and started to make my way back to the interstate when I came upon a Point of Interest behind the parking lot.  This is the first time I have encountered a point of interest within another point of interest.  

Bankhead Highway Point of Interest, westbound Eastland County Rest Area

The Bankhead Highway was an early cross-country road that connected Washington, DC and San Diego, California.  The roadway's beginnings can be traced to the Federal Aid Road Act of 1916.

In the era before interstates, the Bankhead Highway was part of the coast-to-coast Auto Trail system.  This southern transcontinental highway passed through 13 states on its way to the west coast.  I discovered that Georgia was one of those states, and that the Bankhead Highway actually passed through downtown Athens along what is now Broad Street, (the main thoroughfare through downtown).  In Ranger, Texas, an old stretch of the roadway is preserved here behind the rest area.

The photo below looks east toward Mingus, Texas from the historical marker.

The photos below look west toward the city of Ranger, Texas.  

And because I seem to have taken a liking to random photos, I thought the cacti in the photo below looked cool .  .  .

« Last Edit: February 13, 2018, 12:27:14 AM by Oldcarsarecool » Logged

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« Reply #4 on: February 12, 2018, 12:45:49 AM »

continued .  .  .
Part 3 of 5

A wonderful sky greeted me when I hit the road again.  I also spotted another wind farm near Sweetwater, Texas.

I-20 west near Sweetwater, Texas

The rolling hills began to lessen in both intensity and frequency as I entered the center part of the state.  Some of the large open spaces were now filled with cotton like the one seen below on the north side of I-20 near Sweetwater.

I also saw more wind farms like the one below near Roscoe, Texas.

Wind farm near Roscoe, Texas

Once past the Roscoe/Loraine/Colorado City area, the rolling hills not only reappeared, but also seemed to get more prominent.  I took the photo below near Rattlesnake Gap near Coahoma, TX.

Rattlesnake Gap, Coahoma, Texas

I didn't realize it at the time.  But I had been steadily climbing in elevation as I made my way westward through the state.  This day's journey began at mile marker 501 in Terrell at a mere 509 feet above sea level, (which is actually lower than Athens).  I had passed 2,400 feet by the time I got to Coahoma, Texas and mile marker 189.  

I also appear to have arrived in cotton country again.

The cotton field seen above and below was enormous and appeared to go on for miles.  

I stopped for fuel in Wickett, Texas and spotted an abandoned building next to the exit ramp.

I-20 west exit 73, Wickett, Texas

If the faded paint on what's left of the roof is accurate, this used to be a "tire shop."

Lunchtime arrived in Pecos, TX where I encountered the giant murals seen in the photos below at exit 42.  The murals are painted on each side of the US Route 285 bridge as it crosses I-20.  Westbound interstate travelers see an American Flag on the left side of the bridge .  .  .

I-20 west murals, Pecos, Texas

.  .  . and a mural of the State of Texas on the right side of the bridge.  

Flat terrain reappeared west of Pecos, Texas near mile marker 32.  And I'm still steadily climbing having passed 2,600 feet outside of Hermosa, Texas.

I-20 west of Pecos, Texas

Mountains began to appear off in the distance outside of Toyah, Texas near mile marker 17.  As the mile marker numbers indicate, I was nearing the end of my stay on Interstate 20 by this time.

I-20 west near Toyah, Texas

Once on Interstate 10, I would be passing in front of several smaller mountain ranges.  The first of these was the Davis Mountains, a range in West Texas named after Jefferson Davis.  The Davis range was about 17 miles in front of me at this point.  

Davis Mountains

The Davis Mountains were getting larger as I approached mile marker 13.  I'm also climbing a little quicker and had just passed 3,200 feet.

I-20 west near mile marker 13

The rolling hills became denser as I got to mile marker 5.  I passed 3,600 feet in the photo below.

I-20 west near mile marker 5

I couldn't find any names.  But the peaks on the northern side of the interstate appear to reach 4,000 feet.

The Davis Mountains are on the southern side of the interstate.  I believe the prominent peak in the photo below is Gomez Peak (6,320 feet).

Gomez Peak

After 1,250 miles, I had reached the western end of I-20.  Interstate 20 ends at its intersection with Interstate 10 at this point which will take me west to El Paso, Texas.  The end of I-20 also meant I was right in front of the Davis Mountains .  .  .

Western end of I-20
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continued .  .  .
Part 4 of 5

Signs for a picnic area got my attention as soon as I got on I-10 which meant I had to stop and take a few pictures.

Westbound picnic area, I-10 mile marker 185

The picnic area was, quite literally, around the corner from the I-10 on ramp at the end of I-20.  

The scenery is beautiful in this area !  The picnic area offers a great view of the Davis Mountains and Gomez Peak (6,320 feet).

Davis Mountains

I think the names of the peaks in the photo below are (L-R):  Gomez Peak (6,320 feet), Newman Peak (6,302 feet), and Woulfter Mountain (6,410 feet).

Gomez Peak, Newman Peak, Woulfter Mountain

I was able to zoom in on Gomez peak, which is about 6 miles off in the distance.  

Gomez Peak

If I read the topographic map right, the peak in the background to the left of center is Newman Peak (6,302 feet).

Newman Peak

I believe the prominent peak in the photo below is Woulfter Mountain (6,410 feet).

Woulfter Mountain

Turning the other direction toward the north side of the interstate, the picnic area offers a great view of the nearby Spring Hills (4,570 feet).  I took a series of 5 portrait pictures and stitched them together to make a 5-picture panorama.

Spring Hills panorama

I put my 35x optical zoom lens to work and tried to zoom in on a small tree on top of one of the peaks on the left side of the above photo.

Adding 4x digital zoom on top of that made the picture unstable, but you get the idea.

Ditto with one of the bushes in that same area.

And before getting back on the road, I couldn't help but notice the awesome sky that had been with me for the entire afternoon !

I soon passed by a mesa at exit 176.  If I read the topographic map correctly, the prominent peak seems to be an unnamed summit of 4,434 feet.  I also managed to get an unknown abandoned building in the shot as well.

Unnamed summit (4,434 feet), I-10 mile marker 176

Another "Scenic Overlook" meant another stop for more pictures.  This overlook sits just west of Van Horn, Texas at I-10 mile marker 136.

Scenic Overlook, I-10 west, mile marker 136

Interstate 10 passes right in front of the Carrizo Mountains in this part of the state.  I stitched two photos together to create a wide panorama looking south at the mountains.

Carrizo Mountains panorama

I couldn't find names for any of the peaks in the photo.  Most peaks are labeled as an "unnamed summit" that is listed by its elevation.

Even nameless, they're still beautiful to look at .  .  .

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« Reply #6 on: February 12, 2018, 12:48:13 AM »

continued .  .  .
Part 5 of 5

I came across another prominent mesa near mile marker 120 outside of Allamoore, Texas.

Talc Benchmark, Allamore, Texas

This is the Talc Benchmark (5,031 feet).  In the US, the term mesa is used to describe any hill with a flat top.  The Talc Benchmark seems to fit the more traditional definition used by everyone else because it features steep cliff-like sides.   

More mountains came into view near mile marker 118 outside of Sierra Blanca, Texas.  The peaks south of the interstate, (on the right side of the photo), are part of the Quitman Mountains.  The large peak on the north side of the interstate, (on right side of the photo), is Sierra Blanca (6,891 feet).   

I-10 west near mile marker 118

Passing by Sierra Blanca Mountain and the city of the Sierra Blanca took me past 4,600 feet in elevation, which would be the peak for my drive through Texas.

Sierra Blanca

Interstate 10 turns northwest a few miles past the Quitman Mountains and follows the US/Mexico border.  This allowed for not only a great view of the cool sky that had been with me all afternoon, but also a great view of the mountains in Mexico just across the border.  The photo below looks southwest toward Mexico from westbound I-10 mile marker 74 near Fort Hancock, Texas.  I'm not sure what this mountain range is called.  But one topographic map I saw refers to these mountains as "Sierra San Ignacio."

Looking southwest toward Mexico

Once past the Quitman Mountains, the wide open spaces reappeared.  The photo below looks northwest near mile marker 57.  My elevation dropped to around 3,600 feet stayed that way all the way to El Paso.   

I-10 west near mile marker 57

I tried to get a picture of the setting sun with moderate success.

Something interesting caught my eye during a fuel stop in Fabens, Texas.   

Fabens, Texas

A German name was the last thing I expected to see in an area with a large Spanish speaking population.  I later found out that Wienerschnitzel is a restaurant chain located mainly in the western US, which explains why I've never heard of it.  The other interesting aspect of this is that Wienerschnitzel specializes in hot dogs and doesn't even sell the traditional Austrian breaded veal cutlet dish known as Wiener Schnitzel.

The other attraction at this stop was a small overlook offered a nice view of the mountains across the border.

Looking southwest toward Mexico, Fabens, Texas

The Rio Grande River is only about 5 miles away as the crow flies.  The mountains seen in the photo below are only a few miles beyond the border.   

My final destination for this day of travel was Alamogordo, New Mexico, which is located on US Route 54.  Even though Route 54 begins in downtown El Paso, Texas, I opted to bypass the city on the Route 375 eastern loop.  This not only avoided the downtown traffic, it also gave me a wonderful view of sunset.

Route 375 Loop, El Paso, Texas

Route 375 circled around the eastern side of the city eventually pointing me directly west toward the Franklin Mountains.  The two prominent peaks in the photo below are L – South Franklin Mountain (6,790 feet), and R – North Franklin Mountain (7,192 feet).

Once on US Route 54, I headed northeast away from El Paso, TX for my first visit to the state of New Mexico.  Alamogordo was still a little over an hour in front of me.  I tried to snap a few pics of sunset with varying levels of success.

Sunset from US Route 54 near El Paso, Texas

I chose Alamogordo for my overnight stop because it is located along US Route 54.  Even though I had never been here before, I had a feeling based on last year's experience with secondary roads in rural Colorado that I would really enjoy driving on US Route 54 instead of the interstate because of the breathtaking scenery.  I didn't get to see a lot at this moment due to the time of day. 

But what I saw was amazing and made me look forward to tomorrow's journey !

I also got to experience something totally new.  Being originally from Pennsylvania and currently living in Georgia, I had never been through a Border Patrol checkpoint before.  Lane closure signs began appearing near Route 54 mile marker 40 north of Orogrande, New Mexico.  All traffic, which consisted of me at that moment, was then funneled into the checkpoint for inspection where I pulled up next to the waiting officer:

Officer:  "Good evening.  Are you a US Citizen ?"
Me:  "Yes I am."
Officer:  "Have a nice night."

Well that was easy.  The fact that I was driving with the roof down with temperatures in the low-40s didn't seem to bother him.  And therein lies the best part of today's trip.   

My 2014 Christmas trip to Jekyll Island Georgia opened my eyes to something I had never seen before - Stars.   I remember walking on the beach on that perfectly clear Christmas night.  At some point, I remember noticing an incredible amount of stars in the sky, something I don't ever remember seeing in my adult life.  My world has been dominated by light pollution that washes out the nighttime sky allowing only the brightest stars to be visible to the naked eye.  Jekyll Island is and will continue to be very much undeveloped.  The lack of light pollution allowed me to see the stars in the sky for the first time.

Not long after I pulled out of the Border Patrol checkpoint, I discovered those trillions of stars once again.  I hadn't really thought about it.  But it made sense considering I was traveling through an almost completely undeveloped part of the state.  This revelation made me smile for the rest of this day's journey to Alamogordo and my second overnight stay.   I only wish I knew how to get a good picture of the stars in the sky, or even if my camera is capable of such things.

The stats for today's journey are as follows: 
~  Total miles traveled – 766.7, once again, every one of them with the roof down ! 
~  Total fuel used – 29.2 gallons for a total of $72.24. 
~  Average mpg – 26.3 
~  Number of times a tow truck was needed – still zero !  

Once again, the Z4 earned high marks.  I still have no reason to suspect that I would need a tow truck.  My back has yet to complain about the seating.  The fuel mileage did drop a little from the first leg of the trip.  My guess is that the 75 and 80 mph speed limits in Texas played a major role in this.  But who cares !  This trip is starting on a high note .  .  .

Link to all of the photos for this segment of the trip:  Terrell to Alamogordo pics
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« Reply #7 on: February 24, 2018, 10:16:38 PM »

Alamogordo, New Mexico to Greeley, Colorado .  .  .
November 19, 2017
Part 1 of 8


Day three of my journey began shortly before sunrise in Alamogordo, New Mexico.  This was my first visit to the state, and I was looking forward to seeing the unfamiliar sights.  But the thing that had me most excited was my route for today.  Travel to this point had taken place almost entirely on interstate highways.  Today, however, I would be spending around 3 hours on an isolated secondary road – US Route 54.     

I chose this route because it seemed to be more direct.  I eventually needed to be on Interstate 25 heading north toward Colorado.  But that roadway's path through New Mexico veers in a northwesterly direction before turning back to the east near Santa Fe.  While definitely a beautiful scenic drive past the mountains of the Santa Fe National Forest, this route would also add quite a few miles to the overall length of the trip.   

Heading northeast from El Paso, Texas on Route 54 was not only a more direct path, but it would also take me through the Tularosa Valley.  I would be driving in between the Sacramento Mountains and Lincoln National Forest to the east, and the Carrizozo Malpais lava flow area, the San Andres Mountains, and Cibola National Forest to the west.  Traveling on the secondary road would make it easier for me to pull over and take pics, something I figured would happen quite often.   

And it didn't take long for the unplanned stops to begin.  I didn't make it out of the city limits on this morning before I stopped to take pictures of the mountains.   

Sacramento Mountains


An area along East Canal Street in Alamogordo offered a great view of the Sacramento Mountains east of the city.  The two prominent peaks in the center of the photo below are (L) Ortega Peak (7,695 feet), and (R) Hershberger Peak (7,850 feet).

East Canal Street, Alamogordo, New Mexico


Hershberger Peak is the largest of the two.

Hershberger Peak (7,850 feet)


I tried to zoom in on Ortega Peak.   

Ortega Peak (7,695 feet)


But zooming in on the homes at the base of the mountain offered the best perspective shot.

Homes at the base of Ortega Peak


I got back onto an empty Business Route 54 through Alamogordo and headed east out of town, (northeast actually).

Alamogordo, New Mexico


I had the place all to myself on this Sunday morning .  .  .


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« Reply #8 on: February 24, 2018, 10:18:32 PM »

continued .  .  .
Part 2 of 8


Wide open spaced appeared once outside of Alamogordo.  My journey along Route 54 from this point would take me through a number of small communities and villages.  Names such as La Luz, Alamorosa, Tularosa, Three Rivers, and Oscuro appeared on the map even though there wasn't a whole lot going on in these locations.  But it didn't matter.  The scenery was incredible !  I made it a whole 9 minutes before being unable to resist the temptation to stop again, this time near Tularosa, New Mexico.

Route 54 near Tularosa, New Mexico

Looking back toward Alamogordo, you can see that I haven't made it very far yet.  This would prove to be a familiar theme throughout the day.


Sunrise would be arriving shortly, and I was determined to get a few pics of the event, as well as of the stunning mountain scenery to the east.

Looking east toward the Sacramento Mountains


I thought the 5,600-foot peaks in front of the 8,000-foot peak made for a great picture.




I snapped a few pics of the reflection of sunrise on the nearby mountains.

Sierra Blanca Peak (11,973 feet)





The White Sands National Monument and White Sands Missile Range sit immediately to the west.  The San Andres Mountains can be seen off in the distance in the photos below.

Looking west toward the San Andres Mountains



Signs of sunrise could be seen against the tall peaks off to the west as well.   

As near as I can determine, this is Salinas Peak (8,965 feet) .  .  .

Salinas Peak (8,965 feet)


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« Reply #9 on: February 24, 2018, 10:41:48 PM »

continued .  .  .
Part 3 of 8


I hit the road again and was able to get a few more shots of the reflection of sunrise on the peaks off to the west.

Looking west across the Tularosa Valley at the San Andres Mountains

I tried to continue onward and made it 15 minutes this time !  The photos below are of the sunrise over the Coyote Hills north of Tularosa, New Mexico.

Route 54 north of Tularosa, New Mexico

And before you ask, YES the roof came down immediately after this stop.  Overnight temperatures in the upper-30s produced frost on the convertible top in the morning.  I kept the roof up just long enough for the frost to evaporate.   

Looking east toward the Coyote Hills

Route 54 sits right next to the railroad tracks in this area.

Looking north from Tularosa, New Mexico

I spotted an old spike in the rocks while wandering around taking pics.

Looking west gave me a great view of the San Andres Mountains.

Looking west toward the San Andres Mountains

As near as I can determine, the two San Andres Mountains peaks seen in the photo below are (L) Salinas Peak (8,965 feet), and (R) Silver Top Mountain (8,140 feet).

(L) Salinas Peak (8,965 feet), and (R) Silver Top Mountain (8,140 feet)

Salinas Peak (8,965 feet)

I hit the road again passing by the Godfrey Hills outside of Oscuro, New Mexico.  The peaks of this range have names such as Godfrey Peak, Jackass Mountain, and Rose Peak, although I'm not sure which one is which.

Looking east toward the Godfrey Hills, Oscuro, New Mexico

I stopped again outside of Oscuro, NM near Milagro Hill (5,693 feet).

Looking east toward Milagro Hill (5,693 feet)

I was able to zoom in and snap a few decent pics from here.

Milagro Hill (5,693 feet)

The northern end of the San Andres Mountains was still with me off to the west and was now joined by the southern end of the Oscura Mountains.

Looking west at the San Andres and Oscura Mountains

The valley in front of the mountains contains the Carrizozo Malpais, a large lava flow area formed around 5,000 years ago by lava from nearby Little Black Peak. 

Looking toward the Carrizozo Malpais lava flow

The Carrizozo Malpais is known for its unusual 46 mile-long length.   

I hit the road again and soon passed by Milagro Hill (5,963 feet) that I photographed earlier.

Maligro Hill (5,963 feet)

Approaching the town of Carrizozo, New Mexico (population 955), three distinct peaks came into view.  I'm pretty sure the peaks are (L - R):  Lone Mountain (8,145 feet), Carrizo Peak (9,620 feet), and the Vera Cruz Mountains.

Approaching Carrizozo, New Mexico

The peaks became larger as I got closer to the town.

Carrizo Peak (9,620 feet)

Passing through the town of Carrizozo, New Mexico gave me a better view of the mountains I had been approaching.  Lone Mountain (8,145 feet), sat off to my left.

Lone Mountain (8,145 feet)

On my right were (L) Cub Mountain (7,877 feet), and (R) Willow Hill (6,792 feet) .  .  .

Cub Mountain (7,877 feet)

Willow Hill (6,792 feet)
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« Reply #10 on: February 24, 2018, 10:44:14 PM »

continued .  .  .
Part 4 of 8


I pulled over 10 minutes later at what the sign said was a "Weigh Station" near what is labeled on the map as the community of Robsart, New Mexico.  I'm not sure what any this meant considering neither weighing equipment nor a building were present.  Honestly, I didn't see anything that resembled a town either.  This was nothing more than a giant parking area on the east side of Route 54.

"Weigh Station" outside of Carrizozo, New Mexico

Regardless, I was able to get some good shots of the nearby mountains from here.

Lone Mountain (8,145 feet)

Carrizo Peak (9,620 feet)

The Sacramento Mountains, which had been with me since this day started, were still visible off to the southeast.  The prominent peak seen in the photo below is Sierra Blanca Peak (11,973 feet).

Sacramento Mountains

I spotted (L) Cub Mountain (7,877 feet) and (R) Willow Hill (6,792 feet) again looking southwest across Route 54.

(L) Cub Mountain (7,877 feet) and (R) Willow Hill (6,792 feet)

The northern end of the San Andres Mountains and some of the peaks of the Oscura Mountains were visible to the southwest.

I spotted an unnamed summit (5,664 feet), relatively close to me off to the west.

Unnamed summit (5,664 feet)

Turning to the northwest, I spotted another unnamed summit (5,995 feet) in the distance. 

Unnamed summit (5,995 feet)

I got back on the road again passing by the unnamed summit (5,995 feet) that I photographed earlier.

Unnamed summit (5,995 feet)

Next to the summit seen above was another unnamed summit (6,038 feet).

Unnamed summit (6,038 feet)

I continued northeast on Route 54 heading toward the Gallinas Mountains, (left side of the photo below).  Route 54 would eventually pass between the Gallinas Mountains and the three peaks in the center of the photo.

Heading toward the Gallinas Mountains

As near as I can determine, the three peaks seen in the photos below are (L - R):  Tecolote Peak (7,315 feet), ET Mesa (7,042 feet), and Monte Alto (6,623 feet).

Tecolote Peak (7,315 feet)

In the photos below, I'm approaching the town of Corona, NM.  But first, I had to pass through the myriad of small peaks at the base of Tecolote Peak, (which is out of view to the right).

The town of Corona, New Mexico, population 164, sits just beyond Tecolote Peak.

Corona, New Mexico

In what turned out to be a recurring theme, there wasn't a whole lot happening here on this Sunday morning .  .  .


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« Reply #11 on: February 24, 2018, 10:47:24 PM »

continued .  .  .
Part 5 of 8


The large mesa on the left side of the photo below is Duran Mesa (7,056 feet) which becomes visible once past Corona.

Duran Mesa (7,056 feet) off in the distance

I pulled over a few minutes later to take a few pics of Duran Mesa (7,056 feet).  The point on the far left of Duran Mesa is Red Miller Point (7,034 feet).  The smaller mesa on the right side of the photo is an unnamed summit (6,855 feet).  Route 54 would eventually pass to the right of the unnamed summit.

Two-picture panorama (L – R):  Red Miller Point, Duran Mesa, and an unnamed summit (6,855 feet)

Since the above photo of Duran Mesa was photobombed by a bright yellow road sign, I pulled over again a little further up the road where I had a clear view.  L – R:  Red Miller Point (7,034 feet) is a little harder to see from this angle, Duran Mesa (7.056 feet), and an unnamed summit (6,855 feet).  

Another two-picture panorama, only without the bright yellow road sign

Route 54 passed by all of this a little further up the road.

Passing by Duran Mesa

Passing by the unnamed summit (6,855 feet) that sits next to Duran Mesa

I spotted a train next to me as I approached the town of Vaughn, New Mexico (population 423).  Train tracks have been with me since I started today's journey in Alamogordo.  But side of the road on which they sit has varied quite a bit.  At this moment, they were on my left.

Approaching Vaughn, New Mexico

After passing through Vaughn, I then encountered the small community of Pastura, New Mexico (population 23) which marked the end of my 161-mile journey on US Route 54.  This was a wonderful experience filled with incredible scenery, and I'm glad I made the detour onto the road less traveled.  But it was now time for me to head toward Interstate 25 and Colorado via State Route 219 which I would pick up just past Pastura.  Flat spaces appeared at this point.

State Route 219 north of Pastura, New Mexico

Mountains appeared off in the distance as I approached Interstate 40.  Route 219 crossed over the interstate and became US Route 84.  Las Vegas, New Mexico and Interstate 25 would arrive about an hour later, but not before passing through some more amazing scenery.  I didn't realize this at the time.  But this section of US Route 84 from the I-40 interchange to the I-25 interchange south of Las Vegas, New Mexico is part of the pre-1937 alignment of Historic US Route 66.  

Approaching Interstate 40

US Route 84 follows a northwesterly path past several landmarks including Mesa Chupinas and Mesa Apache on the eastern side of the roadway, and the Santa Fe National Forest on the western side.  

Approaching Mesa Apache (6,808 feet)

I soon encountered the town of Dilia, New Mexico, population 556, and stopped at a Point of Interest

Point of Interest south of Dilia, New Mexico

This historical marker is dedicated to Mela Leger, a New Mexico native who is recognized as a pioneer in bilingual education.  Leger established a bilingual elementary school in Las Vegas, New Mexico and received national attention for her efforts.

I was also fascinated by the details in the historical marker.

I continued onward passing through Dilia before encountering Mesa Chupinas (6,016 feet).  

Mesa Chupinas (6,016 feet)

Across from Mesa Chupinas sits a stubby unnamed summit (5,828 feet).

Unnamed summit (5,828 feet)

Looking west brought several peaks near the southeastern border of the Santa Fe National Forest into view.  If I read the topographic map correctly, the photo below looks west toward (L - R):  An unnamed summit (5,782 feet), Mesita de los Ladrones (5,870 feet), La Mesita (5,842 feet), and an unnamed summit (5,677 feet).

At this point, the massive size of both Mesa Chupinas and Mesa Apache ahead of me start to become clear.  

Approaching Mesa Chupinas and Mesa Apache

I'm only around 4 miles away from Interstate 25 at this point.  Cresting a small hill brought Hermit Peak (10,260 feet) into view.

Hermit Peak (10,260 feet)

Picking up I-25 near Las Vegas, New Mexico meant my 4 1/2 hour tour of a few of New Mexico's secondary roads had come to an end.  Interstate 25 would take me all the way to Colorado Springs, Colorado where I would then get on more secondary roads.  But that's 200 miles in front of me at this point.  In the meantime, I got to enjoy more of New Mexico's wonderful scenery !  The peaks seen in the photo below came into view as I approached the town of Wagon Mound, New Mexico (population 291).  I believe the peaks are (L - R):  Jarosa Mesa (6,944 feet), Santa Clara Mesa (6,930 feet), The Wagon Mound (6,930 feet), and Las Mesas de Conjelon West (6,988 feet).

Interstate 25 north near Wagon Mound, New Mexico

I tried zooming in on those peaks as I passed by with varying levels of success .  .  .

Passing by Jarosa Mesa (6,944 feet)

Santa Clara Mesa (6,930 feet)

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« Reply #12 on: February 24, 2018, 10:50:34 PM »

continued .  .  .
Part 6 of 8


Lunchtime had arrived near the town of Springer, New Mexico (population 929).  I stopped at Russell's Travel Center, a well-known rest stop at exit 419.  This is one of two Russell's Travel Center locations in New Mexico.  Along with this location in Springer, there is also a location along I-40 west of the town of Glenrio near the Texas border.  Both locations are themed around "The Mother Road" Route 66.

Russell's Travel Center, Springer, New Mexico

I headed inside the building and was greeted by Elvis and a display of classic cars.   

This was the first time I had seen classic cars inside a rest stop before.  Russell's is known for this and rotates its display every few months.   

First up was a 1956 Pontiac Star Chief convertible.

1956 Pontiac Star Chief convertible

The Star Chief was introduced in 1954 as the top-of-the-line trim level for the Chieftain.

As was customary in those days, copious use of chrome differentiated the top trim level from the rest of the line.

This Star Chief convertible is one of 13,510 produced in 1956.

Next to the Star Chief convertible was a 1953 Oldsmobile 98 Holiday hardtop coupe. 

1953 Oldsmobile 98 Holiday hardtop coupe

Like the Pontiac Star Chief next to it, the 98 series was the top-of-the-line offering from Oldsmobile.  The name "Holiday" was first used in 1949 to designate a hardtop coupe, (i.e. a car with a fixed roof, but no B-pillar).  After 1950, a Holiday became available in both the Super 88 and 98 lines.  This car is one of 27,920 produced in 1953.   

This beautiful car also caught my eye for another strangely familiar reason.   

Next was a 1967 Chevrolet Chevelle Malibu hardtop coupe.

1967 Chevrolet Chevelle Malibu hardtop coupe

The trim tag breaks down as follows:
~  09B:  Date code = 2nd week of September 1966.
~  3604:  Assembly plant tracking number.
~  ST 67-13617:  Style codes.  67 = 1967 model year, 13617 = Chevelle Malibu hardtop coupe, V8.
~  KAN:  Assembly plant = Kansas City, Missouri.
~  1943 BODY = Fisher Body unit number.
~  TR 747-A:  Interior trim codes.  747 = Medium Red Imitation Leather, A = bench seat.
~  R-R PAINT:  Exterior paint codes = Bolero Red, lower and upper body.
~  W:  Group 1 accessory codes.  W = Tinted windshield.
~  2MS:  Group 2 accessory codes.  M = Powerglide automatic transmission, S = Rear antenna.

Beside the Chevelle was another Oldsmobile Holiday hardtop coupe, this one being a 1955 model.

1955 Oldsmobile 98 Holiday hardtop coupe

This car is similar to the 1953 Oldsmobile 98 Holiday Hardtop seen earlier.  The name "Holiday" was still being used to identify the hardtop body style, (i.e. a fixed roof with no B-pillar).  But by 1955, a Holiday hardtop was available in all three lines, (88, Super 88, and 98).  And it was also available in either two or four-door configurations.  This 98 Holiday hardtop coupe is one of 38,363 produced for 1955.

Last but not least was a 1950 Mercury coupe.

1950 Mercury coupe

This was a beautiful car !  But I had trouble getting a decent exterior photo due to where it was parked in the rear of the building.

After checking out the cars on display, it was time for me to get back on the road again.  I took a few pics of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains off to the west before heading out.

Sangre de Cristo Mountains

I believe the peaks seen in the photo below are (L - R):  Purgatorie Peak (13,676 feet), Alamosito (13,466 feet), and Vermejo Peak (13,723 feet).   

(L - R):  Purgatorie Peak (13,676 feet), Alamosito (13,466 feet), and Vermejo Peak (13,723 feet)

I am zooming in on the Sangre de Cristo mountains in the photo below at what I think is Wheeler Peak (13,159 feet), but I'm not sure.  I would get a much better view of all of the peaks in that general area once I reached the Colorado border.

Speaking of which, crossing the border into Colorado meant I had to pass through Raton, New Mexico.  Interstate 25 passes through Raton before climbing into the eastern edge of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and Raton Pass.

Approaching Raton, New Mexico

Interstate 25 snakes its way through Railroad Canyon to the top of the eastern edge of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and the scenic overlook at the Colorado border at Raton Pass .  .  .

Welcome to Colorful Colorado
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« Reply #13 on: February 24, 2018, 10:53:52 PM »

continued .  .  .
Part 7 of 8


I don't know if this is an "official" scenic overlook.  But the pull-off was large enough to accommodate a number of vehicles, which was good enough for me and several other visitors.

The history of Raton Pass as a crossing location over the mountains dates back several centuries.  In the early 19th century, Raton Pass became part of the Mountain Branch of the Santa Fe Trail.  An actual wagon road was built across the pass in 1866.  The railroad arrived at the pass by 1878 via a tunnel cut under the summit.  The 20th century saw the construction of the National Old Trails Road automobile highway.  The realigned and improved road was designated US Route 85 in 1926 and was later incorporated into present day Interstate 25 which sits slightly to the east of the railroad tunnel.

Raton Pass

The parking area is actually in between the interstate and a secondary road that merges with the interstate.

According to the map, this road comes from the Raton Pass Campground, (northbound I-25 access from the campground).  The complete lack of traffic made me wonder if the road is still in use.   

To the east sits Bartlett Mesa (8,882 feet).

Bartlett Mesa (8,882 feet)

Several historical markers have been erected here.  The left marker explain how this area relates to the Santa Fe Trail.  The right marker introduces visitors to Richens "Uncle Dick" Wootton, an early settler who built a toll road through the Pass in 1866 in front of his house.   

But the real stars of this show are the peaks of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains off to the west !

Sangre de Cristo Mountains

The snow-capped peaks seen in the photos above and below are all over 13,000 feet.

Turning toward the northwest, more large peaks came into view.

The peaks in the photos above and below are East and West Spanish Peaks.

East and West Spanish Peaks

West Spanish Peak (13,626 feet)

East Spanish Peak (12,683 feet)

I hopped back in the car and headed into Colorado and traveled ONE WHOLE MILE to northbound I-25 mile 1 where I found another scenic overlook, this one looking east.

Scenic Overlook, I-25 north mile 1

Heather sent me a text at this point wondering how my trip was going, and if I had an idea of when I would arrive in Greeley.  I told her that I might not make it to Greeley at the rate I keep stopping to take pictures.

This overlook also featured a couple of historical markers.  The marker seen below describes the history of the nearby city of Trinidad, Colorado.

The second marker presented more info about Raton Pass and of nearby Fisher's Peak.

This overlook offers a better view of Bartlett Mesa (8,882 feet) to the northeast.

Bartlett Mesa (8,882 feet)

To the east and northeast lies Fisher's Peak Mesa (9,626 feet).

Fisher's Peak Mesa (9,626 feet)

Fisher's Peak Mesa is huge and encompasses many individual peaks including the one seen below at the mesa's southern edge.

I tried zooming in on a number of the individual peaks of Fisher's Peak Mesa.

Turning further to the north shows just how large Fisher's Peak Mesa is.  The high point of Fisher's Peak Mesa is somewhere in the area seen below.

Fisher's Peak (9,627 feet), is actually on the northern end of Fisher's Peak Mesa.

Fisher's Peak (9,627 feet)

Looking directly north brings a peak next to Fisher's Peak into view.  If I read the topographic map correctly, this is known as Baldy (8,068 feet .  .  .

Baldy (8,068 feet)


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« Reply #14 on: February 24, 2018, 11:01:32 PM »

continued .  .  .
Part 8 of 8


I hit the road once again heading north on I-25 toward Pueblo and Colorado Springs, Colorado.  With the exception of first thing earlier this morning in Alamogordo, New Mexico, the top had been down for the whole outbound trip from Athens.

Getting an awesome sunburn

The Wet Mountains and the San Isabel National Forest came into view near northbound I-25 mile 51 outside of Walsenburg, Colorado.   

The Wet Mountains

The pointed peak on the left side of the photo below is Batido Cone (8,942 feet).  To the right of Batido Cone is Greenhorn Mountain (12,347 feet).

Batido Cone (8,942 feet) and Greenhorn Mountain (12,347 feet)

I passed through Apache City, Colorado City, and Pueblo on my way to Colorado Springs where my time on the interstates came to an end for this day.
 Colorado Springs sits at the base of the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains, a mountain range that extends from Pueblo, Colorado to Casper, Wyoming. With the city being so close to the Front Range, the view to the west is dominated by large mountain peaks which I was happy to take pictures of during a fuel stop at exit 132.

The Front Range

Looking west at Cheyenne Mountain (9,565 feet)

Radio towers on top of Cheyenne Mountain (9,565 feet) photobombed by nearby power lines   

Panning the camera further north brought Pikes Peak into view.   

A ride to the summit was on the agenda for this visit to Colorado.  But that would come later.

Zooming in on the summit through the nearby power lines would work for now.

Pikes Peak summit

My journey to Greeley would take place on secondary roads from here.  Exit 132 put me on the Mesa Ridge Parkway, (State Route 16), which becomes South Powers Boulevard, (State Route 21), and serves as a bypass around Colorado Springs.  Normally, a bypass saves time.  But bypassing the city means the road makes a giant curve and offers some spectacular views of the Front Range.  Given my propensity for picture taking, there was no saving time in the cards for me today.  I stopped several times during my trip around the city.  The photo below looks directly west at Cheyenne Mountain with Pikes Peak visible the far right.

View of the Front Range without power lines in the way

South Powers Boulevard makes a brief turn to the west putting the front range directly in front of me.

The roadway turned northward again near the airport.  With no power lines anywhere in the field of view, I pulled over to take a few more pics.

From here, I could zoom in on Pikes Peak (14,115 feet).

Pikes Peak (14,115 feet)

In the photo below, I am zooming in on what I think is Almagre Mountain (12,367 feet).

Almagre Mountain (12,367 feet)

The smaller mountain with the bare spot in front of Almagre Mountain is Runs-Down-Fast Mountain (11,048 feet).

Runs-Down-Fast Mountain (11,048 feet)

Cheyenne Mountain (9,565 feet)

US Route 24 runs northeast away from Colorado Springs and into the wide-open spaces of eastern Colorado.  I would pick up Elbert Road just beyond the community of Falcon, Colorado and head almost directly north through the towns of Elbert, Kiowa, and Bennett on my way to Greeley.  The cloudy skies interspersed with the sunset made for a lot of great photo ops.

Sunset from Elbert Road

I love the combination of the sunset, cloudy skies, and brown fields.

Once past the town of Kiowa, Colorado, Elbert Road becomes the Kiowa-Bennett Road.  I managed to get a few nice shots of sunset during my journey.

Sunset from Kiowa-Bennett Road

The sunset, while beautiful, also signaled the end of my picture taking for today.  But that's ok.  I was sure the 327 pics I took during this leg of the trip would be fine. 

Once past the town of Bennett, Colorado, I followed Colorado Routes 79 and 52 before picking up US Route 85 in Fort Lupton for the final leg of the trip.  And with that, I had arrived in Greeley, Colorado for my second tour of the state.   

The stats for today's journey are as follows:   
~  Total miles traveled – 651.1, all of them with the roof down except for about 20 miles first thing in the morning.   
~  Total fuel used – 23.8 gallons for a total of $59.59.   
~  Average mpg – 27.4   
~  Number of times a tow truck was needed – once again, zero !    

This has been a wonderful trip so far !  My outbound journey has covered a total of 2,256 miles through a whole host of new places.  The $205.10 spent on fuel equals an average of 27.3 mpg which I consider excellent.   

In what has become a familiar pattern, the Z4 continues to make me smile.  I have yet to encounter the slightest hint of drama.  My back has nothing but good things to say about the seating.  And I've got an awesome sunburn !  In November !  In addition to all the comment's I've made about the car in the past, I can add a few more notes:   

~  There is definitely a huge difference in ride quality between the extremely firm Z4 and the softer XK8.  But this is turning out to be much less of an issue than I initially thought.  Road imperfections are felt quite a bit more, but sound worse than they actually are.
~  The cabin in the Z4 is far better suited than that of the XK8 for a roof-down ride in cold weather.  Having only two seats means cold air cannot circulate behind me while traveling.  I found with the Jag that the rear seating area allowed cold air to flow past the center console onto my right arm and leg.  This can't happen in the Z4, and makes my worry of not having heated seats a non-issue.
~  I love the placement of the dead pedal in the Z4 !  While this may seem like a minor point, it is certainly appreciated during a long trip.
~  I can definitely see where the tiny trunk could possibly become an issue in the future.  I have no intention of paying $200 per tire for the OEM run-flats when mine wear out.  This means when I replace the tires, I also need to get an aftermarket spare tire kit, (spare tire and jack components).  The only place to put it is in the already very small trunk.  No worries for now.  I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.

This whole driving-cross-country thing is quickly becoming my new favorite hobby .  .  .


Link to all of the photos for this segment of the trip:  Alamogordo to Greeley pics
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