Strolling Amok

Pops goes on tour.

Archive for the category “Travelin’ Man”

Bighorn Campground in Glenwood, New Mexico

Bighorn Campground near Glenwood, New Mexico.

This post isn’t so much about the Bighorn Campground as it is a rave about the scenery on continuing southwest from there. About all that can be said about Glenwood Campground is that it makes a handy overnight stopping place if you’re in the area. It’s beside and below a relatively unused highway, and consists of several gravel drives along a wandering path in. It offers metal picnic tables of questionable usefulness, and a very clean vault toilet that needs you to BYOTP. Overall, it’s small and scruffy, and although you can stay there 14 days, it and nearby Glenwood have no compelling draw to hang around for more than a day or two unless you’re just looking for a place to blow time at. Since I’ve been thoroughly spoiled by where I’ve spent my summer, I’m now picky.

Below is a sort of dashcam of the drive from Grants, New Mexico to Glenwood, a trip of about 180 miles that gave me an eye-popping 19MPG fuel average. 11 minutes in length, it’s in 3 segments. Nothing truly heroic about it, but it does catch some of the scenery onroute if you have the bandwidth. There’s a sort of push-pull effect Read more…

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Departing Joe Skeen Campground

Guess where I am now?

Since my alloted 7 days were up at the Joe Skeen Campground in New Mexico, it was time to move on, but not before driving 10 or so miles south first, just to survey the scenery. The photos below do not do justice to what can be seen from the highway, since most times there is no place to pull over for a shot. Let’s just say that the drive south toward a large stone arch is not to be missed.

Read more…

Taos Junction Recreation Site

The Rio Grande at Taos Junction.

[This post is photo-heavy, so if you’re on a very limited cellular plan, exit right now and go to the home page or anywhere else.]

The drive down from Buena Vista, Colorado via Alamosa to Taos Junction, New Mexico was scenic, to say the least. Broad, sweeping valleys bordered by high, rugged mountains were the order of the day. Just don’t run off the highway staring at them. Alamosa, Colorado is a good-sized town with much to recommend it in the way of supplies. When 2 o’clock rolled around, I stopped at an improvised burger palace in a section of a repurposed city building, where I got a good hamburger, perfect onion rings, and perhaps the best chocolate shake I’ve had so far. The shake came with a straw large enough in diameter to pass as plumbing pipe, and it worked admirably. Due to their running a special and providing a 10% senior discount, I walked out with a loss of under $7. Yes, that’s no typo. Even the Safeway in town had unusually low prices on most food items, and with the fuel credit they give to regular customers, I was able to top off my tank at their station for just $2.29/gallon, which was a lot better than the $2.98 stations I’d passed on the way down. People in the Safeway parking lot greeted me with a friendly hello as we passed. My kind of town, Alamosa. Nirvana for cheapskates.

Here’s one view of camp, showing the shelters.

I had three sets of GPS coordinates for my next potential camp, all hopefully between 6,000’-7,000’ high. All are in extreme northern New Mexico. The first was Read more…

Heading for Peru Creek

The current view out my “kitchen” window as I prepped my morning coffee. Not difficult to adapt to, in my opinion!

When leaving Wheatland, Wyoming for Dillon, Colorado, the fastest and shortest route was to take the Interstate to and through Denver. Considering that I poke along at a mere 65 MPH instead of the 70-80 MPH limit, that limits the theoretical time advantage of such a route. Having in the past swung into battle in Denver with the Defiant travel trailer, I decided that the more pleasant option was to instead add just a few miles and take a two-lane to Laramie, Wyoming in order to better take in the sights onroute. From there, more two-lane would take me to Dillon, Colorado. That worked out wonderfully.

Southern Wyoming is a treat. On long, lonely stretches that connect ranch entrances to the nearest distant town, I passed two pickups by the side of the road and two ranchers dressed in Western gear standing at the bed of one truck. By his arm gestures, one seemed to be describing something to the other as they conversed. Time to catch up on stories. A large wildlife area came up as I went on, and with it low mountains that the road twisted to stay between. These mountains were rugged and had an odd sandpaper surface, along with a deep tan color that through my amber sunglasses looked chocolate brown. I should have Read more…

Kadoka, South Dakota

Nestled into the weeds, awaiting a thunderstorm.

Not much to report here! This gas station is at the northern border of Kadoka, and as I write this, the trucks are just starting to trickle in along with the first few raindrops. The high was 90 today, though it was predicted to be 85.

The oil and filter change went well, although you can always tell a dealer that doesn’t regularly handle diesels. I paid a few shekels less than normal, but the “service engine soon” light came on in the dash as I made my way out, so I gingerly looped right back and told the service guy that I hoped it had nothing to do with oil! Actually, there’s a separate light for an oil pressure problem, but it took me a few minutes to recall that. All I could think of was a Midas Muffler dealer my son once worked at, and a Mustang that came in for an oil change. The guy pulled out and made it a few blocks before the engine started screaming and locked up. No oil. (Nope, my kid didn’t do the change.)

At any rate, two guys lifted the hood and checked what would normally be touched during a routine inspection. It seems there’s a sensor in the air filter housing, and the mechanic forgot to reassemble the plug for it. Problem solved. They took it out for a test run before handing it over, just to make sure the light was going to stay out. From there, I stopped for a couple of food items and set the iPhone for a travel center that was two hours away and offered hot showers. Meanwhile, The Garmin GPS was set for Kadoka, my next overnight.

Shower done and heading for Kadoka, I passed what looked like a nice little travel stop, but the GPS wanted me to go 8 miles farther and then head north. So I did. By the time it wanted me to go down a 1-lane “highway” that wandered all over and had badly broken pavement, I knew I’d been had. The destination it highlighted for me was located miles off of I-90, and in the next town over. I then keyed in GPS coordinates instead of a street address, and it took me back to that nice little travel stop. Sheesh. The iPhone had no issues with the same street address, so I think I’ll be a little more suspicious when using the old Garmin unit, hey? Adventure!

By the way, cellular service may be nonexistent at the next few campsites, so don’t be surprised if the posts suddenly seem to stop. Be surprised if they continue!

Mitchell, South Dakota!

The view out of my passenger-side bunk window.

I guess I won’t bother asking for guesses as to where I’m overnighting this evening. Mitchell is a good-sized town and, as there appears to be a Ford dealership a half-mile away, I’m considering a timely oil and filter change. I’ll take a look at the place tomorrow morning before beginning the next leg of my journey, to see if it is worthy of my esteemed presence. An oil change might take awhile, so I will have to remember to take my walking stick with me in order to beat off the showroom sales personnel while I wait. This has worked in the past, usually by merely posing at bat. A few blows about the head and shoulders always convinces the more aggressive remainder. Dressing down also works quite well, as long as it is down so far that a $20 loan approval looks unlikely. Wrinkled shorts, a stained T-shirt, and one missing sandal have always worked so far. Sure it’s embarrassing, but since this isn’t my home town, there is no unwanted fallout. Once the service has been completed, I’m outta there!

I’m going to hijack my own thread here, which if you look at past posts on this blog, is not unusual at all. Most of my trip that began in March has been Read more…

Voss Park Campground

Not much info is available online for Voss Park Campground, and what’s there is out of date, including the park’s own website. Best to go check it out personally, when possible, before financially committing!

Intense research last night and this morning as to my camping options to avoid the brunt of the current heat wave produced the affordable option of Voss Park, a large city park in the tiny town of Butterfield, Minnesota.

An aside: The town of Butterfield exists today only because of a poultry processing plant in town, Butterfield Foods. It suffered controversy earlier this year after Read more…

Michigania

The roof is up on the Intrepid, not for camping but to let the fabric dry completely. Of necessity, I had packed up wet in Illinois, and it’s best to not let the fabric sit folded and enclosed damp for too long. After sitting out all night to dry, I lowered the roof right after taking this shot.

Much of Michigan is it’s own world, it seems, if one can mentally survive the crawling frustrations of circumnavigating the south end of Lake Michigan via Illinois and Indiana. Once you escape the molasses grip of those and cut northward in Michigan, it’s suddenly a robust automotive invigoration. On six lanes, divided, surrounded by thick forests of towering trees, one is free to barrel along at 70 MPH for miles and miles. A fair number of folks pooped along at my pace, which today was above my usual fuel-conserving 65 top end. But the massive traffic snarls earlier had also badly snarled my schedule, and relatives were expecting me in some timely fashion. The law enforcement community was doing a nice if not lucrative business along the way.

The roads near the shoreline are simply hard-pack sand, one lane wide. Yes, everything really is this green.

US-31 itself is down to 55 MPH and has stoplights in towns, but this is not abused, and breezing through is still pleasant. Once you hit your desired crossroad toward shore, a dirt turnoff is presented and it’s sand from there on in. Sand, sometimes rocky or with a hint of dirt, is all there is. It’s packed to a pavement-like firmness. The shore in “my ” area rises in Read more…

Chain o’ Lakes State Park

“Ahhhh, west and wewaxation at wast!” ~Elmer Fudd

Made it! After a time-consuming tour of the campgrounds to find the right combo of traits and availability for two weeks, I opted for a site with electrical power and cool shade. There was exactly one site without that hookup (at a cheaper rate), but it looked to me as if I’d be battling very limited daily spans of solar if I took it, particularly in light of the Chicago area’s predilection for “Chicago sunny weather” (grey overcast). True, the cost is a choker ($145/week at the discounted Senior Rate), but oh well…   That cool shade ought to come in handy less than a week from now, as the daily temperatures climb from the current low 70s up over 90 degrees. Chain o’ Lakes is in Spring Grove, Illinois. Given the boggy terrain, the major crop production here in the growing season is mosquitoes.

I actually stayed two nights at the Petro Truck Stop in Rochelle, wallowing in Read more…

Rochelle, Illinois

My GPS led me through a web of country roads to get here, and I have to say, the farther south and west you go in Illinois, the more the dense forests and hilly terrain make the trip appealing. Somewhere along the way were jillions of local cars and pickups jammed beside the road for a late afternoon food fight of some kind in town, and the north end of the same town offered a Civil War reenactment this weekend. And we suburbanites think meeting at a sports bar and grille is hot stuff. Whoop-de-do.

Not sure how long I’ll be here: the showers and laundry at this Petro truck stop have a certain appeal. It might be exciting when the time comes to head for the Chain-O-Lakes State Park, since unlike last year at this time, not very many sites remain unreserved, and the unreserved sites always tend to be a challenge to use – which is why they remain open. I’m winging it this year, but who wants to camp on a pronounced slope where even 4WD won’t get you out if it rains? Adventure!

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