Denver, CO to Columbus, TX

Paranoia, night driving, and luck lead us to a WET Texas experience

The superstitious part of me thinks, maybe irrationally, that you can make things happen by saying them out loud. For example, telling someone not to forget something inevitably causes them lock their keys in the car or drop their driver’s license in the shredder, and that is your fault.

So, when the Costco employee approached the truck window and said that my tires are looking cracked, I said thanks and proceeded to scowl at him as he walked away. How could he? No explanation, no recommendation, just a death sentence.

Nothing ended up happening to the tires, but I was biting my nails all night, thanks Sean. I’m pretty sure I’m harboring an irrational fear. Saying it out loud probably won’t make it go away, either. Funny how that works.

Driving south out of Colorado is beautiful, especially in the spring. The grassy air feels perfect, the mountains are still snow-capped, and everything in between is fuzzy and green. When you leave Colorado and enter New Mexico, there’s a drastic change in landscape, however. Mountains in Colorado, dry desert in New Mexico and prairie in Texas. It’s almost as if the people drawing the maps did so based on the terrain.

It took us over 11 hours and more than 500 miles to get from Denver to Lubbock, TX. We have been traveling at night because Danielle works a day job, so driving has been dark and quiet. I’m okay with this arrangement, as I’ve always been a bit of a night owl (maybe full night owl).

There’s a weird phenomena that happens at night across the Northern Texas Plains. The center-pivot-irrigation equipment all have blinking lights, and when you’re driving at night, the blinking patterns can make it seem as if it was one light is moving with you. 70 miles per hour and there’s a floating, flashing light that can maintain the same speed. Then, immediately out the other side, the same thing.

I calmed myself and tried to justify the experience. Conspiracy theories dominated my reasoning. It was creepy sitting alone with the blinking lights and my imagination. But, after googling it, I could see that it was okay to take aluminium-foil hat off.

Blinking lights, damn, all worked up over nothing. My imagination never fails to entertain.

Travel happens at a different pace in the middle of the night. My copilot and Stella are sleeping. Shamus is quiet but not always sleeping – cue elbow licking. Nobody knows what Carne does, because she travels in the trailer. I can only conclude that she’s also sleeping because she whines for food, early, with the birds, reliably (shotgun emoji).

There’s a definite correlation between the number of miles away from Denver and the variation in terrain. The farther away your are, the less the variation. It gets FLAT in Northern Texas. So do the animals.

Biting my nails about our trailer tires, I’m also wide awake looking for animals through the darkness. Driving through the Colorado mountains in late fall is great training for this real-life onslaught. I thought I had seen it all, and I was wrong. There must have been 5-6 animals per mile near the highway, just the living ones.

It was a totally-moonless night and there were several vehicles stopped after just hitting an animal. I narrowly missed a hand full of critters and a few deer without waking the passengers, nothing short of a miracle.

There’s steady parade of headlights coming the other way. Which could be explained by the popular conspiracy theory in Denver that everyone is invading, looking to steal their awesome, micro-brewed secret sauce. But, could also be explained by people fleeing the war zone behind them.

Lubbock was nice, what little we saw of it. We parked for a few hours for work and were on our way.

 

The second leg of the trip took us from Lubbock to Austin, over 9 hours. We pulled into Austin for the night around 2am. We were quickly and rudely reminded of the staggering power of humidity. The air was so thick with water that it was foggy, but not fog.

Are you supposed to be able to see the air? Conventional, Colorado logic says: no.

We weren’t plugged into a power supply, so there was no air conditioning. It was hard to get to sleep that night, and we slept with the door open, in a random Walmart parking lot, which is a first. It was like sleeping in a hot tub, in front of a Walmart.

The next day was Saturday and no less humid. We always gravitate towards the local college campus because that’s where we feel at home, so we strolled around the campus at UT Austin.

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We had an easy 2-hour drive to our new home (for 10 days). We are parked outside Columbus, TX, right off the Colorado river, about halfway between San Antonio and Huston. We have a large stand of trees shading the camper and are completely surrounded by wildlife. See the picture at the top.

It looks like a Disney movie outside the window, armadillos and everything. It’s growing on me, despite the humidity. This weekend: Austin, Huston, and Monday in NOLA.

Trace

When you live in a camper, there are some situations that cannot be predicted. Like someone walking up to your bedroom door and knocking.

We were staying at Pleasant Harbor RV Resort, off Lake Pleasant, outside Phoenix, AZ. It was early on an overcast winter-weekday morning and I was leaning into the fridge, contemplating breakfast. I was in my underwear, still foggy-eyed, with bed-head.

Then, a bomb went off. BANG. BANG. BANG. Judging by the force of impact, there clearly was a police SWAT unit surrounding the house. I froze in place, waiting for them to breach the door and handcuff us all. However, I was the only one who froze.

Shamus jumped up and started screaming at the SWAT team, and Stella used her sixty pounds to jump up onto the bed, right on top of Danielle, so she could look out the window at the SWAT team.

Now everyone is barking or yelling and I’m standing in my freshly soiled underwear, so I needed to act quickly to diffuse the situation. I opened the window next to the door to see who it was, and, after recognizing a friendly face, I said that I would have to get back to them due to my lack of clothing and murderous dogs.

The experience was like having someone sneak into your house and bang on your bedroom door as you sleep. I’ve learned that it’s just part of the lifestyle. Ever since then, I always make noise outside of someone’s camper as I approach, call their name, and only use knocking as a last resort.

After telling this story, I feel like I should show you what the camper looks like. I’ve posted pictures of the outside and the floor plan. Essentially, it’s a studio apartment on wheels. Here’s the specifics:

2016 Primetime Tracer 244AIR – 1 slide out that contains the “dining room,” it has an outdoor kitchen and grill, full kitchen inside, and a 3/4 bath. We replaced the 12 volt battery with dual 6 volt batteries, as we were killing the battery in a matter of days. We added a bike rack, a second TV in the bedroom, and some other minor modifications that we’ll get into in the future.

We named the camper Trace, because we lack imagination and the word is printed right on the side of the camper. So, we’re not at risk of forgetting it’s name, which is a real concern.

That’s Trace. We’ll post pictures of the interior in the future.