RV trip part 8: volcano

We left off in the last post at Florissant Fossil Quarry at about 5:30 PM with a little over three hours of driving to go before our destination for the night: Capulin, New Mexico. What's in Capulin you ask?


Only a volcano, that's what!


***

As with yesterday's post, before the fun stuff I have to summarize the drive. Let the bullets fly! (bullet points that is...)
  • Rush hour traffic around Colorado Springs was an unexpected and unpleasant surprise.
  • I-25 goes pretty much straight south, and although it's flat compared to the mountains, there are enough hills to make the RV struggle. The strategy is to build up extra speed before hitting them. (A boring detail but all I thought about for hours...)
  • Having mountains to the west in front of the setting sun was quite nice though
  • The last section of 25 we drove had a scary assortment of animal warning signs. Seeing a "deer crossing" sign is bad enough when it's dark and you've been driving for 6 hours, but then seeing signs for moose crossing, elk crossing, bear crossing, well, it just frays the nerves. I expected something huge to jump into the headlights at any second! (Nothing did)
  • We only had 25 miles or so to drive on highway 87 in New Mexico, but I was so tired it was quite daunting, and seemed to go on forever.
  • The Capulin RV park was jam-packed, as the next day was the start of antelope hunting season or something like that. Thank goodness I reserved a spot early!
  • There is something pretty satisfying about pulling into a space, spending 5 minutes to hook up water and electricity, then dropping into bed exhausted, knowing there are at least 8 more hours before you have to drive again.
  • Arriving during the night makes the morning more exciting, as you finally get to see where you are!
Since this was the homeward part of the trip, much more driving was in store for the day (Saturday, August 26). First though the reason I chose Capulin as our spot for the night: Capulin Volcano National Monument.

Only a few miles from the RV park, we headed north not knowing exactly what to expect. What we saw was a surprisingly large solitary mountain, much bigger in person than photos led me to believe. Luckily our RV was just under the size limit to be able to drive the road to the top. (I didn't even know there was a road to the top!) Even before you're halfway up, spiraling slowly (thankfully) upward, you get a sense of how tall this thing is.

The view from the top was incredible:


You really must view this panorama in as large a size as you can:


Also incredible was the plant diversity up there:






Are those artemesias everywhere? Were they planted, or are they native? I just don't know.





There were so many ladybugs up here!


Too bad they mulched everything with this tacky red volcanic rock:


There is a trail along the crater rim (about a mile long if I remember correctly), but we didn't go too far along it -- time constraints ruin everything, don't they?



You can hike down into the crater too. Lots of warning signs about rattlesnakes though, which I thought was a little weird. Why would snakes climb up here? (Of course they didn't just decide one day to climb over 1000 ft (305m) -- they did it little by little over generations!)

This was a very pleasant surprise of a stop, but we had to get back on the road. (There are so many great National Monuments -- the National Parks get all of the crowds, but the National Monuments go relatively unnoticed.)


There were no photos taken of the last two days of driving, although they were very different from each other. After Capulin we drove across Oklahoma via 2-lane highways. I loved this, but it got a bit tedious. It's bullet point time again!
  • I'm not sure of our exact route across Oklahoma, but if you look at a map we went almost directly on a line between Capulin, NM and Pawhuska, OK
  • We went through several half-empty old towns along the way. Sigh.
  • There were long stretches where we were the only vehicle in sight on the road. Several times.
  • We had our first experience with f'real milkshake machines at a gas station in one of these towns. My wife loves seeing what unique snacks are available regionally, and this was a fantastic find!
  • Oklahoma seems to go on forever. Flat fields and farmland, mountains merely a memory.
  • I liked Oklahoma!
  • There were stretches on that highway where I swear I didn't turn the steering wheel for more than an hour at a time. Check a map (hwy 412).
  • On the highway near Pawhuska we passed the Drummond Ranch. (We used to follow The Pioneer Woman way back when she only had a blog, before she became a brand.) 
  • We stayed the night at the Settle Inn RV park. A nice little spot, but this was the first night back in humidity so that made it less enjoyable.
The next morning (August 27) we went north to hwy 60, then took that to Interstate 44. I-44 goes right up to St. Louis, passing just a couple of miles from our house. Perfect, right? 
  • I-44 is a toll road in Oklahoma. We paid a whopping $2 toll when we got on.
  • If you were not going all the way to the border of Oklahoma, there were signs saying that you would have your toll refunded at various exits. Interesting. I suppose if you had to drive it every day, $2 each way starts adding up. (The tolls in Chicago are higher than this, and there are no refunds up there.)
  • There was way too much traffic on 44, especially when compared to the roads of the last two days. 
  • We stopped at an acclaimed pie shop in Rolla, Missouri. The slices were HUGE, but we were not impressed.
  • Did I mention that there was too much traffic? I did not enjoy driving in it.
  • When we arrived home, one of our neighbors was having some sort of party, so the street was packed with cars. Not ideal for RV maneuvering especially after a day on the road in traffic, but I managed. Luckily they had left a spot in front of our house open.
  • Emptying the RV at the end of the trip is not fun. It's better than packing it up at the start because there's no thinking required, but still not fun.
  • Cleaning it the next morning is also not fun.
  • Even though we had covered everything with blankets, one or both of the two cats that came with us sunk their claws into some of the upholstery. Luckily it was not in a very visible spot, so we were not charged for any damage. (Darn cats!)

So ends our 2017 RV road trip. Probably not as good as our 2013 one, but it was still a great trip!

(I may do a "summary" post about the trip soon... sort of a "best of". We'll see...)

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outlawgardener  – (October 18, 2017 at 9:39 AM)  

Thanks for taking us along on your road trip. Unlike the cats, your readers probably did no damage to the RV.

danger garden  – (October 18, 2017 at 11:18 AM)  

You did a road trip with cats!?! OMG.

Alan  – (October 18, 2017 at 1:24 PM)  

Loree: With only 2 cats, this trip was relatively cat-free. The first trip in 2013 included 6 cats.

Gerhard Bock (Succulents and More)  – (October 19, 2017 at 10:50 AM)  

You had SIX cats along in 2013? You should have written a blog on traveling with cats! I bet a lot of people are curious.

I loved reading all about your trip. Virtually all of the territory you covered was new to me. And I agree 100% with what you said about national monuments!

Are you already planning your next trip?

Alan  – (October 19, 2017 at 5:50 PM)  

I didn't mention at the time that we had 6 cats with us? Maybe a "traveling with cats" post is in order...

Lisa  – (October 19, 2017 at 10:03 PM)  

I've been reading along and traveling vicariously! Thanks for sharing!

Also - SIX cats? Did you bring along friends? Or were they all yours?

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