Road Trip 2015 Part 1 – Driving Days Calgary to Amarillo

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So the big road trip of 2015 is off and running.  It has been hard to get to wifi in the first little bit and when I have gotten to it, it has not functioned long enough for me to complete the blog for your reading pleasure.  Sorry for the late blog, will try to get caught up here quickly.  This part will focus on the driving from Calgary to Houston.

The goal was to make it as far as we could as early as we could.  We are regulars into Montana and really weren’t that worried about stopping there to see any “sites”.  We packed on Tuesday night and planned to leave as soon as we could after work Wednesday.  In one large suitcase we packed enough close for both Tiana and I, for 2 and a half weeks.  A whole whack of shirts, combinations of shorts and pants.  Of course underwear falls under the easy to pack category, 2 days of wearing then flip inside out for 1 day and that cuts the packing.  Ok I am kidding, we both have ample underwear to pack a pair for each day.

I picked Tiana off from work, we found a very fast quick lube on the way out of tow and were off to the races.  We had made the financial prudent choice to drive the VW Jetta for this massive run (by the end we will have travelled 10,000 km and 94 hours in the car, that is a lot of gas).  It is a little small but more reliable than our jeep patriot (if you are considering this car it isn’t worth it Jeep made a piece of shit), and the Jetta can go about 250 KM further on the same amount of gas.  From Calgary to Great Falls was pretty uneventful.  Tiana picked up the driving in Lethbridge and would take us to Great Falls.  Tiana excited to photo record the trip wanted some pictures as we went.  A photographer I am not but I tried a little.  It was an easy gig for this stretch because there isn’t much to take a picture of.  My first shots were of the border checkpoint entering the States, I am sure we weren’t supposed to but who really cares.  As far as I am concerned they should offer to sell you the photograph they take of you on the way out.  The guard was a pretty nice guy, the usual questions, where are you going? how long? Have you had any trouble with the police?  Tiana decided she had a question too.  Can we have your picture for our trip album,  His quick answer was no but thankful we had asked before we took a picture.  Next stop was Shelby for Wild Cherry Pepsi.  Love Wild Cherry Pepsi and was very happy to have the first lovely sips hit my taste buds.  At Great Falls I took over the driving detail after filling the gas.  We stopped for crunch wraps at Taco Bell and some Mountain Dew Baja Blast and were out of Great Falls quickly.  We were running ok on time up to this point but all that was about to change.

Apparently, Montana has decided to collect taxes to fix their infrastructure only.  The highway from Great Falls to Montana was littered with slow downs for road work.  Most were a minor issue with slow downs but nothing really an issue road wise.  At one point we had to exit to a highway heading directly south to Billings.  As we made the turn it warned of road work ahead and that Motorcyclists needed to consider a different route.  Those asshole really need to revise the sign to “This Road is closed because we buried the fucking thing”.  A ways down this highway it slows down to 45 MPH, the standard slow down in Montana.  But then we run into a road that is covered in dirt and gravel about 2 inches deep.  Not to mention a storm had just blown through.  Poor Jetta bobbed and weaved with the incredible uneven ground.  The odd scrape of skid guards underneath not deterring the Jetta from its mission.  45 MPH would have been nice but we went about 20 MPH through the whole thing and it was about 1 hour of that shit.  Both of us came out hoping the car had survived.  But as usual the Jetta proved unbreakable and was fine, just muddy.  We finally rolled into Billings about 2 hours behind schedule.  It was 2 AM and time to find a place to park and sleep for a bit.  Tiana tried to talk me into a hotel for $60 but I couldn’t justify it for the little amount of time we spent there.  This would prove to be a good decision.

It hadn’t taken long for the real world to slip away.  I had blinked a couple of times, making not of the small RV and larger camper near by with fellow Walmart lot sleepers.  A car with blue blankets closed into the windows to block out the light also was there.  The condensation was forming on the windows of the cars with fellow sleepers in them.  I was looking around and then it was 4:37 AM.   It is amazing what 2 awesome hours of sleep can do for a guy.  So I woke up, started the car back up and we prepared to carry on our journey.  Tiana was up as well and we headed to McDonald’s for a shitty coffee (one thing the USA is doing worse than Canada is McDick’s Coffee) and breakfast burritos.  Off we went.  After about 3 sips of Coffee I realized Caffeine wouldn’t be feeling the drive.

I drove well into Wyoming before turning the driving duties back over to Tiana.  This would be a big day for her driving work.  In the past I have made fun of her for not taking on enough of the driving duties but not this day.  She took it on for about 1.5 hours, until I had taken a half hour nap and then she was tired.  I took back over and would drive us the rest of the way into Colorado.  She slept for about half an hour and then woke up to chat and watch Northern Colorado slip by.  Destination Denver.

I have a small list of places I would be ok with living in and not ok with living in, if we wanted to move to the USA.  I have hoped to add some to that list this trip.  The no go lists from the past is pretty long and includes places like LA and all of Florida.  So far in this trip I would have to add all of Montana and Wyoming to the no go list.  But Colorado has a lot of beautiful towns.  We detoured into Boulder and that would be ok and even Denver is a great looking City, it gets added to the list with Salt Lake City and Phoenix, in fact might take the top spot.

We drove through Boulder and then decided to head into Denver.  I wanted to swing by the Pepsi Center and Coors Field so we did that.  Tiana was driving again and I got us a little lost in downtown.  We went out to the east side of the city for some Famous Dave’s BBQ, our favourite stop in the country.  Grabbed ourselves the embarrassingly huge platter for 2 and ate a ton of it.  We were running on 4 am breakfast burritos as our only source of food and it was now 4 pm, so we were hungry.  We packed the rest into boxes for the rest of the days trip.  We left the restaurant at 4:30 and headed towards the highway that would take us south.  It was Thursday afternoon and the rush hour was pretty thick.  We made a quick detour on the way out to stop by a mall and also a Starbucks.  No point in sitting in traffic we figured.  Tiana grabbed herself a coffee and we were back to the highway just after 6PM.  Problem is the traffic just continued to suck for a very long time after this.   The only advantage of the stupid traffic is, we are playing license plate bingo on the iPhone and we collected a lot of plates in that traffic.  We saw one that looked like Connecticut’s from afar.  That would be a huge find on this trip.  Tiana managed to chase the car down for a closer confirmation.  Fucker was just another Colorado plate, they have way too many different plates.

For those keeping track this made it Montana, Wyoming and Colorado as the 3 states we had been on this fine Thursday.  Our Family record was a 4 State run when we drove to Phoenix in 2010.  We were poised to break our best ever day collecting states travelled in.  From Colorado it was straight to get to Amarillo, through New Mexico.  We chose this for what reason we aren’t sure but the alternative was Kansas and Oklahoma.  I think we both thought Kansas and Oklahoma sounded boring but boy were we in for a shock.  I know we have all watched breaking bad and that is our experience of New Mexico.  Well if I lived there maybe I would manufacture drugs too.  The two we first saw was Raton and it was a shithole.  In fact the boring landscape and shitty towns all the way through our trip in New Mexico painted a picture of an ugly and boring state.  Literally there was only one nice building in all of that corner of the state. It was a gas station called “Love’s” in a shitty little town called Clayton a couple of miles from the Texas Border.  Tiana drove us from Denver to Clayton.  Was some amazing work and was the only reason we made our goal city on this day.  From there I took over.

We left Clayton at 10:50PM Mountain time and in a few short minutes we crossed into Texas and completed a family record, 5 states in one day.  It was pretty Awesome.  And here we also lost an hour.  Texas might have some of the worst roads I have ever had to deal with.  For a state that has no income tax maybe it is time to start one and fix these roads.  Because Tiana had taken on the 5 hours between Denver and Clayton I was able to rest up and feel good for the drive. I had grabbed a coffee in Clayton and that got me through the next 3 hours.  We pulled into Amarillo just before 3 AM (we lost an hour to time change) and found a La Quinta on the highway on the way out of Amarillo for some sleep.  We could a room with a double bed and neither of us cared it sounded great.  It was time for sleep.  We slept for 4.5 hours, got up and grabbed some breakfast at the hotel and it was back to the road.

For the most part this trip wasn’t all that exciting up to this point with not a lot of stops along the way.  From here we do some more stops.

CITY LIVABILITY SCORECARD

All of Montana – NO

All of Wyoming – NO

Denver – Yes #1

All of New Mexico – NO

Amarillo – NO

PART 2 – Racing, Kennedy and Arriving in Houston

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