The alarm went off at 4am and we were up, dressed, and in the van by 4:11. On our way out of Leesville, F found a doughnut shop that was open (4:13am). I’ve always sworn that I don’t really like doughnuts but that was the first fresh one I’d ever had and I had to admit that they were quite good.
We headed north. I took the opportunity to sleep in the back until we were about an hour outside of Shreveport where I swapped into the drivers seat. Forrest tried to sleep but the condition of I-49 was a little rough for him in the back (I maintain that I would have slept just fine!).
As we cruised through Dallas, it started to rain. And it rained. And rained. All the way across Texas it rained. It was about 40 and raining (what happened to going south where it’s warm?!). We did get a pretty decent hamburger at “Giant Burger” in Rhome (F had to fix a busted power steering cooler line in the rain though) And then we kept on driving. After a brief stop in Amarillo for windshield wiper blades we cruised into New Mexico.
In New Mexico there was suddenly elevation changes. There were arroyos and mesas. And then it got dark. It also started to get cold. We watched the temperature fall from 40 down to 24. I-40 deposited us in Albuquerque and we headed on towards Farmington.
On US 550 heading into the mountains we ran into a snow. The road headed up in to the mountains: 3,500 feet, 4000 feet, 4500 feet, and topped at on the Continental Divide at about 7,300 feet. Approaching the Divide, there were about 6″ of snow on the ground and the driving was tense. The Sprinter is great for a lot of things but snow driving is not one of them. Forrest describes the Sprinters handling of high speed snow as a “skate board with tiller steering”. As we “crested” the Divide, although the road didn’t loose much elevation quickly we passed out of the storm onto dry pavement.
We’d planned on stopping in Farmington for the night but as we reached Farmington we decided Shiprock would be a better place from which to get to Four Corners for sunrise. In Shiprock, we quickly realized there were no ideal places to stay the night and figured that we could camp no problem out at Four Corners.
WRONG. After a bumpy (F says, “Insane but fun!”) ride down US64, we reached the gate to the monument. This was also the first time I’d been in Arizona! Open from 8am-5pm (closed Thanksgiving, Christmas, and other miscellaneous days). It was approximately 1am local time. (I think. Honestly, between time zones and Daylights Savings Time I was really confused about what time it was most of the time.)
So instead we kept driving. We didn’t quite make it to 4 Corners but we did drive through the four states within a 20 minute period so that’s close enough, right?
Then, there we were in the middle of nowhere and it was definitely time to sleep. We drove up a small dirt road just out of sight of the road and crashed.
We woke up to a glorious but chilly morning in the desert. We took some pictures and then headed for Moab. We pulled in to our friend’s house for some coffee, catching up, and looking at the La Sals. We went out for lunch and basked in the glorious sunshine. The weather was so nice I really wished we could have stayed longer but we wanted to drive through Castle Valley on our way out of town to check out our wedding venue in person.
I love the drive out to Castle Valley. The canyon is simply gorgeous. Castle Valley won’t be a shabby location for a wedding either!
Soon it was time to hit the road for real though. We arrived at Meghan and Eric’s house in Salt Lake at about 9:30. They were kind enough to welcome us into their house, talk with us awhile, let us crash at their house and leave at 5am.
Making it to Salt Lake set us up well for the final push back to class. We actually had enough time to stop and start a fire at the house to take the edge off the cold before picking up our puppy. We also made it to class about an hour and a half early for some last minute studying.
After class, we wrapped up the trip by heading over to Spokane to pickup my jeep and then heading home. We arrived back home at about 9:30pm.
Total mileage in van: 3,513 miles (plus 200 miles in the Cherokee and a plane flight from Spokane to Ft. Lauderdale)
Door-to-door: 4 days, 15 hours