After touring Hiker Trailer in Denver, CO on the 24th, I spend one more night at St. Vrain State Park just north of Denver, and then prepare to hit the road the next day to escape the deep freeze coming later this week.
October 25, Wednesday
I stay at St Vrain as long as I can, taking full use of the electric hookup to work on the computer and heat up leftovers in my microwave for an early lunch. Around 11:30, a ranger pulls up to my site to make sure I’m aware that check-out is at noon. I’m guessing the park is expecting to be full again tonight and they’re trying to figure out how many sites they’ll have for new people coming in. Before the words are entirely out of my mouth that I will be leaving and not renewing my site for another night, the ranger is heading back to his cart to check at the next spot. Camping near cities is convenient and all, but I prefer the slower pace of more remote parks better.
It’s a sunny and warm day. And by warm, I mean the high is 80 in Denver. It’s hard to believe that in two nights the low is going to be 22. That’s autumn in the foothills for you.
I pack up and hitch up Cas in record time, pulling out of site #5 a couple minutes before noon. No one can complain I overstayed. I find out later that a reader of IO is at the entrance kiosk when I leave, and they end up taking site #5. What a small world it is!
From Longmont where the park is located, by far the fastest way south is straight through Denver on I25. I’ve done that drive towing the Casita once before, and remember it not being a fun drive. Not that driving through major cities with a trailer could ever truly be described as “fun”, but some cities are more painful than others. I remember Denver as being more on the painful side.
But to go around would cost a lot of money in tolls, or to go so far out of my way that I wouldn’t escape the freeze in time. So I mentally prepare myself and steer Bertha onto I25.
So much of how a city drive goes depends on the traffic. And early afternoon on a Wednesday, the traffic isn’t bad. I follow my usual plan of staying in the right lane when the road is three or less lanes, and in the second to the right lane when the road is four or more lanes. I’m guessing Denver has finished some road construction in the past two years, because I25 isn’t as rough as I remembered.
Perhaps the worst part of this section of I25 is once you escape Denver, it’s not over yet. You really need to get south of Colorado Springs to escape the traffic. Again, though, it ends up being a more pleasant drive than my last trip through.
I spend the night at the Walmart in Trinidad, CO, where not one, not two, but three teardrops are also overnighting. I take it as a good omen for my purchase. It’s a mild night with lows in the mid 40’s, and because this walmart is not 24 hours, it’s rather quiet.
October 26, Thursday
I try to limit my travel days to 250 miles, which if I’m going my usual speed of 60-65 mph and staying away from towns can be done in four hours theoretically. Realistically, travel days take longer because I have to slow down in towns, stop for gas, and break for lunch. Today’s drive will be more like 300 miles, because I’ll have to drive pretty far south to avoid tonight’s freeze.
But that’s okay, because I have a final destination in mind that I’ve been trying to visit for two years without success, and this time I’m passing through early enough in the season that it’ll work out.
Raton Pass on I25 near the border between Colorado and New Mexico sits at over 7,800 feet of elevation and they’re expected to get a dusting of snow as the cold front pushes through late this afternoon. Luckily, crossing in the morning I avoid that issue. The last time I came through here the pass was in the clouds and I couldn’t see a thing. Right now it’s perfectly clear.
I stay on I25 until south of Las Vegas (NM) where I exit onto some smaller roads and pass over I40 on a tiny country road labeled 219 while semis zoom underneath.
At the town of Vaughn I get onto 285, and tonight’s low looks much more reasonable. I finally stop for the day at the north end of Roswell, NM at another Walmart, where the low is 34 degrees. I’ve escaped the freeze, success! Despite the location, my stay in the parking lot remains altogether ordinary and normal. No aliens this visit.
October 27, Friday
I saw a post recently on Facebook that mentioned how bad 285 was between Roswell and Carlsbad. I’m not sure where they got their information from, but it seems out of date. Much of 285 has been recently re-surfaced and it’s smooth sailing into town.
From Carlsbad, I turn southwest onto 62 and drive a few miles out to my boondocking spot. I’m sure you’ve all figured out my destination by now.
There are several free boondocking sites near Carlsbad Caverns National Park, but the one I choose is down Dark Canyon Road. After the second cattle grate is a cattle crossing sign, and the next right beyond that is the dirt road this boondock is down.
It’s just a large dusty pullout on the right, pretty level with a few ruts in spots. Numerous rigs can fit here, but when I arrive I have it all to myself. I chose this over other options that may have been more scenic because this one was reputed to have the best Verizon signal. I’m happy to see when I arrive that I do have a strong LTE signal.
It’s not much to look at. The Chihuahuan Desert is pretty featureless here, dominated by sparse, yellow grass with the occasional shrub. Not long after I get set up, a van pulls in that will be my neighbor for my entire stay. He keeps to himself, but that doesn’t bother me at all. The flat terrain makes for big sky views.
The sunset tonight, my first true boondocking sunset in months, welcomes me back in style with spectacular colors. Ahhhh, the southwest. I’ve missed you!