We left Austin on a Saturday morning, highs expected in the high nineties. It wasn’t, after all, a bad time to leave central Texas for a ten day adventure in Colorado. We were ready. Dog sitter/house sitter in order and the fridge stocked with food for him, we headed out. This was our first long-distance foray with our 25 foot Airstream, Buttercup. Our first leg would take us from Austin to the Panhandle town of Amarillo. There’s not too much to see between the two besides miles and miles of Texas, cows, small towns and (yay) we saw loads of prairie dogs. Our oldest son is named Brady, and there is a town we pass, well, we go within a few miles of, with the same name. Every time, my husband says, “this year, maybe we’ll make it to the World Championship BBQ Goat Cook-Off in Brady, Texas, over Labor Day.” For the past 15 years or so, he’s uttered these words, and every Labor Day, we’re out watching one or both of our boys play in a soccer tournament in dear old Austin, no goats in sight. This year, our youngest may, or may not be playing in that tourney, and I beat the hubby to the calendar for Labor Day with the Kerrville Fall Folk Festival. Yeah, we’ll see.
It took us about 7 hours of driving before we pulled up to the RV Oasis park located just a few miles from the famous Cadillac Ranch. They were clever with their own sign inside the park. At first glance, I thought, ehhhh, okay, a big parking lot with pull through spots. We went to the office, which was already closed, but they had called us on our drive up to confirm our arrival, and found we were in spot 73. We pulled up between two big Diesel Pushers and unhitched our Buttercup. Honestly, she looked so small, but so freakin’ cool lined up with the big rigs. It made me grin. The lots were nice and level (Amarillo is mostly flat, which helps) but they were all paved with wee patches of green grass between RV pads. No need to pull out the levelers, so it was a quick set up. Everything was clean and shiny, like they pressure wash the pavement. Maybe its just that they don’t get much rain, so there’s no mildew to color it? The lonely picnic table was new and clean too.
We immediately jumped back in the truck to find the Torchy’s Tacos we passed, but on the way, we realized that we were actually going to drive by Cadillac Ranch. So, we said, “Why not?” the light was pretty and we were in no hurry. Oh, I love vacation! It had been maybe 12 years since we’d last carved our names into one of those old cars. As we started through the corn field toward the row of half buried Caddies, my stomach turned at all the graffiti just spray painted into the dirt. I mean, really? C’mon morons. I understand that it’s a “thing” to graffiti the cars, but painting the dirt, and even the poor farmer’s crop? As we drew closer, I watched as people picked up the discarded spray paint cans that littered the site. There were hundreds of them. They’d shake and try to use them. Then, toss them down and grab another. Parents watched as their 6-year-olds spray painted the ground because recent rain (I guess I was wrong about that) had made puddles around the cars. We took an obligatory photo with the icons behind us, but I was thoroughly disgusted with my fellow humans, and their trash and detritus. As we walked back to our car, the sunset and the big Texas sky were magical. A quick and gloriously profound reminder of how small and small minded we humans are, and how pure and cleansing, and anciently wise Mama Nature is. I needed that. We grabbed a bite at Torchy’s and headed to our Buttercup.
Back at the Oasis RV resort, we were ready to hit the hay. Our air conditioner would be greatly appreciated, and we headed to bed. Next morning, we hit the showers, which, by the way were clean and free. Each bathroom had a private shower and the water was hot and full of pressure. We were hitched up and on the road by 9 or 10.
Where the Antelope Roam
We headed through New Mexico where I always love to count the antelope. The big rolling hills and grassland is just teeming with them. They were so cute! Watching the clouds and the distant rain in the hills and the way they painted the sky was mesmerizing.
We crossed into Colorado and my sense of wonder rose. I started thinking about what it would be like to be traveling like this full-time. Freedom was coursing through my veins and my adventurous spirit was full-on, so when we exited the highway to take a scenic road toward Salida, and found this tiny tunnel, well, I felt kinda giddy. It was a one-lane, two-way tunnel. Would we fit? It sure looked small. How tall is Buttercup again? Oh boy. Bryan hopped out and said, “I’m getting this on video! Go for it!” So, we did. “Buckle up Buttercup!!”
Tight Squeeze Tunnel
It’s almost like you start feeling younger by the minute, by the mile. My imagination tends to run high all the time, but there was so much to wonder about. What’s it like to live at the top of that hill? What’s on the other side? Does that river ever flood and leave them stranded? What in the world was in that person’s yard? Art? Holy hell, oh, well, would you look at that… a pharmacy with a green sign. Why not?
We rolled through the lovely town of Salida and on to our campground about 15 miles toward Buena Vista. I’ve got to insert my Texan here. Where I’m from, down toward Mexico, we’d say Sal-eee-da, the way our friends south of the border would. We’d also say “Bwena Vista”. Nope, here in Colorado (which is also a Spanish word they tend to butcher) they say Sal-eye-da, and Byoo-na Vista. I’m pretty sure they said them this way before they legalized weed, so I can’t even give them an excuse. These are two of our favorite towns we’ve found in Colorado over the last 15 years. Now, we get to spend 8 days here!!
We are here because my crazy husband qualified to race in the Leadville 100 Mountain Bike Race. This brutal race requires you to be a damned good mountain biker, and to be damned crazy. The whole race, all 100 miles of it, happen above 9000 feet. Yes, it’s hard to walk across a parking lot at that altitude. I’m his support crew, so I’ll be sitting around on the side of the road, practicing guitar and guarding his cooler full of sandwiches, that’s if I don’t get the munchies and … I’m JOKING! (ish)
More Colorado Adventures to come.