Before leaving Idaho, I spoke with David, one of my co-workers in the Electrical Department about our trip cross-country. When I mentioned we were staying in Amarillo, Texas on our third night on the road, David asked me which route we were taking. I told him we were connecting onto US 87 somewhere in Colorado and going into northern Texas from there, but David said US 287 into Northern Texas via Raton, New Mexico was a better route. After work that day, I checked out David's suggestion in my road atlas and decided that would be our Day 3 route cross-country. Best to take advice from someone who lived in Northern Texas like David.
Mom and I got a later start on Day 3 because we needed extra time to recover from the hellacious ride from Utah into Colorado the day before. Our plan was for both of us to wear our Red Sox World Championship t-shirts in order to say "nyah nyah nyah" to any Colorado Rockies fans we passed by, but Mom's t-shirt was buried in a suitcase that wasn't coming out of the trunk come hell or highwater. Luckily for me, I was able to dig out one of two of my Red Sox t-shirts I had packed for the trip (the other five Red Sox t-shirts I own were being shipped to Erika's during our trip), and my gray Red Sox 2007 World Championship t-shirt that Mom's side of the family sent us last Fall was on my back that morning to announce to all of Colorado who our favorite sports team was!
Getting onto I-25 South at the connector near our hotel was a little tricky being the end of rush hour, but it was smooth sailing after that. Mom and I were happy to have the worst of the roads behind us and more flat, open roads for the rest of the trip.
We also got a later start that morning in order to straighten out the car which looked like a hurricane hit it. I stacked Zoe and Xena's carriers in one corner of the back seat and stuffed some of our stuff into them, and Zoe and Xena would be riding with us for the rest of the trip giving Loki some needed space in the back seat. I don't know who pissed in their Fancy Feast that morning, but we had to deal with two cats in a bad mood for the beginning of the trip. Xena was uppity about not being able to sit on Mom's lap, and showed her disappointment by biting Zoe's tail as she slept on Mom's lap in the front seat. "This is going to be a fun day!", I thought, but after a while Xena gave up trying to de-throne Zoe from the front seat and went under the passenger's seat for the rest of the trip.
Loki didn't fare better at the beginning of the trip. He was not in the mood to come out of the backseat when we stopped at Trinidad, Colorado, near the New Mexico border for gas and a stretch. I walked him around the gas station in order to let him stretch out with me, and poor dog got sick at the gas pumps. I was a little embarassed, but it was better puking in the car and suffering from the stink the rest of the trip. Loki was a little bit loopy after getting sick, but it didn't stop him from mooching the muffin I bought at the gas station in Greenwood Village that morning. To paraphrase Bill Paxton's character in Apollo 13 after he threw up in space, that dog could "eat the ass off a dead rhinocerous!" On the way out of the gas station rest room, a hitchhiker caught me passing by and wondered if the Celtics were going to take the NBA Championship. "I hope so," I said. "I have many friends who are Laker fans that I want to razz when they do." The man then asked me what the previous night's game score was, and I said, "The Celtics lost 98-91, unfortunately." I am glad he didn't ask for a ride because we didn't have any room for him, and I don't pick up hitchhikers. The joke at my old Home Depot was that I was supposed to tie David from Electrical to the roof of the car with duct tape and do it the Saturday before I left, but I joked to Karla to tell my old boss, Papa Duane that I was sorry I couldn't take David with me because there was barely enough room for Mom, the zoo, and me!
After Trinidad, Loki stayed in the car for the rest of the trip, and we gave him water on breaks to keep him hydrated. Southern Colorado was a very scenic part to go through, and we saw Chimney Rock outside of Colorado Springs along with other rock formations before hitting the flatlands of Northern Texas.
Upon entering New Mexico near Raton, we needed to connect onto 287 South. It was a rural highway and traffic was light most of the way to Amarillo. Mom and I were surprised at the number of small towns we passed that were almost ghost towns. Many of the buildings and gas stations were abandoned and boarded up, and we knew they were victims of the latest Bush recession. This area of Northwestern Texas is also where the great movies There Will Be Blood and No Country for Old Men were filmed, and I joked with Mom I was "expecting Javier Bardem's sadistic Anton Chigurh character to come jumping out from some sagebrush and blow us away with that funky helium compressor gun used in the movie!"
By the time we hit New Mexico, the winds picked up, and we were driving against the wind for the rest of the trip. We stopped in the small town of Clayton, New Mexico for gas, bathroom breaks, and then Mom saw the Dairy Queen next door and got a sudden hunkering for ice cream. So, she ran inside while I kept an eye on the zoo and let the wind gust through me. Mom came back a couple of minutes later with a couple of hot fudge sundaes for us, and we ate them outside the car. The wind blew syrup all over our shirts making us a little sticky for the rest of the trip.
About 410 miles into the trip, Mom and I hit the Amarillo city limits. Mom and I needed to get onto one route that would get us onto I-40 East, but somehow we wound up in one of the business districts on the way into the boonies. Finally after coming to a dead end right before TX335, I had to pull over into a shop there and ask the lady for directions. The lady said we weren't the first people looking for help, and she was very kind to get us onto 335 S that would connect to I-40. Right after getting onto 335, we hit a brush fire that made visibility tough for a minute, but we got in the right direction towards our hotel in Amarillo, and we finally dragged our butts into the Motel 6 parking lot near 6 p.m., which was later than we wanted to get there, but rush hour was no prize in Amarillo either. Amarillo is Spanish for yellow, and I was wondering if dingy and desert-like was a more appropriate translation for this place in the middle of nowhere in the Texas Panhandle!
After getting checked into our hotel and got pizza delivered for dinner, Mom and I were happy to settle in for the night and have some extra time to rest because Day 4 was only 363 miles to Duncanville, Texas outside of Dallas.
Please check out Day 4 of our cross-country journey in my entry Don't Get Pulled Over By A Bandit In Texas.