A couple of days before Christmas I left for my annual trip to Quartzsite, AZ and Blythe, CA, along the way I planned to stop for six days at Deming, NM to visit my friends Ed and Judy. When I started my vacation, there were two powerful storms working their way across the country, so for over half of the trip I was in high winds, driving rain and more rain. Since I anticipated some holiday traffic, I was on the road around 3 AM each morning sharing the road with the long distance trucks.
On the end of my second day of travel, I had gotten on the road an extra hour earlier that morning because of the time zone change. I should mention here that I try to keep my day on east coast time as long as I can as a way to avoid that jet lag feeling. I made my connection on the outskirts of Dallas for the route 20 bypass to the west side of Fort Worth, the weather was not nice, the rain at times was forcing slowdowns as visibility dropped to less than fifty feet, accidents were many. It’s an extra long days drive from Fort Worth to Deming and I made a gas stop just outside of Fort Worth, I was almost at the end of a long days drive and I wanted to stop for the night with a full tank of gas so I would not have to stop in the morning. Because there was trouble with the gas pumps at the Flying J, everyone had to pay inside and the lines were long.
As I was waiting on-line, I passed the time talking with a couple and their two teenagers, since they were traveling east and I was traveling west, we swapped highway driving conditions. When one of them asked where I would stop for the night, I told them I would drive for at least another couple of hours or so. They suggested that I get off the road as soon as I could after passing Fort Worth as there had been a major gas strike down south and the gas companies were booking all the rooms they could for the drilling teams, and the rooms at the motels in Big Spring were full with rates through the roof. From there down to Van Horn most motels were already full, and if there were open rooms, be prepared to pay over a hundred dollars for a night.
As route 20 turned south, just pass Fort Worth, it started snowing, great big quarter sized flakes. Ten minutes later, I was stopped on the highway, an accident ahead somewhere I guessed., the snow was no longer those pretty big, white, fluffy flakes, but had turned into a heavy, driving sleet/snow combination that rendered the tail lights of the car stopped eight foot ahead of me, just a weak, dim, red glow. I got on my cell phone and called Judy to find out the conditions at Deming. Judy told me that it was sunny and about 65 degrees, when I told her where I was and the conditions I was in, she tuned in the weather on her TV and told me I would probably be in clear skies in another twenty or thirty minutes. Traffic started moving then and I told her I would see her tomorrow. Ten minutes later, I was in bright sun, not a cloud in the sky, I think this was the first I had seen the sun since leaving home in New Jersey. I stopped for the night at Sweetwater, Texas. It was not even four yet, but I did not want to go all the way to Big Spring and not find a room for the night, I had only traveled 869 miles since leaving Tennessee that morning.
The next day’s driving, was a walk in the park, no wind, plenty of sun, with just an occasional few little puffy white clouds. I recalled this part of the drive from a couple of years ago, driving 300 miles through the desert in zero visibility dust storms, then into a heavy thunderstorm and snow in El Paso. I arrived at Ed and Judy’s in the early afternoon, the 600 miles that day went without a glitch.
To be continued….