As anyone who has traveled knows, there are good travel days and bad travel days. So far this trip we have been blessed with nothing but good travel days. That was all about to change.
But before I get to that let me take you back to the day we left Q. As you will recall, we left Quartzsite on Monday morning with HTDH feebly throwing a rock at our truck as well pulled out. Several of you asked: Is HTDH a real or mythical character? Is he really that bad? How does his lovely wife Vicki put up with him? Well, I can answer the first two questions, as for the third, love can make all of us put up with somethings that someone from the outside just cannot understand.
As to the first two questions. HTDH is a true character, and I used the word "character" on purpose because that is what he truly is, but truth be told, he and Vicki have two dogs of their own. Buster and Sadie. And if I were to be even more honest, I would admit that I have seen him giving loving scratches to both Zoey and Dakota, but what fun is that? It is more fun to pick on Harry portraying him as this dog hating old codger!
But, getting back to our travels. Leaving Q we headed east on I-10 for a total of 30 minutes before we took the exit to Brenda. Our destination for the day was Blackrock RV Park where our good friends Red and Pam were staying. You may remember those names from our post two weeks ago when we talked about meeting Steve and Dianne for the first time in January of 2014. Red and Pam were the reinforcements that Steve and Dianne called up just in case we were a couple of whack-a-dos.
You may also remember them from this post in December of ’17 when Pam helped us butcher a couple of deer at her brother in laws place in Texas. Something she still recalls as a one and done event.
Having not seen them in a couple of years, we were excited to catch up with them. Pam had secured us a site at Blackrock directly across from them. After getting set up, and the dogs meeting each other, we hit the trails in the new side by side they had just taken delivery on. They showed us the sights in the area while we caught up on each other lives.
Sadie and Cooper meeting Zoey
We stopped at one lookout where I took several pictures of the area and a memorable memorial. We sat on the rocks in this area and had a beer. I took my phone out of my back pocket and set it on the rock next to me. You guessed it, I left it there not discovering that it was missing until we were several miles away. So, we turned around hoping it was still there when we returned. On our way back to the lookout we were approaching a 4-wheeler going the opposite direction when this guy stops us and asks, “Is this your phone?”. He had found it, scrolled through the pictures and recognized us. Talk about lucky!
That night, we were joined by friends of Red and Pam’s for supper. We had met Mike and Dawne several years ago but had not gotten to know them very well, so it was nice to spend some more time together. The burgers and salads were delicious!
The next morning after breakfast, we headed on down the road. This is where things got interesting. You may recall that this area got pounded by a winter storm earlier this week. Well, we drove right into it. The first day we ran into rain, snow, fog and winds. The winds were mild(ish) in the 30-40mph range, and the temps were still well above freezing.
We stopped for the night in a boondocking spot in the high desert outside of Holbrook Arizona. Here, I emptied our hot water heater and freshwater tanks, winterizing the rig with antifreeze.
|High desert boondocking!|
The next morning we woke up to more winter weather. The forecast was for snow and winds at 40 with gusts over 60. Normally we would have just hunkered down for the day but we had a deadline to meet so off we went! Our plan was to head north to I40 then east into Albuquerque, then north on I25. Well, that all changed about 45 minutes later when we came across a sign stating that a stretch of I40 was closed due to blizzard conditions. Barb pulled up the road conditions app on her phone to find all roads north of us were red meaning they were closed. Ugh! She did find a road that went to the east that was still open, so we backtracked 15 minutes, got on that road and headed east. The winds were horrible, but visibility was good. There were a few times you thought the whole truck was going to tip right over. After 40 minutes she found a road that went north that was open all the way up to I40. Once we got to Albuquerque is when it started getting really bad. Not only did we have wind, but we also now had congestion and dust clouds. We were driving 50mph and the dust storm was passing us meaning it was going faster than 50! Visibility was anywhere for ¼ mile to a few hundred feet until that too diminished and I could barely see the taillights of the car in front of me. Then that car stopped in the middle of I25! We sat there for 30 seconds waiting for a semi-truck to slam into the back of us before the car in front of us pulled onto the shoulder allowing us to move again. Talk about a pucker factor!
North of Albuquerque visibility improved, and we finally ended our day in Las Vegas, NM where we tucked in for the night behind a barrier at Walmart where we were rocked to sleep.
The fun did not stop there though. The next day we needed to make it to Denver where it was a whopping 7°F degrees! We booked a site for 3 nights at Cherry Creek campground in Centennial. The low the first night was 2°F, the furnace ran pretty much all night long just trying to maintain 60°.
The next morning, we made our way to the reason we were crazy enough to risk life and limb to get here. You see, several months ago I signed up for a 3-day distilling class at Downslope Distillery! The classes are limited to 8 people, so you get as much as one-on-one teaching as possible. Over the next three days I was fed information through a fire hose; yeasts, enzymes, fermentations, nutrients, grains, distillations everything from start to finish. At times it felt like I was back in high school hoping to keep up with everything that was being thrown at me. At least there wasn’t a test at the end!
16-gallon (l) and 55-gallon (r) combination reflux stills
|200-gallon pot still|
We made rum, gin and vodka in the three days. Now I am ready to go out on my own! You will never see any blogs about me making spirits as the legalities of making your own spirits vary from state to state and anyone that knows me knows that I would never violate any rules!
We had one more distillery adventure while we were there when we went to Stranahan's Distillery downtown. Some of you may recognize their bottles as they come with a tin cup on the top.
So, with that, our great winter adventure is over: 2 countries, 6 states, 3,964 miles, 4 breweries, 2 distilleries, 19 new friends, countless old friends and one curmudgeonly old dog hater!
The weather back home is in the 30’s and 40’s over the next 10 days. Perfect for getting back into the swing of things and starting our next project!