Only once on the way to Pagosa Springs did we think we were going to die! From North Richland Hills, Texas to Pagosa Springs, Colorado is approximately 775 miles. Mapquest says it is thirteen hours drive time—and it is every bit of that!
Part one is Hwy 287 which is the highway from Fort Worth to Amarillo through Chillicothe, so if you read yesterday’s blog, you know that this is a stretch of small west Texas farming and ranching towns. Conditions are pretty treacherous right now because there has been no rain since October. The radio evangelist on Sunday morning began the service with a prayer for rain. We should join him in that prayer.
(By the way, I saw an old Indian sign once that said: Rain dance tonight at the campsite—weather permitting!)
From Amarillo, Tx to Santa Fe, New Mexico changes to interstate highway, much of it 75 mph. Although the flat, dusty fields of west Texas give way to the small canyons and low mesas of western New Mexico there is still nothing to look at! The billboard guiding travelers to Fort Sumner and Billy the Kid’s grave wake you up momentarily—but no time for detours, if we are going to make it to Pagosa Springs today!
We love Santa Fe! A few years ago we had our LST Development Council meeting in Santa Fe and had such an enjoyable time with the old town and the surrounding history! But today we just saw the loop around it and enough adobe houses to wish for another time to come back.
The last 162 miles from Santa Fe to Pagosa Springs on Highway 84 have some breathtaking views. The ascent upwards begins in earnest, first with the low hills and then towards the snow-capped mountains of the Rockies. But it is R-E-M-O-T-E ! It is a stretch of highway that if I had known how uninhabited it was, I would have thought twice about driving it after dark in a car with 145,000 miles on it. I do worry sometimes about having car trouble in the middle of the night in the middle of nowhere in the middle of no cell phone service—but Sherry laughs at me. She’s not afraid of anything!
Just as we crossed into Colorado about 8:30pm, driving about 60 mph—I don’t usually drive too fast—this huge buck starts across the road right in front of us. Sherry yells and throws her hands straight up—a very unproductive physical response to danger in my opinion! I start to break and swerve at the same time . . .
I’ve got two deer notches on the side of my car already. Once in college I hit a deer on an Arkansas highway, but I won that time and drove away from it. The second time was one night in Mississippi on the way to visit my girlfriend in Florida (Sherrylee). Another small deer ran in front, but this time it went under the wheels of the car and jerked the wheels around so that I lost control of the car and crossed over the highway and went off into the deep ditch on the opposite side of the road. I remember thinking, “Well, this is it!”—but it wasn’t. I wasn’t hurt, just scared, and was able to drive the car out of the ditch. I did have a hole in the radiator, punched by the antlers, I suppose, so I had to have that repaired before I could keep driving. The thing about hitting deer in the deep South is that there is always someone eager to help you and take that deer home as the reward!
But this buck was twice as big as either of those dead deer—so just as I started to emergency brake and swerve, the smart buck also slammed on his brakes, turned around just on the shoulder of the road and ran back into the woods. We said, “Thank you, Lord!” It was neither our day— nor his!
We pulled into Pagosa Springs about 9:00pm, found the lovely lake house that friends of ours made available to us, unloaded the car, and did what we often do at night—turned on a movie (Notting Hill, if you must know!) and snuggled on the couch to unwind.
Safe travel is not something we take for granted—but something with which God blessed us once again. His guardian angels had to do a little work that we know of—and maybe some we didn’t—but we are thankful for all of it.
Tomorrow I’ll tell you about Pagosa Springs and the duel that was fought here between the champion of the Ute Indians and the champion of the Navajo.