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Sunday, October 24, 2010

HOW SAM GOT HOME

BELLAIR BUS...BELLINGHAM - SEA-TAC AIRPORT
MAIN TERMINAL, DENVER INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT

MAIN TERMINAL, DENVER INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT


DEVIL'S SLIDE...I-84 NEAR OGDON, UTAH (Natural Rock Erosion)



SUN SETS ON I-84 NEAR BOISE, IDAHO

















SAM & ME returned to Bellingham, Washington yesterday, Saturday, October 23, 2010.

It was our intention to reach Key West by this day.

How SAM returned Home is interesting. We would like to share that return.

SAM sat in her trailer, attached to the Van, in the barnyard of a Ranch 70 or so miles North of the Denver Interntional Airport. She was there, at the home of Char and Maria, for safe keeping.

It came to be that our walk had been delayed until a (as yet undetermined) later date. It became evident that SAM & the Van must return to Bellingham. It was urgent that this be done before Snows dropped onto the Rocky Mountains and the Blue Mountains (Oregon).

So, on Thursday, October 21, 2001, when the Van's key was finally located, the following events began:

I telephoned Delta Airlines. I obtained a "Miles" reservation Seattle/Salt Lake City/Denver, leaving Seattle at 4:20 pm, arriving in Denver at 9:00 pm. SAM, et.all, were some 70 miles from the Denver Airport, many miles away from the nearest town. I was successful in reserving a Bus from the Airport to Loveland, Colorado, with the expectation that the Driver would divert a bit to bring me close to SAM, some 25 miles before Loveland.

My plane out of Salt Lake City was delayed. It finally arrived, and in spite of running to Ground Transportation, my reserved bus had already departed. The next bus was at 11:40 pm. I waited.

I started to board the 11:40 pm bus, explaining to the Driver that I would like to be dropped off at Highway 52 & I-25. To my shock, he said, "NO". PUC rules (Government Rules regulating transport in the United States) prohibit any diversion from the approved routing. In my case, he would NOT stop until reaching Loveland, Colorado.

That was, to me, not acceptable. I pleaded with the Bus Company. They finally determined that Highway 52 and I-25 was within the routing envelope of the Boulder, Colorado bus, leaving at 12:00 (midnight). I purchased a second bus ticket ($33.00) and boarded the Boulder bus. At 12:30 am, I was let out at Highway 52 and I-25. The miles signpost said Fort Lupton was 10 miles. Fort Lupton was about one mile beyond County Road 23, where SAM & the Van were located.

I had once before, walked this road. Finding a walking route around Denver, I selected Highway 52 to head East to Highway 71, which I walked South to connect once again with US 287. So, I was familiar with Highway 52. 10 miles at my normal 4 miles per hour pace, put me at SAM at about 3:00 am. It was quite dark at 00:30 am as I started walking East.

I walked cautiously the first 20 minutes or so. Traffic was light. Highway 52 is a newly resurfaced road with a wide berm and modest rumble strip. The white line was recently painted and easy to follow. Then, the FULL MOON came out. Clouds initially covered La Luna. They opened up for me, allowing a bright light to shine down onto Highway 52. I picked up my pace. I could actually see not only the pavement, but also the surrounding landscape in the Moonlight.

I arrived at County Road 23 at 0245 hours (2:45 am). I turned left (North), and walked the final 3/4 mile to Char's Ranch. The Van and SAM's trailer sat where I had parked them on October 01. I checked with my flashlight - which I try to always carry -. All tires were OK. The trailer Hitch was secure.

I unlocked the door, climbed in, inserted and twisted the Key. The Van's engine sprang to life.

I let her idle 30 seconds or so. She sounded and felt good. I put her into "Drive", released the Hand Brake, turned on the Headlights, and pulled out of the barnyard onto "23". It was exactly 0300 hours (3:00 am).

I had walked the 10 miles in less than 2.5 hours, achieving over 4 mph in the Moonlight.

I felt bittersweet. I had SAM & the Van back. We were on our way Home. We also, at that moment, put "FINAL" on THIS attempt to reach Key West. We headed North on I-25 to Cheyenne, Wyoming, where we gassed up. I was very sleepy. I put the seat back & dozed for 15 minutes.

We reached Rawlins, Wyoming, where I gassed up again. Just before daybreak, we stopped once again at my favorite of all highway places, Little America, Wyoming. I didn't need gas, but I was hungry. I ate a bowl of Oatmeal with Rye Toast and a cup of coffee. Then, I again lay back the Van seat and slept for another 30 minutes. The SUN rose over the Rocky Mountains as we once again took to I-80 West.

At Snowville, Utah - another favorite place of mine -, I again gassed up and continued up I-84 into Idaho. At Mountain Home, Idaho (just East of Boise, Idaho), I gassed up again. It was now getting dark. I had cell-phoned Motel 6 at the Boise Airport (another of my "regular" watering holes over the years). I arrived at 9:00 pm; checked in to "Hi, Mr. Maynard...so nice to see you again"; took my backpack from the Van, brushed my hairy teeth, took a quick hot shower, and slipped into the welcoming sheets. I promptly went to sleep...my first real sleep since 4:00 am two days before.

At 6:00 am, I was again on I-84, heading West. It was raining - with promise of snow in the air. I stopped at Ontario, Oregon, where I again gassed up at "LOVE'S" (another "regular") and headed North West into the Oregon hills as Ole SOL rose over the Idaho Plains behind me.

Some think the Rocky Mountains are difficult driving. I have driven cross-USA about 50 times now and I can attest that some of the most difficult driving terrain is I-84 from Ontario to Pendleton, Oregon. Numerous long steep hills are encountered. The Blue Mountains offer some of the earliest snowfall and is treacherous...especially Immigrant Pass falling down a steep slope into Pendleton.

Gratefully, snow was not yet on the ground...but the "smell" was in the air. I had beat the weather.

In Prosser, Washington, I again sacked out for 30 minutes.

Coming down off Snoqualmie Pass East of Seattle, it started to rain. I-90 is under construction in many places over the Cascade Mountains. At 3,000 feet, Snoqualmie Pass gets a late snow...however I have been in blizzard conditions one June 16, back in the 1950's while crossing Snoqualmie. So, one never knows.

I arrived in Bellingham at 6:00 pm...just minutes before darkness fell in the drizzle.

I was greeted by..."you here so soon...".

Some things seem to never change.

SAM was Home.

1 comment:

DJan said...

I have been looking every day to see if you have posted anything new, and now I know the outcome of SAM and YOU. I do hope you keep up this blog so that your plans and ruminations can be published here. You are also a good writer, Bruce, and I have so enjoyed reading your adventures, all of them, good and bad and in between. Blessings upon you.