Adventures on the Road

Home at last! And this year getting home was the adventure. We left Tucson Mountain Park with plans to return next year and do some more exploring. Nick was getting a little antsy to move on and I was getting tired of having pointy plants shredding my legs. So we packed up and bolted with plans to maybe ride in ABQ on the way home. The Back of the Pack racing team had given me some info on some good riding just north of ABQ. Everything seemed to be going pretty smoothly with the traveling until we turned off of I-10 in Demming. Then the Turtle started acting up. After almost the entire trip of a well behaved, "fast" moving Turtle, that 48 miles on back roads between I-10 and I-25 were a nightmare. Twice, we almost stopped dead in the road as the Turtle chugged and sputtered. Even the auxiliary fuel pumps didn't help. Finally it started behaving a little better in Hatch and we got on the interstate heading north. There was still some chugging and sputtering, but things were looking up. So we decided to stop for an early dinner in Socorro. Nick had been craving a steak for the last week and there was a decent steakhouse in Socorro. We had a really good dinner and were ready to get back on the road.

The Turtle wouldn't start! It just sputtered and the engine would not catch. Nick tried a few times, but nothing worked. We had fuel, we had battery power, but the engine was not making the connection. We've had some issues like this in the past, but nothing recently. Back then, changing the fuel filters seemed to work. Hoping that was the issue again, Nick crawled under the Turtle and replaced one filter - perfectly clean. The other filter was in even better shape. That wasn't the problem. Trying the engine again and still no luck. Last resort, Nick hits it with some engine starter. Finally, after an hour of stressing and worrying that we would be stuck in Socorro for a few days, the engine slowly gasped to life. So much for riding in ABQ! The sun was already going down and it was dark as we rolled through town.

Nick drove as far as he could, figuring that we would make good time in the dark. As noted from the trip down, the stretch of I-25 from Santa Fe to Pueblo can be pretty windy, so we were hoping to get through most of that in the nighttime stillness. We got to Raton, then had to stop. Despite getting up at a decent time (we were thinking that we could ride in Lake Pueblo State Park, since we hadn't gotten to ride in ABQ) and hitting the road early, we hadn't managed to hide from the wind. Going up Raton Pass, the Turtle was pegged at 30MPH. On the flats between Trinidad and Aguilar, we were only doing 45, pedal to the medal because of the wind. And it went downhill from there. The wind intensified and soon Nick was driving with the steering wheel at a 45 degree angle - to go straight. Our speed had dropped down to 30mph as the Turtle was buffeted by the winds. The cars and semis weren't going much faster! One semi passed us pretty fast - we got to watch his tractor blown about 5 feet. I swear the left rear wheels were off the road for a while! After that, we stopped in Walsenburg and holed up in the KFC/Taco Bell there. Watching the awing of the gas station swaying in the wind wasn't encouraging to get back on the road. Watching semis creep down the hill on the interstate didn't help either. But the wind didn't seem to be dying down and we were only two miles from home! So we decided that even if we had to go 10mph, we would start heading north. The truck stop had gotten busy while we were waiting - a lot of semis and campers had decided to wait out the wind as well. But we were moving again - albeit slowly.

Home at last! Interesting and fun trip - it's harder then it looks to go RVing in Tucson, especially when you're under 55! Still working on that race report and some more photos.


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