Strange weather

There we were, eastbound on I-10 approaching the New Mexico border, speed set at 75, enjoying life in the slow lane, when I drove into a hurricane.

(I know a lot of you will scoff for driving the speed limit, but I’ve learned that the little four-banger under the hood doesn’t like being pushed to 80. That reduces my mileage about ten to fifteen percent and that gallon or two of gas can pose problems when you’re looking for a bathroom or a large enough bush in the undeveloped portions of the southwest. ‘Sides, I’m retired and have plenty of time.)

We were on our way to Fort Collins to see Darren via I-25. What remained of the hurricane was scheduled to punish Tucson but the weather forecasters missed the steering winds from the west. We watched the news that morning on several channels and decided we would be driving behind the storm. We decided to avoid the Flagstaff route, which would add a few hours to the trip, and take a chance on the route along the Rio Grande.

The storm stalled. The wipers went on and stayed on until we were near Albuquerque. Not a fun day behind the wheel.

We spent the night in Santa Fe and headed north the next morning on a two-lane highway. Nice leisurely drive until we crossed the border into Colorado and arrived in Alamosa. We were supposed to take Highway 285 along the edge of the Rockies but a DOT readerboard reported a fatal wreck on that road. We decided against that route and headed north on Highway 17, a more direct route. Just south of Villa Grove is a junction where 285 meets 17 again. Five miles later we passed through Villa Grove and stopped. The accident that was reported in Alamosa was two miles north of Villa Grove. We sat in the car about five minutes and nothing was moving. The accident was on top of a hill and we could see emergency vehicles but no activity. We turned around and went back to the village of Villa Grove. Any alternate route would have cost us at least fours, so we decided to wait it out.

Villa Grove may contain 50 or more people but I didn’t see many houses. There is a cute B&B and a small cafe/store. For two hours we wandered in and out of Loretta’s Cafe waiting for the accident to be cleared. We didn’t eat much since we were between meals, but the pies looked good. There’s a dirt track (maybe three miles long) that was being used as an alternate route but it was closed temporarily while cops investigated a second accident involving two semis on the detour (one rear ended the other in the dust raised by all of the vehicles.) Cops finally reopened the detour but were pacing vehicles about a minute apart. Fun time, although we did meet some interesting people.

Next time you’re in Villa Grove, stop at Loretta’s and tell her we said hi.

We had a good time with Darren and toured Rocky Mountain National Park one day. Nearly all above tree line with several passes over 9,000 feet (and one over 12,000) and incredible views. Had a picnic at Horsetooth Reservoir (fresh Alaska salmon cooked over coals in tin foil) with a great view of the lake and mountains, followed by a tour of one of the several breweries.

The trip home was uneventful. We spent the night in Las Vegas and the contrast with the Las Vegas in Nevada was interesting.

I started writing about  weather and lost my train of thought. Anyway, southern Arizona was impacted by more tropical storms this year than Florida. The monsoon extended about a month longer than usual and our summer rain was near normal (it has been running several inches below normal in recent years.)

Here’s a story for you.

First date

“Hi Mom. Hi Dad.”

“Well hello, Katy, Daniel. How was the movie?”

“It was good. But the fun part was after.”

Katy’s father developed a stern look. “Oh?”

“It was interesting to say the least. I think Danny should tell you.”

Danny gulped. “Well we left the movie and were walking down the sidewalk to my car and when we went under that canopy over Henderson’s Hardware this great big spider dropped down right in front of my face. Scared me to death. It was about the size of a volleyball and all black with white eyes bigger than my thumb and black legs hangin’ down.”

Mrs. Brown’s hand went to her mouth. “Oh, my.”

“I pushed Katy behind me and swung at the spider but it was still swayin’ so I only hit it with my forearm but I knocked it loose from its web or whatever it was hangin’ from and it fell in Randy’s wagon. I know you’ve only been here a month or so, so I don’t know if you know Randy. He’s mentally….”

“Mentally handicapped?” offered Mr. Brown.

“Yeah, that’s it. Really neat guy and everyone saves their papers and cans and bottles for him. Anyway, his wagon was fulla papers so the spider landed on somethin’ soft and it just sat there starin’ at us. Well, a buncha people from the movie were behind us and everyone started to gather ‘round and look at this thing when Deputy Webb came saunterin’ over from the Honey Bea Café–we all think he’s more interested in Bea’s daughter than in the food. He took a look at the spider but wouldn’t get any closer than we would. Randy keeps a push broom on his wagon and Deputy Webb grabbed it and unscrewed the broom from the handle and reared up like he was goin’ for the fence in Wrigley Field and let go with a home run swing before anyone could move or stop him. He hit that spider solid and it blew up all over the people that were watchin’. Everyone was covered in orange gore.”

Mrs. Brown’s hand was still covering her mouth. “Did anyone get hurt?”

“Naw. It was a punkin–an overripe punkin–that someone painted black and glued on buttons for eyes and made legs outta twine.”

Both Mr. and Mrs. Brown began to laugh and the intensity increased as Katy and Danny joined in.

“Now, I gotta go home and tell my brother that was the best joke he’s played yet.”


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