The Westward Wanders go to Colorado

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The cheese was placed on the mousetrap in early March, 2015. The simple idea of two lovers
traveling across country to begin again…fresh, and untarnished…is an idea of the past. To dig yourself
from the muck of what is comfortable and travel to a strange unknown land in search of a better life is
only the mission of pioneers, or possibly hippies; and we find ourselves on the middle of the spectrum
We are commonly known as John and Belinda, and usually referred to as the Wanders. This is the story
of our travels from the swamping sections of southern Oklahoma to a mythical place known as
Colorado, and the shenanigans that happened along the great American highways as we proved that not
all that wander are lost in day dreams.
Being that the both of us had recently left long term relationships, pulling the trigger and
deciding to leave became the easy part. We gathered our belongings, said our goodbyes, gathered a
decent amount of fine Oklahoma dirt weed, and packed what we could carry. As parents, the only
major question was the situation with the younger miniature versions of ourselves. The fix came by
way of our own parents, whom offered to keep the kiddos until the school year ended…then agreed to
mail them up to us once summer arrived. The next three days included eight hours of sleep and a
uncountable amount of cuss words screamed at inanimate objects…and in turn finally boiled down to
5am on Saturday, April 11th; when the 43 foot 1989 Winnebago Chieftain kicked the dust from the
spark plugs and push fuel into the engine to begin the journey.
As we crawled out of the greater area of Ardmore, OK; in an attempt to live the trucker life…we
pulled into a major truck stop for our initial fill up and soda grab. Considering at this point that we
had only been on the road for a total of 4 minutes…it is entirely possible that one would not have
noticed the flat tire on our pull behind trailer which contained our trusty 2012 Jeep Patriot. After 90
minutes of enjoyable conversation with a transvestite truck driver on the subject of roadside assistance,
our tire was repaired and we were sent down the highway…screaming “Come on Life, Give it too us!”.
Seventy five miles west down a windy Oklahoma two lane, life screamed back and showed us….much
like a child squirting you in the face with a water gun….that our westward road trip was soon to be
filled with comic book villains and gremlins that attacked our ‘Winny’ from all angles.
The lack of power that occurred while rolling into the small town of Warika, Oklahoma was the
first sign that the carburetor rebelled against the trip..the second sign was complete engine failure.
Once the farm boy knowledge kicked in, the carburetor was rebuilt with two screw drivers and an
empty 12 pack box, and we found ourselves road worthy again after a two hourly delay. The road
slowly began to seem lonely as we entered into the Texas panhandle, where it became apparent that the
jack rabbits were plotting an attack. The road seemed littered with fang sporting lepus that have been
starved and told to wait for the Oklahomans to pass by. It was frightening to say the least.
Fate would have it that we were to cross into Oklahoma again, somewhere near Guymon to visit
my old radio station from the 90’s. Being that it had been nearly 20 years since I had been in the
Oklahoma panhandle, I found it strangely different and sadly disappointing. The roads were in worse
shape than they were years ago, and places I knew and loved during my college years were either
closed down or completely gone. The mighty AM flamethrower that I once called home was nothing
more than a shell of a building and barely broadcasting, and the lovely house that I called mine for so
many years was now a warped and twisted pile of wood and shingles held together with rusty nails.
The road beckoned us 10 miles further west to the small college community of Goodwell, OK.
The excitement to show Belinda my old college campus came to a sudden end upon pulling into town
and realizing that the word “malfunction” loves trailer pulling Winnebago’s. Let this prove that speed
bumps, regardless of how slow one may be driving, can dislodge a trailer…and trailer hitch…from long
RV’s.
The sound of a dragging trailer was really the first thing we noticed, and a simple glance in the
rear view mirror revealed that the trailer was no longer making the forward journey. As the picture is
being painted, we find ourselves in the parking lot of the campus dormitories on a late Saturday night
in a Winnebago, and a completely broken trailer hitch. My initial thought was how easy of a fix this
would be if I only had my welder, but considering that we were lacking a welder; I dove straight in
with a shop hammer, a drill, and a grinder. After an hour spent, a pack of cigarettes, and four bloody
knuckles…a gentlemen rolled by on a bicycle and asked if I needed help. My response was simply .. “I
wish I had a welder!” His response was simply ..“I have a welding truck!”. Twenty five minutes later,
the trailer rejoined the Winny and the highway again became our friend as the crawl continued back
into the state of Texas before we powered down in a truck stop, pulled the curtains, and slept for the
night.
The sound of air brakes and diesel motors awoke us the next morning. After a quick brush of
the hair and wake and bake, the road to Colorado was now in sight. The last of flat plains in Texas has
few things for eye candy. The enjoyment of trying to race the parallel driving train kept our attention
briefly until the passing of the Mountain time zone line and the state of New Mexico…time travel
changes you, and we felt as if we were given an hour of our lives back to us…we were unstoppable.
A quick carburetor check and freshen up at a highway rest stop allowed us to see a glimpse of
the mountains, which fueled our fires to continue forth and forward to Interstate 25. We roll into the
town of Raton, New Mexico to get fuel and Camel cigarettes, knowing that Colorado was simply a few
miles up the road. The one thing we didn’t count on was the relentless climb up the Raton pass in a five
ton recreational vehicle pulling another vehicle on a solid steel trailer. The extreme fear one has while
in a 40′ long fiberglass house, with the peddle to floor; and only doing 5 mph up a mountain…is
unexplainable. The worry of being pushed off the mountain cliff by another run away trucker caused
my knuckles to whiten as my hands tightened to the steering wheel. The decent was no better as I
stood on the brakes the entire way down…the leveling of the highway was like a breath of clean air.
The panic overtook me to the point that I had not even realized that I had entered into the great state of
Colorado!
The trip up the I-25 region was the simplest of the entire trip, sadly the sun had set and our eyes
were not allowed to take in all that was Southern Colorado. As the time passed and the miles went by
one at a time, we finally saw the nighttime lights of Colorado Springs. After two failed attempts to find
a RV park with vacancy, we finally arrived in the Manitou Springs area and found our home away from
Oklahoma. A quick connect to power and water, and we laid our heads down for the night. It had been
two days filled with adventure across four states and 734 miles to the promise land. Sleep was needed.
The next morning, as we stepped out the door of the faithful Winny, we turned to the west and
saw the grandeur that is Pikes Pike. The smell of the air was no longer foul. The light was no longer
dimming, but getting brighter by the second. Despite the doubts, the fears, and the aging mode of
transportation….we had arrived. During the day, we patrolled the Manitou area, the West side, and the
Garden of the Gods. After the first day of sunlight, we knew that we had found our spot. We are proud
to be in this place known as Colorado. To life…we say “Cheers!” We are home.