In late March I flew to Phoenix, spent a couple of days with my folks, and then drove their (former) car from Fountain Hills, Ariz. to Denver, Colo. The trip took 11 hours, 10 minutes, the first 822 miles of it done in 11 hours flat. This is possible if one a) stops only when the engine has trained its tank and and b) if one speeds boldly. This is not hard to do in a 350 HP Ford Flex, which is more or less a massive sports car. I averaged about 75 mph despite fueling stops in Gallup and then Raton, N.M.
To pass the time, I listened to 80s on 8 on SiriusXM (does this date me?) plus some comedy radio and also took photos (if inadvisable at 90 mph).
Departed Fountain Hills at 7:30 a.m.; Four Peaks in the background
The Four Peaks looked a bit different on the way in.
Tonto National Forest comes along pretty quickly — a saguaro party.
And into Payson (via U.S. 87), where there’s not a saguaro to be seen. One could be lulled into thinking one is already in Colorado. Not quite.
Ditto for Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest.
Heading northeast toward Holbrook, things open up.
Holbrook, which I managed to photograph without a petrified wood sign, which isn’t easy to do.
Toward Petrified Forest National Park on U.S. 40
Despite the sign, I saw absolutely no one washing here.
Into New Mexico (the yellow sign says as much; the truck — and in particular, the fact that I was passing it at a rather hasty clip — vexed the attempted close-up).
Just past Gallup. I had noted this formation…
…from the air on the way down. It took about an hour to get here by Boeing 737. I had at least seven hours to go.
A few miles down the road, a long stretch of red cliffs…
…that I had also seen from 4.5 miles up.
I was going so fast the guardrails warped.
At first I thought the black stuff had been dumped into piles. But it’s volcanic.
and there it is, where Bugs Bunny made all those wrong turns. It struck me, after so many miles of emptiness, how immense an undertaking the place is.
Toward Santa Fe, northbound I-25. Santa Fe managed to avoid showing much of itself to the highway.
Past Santa Fe, at a point where enough bugs had splatted on the windshield that it confounded the autofocus.
There were more trees, until everything went big and beige.
Just when I thought the West couldn’t get any bigger, it got bigger.
But it does end. Entering Raton, I was following a fellow speeder, both of us apparently having forgotten that police tend to hang out on the approach to town. The cop car crossing the median pulled him over. Coulda been me!
Up and over the pass and it’s into Colorado we go…
where what comes immediately into view but… mountains! No saguaro here, either.
Into Trinidad, the snow gone.
Headed for Pueblo
Closing in on Pueblo…
You might have noticed that the drive becomes noticeably less scenic as one approaches the Front Range.
Things get blurry up the Palmer Divide.
And, finally, home, which is where the Ikea is. Or Something like that (Ikea is actually in Centennial, about 13 miles south of home. But whatever. When you’ve driven 790 already, what’s another dozen-odd miles?)