25. Apr, 2016

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FRIDAY 13-06-08 

We were awake early and so showered, had breakfast and got ready to make a nice early start on our journey to Amarillo, Texas.

We’d only been on the road for a short time before coming across road works; we were down to a single lane which was pretty narrow. I felt the urgent need to blow my nose and whilst doing so, driving one-handed through some roadworks, noticed a piece of kerbstone jutting sharply out in to the lane on our right with lots of tyre marks on it. A second later there was a big jolt and a ‘BANG’. Luckily just down the road was the Trinidad branch of Wal-Mart (GPS: N37.138526 W104.522587) which was also on our side of the road. We pulled in to their car park to check what had happened to the vehicle. After pulling up, there it was – a destroyed rear outer tyre. I wasn’t too pleased, but luckily Wal-Mart also sell tyres. They had the size in stock but not a Michelin brand, only Goodyear. I thought the price was pretty good, but there was a further complication – their ramps were not able to cope with the vehicles' weight as they normally only do cars. They were prepared to let me use their jacks if I wanted to change the wheel myself - yeah right! They kindly contacted a company just down the road who agreed that if I purchased the tyre from Wal-Mart they would fit it on for me. 

With the new Goodyear tyre in the back we slowly drove down the road to 'Big O Tyres'. The guys there were really helpful. As requested they put the spare, which is stored right under the vehicle on a cradle and has to be cranked down, on the axle and then fitted the Goodyear to the ‘damaged’ wheel and relocate it underneath as the spare. They also checked all of my tyre pressures. This work took 90 minutes and I was charged $32, which I thought was pretty good, so I gave them a decent tip with which to buy donuts all round at coffee break. I can’t help feeling that we wouldn’t have enjoyed such helpful, friendly and efficient service from all concerned back home in the UK. I paid for all of this myself as I was driving; I was about $200 out of pocket and it wasn’t even 09:00 yet - unlucky Friday 13th? It’s just superstition. 

We moved away from the mountains after crossing in to the top right hand corner of New Mexico, where the landscape became markedly drier and barren. There were a number of small herds of deer who looked as if they were acclimatised to the conditions. Near the border with Texas we passed several huge holding areas for cattle, there were thousands of them in pens. I’m not too sure what they were doing there as we couldn’t see any sign of an abattoir or railroad. Over in to Texas we went, the final leg. We were at last in the state from which we would fly home before hopefully returning for our second leg of the trip in September. I felt the pressure was off a bit now that we were getting closer. There was a large sign at the side of the road telling us we were crossing in to Central Time which meant we had just lost an hour of the day. We pulled in to a long picnic area for a late lunch and sat outside the RV on our folding chairs eating off our laps and watching the world go by. 

We had programmed the Satnav to take us to our preferred campground at Amarillo, but as we got closer I felt it was too close to the busy I40, fortunately we hadn’t made a reservation. It was however just down the road from the famous Cadillac Ranch (GPS: N35.189107 W101.987370) where 10 Cadillac cars were partly buried in a line at the same angle as the sides of the Great Pyramid at Giza, but they have since been relocated further away from the growing town and that may no longer be the case. These days the cars are covered in graffiti, and they are being constantly repainted by ‘artists’. Back home we’d call it vandalism, but here I guess its art. 

After taking a few pictures of the cars and ‘artists’ at work we went looking for an alternative campground which wasn’t easy as so many of them here are right next to the I40. I can get that kind of night time noise in a Rest Area without having to pay for it. In the end we made for the KOA campground as it was two or three miles out of town and seemed to fit the bill. After three nights of dry camping since leaving Custer, South Dakota it will give us the opportunity to dump our dirty water and restock, as well as get some internet access and outside space to relax. 

We had a barbecue this evening whilst enjoying the company of our neighbours – a herd of cows and lots of jack rabbits the size of dogs. Later we watched a huge electrical storm many miles away, during which I made a start putting everything away in case it came in our direction. 

I was surprised to learn that Amarillo, the name comes from the Spanish for ‘yellow’ the predominant colour of the soil, sits on 90% of the worlds helium, why I’ve no idea, neither have I any idea how it is extracted from the ground. Do you call them Helium Farms, Helium Mines, or Helium Wells? And since helium is lighter than air how do you make sure that you have no leaks which would result in the gas rising up and floating away? Perhaps the answer is to have security staff sat at the top of the well continually sniffing the air, and if they start to talk with a high squeaky voice - raise the alarm. 

LOCATION TONIGHT: KOA Campground Folsom Road, Amarillo, Texas (GPS: 35.224676 W101.724425)