My husband and I just got back yesterday evening from a quick trip to Denver suburbs and back. The purpose was a visit to our daughter and her family. When we were deciding about whether to go and how to get there, we did the Math and decided that driving was the better option. Bear in mind we are seasoned, experienced road trippers, share the driving (and the passenger seat look-out), and choose our stops beforehand.
DAY 1 - SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 23 - Home to Gallup, NM - 666 miles, 12 hours (plus an extra clock hour for that time zone change)
We were up long before dawn (something we are used to), loaded our truck, and off we went heading east. Our route of choice for the outbound was I-8 to AZ-85 to I-10 east to Loop 303/Phoenix to I-17 north to I-40 east. We ate breakfast in Yuma, stopped for windshield wiper fluid that doesn't freeze in Gila Bend, got fuel in Buckeye, and went all the way into Gallup on that tank of fuel. We'd decided on Gallup as an overnight because the halfway point didn't have a motel available. Our choice was to go a little further on the first day.
As an aside, much of California will not allow the sale, or the shipment into the state, of windshield wiper fluid that will not freeze. So we went around that law by buying a gallon in Gila Bend, then another gallon when we got to our furthest destination.
Biggest issue on that leg of the trip was the construction going on at the AZ/NM state line. It slowed us down so much that we lost between 20 and 30 minutes. It was also frustrating since we were ready to get in for the night!
Our overnight in Gallup was a simple Econo Lodge. We also ate dinner there in Gallup, and got fuel for the next day's journey.
DAY 2 - SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 24 - Gallup NM to Aurora, CO - 591 miles, 9-3/4 hours
We were a bit nervous about the truck that morning. It's a diesel, and it's a well-known fact that diesels don't like cold. It hesitated, but finally fired up. Temperatures were in the teens! No snow or ice was anywhere near, but it was cold. We'd already found out where there was an electrical receptacle for plugging in the engine block heater (just in case), and parked the truck accordingly. But we were much relieved when we were not delayed by cold.
Stopped for breakfast in Grants (motel breakfasts are never interesting to us), then headed further east. Same hill in ABQ gave us the same reaction it did back in summer 2018: the truck does not like antennae in great amounts so close to the freeway. When we turned north on I-25, we talked at length about rerouting ourselves for the way home.
Arrived at our daughter's place and were greeted enthusiastically by her and both grandboys.
DAY 3 to DAY 7 - JUST VISITING
I have to add that it snowed while we were there. We helped shovel, we borrowed a long-handled snow brush to get 8" of snow off the truck (we only had a short handled one), we scraped windshields. Yes, we do have jackets and gear good for wearing, except boots. Our hiking boots were good, except that the snow came up and into the boots at the ankles -- too short for snow.
DAY 8 - SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 30 - Aurora CO to Deming NM - 679 miles, 11 hrs 19 min
This was a LONG day, longest we've done in years, and one I don't recommend unless you cannot help it. We went straight down I-25 to NM-26, which lets you off on I-10 at Deming. We stopped for breakfast in Pueblo, and fuel in Las Vegas, NM. We battled a wind from the west most of the day, sometimes (in the prairie areas of southern CO) gusty ones. We saw a guy whose trailer had flipped on its side. The highway had warnings on it for high profile and lightweight vehicles. Fortunately ours didn't qualify under either, but we did feel that wind. Snow? Only on the fields and sides of the hills, mostly not on the road. Occasionally some would blow across, but nothing major. Even at the top of Raton Pass, the snow was elsewhere.
We chose to go this route because of the antennae issue, but also the weather forecast. After feeling that wind all day, we were so glad that we weren't going to battle it as a headwind by aiming west on I-40.
We got to Deming and had reservations at the Comfort Inn there -- complete with a pool and hot tub. We ate dinner then took a good soak in that hot tub. It was still cold down there, though not like up in CO.
DAY 9 - SUNDAY, DECEMBER 1 - Deming NM to Home - 630 miles, 10-1/2 hours
Easiest drive of the 4 days! Took off in the morning, had breakfast elsewhere and not at the motel, had already fueled up the night before. Next fuel up was in Yuma, believe it or not!
The worst traffic of the four days was this one, though. Traffic started to get heavy after Yuma with all the "sand fleas" going home from the Imperial Sand Dunes after the long week/end. Going up into the mountains we were actually on the brakes as one RV'er tried to overtake a truck while going uphill. After the Border Patrol checkpoint, traffic was thick and we started the stop-and-go at Alpine. We crawled from Alpine to Lake Jennings exit in Lakeside -- ordinarily a 10 minute drive, took about 30 minutes. Even getting off there wasn't easy, as folks wanted to make a right at the end of the off-ramp into the left-turn lane, which was constantly blocked. Took us an hour and 15 minutes to make a 45 minute trip from Alpine, home.
It was good to see home.