Monday, October 26, 2009

That doesn't look like Texas!

I know we told everyone we were headed for Big Bend National Park in Texas, but you never know with us.  We are still headed that way but we made a small detour.  Can you tell where from the photo?

We have had satellite internet for about 8 years now.  Setting it up involves erecting a tripod mount, mounting the dish, installing the arm, cabling everything together, and then aiming it at the correct satellite.  It usually takes me only 20 minutes or so to get online, and about 10 minutes to get it all disassembled and stowed, but it feels like it takes longer and gets heavier each time.  I finally broke down and bought a used automatic dish that mounts on top of the trailer.  All it takes is a push of a button and the dish unfolds, searches for the satellite, and locks on.  Stowing for travel is just another button.

So, what does all that have to do with the picture above?  Well, the man I bought it from lives in Ouray, Colorado.  We made the deal Saturday morning and decided to go get it.  Part of the deal was that I would help him remove it from his RV.  We decided to make an adventure of it, and left the trailer in Deming, NM, taking only the truck.  We didn't get on the road until almost noon after a stop at the bank to get cash.  We are very familiar with New Mexico and headed north to Hatch, NM where we joined I-25, past Elephant Butte Lake, Socorro,  through Albuquerque to Bernalillo where we left the interstate and headed up to the northwest corner of the state.  It was well past dark by the time we got to Aztec, NM where we decided to spend the night in a hotel.  Afterward we kind of wished we hadn't.  We paid $83 for a room that was worth less than half that, but there were no other options in town.

Sunday we headed north into Colorado, stopping in Durango for coffee, and then up over Molas Pass and down into Silverton at an elevation of about 9,300 feet.  There was not a cloud in the sky in Durango but by the time we reached Silverton the mountains were all covered with fresh snow and the roads were still wet and icy in places.  Beyond Silverton the road is one of the most spectacular in the world.  By spectacular I mean that it hugs the sides of magnificent mountains, has uncountable twists and turn, climbs to well over 11,000 feet, and has no shoulders or guard rails.  It has no guard rails because there is no room for them.  In many places the  edge of the pavement is the edge of the several thousand foot drop off.

I love such roads but Dianna does not.  We sit up very high in the truck and when we are on the outside of the road, all she can see is the canyon below when she looks out her window.  That and the fact that the road was wet and slushy in places, and that it was still spitting snow occasionally, really frightened her.  She became so nervous and scared that she finally moved to the back of the truck where she could just close her eyes.  I reminded her that she has ridden millions of miles with me, including hundreds of miles on similar roads, and that in all those millions of miles I have never driven off the edge of the road.  Not only that, but given the  consequences of driving off the road in those mountains, I was acutely aware of the situation and would not let that happen.  Didn't make any difference.  She was scared.

Anyway, we arrived in Ouray, had lunch, met the man selling the dish, drove up his extremely steep and muddy driveway,  removed the dish from his rig and headed back.  Except for a short distance, we were on the inside of road most of the way back, and Dianna felt somewhat less uncomfortable.  We continued over the mountains, back into New Mexico, and all the way back to Albuquerque where we slept in the truck in an Indian Casino parking lot.  Today we drove back to Deming with just a stop in Hatch for some green chile.

So, that was our weekend.  1,100 miles.  Snowy  11,000+ foot mountain passes.  Beautiful scenery.  New toy waiting for me to install it.

P.S.  All the scenery pictures on on my gallery.


  1. More excitement in two days than some people have in a year.I'm glad that I read the Silverton/Ouray one first because the story of Deidra's narrow escape will make me shudder longer than it took you to write about it!

    You made me again long for that beautiful mountain drive, (but I'm not sure that I would want to drive over it in the winter. I'm with Dianna on that.)

  2. The road couldn't have been as bad as the haul road to the Bering sea, could it?

    I guess the fact that you bought the new dish means that you're going to stick with Hughes for now, instead of looking at a mobile phone alternative.

  3. Yeah! Now that's the kind of travel blogging we love to see (& read)!

  4. Isn't a truck without the trailer more squirrelly on icy roads? I always thought that so much weight on the front wheels and the load removed from the rear would make for bad handling. I don't really know, and it's probably best if Dianna dosn't either.

  5. Dale, it is something I have to watch, but with only a single rear axle and the heavy steel bed for weight, it's not all that bad.

  6. Such beautiful country! Sounds like an interesting few days.

    On the antenna subject I've been learning quite a bit in my new job. We are actually working on an affordable antenna that will be able to take the place of that dish you just bought.

    The 2 really, really neat things about it are 1) you won't have to put it up to connect to a satellite and 2) you won't have to stop either.

    Click on this link and then click on thinSat. That's one of the things I've been working on. The others are the thinPack and a low cost phased array.

    Pretty cool stuff.

  7. Forgot to mention that it will be a little while before thinSat is affordable as a replacement to the dish like Richard just got but it's part of the plan to make that happen.