Day 2 of my new life on the road and I was hitting my stride. Literally. I had just hiked ~6 miles in Palo Duro Canyon State Park and I had also decided to make a conscious effort throughout my travels to share my happiness (mostly through dance – see my article Dancing Through Life). I felt a sense of accomplishment and it wasn’t even noon. You know what else I felt? hunger. Hunger for adventure, hunger for the unexplored life, but if I am being honest, really it was just hunger for food. Not everything has to be deep and insightful, right? A girl’s gotta eat.
I stopped at Subway on my way out of Amarillo and got a Veggie Delight sub. I was trying to eat healthy-ish, knowing that I had a lot of driving and a lot of long days ahead of me. It was delicious. With a full stomach and giddy excitement for the next adventure, I plugged Alamosa, Colorado into my GPS. As I started driving, I quickly found myself entering a barren stretch (#westTexas). I was a bit low on gas so I decided to check where the next gas station was. My gut was right – the next station was 59 miles away. I turned back towards Amarillo, backtracking 4 miles to get gas. Smart move Planner Dayna – self high-five. As I pumped gas, I saw someone get rear-ended at the stop light. Any moment can jolt you I suppose. And I was on the road again.
Audience participation time – Have you ever stopped to think about just how big Texas is? No? Me neither. But as I drove on…and on…and on…and was somehow STILL in Texas, I felt it was worth a look.
Fast Facts on Texas
- Texas is the largest state in the contiguous United States with an area of 268,597 square miles. 7.4% of the total U.S.
- Texas is larger than every European country with the exception of Russia
- There is one Texas ranch that is bigger than the entire state of Rhode Island (King Ranch)
- Texas’ largest wind farm is about 7x the size of Manhattan
- There’s only one place called “Earth” in the world – and it’s located in Texas (Not related to size but interesting nonetheless)
– (Source: https://bestlifeonline.com/texas-facts/)
Ok. Back to…where was I? Right…driving on and on and on and you get the picture. I decided that I wanted to switch it up a little bit so I looked on my Roadtripper app to see if anyone had highlighted a bizarre or interesting stop on the map. I noticed a stop at a “ghost town” named Perico. It was only slightly off my route so I decided to check it out. And let me tell you, it was the BEST ghost town that I have ever NOT seen. Wait whaaaa? You heard me, the BEST ghost town that I have ever NOT seen. Apparently, it is called a ghost town because it is invisible ha. ha. Or at least I couldn’t find it *shrugs after putting minimal effort in. I quickly hopped back on my route and FINALLY made it to a new state – New Mexico – is it great to see you!
As I drove through New Mexico, still with hundreds of miles to go until my next destination in Colorado, I again opened my Roadtrippers app looking for anything of interest. I spotted Capulin Volcano National Monument on the map. A volcano in New Mexico??? What? I was intrigued. To be honest, I am pretty clueless about volcanoes and their locations. Volcanoes are cool but I never actually took the time to learn about where they exist in the United States. So if you are like me and this post is making you question your knowledge about volcanos in the US – here are some fun facts.
Fun Facts About Volcanoes in the USA
- The United States is the country with the most potentially active volcanos (169) – meanwhile Indonesia is the country with the most volcanic activity
- There are 12 states with potentially active volcanoes
- Alaska – Home to the most volcanoes in the USA by far
- New Mexico
- The tallest volcano on Earth is Mauna Kea in Hawaii. From the base of the volcano in the ocean to the peak, it is 10,203 meters tall. (Mt. Everest is 8,848 meters)
- The largest volcano on Earth is Mauna Loa in Hawaii
It took me all of 5 seconds to decide that I simply couldn’t pass up a volcano, so I decided to stop. I paid a $20 entrance fee and was told that there would be a short wait because there was a limit to the number of cars that could park at the rim of the volcano. I goofed off wasting just a short bit of time and when I was notified it was my turn, I started driving up the volcano. This excursion? 5 stars. Roadtrippers app redemption. I was so happy that I took the time to stop, it was SOOOO worth it. The views were crazy beautiful and I, once again, was amazed at just how incredible our planet is. A little more info on Capulin Volcano for those who are interested – it is an extinct (i.e. scientists do not believe that it will ever erupt again, which differentiates it from dormant) cinder cone volcano that is part of the 8,000 square mile Raton-Clayton Volcanic Field. You can see 5 different states from the rim of the volcano (New Mexico, Oklahoma, Kansas, Texas, and Colorado). (Source: https://www.nps.gov/cavo/index.htm)
Still in awe and disbelief that I found an unexpected volcano on my route from Amarillo to Alamosa, I slowly walked around the rim of the volcano. It was a short and easy walk but I felt as though I was walking through a painting of a perfectly pristine landscape only found in my wildest dreams. Each step felt as though I was living in a fantasy. After spending 1-2 hours there, breathing in that volcanic air – aspiring to one day be like Daenerys Targaryen (where my GOT fans at?) – I was on the road again.
There was only a few more turns left before I ended up on the road that would take me most of the way to Alamosa. 1 turn and then 70 miles. Easy. Well, apparently I misread my map and for the first time on my trip, I missed my turn. I’m not sure if it is just me, but when I know I will be on a road for a long time, I turn off my map with the intention to turn it back on when I go roughly the amount of miles it had said before I turned it off. So, in my head, I was like, I will just turn my map back on in ~65 miles. Denver here I come! But Dayna, I thought you said you were going to Alamosa, Colorado. Bingo. I noticed that all of the road signs were calling out Denver, checked my map, and saved myself ~60 miles of backtracking. My well-timed common sense appearance saved me. Maybe I will leave the map on from now on… (Hint: I didn’t).
After a long day of adventure and driving, I finally made it to Alamosa. I got to my hotel, the first hotel stay of my roadtrip, dropped off stuff in my room and evaluated what I wanted to do next. It had been a long day, it was about 6:30pm, and I had work tomorrow. I weighed whether to go to Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve or call it a night. My FOMO won and soon I was in the car again driving ~30 minutes to the park. As I drove back along the route I had come, I noticed huge looming gray clouds in front of me. I was driving straight into a massive storm.
It had been a long day, I was tired, and I had already done so much. Realizing that the only thing I’d be missing out on tonight was being at a park in the dark and in the rain, I called the excursion. It could wait until tomorrow. I turned around, picked up some dinner at the grocery store and made my way back to the hotel for the best shower of my life. Before bed, I thought to myself, I am grateful to have lived this lovely day of Rain, Fire, and a whole lot of Texas.