JohnBoy Travel Update & Future Plans

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I am posting this Sunday morning in Colorado Springs – Looks like it’s going to be another beautiful day here, although tomorrow will be very different.  Winter weather is going to swoop in overnight and tomorrow’s high won’t even reach the 40’s.  Snow and perhaps ice, is predicted, although temperatures will rebound to higher levels and it will be clear sailing the rest of the week.

Tomorrow I am scheduled to drive about 2 1/2 hours north on Interstate 25 to Loveland, Colorado, about an hour north of Denver.  I now plan to leave here late morning and arrive in Loveland by mid-afternoon.  I’ll hunker down there for the remainder of the day.  Tuesday I was planning to go back to Rocky Mountain National Park, which is due west of Loveland, to finish some unfinished business there but I’ll have to monitor their situation as they are at higher altitude and will likely have more snow and ice that the interstate.  My guess is it will be a no-go.

And snow isn’t the only thing I need to keep an eye on….  Friday there was a tornado on the ground just southwest of Salina, Kansas, where I plan to stay a week from tomorrow as I start working my way east.  Friday a funnel cloud was also spotted briefly east of Denver, where I’ll be staying for my final three nights in Colorado.


Yesterday I spoke with my friend Shawn and she asked how many miles I’ve put on the car so far this trip.  As of when I got back to the house last night I’ve logged 30,509 miles since I left Durham on July 5.  I bought my current car (a 2014 Nissan Altima) back in early December and I’ve put over 48,000 miles on it since then (I made a 6-week trip to the south-central US back in May and early June).


Surprisingly, when I arrived here in Colorado Springs Thursday night there was hardly any snow atop Pikes Peak, which is well over 14,000 feet.  Yesterday’s temperature here in town was almost 80 and today (Sunday) is supposed to be in the mid-70’s.

Thursday night and Friday here were overcast and cooler.  My Airbnb (I’m staying at the same place I did when I was here a month and a half ago) is only about two miles from the base of Cheyenne Mountain.  Friday morning I could only see the houses at the very bottom of the mountain and if I didn’t know otherwise I would have had no idea there was such a big mountain there.  Those clouds moved out Friday night and the weekend has been clear, dry and warm.  Monday looks like just a weather hiccup and hopefully I can visit family and friends in the northeast US before getting back to Durham in time for Halloween.


Just as a heads-up, when I get to my youngest brother’s house near Cleveland, Ohio in a little less than two weeks I will suspend posts on the blog until I get back to North Carolina (unless any amusing JohnBoy stories develop during that time).  In early November, after I’ve had a chance to unload my car and get back on a normal schedule, I’ll resume posting with some loose ends from this trip and some highlights of some of the trips I’ve taken prior to this one.

Also, after I leave my one-night stopover in Kansas my little contest which I started a while back will end.  For those of who are new to the blog, I threw out a challenge back on September 2 (a post titled “Let’s play a little game…”).  It’s not too late for you to get in on the action, although the likelihood of the challenge-event happening is dwindling.  You won’t be able to post entries as a comment to that post but you can send them to me via the “Contact” function on the Home page of the blog.  Not to worry – the contest will return next year!

Next year I plan to travel to California, the coasts of Oregon and Washington and put my car on a ferry to take it to Alaska.  I was hoping to drive back east across southern Canada but I doubt I’ll have time.  One big lesson I learned on this trip is to plan MORE TIME at many of the places I plan to visit.

So 2019 will be southern Canada, perhaps more in depth that I originally thought.

2020 will be loose ends in the lower 48, and many National Monuments which I’m learning have as much to offer as the National Parks I’ve been visiting do.  They don’t get as much attention but some that I’ve learned about have been amazing.  I have lots of homework to do over the winter.

2021 I may actually be able to stay home, read books on my porch and binge-watch TV shows I’ve been told I should see.  I also need to get back to my hobby of flying radio-controlled helicopters which is VERY time consuming.


Looks like they’re getting ready to start the NASCAR race from Charlotte so I plan to watch it until the remnants of Hurricane Nate get there, although they are starting an hour earlier than they planned to so maybe they’ll be able to get it all in.  I then hope to zip into town and visit the US Olympic Training facility before it closes at 5pm local time.  I thought I would do that Monday morning before driving up to Loveland but the weather forecast changed that.


Paint Mines Park (1/2)

Saturday I drove about an hour northeast of Colorado Springs to the little town of Calhan.  Here I found the Paint Mines Interpretive Park, a series of natural clay formations out in the desert.

This wasn’t originally on my list of things to do.  Back in July, not long in to this trip, I met a guy named Erich while waiting for a venue near Bend, Oregon to open for the day.  He later told me that he was inspired by my blog to start one of his own.  He now posts pictures on Instagram and I commented online about some he had taken in Oregon at a place which wasn’t on my radar when I had been there.  He responded that there was a site like it outside Colorado Springs so I added it to my list of places to be sure to get to on my return visit to Springs.

Paint Mines Park has about 4 miles of walking paths which meander through the massive clay formations and there are several parking areas out near the dirt road which leads in 1 1/2 miles from Highway 24.







To give you some concept of how big these formations are, the “wall” on the left in the photo below is maybe 9 feet tall:


The “spire” in the photo below is about 7 feet tall.





Paint Mines Park (2/2)

Here are more pictures I took Saturday using my smartphone camera.







You are seeing these in the order I took them.  It wasn’t until now that I saw this sign telling guests that they are NOT supposed to climb on the formations!


They really need to put it at the parking areas, as people are walking in to the property.  Once I knew this rule I stopped doing it and only took pictures from the paths or from the hills overhead (and I soon switched to using the digital camera).


These were taken from the top of the hill, looking down on the formations I had taken pictures of earlier.




Entertainment at Paint Mines Park

As I drove around to the various parking areas at Paint Mines Park I saw a black Jeep with a clever spare tire cover I wanted to take a picture of.


When I got out of my car to take the picture I noticed there were two dogs in the open-air Jeep, patiently waiting for their owners to return (dogs are not allowed on the paths leading to the clay formations).

This one looked really dejected that they didn’t take him along.


And the other knew where they went and was keeping watch for their return.


I heard a sound which I hadn’t noticed earlier and knew I was too far away from the wind turbines in the distance for it to be coming from them.  That was when I noticed the white drone (a small multi-rotor helicopter) up in the sky.


Turns out it was being flown by the owner of the Jeep and he had been using the drone to take video as it flew over the clay formations.  (I later warned him that, although this wasn’t one, doing such things in National Parks is now specifically banned and that he probably shouldn’t have been doing it here either since there were people scattered around the formations and you aren’t supposed to fly over people. #JohnBoyTheSpoilsport).

His wife (or girlfiend) told me he has only been flying for about a month, and he was actually quite good at it, although drones are much more stable than the r/c helicopters I have flown and are considerably easier to control.  And they do take some awesome video.


He is controlling the drone with a radio and watching the video it is taking on his cellphone which is attached to the radio itself, which is how he knows what commands to give.  When I fly I have to watch the helicopter itself at all times.  If I put a camera on mine I’d get sick really fast because sport flying is very different from drone flying.

She said they like to use the drone to entertain the dogs.


I gave them the name of the blog and asked them to let me know when they post the videos he took on YouTube.  When I find out I’ll pass it along to all y’all.

When I get done traveling (which may not be until 2021 based on current projections) I do want to get back to flying my helicopters.  I may even treat myself to getting a drone for Christmas, although I don’t really have time right now to get back to flying.  I’m very busy!


Let’s go racin’, boys…

That is former NASCAR driver (now TV commentator) Darrell Waltrip’s signature line which he delivers at the green-flag start of every NASCAR race broadcast he is involved with.

For this post it should include “… and girls” as there were many female drivers listed on the roster.

When I got to within a mile of my destination in the little town of Calhan, Colorado I drove past the El Paso County Raceway, a 1/4 mile dirt racetrack.  There were several trailers and race cars in the parking lot/paddock area and it was clear to me that they were gearing up for some good ole Saturday Night dirt track racing!  These type of events are held in many parts of the country and are where many NASCAR drivers got their start.  Some drivers, like mostly retired driver Kenny Schrader LOVE to race and will fly their private planes all over the country to find a good race venue on which to compete.  Sometimes Schrader, and former driver Bobby Allison, would race somewhere every night of the week before competing in their big NASCAR marquee event on Sunday.




This track is at the county fairgrounds and can also host rodeos and any number of other activities throughout the year.





The track was being “groomed” for tonight’s events.  They were actually supposed to race here Friday night as well but huge thunderboomies covered this area east of I-25 Friday afternoon so those races were postponed until this afternoon (they were hoping to have a double-header today).  They cancelled the afternoon races because the track wasn’t quite ready (it may have been TOO wet).  They have water trucks to add water to keep it from being too dry but they don’t want to race in mud, either, or the cars will flip over.

Here were some of the vehicles I saw in the paddock area.  At an event like this the races are all fairly short (probably 25 laps or less each, and often include qualifying heats of only 8-10 laps) and involve many classes of cars and trucks.  I’m not familiar with all the classes (late models, modifieds, Legends cars, dwarfs, micros, etc) but the main event here was to feature Sprint Cars, which have wings (a spoiler) over the top of the car.  Sammy Swindell, a World of Outlaws champion, was the featured guest driver and tonight’s event was part of the Lucas Oil National ASCS (American Sprint Car Series) touring series.  It may have even been broadcast on MavTV (or taped for broadcast at a later date).  To the folks who race, this is a really big deal and their lives pretty much revolve around it.  The stands are usually packed.  Tracks like this in North Carolina and New Jersey often have overflow crowds.











I’ve only ever been to three events like this, one in Flemington, NJ, one at Orange County Speedway near where I now live in Durham, NC, and one in South Boston, VA, not far from Durham.  After the race in Flemington (where I sat close to the track coming off turn 4) when I got back to my car I took my glasses off to clean them and noticed that I had two clean “rings” around my eyes (like a reverse raccoon) and the rest of my face was matted with dirt from the race cars.  I had enjoyed it so much I had no idea I was being pelted with small dirt fragments during the race.  Dirt track racing is a hoot!