Home » 1999 Cross Country Road Trip

Route 70 Rest Area, KS

Monday, August 9, 1999 - 4:45pm by Lolo
615 miles and 11 hours from our last stop - 1 night stay


After leaving Mesa Verde, we stopped at a Wal-Mart in Durango to stock up for the remainder of the trip. As I was loading my groceries into the RV, I dropped one and blue Liquid Tide starting pouring across the parking lot. Just then, a gentlemen who identified himself as a reporter from the local newspaper, approached me and asked if he could ask me a few questions. Great timing, I thought. He proceeded to ask me my point of view on the issue of sleeping in Wal-Mart parking lots. I looked at him blankly. What the hell was he talking about? I informed him that I wasn't sleeping here, just shopping and pouring detergent in the parking lot. He then explained to me that Wal-marts allow RVs to stay overnight in their parking lots, thereby taking business away from the local campgrounds who were getting quite angry about it. I told him that I wasn't even aware that RVs could park overnight, but thanked him for letting me know so that I could do so in the future. I seriously doubt if my eloquent interview ever appeared in the newspaper.

As we were about to leave, we received the phone call we were dreading. Herb's dad who was suffering from lung cancer had made a serious turn for the worse and probably wouldn't last much longer. It was a horrible situation made that much worse by the fact that we were over 2,000 miles from home. We weren't sure what to do--drive to Denver, leave the motor home somewhere, and fly home or just drive home as fast as we could. I did some calculations with the map program on the laptop and figured that if we drove like crazy, we could be home in 2 days. Herb's mother told us to start driving. That way we wouldn't have to fly back out afterwards to retrieve the motor home.

Instead of heading on to Great Sand Dunes National Monument and Pikes Peak as we had originally planned, we chose the quickest route home. Unfortunately we were over 400 miles from the nearest interstate and we still had to cross the Rockies. Poor Herb. The drive over the mountains was nail-biting enough in a new motor home without the added stress of worrying about his dad. Just as we were going over Wolf's Creek Pass at an elevation of about 11,900 feet, the cell phone rang again. Herb and I looked at each other in dread. It was his mom calling to say that his dad had just passed away. We pulled over as soon as we could to just hold each other and cry. I wish I could have taken over the driving from Herb at this point, but I don't think Wolf's Creek Pass is the best place to learn how to drive an RV. Herb said he was okay to continue and that perhaps he would let me take over when the driving got easier.

I sat in the back of the RV with the kids for awhile and we spent some time talking about "Papa," focusing on the happier times before he became ill. This was their first experience losing someone close to them and they took it quite hard. I think talking about it did us all some good.

Once we got over the Rocky Mountains, Herb let me take over the driving. There was no better place to learn to drive a motor home than the straight, flat roads of Kansas. All I had to do was point it straight and accelerate.

Ironically, being trapped in the RV for 2 straight days of driving, uninterrupted by outside pressures, provided each of us with the time we needed to come to grips with the situation.

We drove about 11 hours that day and stopped around midnight in a rest area to catch a few hours of sleep.


Rest area in Kansas along I70.

Route 70 Rest Area location map

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