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Crossing the Panhandle Plains - Mountain Time, Twister Time

all seasons in one day 31 °C

As I intended I head out at 8am this morning and went back to the Cadillac Ranch. I now understood why there were so many insects last night, the ranch is smack bang in the middle of a cow field! I went down, with insect repellant on, and snapped away. By the time I made my way back to my car I had left my own mark in spraypaint on one of the cars.

The north western corner of Texas is known as the Panhandle Pains for a good reason. The land here is incredibly flat and there is almost nothing to be seen up to the horizon. After several hours driving I crossed the border in New Mexico (meaning I had now driven across the entire state of Texas) and with it crossed into my third timezone. I am now in Mountain Time (GMT - 7). As I cut New Mexico's north eastern corner contemplated just nipping into Oklahoma for the skae of saying I'd been there, but thought better of it once I noted petrol prices rising dramatically in the middle of nowhere. As I was finishing my journey through New Mexico I passed signs pleading me to take the next right to the "Second Largest Canyon in the United States". Seeing as in a few weeks I will be seeing the largest, this really wasn't enticing. I stopped off at a petrol station on the New Mexico/Colorado border before hitting I-25 and when I got out of the car it hit me. It was as if my whole body was sighing in relief. The air here is fresh and crisp compared to what I have been used to for the last week or so in Texas. In fact, I think this is the first time I have experienced a lack of humidity since I was in Maine. I am definitely ready to get used to this!

My car just about made it up the steep Rocky Mountain roads that twist through the first hundred miles or so of Colorado before hitting some plains. It was after an hour or so on the plains that I spotted what I am almost certain was a forming or formed tornado. The air was twisting from cloud to ground and whilst one eye was kept on the traffic ahead the other was firmly fixed in fear and fascination on the twister just a few miles north west of me. I obviously made it past it, but it wasn't the tornado I need have worried about. American drivers and apparently those in Colorado in particular are perhaps some of the most mindless I have encountered. As I came up to Colorado Springs the heavens opened in a divine retribution. Hails stones smashed onto the concrete interstate and forming flood like cannon balls and the winds lashed water off the ground. This in itself was easily more terrifying than the impeding destruction being wrecked by the tornado south of me. But, the weather wasn't enough. Even inspite of the road conditions the drivers insisted on driving bumper to bumper and I was left as a solitary voice of concern with about a kilometre between me and the car in front.

Within twenty minutes the rains had ceased and I was back on my way. I decided whilst on the road not to go to Denver, but the town of Boulder, about forty minutes north west of the State's capital. Boulder lies at the feet of the Colorado Rockies and is known as the Frontal Range. I arrived at about 7pm after another full day's driving. My hostel is pretty much smack bang in student-ville Boulder. There are genuine frat and sorority houses pretty much everywhere. Now they aren't some cheap student houses - they are huge mansion houses dominating the streets they lie on, with large Greek lettering indicating which 'frat' lives where. Watch any American Pie movie and you've pretty much visited Boulder.

Now to spend a few nights in one place!

M

Posted by MattOGrady 14:08 Archived in USA

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