I have just taken a new job in Great Falls, Montana. A new state and new areas to explore.
By: joealaska , 1:02 AM GMT on April 18, 2013
Saturday night I pulled into Moriarty, New Mexico.
I wanted to watch The Masters and post a bunch of photos. But the internet at the hotel was spotty. It worked for a while, then went bad. For hours it said the signal was EXCELLENT, yet I could not connect. What a waste. Except I did get to watch some great golf...
Earlier that day I had looked for golf courses from Lubboch to Moriarty. I only saw one, and it was first thing on the far outskirts of Lubbock. I still was drinking my coffee, and it was pretty cold yet.
I gambled and went on, into very remote western Texas with no hope of seeing any more golf that day. Oh well. I spent some quality time catching and passing a mile-long freight train cruising next to the highway. Then I stopped at a crossing and filmed it approaching and passing. THEN, I did it all over again. Not so easy as that train was doing about 75 MPH. I stopped at another crossing and took more film. Wondered if they were starting to recognize me.
Next day I drove to CASA’S house. I expected we would get some golf in, but we ended up taking a nice relaxing ride on his 6 wheel RANGER. It was supposed to get pretty windy that day, but it never really kicked in. We drove through a few areas where wheeled vehicles were never supposed to ride. Got some video.
Then we had a nice barbecue dinner and relaxed around his house. We watched the last round of The Masters.
Next morning Casa was gone early to work. I was up early too. I packed up and fired up the rental. A warning light came on regarding the coolant system. The day before the same light had come on as I drove to CASA. We popped the trunk and found something that was loose. We tightened it, and the warning stopped. But now, it was back. So I planned on driving to the airport and trade the car on. But 15 minutes later, it stopped warning, and has been quiet since.
Monday I went west to GRANTS and played COYOTE golf course. Decent layout, usually breezy, and usually wide open. Once again it did not let me down.
Then I headed west to THOREAU on I-40 and turned north to Farmington, New Mexico. Nice back road, RT. 371. I passed near Chaco Canyon.
Farmington is the home of PINON HILLS GOLF COURSE. One of the highest rated municipal courses in the USA for many years. CASA and I have played there several times, always had a great time. But I have not played there in at least 20 years. It was time to return.
Golf is in tough times, something that I am finally realizing. In the good old days you needed to get a tee time, which was not always easy. He course was always packed. It was in good shape, and the
facilities were better than most MUNICIPALS. The layout features HUGE greens with dramatic contours. 100 foot putt dropping 6 feet in elevation, with a 20 foot break? Deal with it.
AH, times have changed. You NEVER can really go back. When I called to make sure I could get out and play, there was a distinct chuckle on the other end of the phone. He even said I could go out and play as a single, not having to join up with other people. HIGHLY UNEXPECTED.
The course seemed to have gone through some changes. Those dramatic greens were softened a bit, and some holes were completely changed around. But it was great. I rarely saw any other golfers. It was VERY windy, which made it even better. I did have one birdie, even had a chance at an eagle. A SANDY EAGLE, for those who may appreciate that.
The course has dropped back into the pack, at least in my opinion. Still a great place to play, but not as much an urge to go to FARMINGTON New Mexico to play that course.
When I went to the hotel and washed off my face, the wash rag was brown from all the blowing dust.
Afterward I took a short ride north to Durango, Colorado and found a room.
This morning I checked out a couple local courses, Dalton Ranch (played it 20 years ago) and Hillcrest, a new one for me. Long story short, I passed on both. I could have played, I did not. My goal was to get to Moab, Utah. There is a nice course there I have never played. Moab is AWESOME with desert landscape and wild rock formations and colors. I would like to spend some time there. But I knew SHIT HAPPENS, so it was just a just a goal, not an expectation. I checked the weather report for Moab, and it said 51 degrees today, chance of light snow. 51 is tight with me, as I only have one long sleeve shirt, and no jacket. But I moved in that direction.
The only trouble with THAT was forgetting about OURAY. One the way to Moab on 550 north. The town sits at about 7000 feet. But getting to it involves crossing a couple of passes over 10,000
feet up. After that, getting to Moab is EASY.
As I was headed into the foothills, I saw snow starting to fall. Very lightly. But I came around one turn and I could see a snow storm swallowing up the mountains I was approaching.
I kept driving. The road was dry.
But that changed. The snow was now coming down steadily. Soon there was accumulation here, there, then everywhere. My attitude was to proceed as long as it was passable. If I had to turn around, it would be all downhill heading back. There were still vehicles traveling besides me, and it was just mid-day. There was no fear.
About half an hour later, I was getting worried. I know about these storms, and I was still heading upward. It was going one lane, where both lanes use the same ruts until two cars need to pass.
It was VERY SLICK. Ice and slush and snow combined. One time I was coming down a steep hill with a sharp turn coming up. I was only doing 10-15 mph, but when I hit the brakes nothing happened. I was sliding across the road and toward a snow berm. But I let off, then pumped, then trusted the wheels to catch, and got it around the corner. I used that whole road there.
It got very bad, and I was doing 5-10 mph. I was following a couple other vehicles, larger trucks, but they were also going slow. When I finally got to OURAY it was the worst conditions yet. On a simple straightaway I slid off the edge of the pavement. You could not tell where it was. Suddenly I was starting to slide sideways and unable to get back up the edge. But I got it straightened out. You had to be concentrating every second.. One thing I noticed was the absence of guard rails on these sharp turns. I believe they were removed some years ago. The edges are very steep drop offs. You could go over at any point and never be missed. I got one good photo.
I got to OURAY around 1:30 PM. And I gave up on trying to continue. So I looked for a room. Twice I got stuck on the main roads going up a steep hill. I had to back down and turn around.. On the second turnaround I saw a hotel that I did not see before. I got a room.
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