Happy Trails, Part 52

I am happy to report that we have returned from another highly successful retirement sojourn.

It covered 4,279 miles — give or take a few — from Amarillo to the Pacific Northwest and back.

What I want to mention specifically is that Big Jake — our 3/4-ton pickup that hauls our fifth wheel RV — has flexed his proverbial muscle and has demonstrated beyond a shadow of a doubt that he’s up to the task.

Jake lugged my wife, Toby the Puppy and me — along with our fifth wheel — up and over some of the most rugged climbs we believe we’ll ask as we continue our lives in the Age of Retirement.

We set out Oct. 9 for points west. We made stops in Gallup, N.M., Needles, Calif., Chowchilla, Calif., Grass Valley, Calif., Eugene, Ore. and finally in Portland, Ore. Jake took us on some hefty climbs along the way — through New Mexico and then into the Sierra Nevada.

Ah, but it got a bit more stringent on the return trip.

We set out for home on Oct. 23, with stops in Bend, Ore., Winnemucca, Nev., Provo Utah, Glenwood Springs, Colo., and Fountain, Colo. It was the Glenwood Springs-to-Fountain leg where Jake earned his spurs, his stripes; the Provo-to-Glenwood Springs leg was no picnic, either.

We managed to climb to 10,600 feet at Vail, Colo. Then we descended, only to climb again, when we reached 11,100 feet at the Eisenhower Tunnel just west of Denver.

Oh, my! Jake did well.

My wife and I knew we bought a winner when we acquired this beastly truck more than three years ago. Jake had hauled us through the Appalachians, the Ozarks and through the Black Hills. No sweat.

This trip, the longest yet in terms of distance, proved to be a stellar test of the muscle contained under Jake’s massive hood.

Big Jake passed. He gets an “A.” Now we’ll catch our breath, get ready for the next big transition in our life — getting our house ready to sell. Then we’ll hit the road yet again.

No worries. I am certain Big Jake is up the next challenge.

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