Ok, I took a little liberty with the song title – couldn’t help it. Now then, back to the blog! Yes, by the time you see a new post it is a delay of several days, but the priority of this adventure is not the blog, that’s just a bonus for all our friends and family – and to help us keep the memories straight. We are driving most of the day, after all, and then enjoying where we are at, plus we once again learn that strong wifi and cell signals are not universal! So … news travels slow.
As we complete our first week on the road, it has been a transition for sure. Just a day ago it was 104 degrees yet we woke up in Amarillo this morning to 45 degrees. The temperature stayed in the upper 60s most of the day, which made it pleasant. Elevation changes have surprised us, too. For the heck of it we checked the elevation at Texarkana and it was 300 ft., near Wichita Falls it was 970 ft. and in Amarillo it was 3,600 ft. I was kind of surprised it was so low in Texarkana and the drive must be a gradual climb, since you really don’t notice it.
We knew it was going to be a long haul today, so we were sure to fill the gas tank for the drive and the water tank for the dry camping stay in Santa Fe. This was going to be on I-40 most of the way and we certainly did experience a LOT of truck traffic. Much busier than our trip along Hwy 82. One stop I wanted to make was just at the New Mexico border for what is listed as a ghost town of Texas: Glenrio. So at exit “0” we turned off onto Business I-40 to Glenrio. Hmm. Well, there is another shack of a homestead to the left, the remains of a gas station, but that has been a pretty common sight along this trip. Nothing that looked like a photo opp. Oops, the road turns to gravel and dirt with a bit of a turnaround. We stopped, talked it over: “was that it? Do we turn around? Do we keep driving?” Google maps says this is the remains of historic Rout 66, not much else, so well …. maybe we can go just a little farther? We decided to go a bit farther, which might have been a mistake. There was clearly nothing further ahead, plus no way to turn around. To our left was the long-abandoned rail line, with trestle remains and occasional ties, ahead were narrow bridges over dry creeks and to the right were the trucks on I-40, maybe 2 miles distant, but parallel.
We kept on, figuring at this point it was quicker to reconnect to I-40 than turn back if we even could, and eventually that is what we did. But it was 25 mph, washboard, dusty … and a few patches of the original pavement, but also kind of fun as we drove across dry pastures and scrubland. Lost a little time there, but we did drive Route 66, albeit an long abandoned section.
Once into New Mexico we saw some of the first mesas around us, reminding me of Monument Valley, but not quite as spectacular. Soon the flat farmlands and cattle ranches dotted with solar arrays and wind turbines changed to rolling hills covered with cactus and shrubs, oaks and cedars. We saw our first group of Pronghorn, too. As we made the turn off I-40 toward Santa Fe it really started to change to hills and valleys, with mountains in the distance, but still a very straight 2-lane that we had to ourselves. That changed once we got to the outskirts of Santa Fe. Houses on the ridges and valley slopes were all tan and red adobe and blended into the landscape. Once in the town proper, the housing remained adobe, but tightly clustered, with courtyards and lots of native landscaping. Streets were narrow and tight and we had a heck of a time finding a gas station (we were getting low). Did mange to squeeze into and out of one, tanks now full in case we had to run the generator.
Ok, Jackie says our campgound, Hyde Memorial State Park, is about 8 miles out of town. Things changes as we drove along, the road turned into the Sante Fe National Forest and definitely started climbing. Curving upward through conifers, pines and aspen, the road was a challenge and we were getting road weary – it was almost 7 hours since we started off. I noticed the engine was running warm, but we were almost there and I shut off all accessories running. Finally the campground sign was on our left, we gingerly made the turn and paused to check site numbers. These are nice, level, paved back-in sites just off the park road – we just have to find ours. We shut off the engine, ours was on the left, we were pointed downhill, all we had to do was unhitch the Jeep and then back into to site. Ooops. “Check Engine Overheat” comes on the dash and suddenly we are gushing antifreeze out the front of the motorhome. It looked like a waterfall cascading down the front grill. Dangit!
I was concerned we wouldn’t be able to unhitch the Jeep, since it was pushing against the hitch, but surprisingly it came off with no problem. Next biggie was to restart the engine and back into the site without any further drama. Did that, leveling jacks down, slides out … shut engine off and crash at the picnic table for a moment and regroup. Well, no more dripping. Hey, we weren’t supposed to have electric, but it looks like we do, so we connected the shore line and popped the front hood to see the situation. Well, the top of the coolant reservoir had popped off and we lost fluid of course, but looks ok if we fill it back. I have some onboard, but in the morning we will head to town to buy more.
We checked our phones (no signal, but a hotspot at the Ranger Station will allow 30 minutes per day), walked the dog, grilled a steak and sat by our first campfire as the temperature dropped and we plotted the next day’s outing in town. It is a remarkable campsite, with blue spruce, conifers and aspen around us – but surprising that so much traffic goes up and down the park road during the day. It hit 44 overnight but we were bundled up warm in the RV. More about Santa Fe and on to Durango area in the next post.
So, a check of elevation: Santa Fe is 6,900 or so and our campsite is at 9,000 ft., so no wonder we are both gasping for air when walking around!