A slice of Old Historic Route 66 – Tucumcari, New Mexico

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With Bernalillo in our rearview mirror, we were now officially eastbound on I-40.  True to our desire to not drive more than 200 miles per segment and stay at least two days at each stop, we set eyes on the little town of Tucumcari as our final stop in New Mexico. Continue reading

Friends, rock teepees and a singing road – Bernalillo, NM

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We were excited to move 157 miles south from Farmington to Bernalillo, where the “two B’s” would be neighbors – the two B’s were our coach Betsy and our good friends’ home on wheels named Beluga.  Yes, we were very happy that Dave and Sue could arrange their schedule so we could meet up as we intersected briefly in New Mexico.

Betsy takes a break at multi-colored hills along Highway 150 S toward Bernalillo

The two B’s Beluga and Betsy (with my Baby checking out the Jeep)

We had planned our stop so we could also visit with friends Hector and Brenda, who now reside in the area.  These are the folks who graciously cared for Betsy for almost a month last year when we took our European cruise.

It was great that we could all enjoy some time together at a local brewery.  As usual, the time flew by as we all got caught up with stories of our recent adventures.

The Bernalillo gang: Steve, Me, Dave, Sue, Hector and Brenda

The weather after our arrival was less than perfect, but Sue was not deterred as she put together some activities that included exploring the Jemez Mountains, some wine tasting (we learned there are some good wines in New Mexico), driving the “musical road”, and a side trip to the foothills of the Sandia Mountains.

Sue’s post about our explorations is here, and below are some photos and comments I gathered from our fun day together:

Cluster of rock teepees along the Jemez Mountains

Surprisingly good wines at Ponderosa Winery – each couple went home with 2 bottles!

It took centuries for mineral deposits from a hot spring to create this amazing natural dam across the river

We even got snowed on a bit during our sightseeing

Goofing off at the dual Gilman Tunnels, which were blasted out of solid rock

This rock collapse looked to me like a ghost, or maybe Darth Vader?

My cohorts modeled at a rock structure in the Sandia Mountain foothills

The Singing Road

A highlight of our excursion was driving over the rumble strip on a stretch of Route 66.  To get the road to play “America the Beautiful”, Dave had to drive over the strip at exactly 45mph.  He patiently drove it three times (and was probably considering committing hari-kari) as we tried to capture the sound on our phones.  Here’s the recording I captured, turn it up and listen carefully to hear it:

The Singing Road was created using metal plates placed under the pavement. The plates were covered with asphalt, then the rumble strips were installed.  You must drive the correct speed to hear the road “sing”; too slow or too fast and it doesn’t work.

We’re glad Sue knew about this interesting nearby attraction, we’d never heard of it and it was quite cool!

Eastbound 364 (Route 66) near Tijears, New Mexico

Before we went our separate ways, Dave lent Steve a hand with a simple repair on one of Betsy’s window awnings that required two ladders and two humans to get the job done.  Thanks, Dave!

Dave is VERY handy, and it was great to have his help

Waiting for a goodbye kiss from lovable Lewis (is he laughing at Steve’s haircut?)

Tent Rocks

After parting ways with our friends, we made a visit to Kasha Katuwe National Monument.  Several of our RVing friends had already explored and hiked at this interesting place, and we decided to give it a go on our last dreary and overcast day in Bernalillo.  In my previous post, I included photos of many interesting mini-hoodoos scattered around Bisti Wilderness.  At Kasha Katuwe the hoodoos were fairly uniform in shape and varied mostly in their size.  Called “tent rock formations”, they are yet another fascinating landscape to explore while also getting in a decent hike.

We followed both segments of the National Recreation Trail within the monument to get an up-close view of the geologic processes that created this spectacular scenery.  Our 4+ mile trek wound through a narrow slot canyon and climbed to the top of a mesa where we were rewarded with excellent views of the surrounding mountains.  We quickly discovered that this place is very popular, and even more so after several days of inclement weather.

Walking through slot canyons is always fun

Early Cochiti people left squiggles on the cliff walls

A single white Apache plume flower with a few purplish-pink feather-like seed heads

Geologic history fascinates us, and the story behind what happened here to create and shape these formations definitely did.  Unlike the Bisti Wilderness, this landscape didn’t result from ancient seas but rather from two different processes.

The first process was many volcanic eruptions, which dumped layer after layer of pumice ash and tuff deposits to over 1,000′ deep.

In the language of the Pueblo de Cochiti, “Kasha-Katuwe” means white cliffs

The second process was uplifting and exposure to the power of water and wind, which performed their magic to sculpt the volcanic layers.  Voilà!  A fairy tale landscape emerged that we are fortunate to explore and enjoy today.

A cluster of tent rocks look like gigantic sharpened pencils

Looks like a leaning ice cream cone – will it topple any minute?

Slot canyons created by the force of water

Hard boulder caps protect softer pumice beneath from erosion – until they fall off

Smaller tent rocks looked like Casper the Friendly (or not so friendly?) Ghost to me

Erosion exposed the roots of this Ponderosa Pine, but surprisingly it was green and seemed healthy

Evidenced by soot on the ceiling, some holes in the rocks were used as shelter by early people

View from the mesa top

A decent hike while enjoying wonderful scenery – yay!

This was a wonderful stopover.  Meeting up with friends AND enjoying interesting and lesser-known activities in New Mexico – works for us!

 

Next up:  Exploring a slice of Route 66



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ruins, Rocks and fantastical hoodoos – Farmington, NM

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Our trek south and east is well underway, and as you read this we’re already sitting in Alabama!  Yup, we’re moving along faster than usual, but doing lots of fun things as we also dodge some severe weather along the way.  The fast pace and juggling of our stops has put a bit of a cramp in my blogging efforts, but I’m trying to avoid falling too far behind 🙂 Continue reading

Wrapping up our Colorado sojourn

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Our two-month stay in southwest Colorado came to an end, but only after we had a grand time exploring this part of the state, including the cities of Fruita, Montrose, Ridgway, Dolores and finally Durango.  Here are my recent posts covering what we did as we lingered in this beautiful part of the state waiting for the Fall colors to appear.

The list of “to do’s” during our final stop in Durango was marred by – you guessed it – weather!  The promised snow, rain and wind made their appearance, and this short post details our adventures during the few nice days we were able to enjoy.

Strange-looking Pinkerton Hot Spring sits right beside highway 550

So, what did we do while cooped up for several days?  Steve got busy in the kitchen, baking his favorite buffalo wing recipe and wrapping lumpia for upcoming gatherings with friends.  Between downpours we went out for walks to stretch our legs, and I was able to watch my feathered friends through the windows.

Even the Sparrows and Red-winged Blackbirds tried to hide from the rain

Dreary and gloomy days in Durango

We ate out more than usual, just to get out of the house and breath some crisp mountain air:

We did our part to help keep the breweries in business:

After the first snow of the season had dropped in the area and throughout the San Juans, we ventured out to finally complete the San Juan Skyway Loop.  We had already driven the northern end while in Ridgway, then another section on our way to Dolores and Durango.  This time we completed the section between Durango and Silverton via two verdant passes, Coal Bank and Molas Pass.

San Juan Scenic Skyway Loop

Here are some images of what we enjoyed on this scenic drive the morning after the snow came:

This thick-coated fox spotted us and took off

Approaching the town of Silverton

The colorful town of Silverton

A tourist poses on Main St.

A new tourist trap along Highway 550 – we could smell the “product” as we drove by

Burn scars from last Spring’s San Juan National forest fire

The day before we left Durango, the clouds, fog and rain finally gave way to bright sun.  We passed on a couple of hiking opportunities, knowing the trails would be mud pits.  Instead we took a drive east on US 160 to the small town of Pagosa Springs.  We had hoped to stop by Chimney Rock National Monument on the way, but it had already closed for the winter 😦

One of the twin spires at Chimney Rock National Monument from a distance

Pagosa is derived from the southern Ute name “Pagosah”, meaning healing or boiling waters.  From here, Mother Spring sources all of Pagosa Spring’s hot springs, and heats several downtown buildings.  But their real claim to fame is that Guinness recognized these springs as the worlds deepest aquifer, at over 1,000′ deep.

The arrow points to Mother Spring, in the middle of a large resort in town

Taking a stroll along the San Juan River, we noticed several geothermal soaking pools at The Springs Resort and Spa.  I would have loved to soak in the mineral hot waters, but because this was an impromptu drive we weren’t prepared and had to settle for walking along the river and stopping briefly to touch the warm water.

San Juan River passes through Pagosa Springs

Little springs were everywhere in this area

The river walk continued past a trio of eye-catching structures at the Geothermal Greenhouse Project and Community Garden:

Geothermal Greenhouse

Steve “reflects” on geothermal energy

The snow-covered peaks of the San Juans were a hint that it was time to wrap up our adventures in southwest Colorado:

Goodbye Durango…

…and goodbye Colorado – until next time!

 

Next up:  The wilderness of New Mexico



 

 

 

 

 

Whispers of the Ancients – Dolores, CO

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After a week in Ridgway we packed up and headed south.  Betsy chugged along Highway 145 over another section of San Juan Scenic Skyway.  And once again, driving here at this time of the year was well-timed for enjoying more of Colorado’s gold.  Steve had to focus on the road as we climbed Lizard Head Pass, but I was free to snap away at the vibrant autumn hues on the hillsides and mountain peaks. Continue reading

Shimmering September Splendor – Southwestern Colorado

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I know, I know, the title is a bit cheesy but what can I say, it was a wonderful experience being in southwestern Colorado during the last week of September.  With Betsy parked at Ridgway State Park (yes, Ridgway is spelled without the “e”) for a week, we covered a lot of ground during our stay, visiting the mountain towns of Telluride, Ouray, and Silverton, and driving the San Juan Skyway.  We also hiked to three alpine lakes and ate some great food, and all this while in the midst of jaw-dropping vistas, one after another.  My camera was busy the whole time, so be prepared for a rather long post! Continue reading

Early leaf peeping – Kebler Pass, CO

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We’d been hanging out in southwestern Colorado for several weeks, just so I could be awed by Colorado’s gold – the golden Aspen trees, that is.  This was Steve’s promise to me since I had missed this portion of our travels in 2015 due to a family emergency.  And I was excited that my first leaf peeping would be at Kebler Pass, a high mountain pass near Crested Butte at an elevation of about 10,000′.  It’s a seasonal mountain highway that connects Crested Butte with Paonia, and since I had heard good things about Crested Butte it only added to my anticipation. Continue reading

Exploring the world’s largest flat mountain – Grand Mesa, CO

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Picture a very wide and long table, embed a mountain into it and enlarge it a zillion times, and the result is Colorado’s Grand Mesa.  It was Spanish explorers in the 1700’s who called the mountain “Mesa Grande”, meaning “large table”.  Before more modern settlers came, the Ute Indian tribes living in the area called Grand Mesa “Thunder Mountain”, because of how the mesa towers over the valley 6,000′ below.  Continue reading