We both slept better last night despite the temperature drop. (I guess us newbies are getting used to what will and will not cause problems.) We got up with the sun to get on the road. After stopping for gas, we headed down the road to Moab again. This is one drive you don’t mind repeating! We passed through town and continued south. The terrain is similar to Arches south of town for a ways. We saw a billboard for Hole In the Rock, but it said it was closed. How do you close a hole in a rock?! As we rounded the bend, we could definitely see where it was by the giant writing on the hill. There was a rest area right below it, so we made a quick stop. As we were leaving I noticed the Jeep perched on top of the rock. Missed that completely on the way in. We passed Wilson Arch, and not too long after that the land switched to flat again with plateaus and mountains in the distance.
Somewhere along the way we noticed that regular gas is 85 octane here, so we switched to the higher grade. Later we found out that the lower octane is fine at higher elevations. Who knew?! We stopped for gas in Monticello, and took a few minutes to reassess the weather situation before deciding to continue south to New Mexico instead of to Arizona.
Our next stop was Cortez, which is a pretty little town and has several murals painted on buildings. I swear I’ve seen one of them before. Maybe in some type of advertisement. We walked around town a little bit, then went to the hardware store to replace our little space heater that bit the dust this morning.
The girl at the hardware store told us that Beny’s Diner was the place for lunch, so that was our next stop. She wasn’t lying! MW tried their Huevos Rancheros with Green Sauce, and I had a pulled pork sandwich with guacamole, lettuce, tomato, grilled onions, and chipotle sauce. Heavenly! Next time I make pulled pork, I’m going to try to replicate this for sure! The onion rings were really good, too.
Next on our list was going to be a visit to Mesa Verde National Park, but we couldn’t drive through with Penelope attached and didn’t have too much time. We added it to our list for the next trip. We did check out the store and center, though.
We continued our drive to Farmington. The land flattened out completely and there were many farms and ranches. We arrived at the Sundowner RV Park, which is right in town, early in the afternoon. It is surrounded by a high wall, and has both RVs and trailers. The grounds were clean, but there were a LOT of long-term people there. The RV spots were side-by-side, partially paved, and full-hookup. They had a very nice office/clubhouse that had a kitchen area and playroom with pool and ping pong tables for guest/resident use during daytime hours. They also had laundry facilities and a gym that were accessible all the time. One thing turned me off: As we were signing in, they gave MW a sheet stating that we would need to pay an additional $5 if we used an electric heater. WTH??? We were paying $37 for the night, which included 30 amp electricity. Since we installed an Electrical Management System in Penelope before this trip, we know that we rarely get over 20 amps and stay down around 8-10 most of the time. We’ve already paid for the electricity, so how can you decide what we can and cannot use it on? That is like buying gas and then the station owner says that if you are going to drive West, you need to give them another nickel a gallon. Ridiculous!
We set Penelope up, then headed to Office Max and the post office so that I could mail off some tax stuff for a client and a card for Angel Booger’s birthday. We’ve been talking about getting a portable compressor, so we popped in Lowes to check them out, then to Target for supplies.
Back at Penelope, we relaxed for the evening.
A few more:
We have realized that, while 2 months sounds like a long time for this trip, it really isn’t. We are trying to be in certain places to see people at particular times, and it is causing us to be rushed on the sightseeing part. The detour for freezing weather didn’t helped, either. Lesson learned for future planning.
Today I took my time getting up. We are both a little tired and looking forward to staying somewhere for more than one night. Finally on the road, we headed east on US-64. We drove all morning, crossing the Continental Divide before we reached Chama, where we stopped at the visitor’s center. Along the way we passed through Carson National Forest and the Jicarilla Apache Nation, both of which have amazing scenery. We found out there is a scenic train ride that we added to the list for next trip as it wasn’t running this afternoon.
Heading northeast out of Chama, we began climbing to go over the Rockies. We passed the train headed up, so we rushed to the next overlook to watch it pass and get pictures. The pass at La Manga was 10,230 feet, and the views were incredible. We stopped to have lunch at a wayside overlooking the Conejos River. We have now moved into big mountain terrain, and there must be some big bears because the dumpsters were surrounded by chainlink fencing. There were many places where we saw crossing signs for elk and antelope, but the only thing we saw actually saw was a couple of pronghorns.
We came down from the pass and were back on farmland with lots of sheep, cows, and hay. The next town was Antonio, which was a small farming town. They had some cool paintings on the water towers and buildings as you came through town.
Just past the town of Conejos, we drove by the oldest church in Colorado, the Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish Church. It was built in 1858, and they still have Mass there today. It is a beautiful, brick building and has definitely been well-kept.
Continuing east, we went through the North La Veta Pass at 9,315 feet in the Sangre de Cristo mountains, and then descended into the valley. Just short of Walsenburg we stopped at Lathrop State Park, where we plan to stay for the next couple of nights. This is a gorgeous park. It is very large with two lakes with paved bike trails around them, lots of other hiking trails, and campsites spread out to enjoy the view. The western view is dominated by Blanca Peak and West Spanish Peak in the mountains we just passed through, covered in snow. The land is slightly rolling and grassy with small trees and brush. The campground is divided into four loops, three of which have electric hookups, but no water (although there are water spigots scattered around to use). When we chose our site, there were two other people on the loop. Amazingly, someone came in later and parked right behind us. WTH! (See Rude!!!)
After getting Penelope set up, I went into town to the Serendipity Coffee Shop to use the wifi while MW relaxed. When I returned, we watched a little TV and enjoyed the quiet. You can hear the interstate off in the distance and some cars on the road to town, but it isn’t bad.
Some more from today: