Heading West Part 2

60 West Into Arizona to Apache Junction, AZ… November 10th

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Our planned destination is Globe, AZ, about 260 miles from Magdalena, NM, where we stayed last night.

Springerville, AZ

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When we reach Show Low, Route 60 dips south and we enter the White Mountain Apache Reservation. The spectacular drive south presents picture perfect postcard moments of photo ops.

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Meanwhile, we call all the RV Parks in Lake Elsinore, CA (our preferred winter destination) only to find out that our opportunities to stay there are not looking good. No place has room for us this year. Why this area in southern CA? It’s affordable, for one. As you look closer to the ocean or San Diego, the monthly rates skyrocket out of our comfort zone. And more remote places in the eastern desert offer great rates but no internet or cable, and very iffy cellphone reception. (We investigated the costs of Hughes Net, Exede, and Dish, but the additional cash outlay for a short term solution would offset the savings.) We keep heading toward Lake Elsinore anyway.


The only RV Park in Globe is closed for remodeling. So we keep driving. Route 60 turns west again and we head toward Phoenix.

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For the next 30 miles I search for a place to stay overnight. We don’t need a gated resort with spa amenities that cater to the annual snowbirds. Nightly rates are a lot more than we want to pay. I just know there has to be a reasonable place for us.

Then Eureka, I find a spot in Apache Junction…

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This would be a great place to snowbird, in my opinion, at least. It’s clean, affordable, no frills… And Phoenix is only about 35 miles away. We just aren’t quite ready for this part of Arizona yet. But check out the saguaro cactus up close and personal here in the Sonoran Desert. This species of cactus can grow up to 40 feet high.

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Before we retire for the evening, we find a place to stay in California that is about an hour east north east of Lake Elsinore and about an hour west south west of Palm Springs. Diamond Valley RV Resort is located in San Jacinto. ETA… Sunday, November 12th.

 

 

Heading West Part 1

Denver, CO to Springer, NM… November 8th

Interstate 25

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It really feels good to be back on the road again. Even with a dirty windshield, the view from a motorhome never disappoints. I have no trouble switching into my photo-journalist role.

We spend the first night just off the Interstate at the Old Santa Fe Trail RV Park in Springer, NM.

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Springer, NM to Magdalena, NM… November 9th

Back on I-25 we pass through the outskirts of Santa Fe.

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In Socorro, we take Route 60 West to Magdalena…

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…where we spend the night at the Western Motel and RV Park.

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According to en.m.wikipedia.org, Magdalena is a small ranching community that grew up in 1884. The mining boom of 1913 changed the status of Magdalena from Village into Incorporated Town. In 2012 the U.S. Census Bureau recorded 926 people living here.

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It is also known as “Trails End” for the 1885 railroad spur line that ran 26 miles from Socorro to Magdalena. Cowboys drove herds of cattle and sheep into town via the Old Magdalena Trail. The original stockyards are still intact.

The Public Library and Boxcar Museum are housed in the old railroad depot.

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As I snoop around taking pictures, I meet 3 local gentlemen and a dog who jumped out of the backseat of the white truck above. The owner of the dog verifies the Wikipedia information about the stockyard driveway. Between 1885 through 1916, cowboys from the west drove thousands of cattle and sheep to Magdalena to board the train. Besides these grazers, timber, wool, and ore were also transported. In 1971 the trains stopped running. 

The Santa Fe boxcar above is being gutted for remodeling as an addition to the Boxcar Museum. I walk up to the man working on this project. As we talk we became instant friends. First he shows me the gutted boxcar. It reminds me of a blank canvas for an RV or Tiny House. And being next to the library, I recall the children’s book series, The Boxcar Children. He proceeds to tell me how he settled in Magdalena from Southern California and now lives off the grid on land purchased in the surrounding hills.

A younger man, overhearing our conversation, joins us to share how he also lives off the grid. He and his wife purchased some land up in the hills. Solar panels, a well, and I don’t know what their toilet situation is… Property tax is $1 a year! The only drawback is the wear and tear on the truck going to and fro from their homestead. 


60 West into Arizona… November 10th

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The desert dominates the landscape as we continue due West on 60. Within 24 miles we see large objects spread across the desert.

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These objects are the immense dishes of the Very Large Array (VLA) spread across more than a hundred square miles of desert. They gather invisible light— radio waves— naturally emitted in space. The VLA is the most famous and powerful telescope of its kind. Precious information from space travels for billions of years to reach the Array. We learn about the birth of stars, the growth of galaxies, the power of black holes, and clouds of molecules that may be the building blocks of life. (Travel Brochure)

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Next time we’ll stop and visit…

After another 10 minutes, we approach the Cibola National Forest.

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By 9:50 AM we enter Pie Town, NM.

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Unfortunately, we arrive too early to buy a pie!

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Pie Town, NM is named for a bakery making dried-apple pies. Clyde Norman established the town in the early 1920s. On the 2nd Saturday of each September, the annual “Pie Festival” takes place. (newmexico.org)

According to en.m.wikipedia.org, as of the 2010 census, Pie Town had a population of 186.

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So we continue on 60 West toward Globe, AZ, crossing the border some 30 minutes later.

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Goin’ Places That I’ve Never Been… Odessa, Texas

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MARCH 20, 2016

We leave Edgington RV Park with a friendly reminder:

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Today we drive the scenic route, 82, through the Lincoln National Forest passing through the village of Cloudcroft and the town of Artesia.  We gain over 4,600 feet in elevation in the first 17 miles of this stretch. And up we go!

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(Yesterday I tried my best to remove the bird poop from the window, but today I have streaks…)

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Cloudcroft Curiosities:

  • With its elevation of 8,600 feet, it is one of the highest locations in the United States.
  • The Lodge at Cloudcroft hosted famous guests including Judy Garland, Clark Gable, and Pancho Villa.
  • Conrad Hilton managed this resort lodge in the 1930s. (en.m.wikipedia.org)

We head to Artesia.

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About Artesia:

  • In 1903 an artesian aquifer was discovered in the area, hence the name.
  • The artesian wells were depleted in the 1920s.
  • The former Abo Elementary School was completely underground so it could also function as a fallout shelter in the 1960s.
  • The city has a residential training program for the United States Border Patrol, Bureau of Indian Affairs, and the US Air Marshals. (en.m.wikipedia.org)

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After passing through Artesia we head toward Hobbs which borders Texas. Again we defy the Garmin’s suggested route as we continue on Highway 82.

Lots of oil wells pumping! I mean lots! We can smell the oil from inside the RV.

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We arrive at Hobbs with no place to pull over for the night. Our 2 memberships, Passport America and Good Sam’s Club offer no help so I consult the Garmin and Google. I call 2 promising places in Hobbs but Jeff and I decide we can get a better price if we continue driving into Texas. And sure enough, the first place I call in Seminole, TX, Avery RV Park, is priced just right! It’s about 15 miles south of our route. “So what,” Jeff pipes in, “We are on an adventure!” And then we turn down a paved-over gravel road and travel for another 5 miles. Jeff starts looking upset as we arrive, per the Garmin’s directions, in the middle of nowhere. “It’s an adventure,” I remind him. Jeff stops and calls Avery RV Park but the line is busy. Frustrated, we decide to abandon our search for the RV Park and continue driving until we end up on Highway 385 heading south toward Odessa, TX. By now I am pouring wine to drink and eating tortilla chips in the back of the RV.

We pull off the road and I call an RV Park in Odessa. The woman and I become instant friends on the phone as she is an older and wiser gal who picks up on the tension between Jeff and myself. She has story after story and gives me detailed directions to the Mesquite Oasis RV Park. At last we pull into Site 98 for the evening.

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And we bite the dusk for the night…

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Odessa Odds and Ends:

  • In 1881 the area was a water stop for cattle and a shipping point on the Texas and Pacific Railroad.
  • In 1927 oil was discovered and sustained the economy.
  • As the cycle of booms and busts, however, affected its economic growth and stability, Odessa has focused its efforts to attract new business opportunities.
  • H.G. Bissinger’s book, Friday Night Lights: A Town, a Team, and a Dream, is based on the 1988 football season of Permian High School.
  • Author James Michener describes Odessa as a city where “you are more likely to be murdered… than in any other city in the nation,” in his book, Texas.
  • In 2013 Odessa had the highest crime rate of any city in Texas. (en.m.wikipedia.org)

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Goin’ Places That I’ve Never Been… Alamogordo, New Mexico

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MARCH 19, 2016

Forty miles east of Bowie on I-10, we cross into New Mexico right after I find the mountain top silhouette of a Native American gazing into the sky. (As we were leaving Dwayne’s I stopped to chat with 2 gentlemen at the dumpster. The man from NM told me to look for the face in the mountains to the south. This must be  his lower case cursive “r” experience I wrote about yesterday.)

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(I also learned yesterday that cropping the pictures I take from my iPad doesn’t necessarily make the photos post as close-ups. If only you could see the original pics on your devices…)

Here are some highlights of our travels to Alamogordo, NM.

Yuccas and more desert…

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Sleeping dogs we let lie…

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Passing through Las Cruces we continue on Highway 70 and drive by the White Sands National Monument.

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Wave-like dunes of gypsum sand crystals engulf 275 square miles of desert creating  the largest gypsum dunefield in the world. (nps.gov) Gypsum is rarely found in sand-form because it is water-soluble and rain dissolves it as it is carried out to sea. The Tularosa Basin, however, is enclosed so the rain that dissolves the gypsum either sinks into the ground or forms shallow pools that eventually dry out. The gypsum is left in a crystalline form, called selenite, on the surface. (en.m.wikipedia.org)

image en.m.wikipedia.org

This area is also home to the White Sands Missile Range, which includes the Trinity Site used for the first atomic bomb test. According to the nps.org  web site, missile testing periodically requires the closure of Highway 70 or the National Monument Park.

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Part of the Manhattan Project, started in 1942, the first atomic bomb, code-named, Trinity, was tested on July 16, 1945. Twice a year the site is open for tours, the first Saturday in April and the first Saturday in October.

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As mentioned above, missiles are still tested, but more importantly today, the White Sands Missile Range is one of the most sophisticated testing facilities in the world for measuring whether or not a developed product can perform the job for which it was designed. Products include tactile missile systems, automobiles, telephones, and even rat traps. (wsmr.army.mil)

Another Border Patrol Checkpoint…

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And we arrive at Edgington RV Park in Alamogordo, NM…

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Sam welcomes us and invites us to the pond for a picnic lunch. It’s her daughter’s birthday. She is turning 3!

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We settle in and salute the sun…

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A Bit About Alamogordo:

  • The city grew up around the construction of the El Paso and North East Railroad in 1898.
  • It is an example of a planned-community.
  • Charles Bishop Eddy designed the city in a grid. Streets running east and west have numbered names. Streets running north and south are named after the states.
  • In 2001 the Christ Community Church held a public book burning of the Harry Potter books, among others.
  • Alan Hale of the Hale-Bopp Comet grew up in Alamogordo. (en.m.wikipedia.org)

California, Here We Come!… Albuquerque, New Mexico

Just off I-40 West within sight of Route 66, Enchanted Trails RV Park and Trading Post is worth a stop.

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Originally known as the Hill Top Trading Post built in the late 1940s, the adobe style building did some crazy advertising to attract visitors: from a line of teepees on the roof, a stuffed bear at the door, and even a live burro wandering the parking lot. The property was converted into a campground in the early 1970s but many kitsch features remain on the property and in the building. Take a look at these vintage travel trailers! (from campground brochure)

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The Trading Post is fun inside too. The campground staff are among the friendliest we have encountered. The gift shop is filled with jewelry, Route 66 mementos, and collectibles that are not for sale. Even the laundry room has old washing machines and a mangle on display.

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Our RV site faces east toward the Sandia Mountains. Unfortunately Camping World obscures our view.

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The good news about Camping World, however, is that Jeff can walk there and purchase a kink-free potable water hose, an inside/outside temperature guage for which he has a fettish (I think he secretly wants to be a meteorologist), and a membership to the Good Sam’s Club! We are now the proud owners of a telephone-book sized directory of every RV Campground that offers us a 10% discount because of our membership in Good Sam.


The Sandia Mountains

Their name means “watermelon” in Spanish and some say it refers to the color of the sides of the mountain when the sun sets.

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Others reference the silhouette provided by the line of trees growing across the top resembling the rind of a watermelon.

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The Sandia Indians offer another explanation. When the Spaniards came to this area in 1540 they thought the squash gourds growing on the mountains were watermelons. (from en.m.wikipedia.org)

The world’s second largest tramway, 2.7 miles, ascends over 4,000 feet in 15 minutes, carrying passengers to the top of the Sandias. Supposedly the longest aerial tramway is in Armenia. Crossing the Vorotan River George, the “Tatevi Trevor”, the Wings of Tatev, is some 3.5 miles long. (from en.m.wikipedia.org)

When my son and daughter-in-law, Brian and Jen, lived in Albuquerque we rode the tram at sunset and I witnessed the reddish pink color of watermelon bathing the sides of the edifice. Jen often ran on the trails atop of the mountain. When I visited, however, the trails were closed because of the severe threat of forest fires due to the heat and lack of substantial rain.


About Albuquerque

This largest city in New Mexico sits in the high desert in the northwest quadrant of the state.

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The Sandia Mountains lie to the east and the Rio Grande River flows north and south through the city.

imageroyallyflushed.com      Photo  by C.C. Royal

Before the Spanish, Mexicans and colonists arrived here the Pueblo peoples populated and cultivated the area of the Rio Grande Valley as far back as 2,000 B.C. (from visitalbuquerque.org)

It was founded in 1706 as a Spanish colony. Three explanations of how the city was named exist. The first supposition suggests that it was derived from the Latin “albus quercus” which means “white oak” and refers to the color of the cork oak trees of the region when their bark is removed. Wine bottle stoppers and flooring are produced from these evergreens. The second premise is based on the word “albaricoque” which means “apricot” in a northwestern dialect of Spain. Spanish settlers introduced the apricot to New Mexico and eventually planted trees from the seeds. Since an apricot tree grew nearby the Spanish settlers named their land “Ciudad de la Albaricoque.” Western pioneers could not pronounce the Spanish word correctly and the name morphed into “Albuquerque.” (en.m.wikipedia.org)

The third explanation is more historical. In 1706 King Philip of Spain gave his permission to establish a villa here on the banks of the Rio Grande River and beneath the mountains which provided both protection from and trade with the Native Americans living in the area. The governor of this new city named it “La Villa de Alburquerque” in honor of the Duke in Spain with the same name. Through time, and I am guessing spelling hassles, the first “r” was lost. (from visitalbuquerque.org)