Time Period: April 9 – April 23, 2009
Miles Driven: 1255
With very few planned stops and knowing that Arizona and New Mexico were both full of amazing things to see, we opted to primarily follow Route 66 across these states, using the old highway as our guide. We had both traveled across Arizona and New Mexico independently before, but aside from a brief crossing through the northeastern tip of New Mexico in our travels in 2007, it was the first time for us to explore these states together. Our route, as it turned out, ended up looking a lot like the roadtrip that Cherie’s family took back in 1983.
Lake Havasu City, AZ
Our first destination in Arizona was to meet up with fellow Oliver Travel Trailer owners, Lisa, Wayne and Andrew. They had extended an open invite to stop in whenever we got in town and stay as long as we like (our favorite kind of invitation!).
They turned out to be amazingly cool folks, and we ended up geeking out about our trailers, going off-road Jeeping, meeting lots of their fabulous friends, visiting the Desert Bar, and we tempting them to join us for Burning Man 2009. We even introduced them to light painting after lessons from Ben Willmore the week prior. We got out on our own a bit and visited THE London Bridge, which was purchased and rebuilt by the founder of Lake Havasu City.
On our way into town via Parker Arizona, we had our first encounter with someone stopping us in the street already knowing what an Oliver Travel Trailer was – and asked if we knew Jim & Evon Oliver, the owners of the company. We had met Evon last year when we joined up with the Oliver Road Crew at the International Camel Races – but we had yet to meet Jim. We were excited to learn they had a home in Lake Havasu as well, and we might finally get to catch up with him.. and maybe even sneak a peak at the new 22′ Oliver Travel Trailer they had just built the first of!
And indeed we did. The 22′ version is awesome, adds extra space and addresses a lot of the feature requests folks have had. It felt too big for our needs, but we were definitely impressed by it. And we do lust after the 4 battery capacity it has.
After leaving Lake Havasu, we back tracked a few miles westward to join up with the start of Route 66 in Arizona. There’s a section of about 60 miles between Golden Shores and Kingman that has been beautifully restored and maintained by the BLM, winding through the Black Mountains – and we figured that would be a fabulous way to start our Route 66 tour.
We overnighted on our new friend’s land outside of Hackberry Arizona, and it had an absolutely gorgeous view. We can’t wait to join them on a future group camping trip there.
The drive was beautiful, and we enjoyed checking out old forgotten towns along the way.
The Grand Canyon
We made a quick last minute decision to take a detour off of Route 66 and head on up to the Grand Canyon, since we were in the area anyway. We figured since it was mid-week, we stood decent odds of being able to find camping too. When we arrived, it started snowing – which was a very much unexpected treat for mid-April.
We ended up staying at Mather Campground in the Grand Canyon for two nights, as we had great data signals. It provided a good opportunity to catch up, relax, play in the snow and see some of the most amazing terrain on the planet.
Back to Route 66 in Arizona
After a brief respite in the Grand Canyon National Park, we rejoined Route 66 in Flagstaff but not first without discovering a beautiful traveler’s chapel called Chapel of the Holy Dove along the way.
Continuing eastward we stopped at Walnut Canyon National Monument to check out the cliffside housing ruins of the Sinaqua people, and then took a sunset drive through the Petrified Forest National Park before crossing into New Mexico.
New Mexico: Santa Fe & Albuquerque
We continued following Route 66 all the way to Santa Fe, even going across a section that has turned to gravel road. Wild horses even crossed our path. The emotions of actually driving on the crumbling old road were intense after seeing so many abandoned towns.
We first stopped in Santa Fe and stayed with our friend Bugs, who took us for a tour of the surrounding mountains. We also got to catch up with the couple who bought our T@B (the trailer we traveled in together in 2007) – it’s such a sweet story, he bought the trailer for his wife’s birthday as a surprise to be her mobile painting studio! After Santa Fe, we headed down to catch up with my dear friend Eve and her wife Kelli, and enjoyed a couple days camped on their new property. It was awesome to catch up.
White Sands & Carlsbad Caverns
Leaving Albuquerque, we made stops at Gran Quivira and Three Rivers Petroglyphs on our way to White Sands National Monument, which was overwhelmingly beautiful. Here you drive through a carved out path in the dunes, and then you can climb and play on them. We had great fun here, although Kiki didn’t know quite what to think of it.
And then we moved on to Carlsbad, NM, where we had a serendipitous rendezvous with other fellow Oliver Owners, Geri & Chuck who were on their way to workamp in the area. We had a great time meeting them, comparing trailers and dining together.
The next day, we toured Carlsbad Caverns – another spot that just can’t be missed. Cherie had toured it as a kid and remembered it being impressive – but not as impressive as it is now with life experience behind her.
After Carlsbad, we moved into Texas… where the adventures continued.