One thing I’m noticing about nomadic life, is that the days start to blur together and I really loose track of what day it is. I was relieved last night when I realized it was Thursday, not Friday.
So.. last I updated, we were at Lake Meredith in Fritch, TX – which was a spectacular location. We actually considered staying there for another night, but thought we should get a move on westward as our desired date of arrive in California is quickly approaching.
So, onwards into New Mexico we went. I loved watching the terrain change the further west we went. We got past the border after a lunch at Red’s Drive-In while still in Texas. We stopped in Clayton, NM for a stop at the traveler’s center for recommendations on where to overnight. It looked like a storm was brewing, and we were not inclined to drive through it. We were pointed towards Clayton Lake State Park just 15 miles away, and we headed out that way – watching the storm approach in the distance. We arrived, and we were the only ones in the non-electric section and took a spot furthest away from anyone. We road out the storm in Tab, and then when it passed there was still plenty of daylight for a hike out to the advertised dinosaur prints by the dam. I’m not convinced they’re anything other than holes in the ground.. but what the heck. It’s apparently the best collection of dinosaur tracks on the planet.
In the morning I woke to the most amazing sunrise out our window, and the winds were gusting. Forecasts where predicting steady 35-45 mph winds with 60 mph gusts. We headed on with our plans, taking the ‘short cut’ out of the park – which lead us down dirt roads in NE New Mexico. It was a challenge to navigate through, given that half the roads that Streets & Trips routed us down didn’t exist. But, we found a way through and visited Capulin Volcano. We went to the top and hiked the perimeter in the high winds.. which was quite an experience.
And then it was onwards. Our mileage indicator showed that we had well over 100 miles on the tank – and the nearest city was about 50. No problem we thought. Except that the stiff cross winds greatly reduced our mileage. We ended up pulling into Raton, NM with just under a gallon of diesel left and the indicator reading zero for the last 7 miles. The winds were brutal and exhausting to drive through, and every time a big rig would pass us we’d shift over a couple feet. Scary.
We got some lunch in town and then decided to find campgrounds not too far out. There was no way we were making it into Salida – which was still a good 4 hours out. We wanted to avoid the interstate so that we could go at our own pace, so routed up a back way down ‘Old Raton Pass Road’ through the mountains. Beautiful dirt road.. until it ended in a wall of boulders. Grrr. So we backtracked to the interstate – but not before having a wild black bear cross right in front of us!! Amazing.
Up north into Colorado, and across the Highway of Legends. We overnighted in Purgatoire Campgrounds in the San Isabel National Forest. Hardly anyone there, the camp host greeted us and warned us of a bear that had been hanging out near the campground. At dusk, we decided to take a quick stroll around the campgrounds to stretch our legs, and as we were rounding the corner – I spotted the bear not more than 50 ft off. I stopped Chris, and hung still. The bear stood up (to smell) – which was amazing to see in the ‘wild’. It noticed us and turned around to head back up the mountain it came from. Thankfully, we were nearby a restroom so we had shelter nearby if things had gone differently. But wow.. two wild bears in one day!!
The night was rough with all the gusty winds bouncing us about, but we were up and moving fairly early and headed on north towards Salida. We took some gorgeous roads up with incredible Rocky Mountain views, and even saw buffalo roaming in a refuge. We’ve also spotted several deer, chipmunks, birds, bunnies and more. It’s been like our own little southwestern safari!
We arrived in Salida yesterday afternoon to visit with Teresa and Andrew, and decided to put up camp in the RV park they’re staying at near Cotopaxi while they house hunt. We’re off on our own, down in a basin right on the banks of the raging Arkansas River. We even had white water rafters zoom by earlier. It’s breathtakingly beautiful here, and it’s nice to not be in motion today.
We’ll leave out sometime tomorrow and start a pretty direct route, aiming to arrive in Sacramento by Thursday.