Thursday, August 30, 2018

Going East to Go West

Well, perhaps more correctly, going north to go east to go west! I'm driving back roads that are new to me (for the most part), touching a bunch of new counties along the way.

After taking the loop around the west side of Santa Fe, I headed towards Taos. One of the corners in my route looked more like a turn down an alley, but the artwork was colorful. I passed through crossroads like Trampas and Chamisal before Penasco and La Cueva.

On the north side of Las Vegas I stopped to check out a steam engine

before turning north again along a section of the Santa Fe Trail.

In Wagon Mound, I turned east again, heading out across the prairie.

All along the way, the farms looked tired with the rows of rusty equipment much longer than anything that looked alive and well.

Towns with highway crossroads looked nearly empty. There was no waiting to take a picture without any cars to be seen.

In fact, the only place I saw cars in Roy was near the cafe so I stopped. Huevos rancheros are always on my 'must have' list when in New Mexico, this time with both red and green chili. As usual, the green chili was more to my liking!

End of the day was in Tucumcari. I was looking forward to seeing neon along Route 66

but the town was full of shuttered businesses and parking lots filled with weeds. Only the Blue Swallow Motel still had their neon lit.

It seems like only the cemetery was still open for business.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Paint by Numbers

After I spent a full day in Albuquerque, I moved to the northeast about 50 miles to Cochiti Lake. The lake is an empoundment on the Rio Grande river, created as a flood control device. The US Army Corp of Engineers built and operate a couple nice campgrounds on the lake. I was up far enough that I had a nice breeze, and power for the air conditioner.

The reason for coming here (other than $10 water/elec rate for seniors) was that it was the closest campsite with power to a geoart comprised of 100 mystery caches which depicted the outline of the state of New Mexico.

Mystery caches like these are not located where they're depicted on the map. That makes it easier to create geoart but the caches must be solved to determine the final coordinates. Sometimes the puzzles are difficult, but in this case they were very easy. I did all the solutions before I left home and realized that the caches were all located along dirt roads. Could be easy, could be tough, depending on the road condition.

On the way from the campground to the area with the geocaches, the road passed through La Cieneguilla, a small village that dates back to the late 1600s.

The road was narrow with the houses built very close. Lots of adobe construction, with nearly every house featuring the sky blue window trim.

The majority of the caches were on BLM land that I would call high desert. While is was a very well known recreational area, I saw very few other people - perhaps because it was during the week,

although I did see some four legged muggles who were generally smart enough to find some shade.

It was after lunch with temps approaching ninety degrees when I got into the area the first day. Storms were building but never approached this immediate area. The main roads had good rock (crushed volcanic rock) which looked like it would hold up well to a heavy rain.

I quickly realized that the caches were all the same style which usually made it easier to spot them. I did about 40 of them the first afternoon, including the roughest side road, before it got too hot to continue.

I started at sunrise the next morning, hoping to get done before the temperatures rose and the chance of thunder storms went up.

The side roads could have been dicey, but the storms they'd been having for several days were bypassing the area so the dirt was dry and easy to navigate.

With a self inking rubber stamp, I could often do one cache every 3 or 3 1/2 minutes depending on how close they were located to the coordinates. Usually the coords were very close, but I had a few that were off by 25 feet or more, which would slow me down.

By noon, I had the series done, changing the blue question marks into yellow similes. Even with those 100 mysteries, I still need 12 more to complete my qualifications for a challenge cache near home. Once again, geocaching has taken me to a place I wouldn't have noticed, otherwise.

Monday, August 20, 2018

Driving Around in Circles

With the big move for our daughter & SIL out of the way (a move where I was able to avoid the hard work!), it was time for me to hook up the trailer and look for someplace cooler.

This time it will be a loop around parts of Northern New Mexico that I've not visited. Since BJ's back continues to bother her, especially when sitting, this will be a solo trip but at a slower pace than the handful of one or two night trips that I've done this year.

As has become my custom, I'm letting the geocaches determine where to go. It doesn't make for the shortest distance between two points, but does raise the odds of seeing something interesting along the way. For example, in all the years we've been driving to and through New Mexico, I've never visited El Malpais National Monument so this time I'll stop to make observations at some earthcaches and a virtual cache on my way to Albuquerque

One of the things I observed was how helpful benchmarks can be --- who would have guessed that was a rock??

Defunct land sales seem to be an item, at least on the back roads.

I stopped at Maybelle's for lunch but had to bring my own.

Home for a couple nights in Albuquerque. Temps were in the low 90's so power for the air conditioner was much appreciated!

They have several classic trailers that they rent on a daily basis as well as a couple very nice Hudson cars that they don't rent!

It's hard to read because it wasn't lit, but in the front window they advertise 'Suntans Available - Inquire at Pool.'

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Route 66

My plan, when I left Barstow in time to enjoy the sunrise, centered on several challenge caches and three earthcaches that were all located along Route 66 - at least at first glance.

My first earthcache started in Ludlow, where an info plaque (not this one, but nearby) told an amazing story. It turns out, 'they' had actually considered using nuclear blasts to create a road cut for Interstate 40.

The observations needed to complete the earthcache requirements required driving east on I-40, almost to Kelbaker Road. Not a big deal since another of the earthcaches was on Kelbaker Road just before the intersection with Route 66. I'd just do them in a different order.

I wasn't sure what to make of this sign when I pulled off of I-40 onto Kelbaker Road. Nothing to do but drive on...

When I got to Route 66, the road to the east was blocked, with another sign that read the same as the last one - no through traffic WEST of Cadiz Road. That was disappointing since one of the caches I wanted was on Cadiz Road south of Chambless. But first, I needed to backtrack to Amboy.
Amboy is a burg located west of Kelbaker Road. It still has a post office and a large neon sign advertising Roy's Motel & Cafe.

The motel now has an open door policy. In fact, there are no doors! The hotel was obviously out of business. The cafe might still be in operation but there was only one car parked there.

I continued west of Amboy another mile or so to Amboy Crater for the last California earthcache I planned to visit on this trip.

There's a three mile trail that loops around the hill in the background but the heat was already making itself known so I located the info I needed to complete the requirements and headed back the way I'd come.

I did find one classic geocache hiding in the rocks, but because of the rerouting, I missed visiting places like Klondike, Siberia, and Bagdad.

When I returned to Kelbaker Road, the semi driver was just returning to his truck after delivering a front end loader with a 12' wide bucket. He had unloaded here because of bridges with inadequate load limits but said the road was open to Cadiz road, but not EAST of there.

With that info, I drove around the road closed signs and continued east towards Chambless. Spotted this sign which was in better condition than the former cafe and gas station that it advertised!

Chambless appeared to be totally lacking in residents. The buildings were decaying but the fences were in good condition.

Immediately east of Cadiz Road was another road block and this sign stating the road was impassable. It certainly didn't look it, and there was no one to ask. I'm betting a bridge washed out at some point.

Since the highway is now a county road, it could well be that they decided not to replace or fix whatever made the road impassable. Unfortunately, this loop used to be a 75 mile section of surviving Route 66, complete with several 'whistle stop' towns that survived on tourism.

I'm hoping to go back this winter and spend some time in the area, including finding out what makes the road impassible.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Where to Now?

The weather has been super hot, limiting any interest in local hiking. Once again, I put together plans for an overnight trip, looping up through Searchlight, Nevada and then over to Barstow, California before heading home.

As is typical when I'm traveling solo, it was an early morning departure, but the GPS in the car was loaded with the route,

and made creating a list of caches an easy task. I was going to concentrate on some earth caches and a handful of other caches that looked interesting.

One of the nice things about Cachetur is that the new app updates an estimated schedule based on actual arrival times. By adding a waypoint at the beginning for home, I was able to start the list with an accurate departure time - 3:39 a.m.

Cachetur estimated the trip to be 871 miles with a completion time (including time for the 25 planned caches) of 23 hours, 14 minutes, and 59 seconds. I'll admit to being crazy, but I'm not going to do a 24 hour trip without some rest so I decided I'd get a hotel in Barstow before starting back.
I took lots of pictures on day one (on the phone) and managed to lose every one of them when downloading them to the computer the first evening. This one is from the next day and the previous ones are from my old Canon camera which takes terrible pictures thanks to all its river abuse.

The best stop of the day was in Baker, California which bills itself as the Gateway to Death Valley. The thermometer stands 134 feet high to commemorate the highest temperature recorded here. It was 108 degrees when I was there, slightly cooler than the high in Phoenix that day.

This picture isn't mine - it was taken several years ago and is used in accordance with the Creative Commons license.

I got into Barstow about 2 hours ahead of schedule. A hotel room with a working air conditioner gave me a place to log the various caches I'd completed. An early start tomorrow for the trip back including a section of Route 66.