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Friday, April 2, 1999

Walked - 5 miles

Oklahoma to Tucson in 1985 - Part 2

[Go to Part 1]

US-60 is one of the old highways that first made their way across the continent. You can still drive it across country though, in places, it's been superceded with interstates. At the New Mexico border we joined with US-70 coming in from the south and a few miles further, at Clovis, we left US-60 and headed southwest on US-70 . We stayed at a motel in Clovis which was quite fun as we were so poor that we hadn't stayed in a motel since my children were babies and, even now, I feel rather decadent when staying in even a cheap motel.

The next day we took US-70 down to Roswell. At the time we didn't know that there was all the UFO hoopla or we would have spent some time there. From Roswell we went south on US-285 to Carlsbad and US-180 / US-62 to Carlsbad Caverns. We walked all the way down and had a great time. It was rather thrilling to think we were so far underground.

By the time we were done it was late in the afternoon and so we headed into Texas, still on US-180 / US-62 . Just across the state line we stopped at Guadalupe National Park to camp that night. We were well into the desert now and it was a new experience for us. It had been quite a few years for me and Mike and Lisa had never lived anywhere but the plains and the midwest in Iowa.

At the campfire talk that night the rangers had set up some telescopes and after a talk they put out the fires and we got to look at the stars. It was wonderful. We were used to looking at the stars through city lights and, even when we camped, there is still a haze in the midwest that you don't have in the dryer areas that we were coming into now. I've always enjoyed the little evening talks that the rangers give and try to get to them when I visit a national park.

The next day we decided that we wanted to go through national forests, since we don't have a lot of forests in Oklahoma, so we headed back north to Artesia, NM and then west on US-82 . It was quite a windy and mountainous road and I had never driven on mountain roads, and certainly never with a trailer. We chugged our way slowly up to Cloudcroft and found a camp site all to ourselves in the Lincoln National Forest.

We also found out about altitude at this time. We were probably at about 7000 feet and nearly froze during the night. We had to raid the trailer for more blankets. The campfire that night was great though. There was plenty of wood on the ground and we roasted marshmallows and hotdogs. The next morning was so cold that we decided that we would just wait till we got down to Alamagordo and grab something at McDonalds.

Well, another adventure. My road down was very steep and my brakes weren't all that great, plus we had the weight of the car (a tank) and a loaded trailer. I had to stop several times to cool off the brakes and was a nervous wreck by the time we made it to the bottom. I needed breakfast and a break by the time we got to Alamagordo.

After recovering, we went south on US-70 to White Sands National Monument. We were getting some rain so the sand was damp but we still enjoyed playing in the sand dunes. I found white sand in things for the next six months. Wet sand is very difficult to keep out of anything.

Still trying to see it all, we continued south on US-70 to Las Cruces and north on I-25 to NM-152 at Cabrillo. We went west to San Lorenzo and northwest on NM-35 to NM-15 and then north to the Gila Cliff Dwellings. Again we were on rather windy and narrow roads. If I'd known what all these roads were like before hand I probably wouldn't have taken them, but I get carried away and keep going "Oh let's try this road.".

The cliff dwellings were very interesting. It's amazing how many different types of places people have lived in. We are quite a versatile species. We climbed to the ones we were allowed to and got in quite a nice hike.

We then headed south on NM-15 to Silver City. We pulled off the road about halfway there to fix something for lunch and could not start the car again. The battery was dead. Finally a guy stopped and charged the battery for us. We drove into Silver City and to a garage without daring to stop. They didn't have a battery and had to get one for us so we were there for a while. It seems we had charged the battery too much and wore it out. Or something like that.

With a new battery and less money we headed south on NM-90 to Lordsburg. Now, during the entire trip we had to stop on a regular basis to put water in the radiator. With all the mountains and the desert air we were filling it every few hours by this time. I also had to air up the tires quite often and put in fix-a-flat a couple times. Truly a junker, but we didn't care, we were travellers.

Coming into the desert after all the wonderful mountains and forests we had been driving through was quite a change. It was also very hot and we did not have air conditioning. With all windows open and drinking plenty of water and cokes, we limped into Lordburg. Again, I decided that we really needed to stay at a motel. We had started at about 6:00 that morning so we were ready to rest and the airconditioning was wonderful.

The next day we started the last day. We headed east on I-10 and soon were in Arizona, still on I-10 . We climb the hills and drive through the valleys enjoying the rocks and desert. Even though we left early it was already getting hot and by the time we got to Tucson it was above 100 degrees. We left I-10 to drop our things at a storage bin and had a flat. By the time I had changed the flat I was so hot I thought I would pass out. We drove to the nearest fast food place and I drank two large ice teas and then had to sit in the coolness for a while before I felt better.

Finally, after unloading the things we didn't need and dropping off the trailer, we drove north to my parents home in Catalina. It was so nice to stop for a while but we had a great time coming out here. I did a lot a stupid things, but we made it ok and had an adventure to remember.

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©Rachel Aschmann 1999.
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