Our epic trek #4 has begun. The current plan is to not drop back into the valley of the sun until the daytime highs are 80 degrees or below. It was pushing 108 degrees when we left so it may be some time before we return.
We stopped the first night at our place on the rim. It’s always 30 degrees cooler there so it was perfect for an evening walk. We watched a beautiful moon rise above the ponderosas.
Neighbors of ours were out waiting for the evening primrose to bloom. I never knew that it only bloomed after the sun sets. Turns out we have evening primrose all along our road.
We then took off east for our first planned stop in Tyler, Texas to see some relatives of mine. We needed to cross New Mexico and decided to stop at El Morro National Monument the first night, one of our favorite places.
It was made a National Monument by Teddy in 1906, one of the first. The place has a little bit of everything. There are ancient Zuni Pueblo ruins that date back to 1100 to 1400.
There is a great hike with a mini “Canyon de Chelly” spider rock.
And there are pictographs and carvings in the sandstone that are from the ancient Zunis, the Spanish in the early 1600s, to the US Army in the 1840s and later the wagon train passengers heading to California.
If you have never been to El Morro I highly recommend that it be a future stop. They even have a free campground!
After spending an entire month last year exploring New Mexico, we decided to just shoot across the state this time to get to new places quickly. We did stop at the Abo Mission ruins for lunch, one of the three Spanish missions built in the 1620s.
We spent the night at Ft Sumner State Park, along the Pecos River. Ft Sumner’s claim to fame is that it’s where Billy the Kid was killed and buried. Although, the local Sheriff, who stopped to talk about our rig, told us the story of the only Sheriff to be recalled was the one that wanted to dig up Billy’s grave and verify that it was him buried there.
We made it out of Ft. Sumner just before the Old Fort Days parade shut down all traffic. We passed one of the floats getting ready for the trip down Main Street with a herd of energetic kids aboard.
We then headed into west Texas, and as Pam put it – one of Dante’s circles of hell. I’m sure there is a nice part of year to drive through west Texas, but June is not it. It was hot, windy and humid all at the same time. And the scenery was nearly constant, with farm and cattle land stretching to the horizon. We took the back roads and did enjoy the historical markers along the way, one which said the 1890 census for the county included not only the folks, but the names of their favorite horse too.
We ended camping for the night at the southern end of Palo Duro Canyon, at Caprock Canyons State Park. While beautiful, the place was roasting hot until the sun went down. Luckily we had a campsite with power and enjoyed the AC until things cooled off.
Next to our campsite was a prairie dog city. The little guys were very curious, and chirped out the alarm as we strolled through.
The park also has a bison herd, and while we saw their droppings everywhere the bison must have found a cooler place to spend the day hidden from view.
We pushed further east into Texas until we hit Ft Richardson State Park outside Jacksboro, TX. The old fort was first put in place after the Civil War to enforce martial law until Texas was readmitted into the US in 1870, and then as a launching base for the Indian Wars in the west.
It was much cooler here, no AC required. During our evening stroll through the park we saw a lot of fireflies, something you never see in Arizona – pretty cool.
We’ve covered nearly 1000 miles already and have nearly 3000 more before we hit Nova Scotia in early July. Stay tuned.