Road Trip Grants, NM to Liberal, KS

After a peaceful lunch in the high desert breeze we begin the last half of today’s journey, Grants to Liberal, KS.

Between Gallup and Grants we have crossed the Continental Divide, now all creeks and rivers flow into the Atlantic Ocean.

Traveling along I-40 we pass through the Acoma and Laguna Pueblos. These Pueblos are left for another day and another blog.





Driving through Albuquerque is always a treat. The freeways are wide and well marked, the traffic always flows well and the people seem to know where they are going.  Approaching Albuquerque from the West is a treat too as the views are spectacular.  The Sandia mountains rise dramatically up behind the city and the whole city sits as if in a huge bowl.  It actually does.  The Rio Grande River carved out the bowl between the mountains.

Leaving Albuquerque to the East we again climb up from the Rio Grande River elevation of 4,900 feet to over 6,700 feet at Tijeras pass.  Topping out over the pass, we again begin our descent into the grassland plateau of eastern New Mexico.

Santa Rosa, NM is our next stopping point.  The terrain has been mostly high desert with the elevation around 6,000 feet  Santa Rosa is a bit lower at 4,600 feet.  Here we cross the Pecos River named by the early Spanish visitors. The Pecos River flows from 12,000 feet on the western slope of the Sangre de Christo mountain range 926 miles through New Mexico and Texas until it flows into the Rio Grande at Del Rio.

The sun is beginning its descent into the west as we enter Tucumcari, NM.  This was a major overnight stop on historic Route 66.   At one point the billboards dotting Route 66 touted 2,000 hotel rooms in Tucumcari.  




Today it is still a major stopping point on Interstate 40.

Our journey takes us across the eastern edge of New Mexico and into the of panhandle of Texas arriving at Dalhart.  A stop for gas began a series of events I would never like to repeat.  After inserting the gas hose into our car, I stepped over the gas hose to reach for the windshield squeegee.  I caught my left foot on the hose and fell flat on my face, cutting my forehead, breaking my glasses and hitting my knee with such force, it felt broken.  Luckily there was a person and his son who saw what happened.  They along with my wife came to my rescue.

They took one look at my forehead and said I needed stitches.  Again, luckily they lead the way to the hospital in Dalhart where I spent the next 3 hours getting xrays, cleaning up my wounds and stitching up my face.  Unfortunately they could do nothing for the glasses.

David Ward, my PA, was very helpful and kind with a great sense of humor.  We talked about his and my love, travel.  He loves Yellowstone Park.  In fact he worked at Old Faithful Clinic for 5 months the summer of 2011 and plans to return in the future.  David talked as he stitched and told me I had a very jagged gash and he was looking at the scull.  He said I was lucky in that he could see no cuts in it.  The xrays also came back with good news, nothing in my knee was broken. I am grateful for the kind and wonderful staff at the Dalhard Hospital for their help in getting me put back together and us on the road.

Upon release, 3 hours later, we had a very late dinner and continued our drive for the day to Liberal.  I am  so grateful I am able to continue this vacation to Wisconsin.

After driving this today, and seeing historic sections of historic Route 66 along with some of the diners and “Motor Courts” I am reminded about how far we have come in the last 70 to 80 years in not only our mode of transportation but the engineering and construction of our highways.  We have a much easier way to travel across country and in more luxury and safer than our fathers and grandfathers ever did.   What do the next 70 to 80 years protend?

I am ready for a night of sleep after today’s events.  The pain is manageable, but I am sure it will keep me restless tonight.  Tune in tomorrow to follow the rest of my adventures.


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Phoenix to Grants, NM Road Trip

Today we begin a two-week road trip from Phoenix to our northern Wisconsin cabin on Balsam Lake. This is usually an annual trip, however the last two years we have not traveled to the cabin.

The terrain from Phoenix to Dalhart, TX covers many life zones so we are in for a visual treat. Beginning in the Sonoran Desert and ending in the plains of west Texas will provide us many life zones and two time zones as well.

As we drive out of the metro area we see the fountain at Fountain Hills spouting a huge stream of water skyward. We are now on the Salt River and Pima Reservation when we cross the Verde River just east of Fountain Hills.  

Our surroundings are marked by the icon of the Sonoran Desert, the tall Saguaro cactus. This stoic sentinel stands guard over the landscape and they are like a forest of trees covering the landscape.

Our immediate destination this morning it Payson, AZ where we will make a brief stop to stretch our legs and grab a cup of coffee.

Payson, located at the base of the Mogollon Rim, is already into our next life zone. We are in the Pigmy forest with pinon and juniper trees as our base at an elevation of about 4,500 feet. Having left Phoenix at 1,000 feet, we have already experienced a huge difference in temperatures.

Leaving Payson we start our climb up to the top of the Mogollon Rim where we will top out at over 7,500 feet.  Here in the tall pine forest our temperature has dropped dramatically from our morning in Phoenix.  This is some of the most beautiful and pristine forests in Arizona.


With lakes dotting the land and hiking trails off of the forest service roads, many adventures await those interested in getting off the beaten path.  The forest service has many campgrounds in the area for those wishing to get away from the heat of the desert only a short drive south.

Leaving Heber, AZ we begin our descent from the tall pine forests of the Mogollon Rim to the Petrified Forest and Painted Desert surrounding Holbrook, AZ our next stop.  This area is what is know in the west as the wide open spaces.  Not much in the way of trees except a few Pinion and Juniper trees scattered across the landscape.

Our temperature begins to rise as we approach Holbrook as our elevation has dropped to 5,000 feet.  One of our favorite places to have lunch is a little route 66 diner called Joe and Aggies.  We are too early for lunch so we keep moving along.

Entering Interstate 40 which loosely follows historic Route 66, we travel alongside the Petrified Forest and Painted Desert National Monument.

Next stop will be across the boarder at Gallup, NM.  Here we will make a brief stop to stretch our legs and gas up the car.  Gallup is on historic Route 66 and on the main line of the Santa Fe Railroad, now know as the Burlington Northern, Santa Fe.  It is also one of the major trading centers for the large Navajo Nation.  Window Rock, AZ, a short distance away from Gallup, is the tribal headquarters for the Navajo Nation, thus Gallup is their trade center.  Gallup is filled with Walmart and J.C. Penny’s are the two major players in Gallup.

There’s a great little place to have a picnic lunch just outside of Grants, NM at the Northwest New Mexico Visitors Center.  This new facility has great, wide expansive views of the Malapais as well as Mt. Taylor.

Mount Taylor is the turquoise mountain, one of the four sacred mountains marking the cardinal directions of the boundaries of the Navajo, the traditional homeland of the Navajo tribe.



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