Monday, October 8. On the road again... We unhooked, hugged our wonderful hosts, and were on the road by 9:30. The weather was not nice, a cold, misty 33 degrees, although it was no longer foggy. We headed south on I-25 and once we turned west on US-160, we skirted the southern Rockies and the scenery became quite beautiful, except for a very long stretch of road where a forest fire had destroyed many of the beautiful trees. The Aspens were in full fall color and contrasted with the evergreens, rocks, rippling rivers, and snow topped mountains, it all provided some beautiful views.
In Alamosa, we turned south on US 285 and then continued south on CO17 to Chama, NM. Again, the scenery was gorgeous - complete with snow covered hillsides and clinging to the evergreen trees. As we pulled into Chama at 7,000 feet there was snow hitting our windshields. We settled in at the Twin Rivers RV Park ($25/night) for the next few days.
Wednesday, October 10. What an adventure today was for us, starting with an alarm going off at 6:15 this morning. We scurried to have breakfast, walk and feed Frisco, and get to the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad station by 8:30. We boarded a tour bus that took us on the same route to Antonito that we drove on Monday, although in the opposite direction. Only this time, we could enjoy the scenery in comfort with someone else doing the driving.
The route is about 60 miles and as we went up in elevation, the temperatures went down and the roads started to get covered in snow. On top of the mountain in the La Monga Pass, we came to a stop, with a bit of fish tailing before the complete stop. Our driver, who had driven in snow, but not since last year, assessed the situation and decided that he needed to put chains on, but he had no experience in doing so. Several passengers got out to help and we were back on the road in about an hour. The chains were only needed for about 2 miles, so we stopped again and they were removed. We arrived in Antonito where there was no snow, an hour late but our train back to Chama was waiting for us.
The train itself is considered to be America's longest and highest narrow gauge train, is designated as a National and State Registered Historic Site and a National Civil Engineering Landmark.
I don't think we could have gotten much more enjoyment from $100 than we did today. The train chugged, steamed, and tooted as we worked our way through valleys, around curves, over trestles, through tunnels, over gorges, up mountains, and across rivers with gorgeous tree lined hills and valleys to view. Sometimes it was sunny, other times it was snowing like crazy and the ground and trees were covered in white. The Aspens were colorful - from greens to yellow to gold and some were brown or naked. We climbed about 2,000 feet and the highest point we reached was in Cumbres at 10,015 feet.
About half way through the route, we made a stop at Osier for lunch. It was well organized as individual orders were taken when we boarded the train and the options were for Soup and Salad, a complete turkey dinner (Tom's choice), or a complete meatloaf dinner (my choice). Tom and I were the first off our car and the first in line for our meal. It was all made from scratch and included beverages and dessert. The break was only an hour because of our getting off to a late start.
The last half of the trip was a steep climb into snow covered Rocky Mountains with beautiful views of the Rio de Los Pinos river flowing through the valley below. Some of the points of interest were: Tanglefoot Curve, Cumbres, Windy Point, and the Lobato
Trestle before we approached Chama. There was no longer snow on the ground, the skies were blue and the sun was shining. It was 5:15 when we landed and we hurried him me to let Frisco out - the poor dog was inside for 10 hours - and there were no surprises when we arrived. What a great and easy dog he is to have around.
Friday, October 12. Not much to write about Thursday, as it was a cold, wet, gloomy day - all day long. We did get a walk in and we went to the High Country Restaurant for dinner. I had a yummy cup of Green Chili Stew and some chicken wings and Tom opted for a burger smothered in green chili sauce.
Friday was the day to move on. The sun was out and the 38 degrees seemed much warmer than it actually was - and we were heading to Gallup, NM where it is expected to be a bit warmer. We even had to run our cars with the defrost on, as our windshields were frozen. We were hooked up and on the road by 9:30.
Heading straight west on US-64 to Farmington, the very scenic route took us through parts of the Carson National Forest. We gassed up and then headed south on NM-371 and there wasn't much 'scenic' about it - a 100 mile stretch of nothing but high desert. As we came through the town of Thoreau, we were right in the midst of the high school homecoming parade with folks lined up along both sides of the street. I did get a glimpse of a guy being wrestled into a police car by 2 cops, while another guy was being held down on the ground by a cop. Who knows what the story behind that was?
We arrived at our destination, the USA RV Park ($35/night) in Gallup, NM where we will stay until Monday - the 3-day hop continues. This park is so nice with spacious, level sites, friendly staff, nice facilities and to top it off - a yummy pulled pork sandwich and bag of chips for $5 - no wonder we keep coming back here.
Saturday, October 13. Today begins the 2nd year of our relationship - it all started when we were settled in at Joyce and Burrall's Shady Rest a year ago today. I have to admit that it has been a roller coaster ride at times but we are both willing to hold on and enjoy and to make it a good life for each other.
Tom did some research and found a nice hike for us today at Red Rock State Park. We parked the car and headed out on the Church Rock Trail and it ended up being 2.5 miles out and back. The trail was rugged, sometimes quite narrow, with some steps constructed out of beams and some were carved out right in the rockstar it wound and twisted along a canyon. The final part of the trail that got close to the featured rock formation was a bit sketchy, Frisco was slipping a bit, and we decided not to risk it and turned back. We took the dry riverbed that paralleled the trail for part of the return trip. We both imagined how nasty it would be if the ground was wet.
We also went to the Gallup Flea Market and found lots of junk - cheap jewelry, blankets, auto parts, tools, some produce, Native American foods (fry bread, mutton, green chiles, pine nuts), and there was even hay and feed for cattle across the street.
Tonight, we went out for a Mexican dinner, starting at El Charrito, but we left there when we learned that we couldn't have a Cerveza or Margarita with our dinner. A bit closer to home and 4.1 stars was Virgie Restaurant and Lounge and we were glad that we ended up there. Early on, we had a bit of reservation about going there because it is located in between an adult book store and a Chinese massage joint.
Our waitress was friendly, drinks were good, and the food was delicious - what more could you ask for? The only negative was vendors coming to the table to sell their cheap jewelry - it gave me an uncomfortable feeling and I didn't feel it was appropriate to interrupt my dinner experience with a sales pitch. One little girl (about 8 years old) told us that she wanted to earn some money so she could shop at the new Hobby Lobby store in town.