Day 29- Amarillo
We took a slightly longer route to Amarillo so we could drive through Oklahoma for a bit. There’s not a whole lot to this part of Oklahoma, and it was pushing 95 degrees so it wasn’t our favorite part of the trip. Before getting to Amarillo, Tracey found the VW Slug Bug Ranch, which is a VW version of the famous Cadillac Ranch on I-40 (Route 66) west of town. No visit to Amarillo is complete with stopping at the Big Texan Restaurant and having a steak dinner, so we did, but did not take on the famous free 72oz steak challenge. After dinner, we stopped for groceries and then found our way to the RV Oasis Resort for the night.
Day 30 – Santa Rosa
Our first stop before leaving Amarillo was a close-up look at the Cadillac Ranch, a line of ten Cadillacs buried face down in 1974 just for the sake of public art. We then headed west on I-40 and back into New Mexico. In Santa Rosa, we stopped to check out the Blue Hole, a small, deep lake that is constantly renewed from an underground source, making it always crystal clear and 62 degrees. Without much else to do in Santa Rosa, we headed to our campground in Santa Rosa Lake State Park and found time for a short hike before relaxing and eating dinner.
Day 31 & 32 – Santa Fe
The next day we were back on I-40 and Route 66, with our first stop being the world-famous truck stop at Clines Corners. From there, it was only an hour more to Santa Fe, the capital of New Mexico and the oldest capital city in the country, with a history that stretches back thousands of years. We headed for the Old Town area surrounding the place, where we ate lunch and visited the Palace of the Governors and the Chuck Jones Art Gallery. Then we headed to our hotel room at Santa Fe Suites, and while we waited for our room, we were surprised to see two policeman looking over our van. Turns out a missing person was reported and the vehicle had Texas plates, which RC now has since we changed our residency my sister’s house in Texas. Needless to say, we were not who they were looking for. Our second day in Santa Fe was a work day for both of us, with Tracey doing laundry and cooking meals for the days of camping ahead.
Day 33 & 34 – Taos
We left Santa Fe around 11am for Taos, heading through the Rio Grande Gorge and stopping for lunch along the way. Like Santa Fe, Taos has thousands of years of history, with a charming Old Town with shops and galleries. We explored the town (and saw 5 other Westies after not seeing any for over two weeks) and then headed to our campground five miles east in Taos Canyon. We woke up the next day to snowflakes, which quickly turned into a full-blown snow squall that lasted almost an hour. When the weather improved, Tracey visited the Lilac Festival in a park near the Plaza. Later in the afternoon, we drove a short ways to Taos Pueblo, one of the oldest continuously inhabited communities in the world and a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Day 35 – Pagosa Springs
Saturday morning, we got up fairly early and hit the road to Michael’s hometown of Pagosa Springs, Colorado. Just outside of Taos, we stopped to see the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge, the 7th highest bridge in the country with a great view of the gorge. We also saw the first of many animals we’d see on this drive, two bighorn sheep. Further down the road, we saw a yak, a llama, several pronghorn antelope and an Abert’s squirrel (which apparently aren’t great at getting out of the road, but luckily this one survived our encounter).
Before heading into Pagosa Springs, we took Highway 160 northeast towards Wolf Creek Pass so we could do the short hike to Treasure Falls. We also went just a bit further up the road to Wolf’s Crest, where there is an amazing overlook of the San Juan Valley (which was closed but we were still able to enjoy the view). Then we headed back down the pass, through Pagosa and out to Michael’s old house west of town. On our way back, we stopped in town to check out the San Juan Riverwalk and to explore downtown Pagosa Springs. That was enough for one day, so we headed back east a few miles to the Pagosa Riverside Campground for the night.