Desert Sage. JEM Trail, Hurricane, Utah.
This was Amelia’s last two-week Spring Break for the foreseeable future. Her district is going to one week next year, like most districts. So we kind of went big and traveled a lot of miles, maybe too many miles, over 2,200. We did a lot more stops and things besides White Sands, Dog Canyon, and Valley of the Gods. A single stop doesn’t really warrant its own blog. And how many times can I actually write about Hurricane and Cortez? Our main objective with the blog is to entertain, educate, and inform. We also hope we are inspiring people to get out and explore the beautiful country we live in. And lastly, to put it bluntly, our minds are shit. We have the hardest time remembering all of our trips. So this blog provides us with dates and details, a history of our adventures and wanderings, it also helps solving disagreements that always come up between us regarding where we’ve been and when. 🙂 This post is a summary of the two weeks.
We left on Saturday April 8th. By design our first day was going to be our longest. We were hoping to get to a BLM boondock spot called Indian Bread Rocks, south of Bowie, Arizona off of Interstate 10. This was the first time the Airstream had been east of Tucson on the I-10. When we were 90 miles away from Bowie we saw the first warning sign, 80 miles ahead I-10 was closed due to high winds and zero visibility because of a dust storm. Apparently, it’s a common occurrence. There was a detour that routed you north and dropped you off in New Mexico. Basically, where we wanted to go wasn’t accessible. Good thing we had a back up plan in case we got too tired, and that was the Cochise Visitor Center in Willcox (with double ls). And it’s a good thing it wasn’t yet dark, because the iPhone maps directions were all screwed up, but we found it. A trippy little place that allows you to spend one night in their parking lot. It took us nine hours. I’m sure we’ve said this before, but that’s too long to drive and we won’t do that again.
Amelia figured out we could get free wi-fi from the visitor center, no password needed. It was the fastest wi-fi ever, so we made the most of the situation and streamed a couple of episodes of Grace & Frankie and drank beers. It was windy all night, and that was the beginning of me saying for the entire trip, “There’s San Diego weather, then there’s everywhere else.”
Cochise Visitor Center. Willcox, Arizona.
Our impression of New Mexico is it’s a poor, sparsely populated, beautiful state. The population is just a little over two million, with more than half of the people living in the Albuquerque metropolitan area. There are a lot of Indian Reservations and of course Native Americans. In the lower half of the state we saw a lot of pistachio groves. And roadside stands selling pinon nuts and beef jerky are a big thing. One gas station at the north end of Albuquerque had two different beef jerky vendors set up in the parking lot! That still strikes me as bizarre.
A cool White Sands pic that somehow got left out of the post.
There are 154 National Forests in the U.S. of A. Part of Dog Canyon is in Lincoln National Forest.
The not so glamorous part of glamping, dumping the tanks at Oliver Lee.
After we left Oliver Lee, the next stop was The White Ridge Bike Trails Area, aka White Mesa, outside of San Ysidro, N.M. Many websites rank this as the number one trail in the state, all sites have it at least in the top 5.
If you are ever on the 380 in New Mexico around the Carrizozo area and need a place to spend the night, the Valley of Fire National Recreation Area is a pretty sweet little campground. We stopped to check it out and stretched our legs, then got back on the road.
To get to White Mesa you have to drive through the Res, on an at times rough dirt road.
What a great partnership to make this very unique place open to mountain bikers.
Dragon’s Back, the first segment on the 8 mile White Mesa loop, at times it had a high pucker factor. The wind didn’t help.
Dragon’s Back was about 3 miles long, often nothing was in your peripheral vision, so that was weird. And the wind…
My wife is a mountain biker!
Some really strange terrain to be riding on.
It was definitely a unique ride, but if this is one of the top rides in the state, then Utah has nothing to worry about.
I’m sure there are people who ride past the danger sign, but this time not us. We started to hike a bike it, but even that was sketchy so we turned around and finished on another trail.
We spent the night in the trailhead parking lot.
Up next was three nights in Cortez, Colorado.
Bernie and Shawn, the two brothers that own this KOA. They do an absolutely fantastic job running the property.
If you like mountain biking, then you must go to Cortez to ride Phil’s World. Rib Cage will blow your mind.
After Cortez was Valley of the Gods, then off to Hurricane, Utah. Where our friend Shelli met us and stayed with us for two nights.
After Valley of the Gods, the old WillowWind RV Park in Hurricane was a visual assault on our senses.
If your eyesight is good enough to see those two specs, that’s Amelia and Shelli, and of course Molly’s Nipple. I just had to include a Molly’s Nipple pic!
I can’t believe that dude is wearing a Dipsea T- shirt from 1994!
Shelli brought Sara’s boyfriend, Osborne.
After Hurricane, we went to Cathedral Gorge State Park in Panaca, Nevada for one night. For the second time this trip, the iPhone maps let us down. It directed us to a dirt road, that may have taken us to Utah Highway 56, but 8 miles on a dirt road, that we weren’t even sure about, didn’t seem like a good idea. So we busted out an old-fashioned paper map and corrected course. Lesson learned, for now on double-check route with a paper map.
There’s a lot of strange places in the west, but Cathedral Gorge is right up towards the top of strange.
All kinds of slots, nooks, and crannies to explore.
Sara was going bonkers exploring.
Strange and beautiful.
Wild horses on the side of Highway 93 in Nevada.
Then it was off to Vegas to see my dad and his wife. We spent the night in the Airstream in front of their house, woke up at 4am and peeled rubber out-of-town. We really do not like Vegas.
We ended up “free camping” 4 nights, KOA 3 nights, RV Park 3 nights, and 4 nights in State Parks. We encountered wind, thunderstorms, more wind, more really strong wind, and winds that just wouldn’t quit. More than one person was trying to tell me it’s always windy in the spring. All I know is, there’s San Diego weather, then there’s everywhere else.
Two last things Amelia wanted me to mention: Why is it so hard to recycle in all the states we visited? We finally, with guilt, just started throwing the cans and bottles into the trash. And it just felt so wrong. Secondly, when you go into a grocery store and bring in your own reusable bags, the clerks and baggers just stare at you like you are from another planet.
I guess to a lot of people we are from another planet.