Great Plains Loop
Day 2: Datil to Rio Chama, New Mexico
In the morning I realized I had taken us slightly off track,
so we backtracked to Pie Town and took a "shortcut" to route 117 that devolved into a string of iimpressive
and progressively slippery mud slides.
Some lovely wildflowers along King Ranch Road.
Finally we glided onto pavement at the junction with route 117 and immediately
bumped up against the southernmost tongue of the El Malpais Lava Flow.
There's a nice 1.4-mile hike here through a 3000-year-old lava flow
known as "Lava Falls."
Zig-zag fissures 20 feet deep alternate with countless
collapsed lava tubes and bizarre rope-like formations.
Another short hike to La Ventana
Natural Arch. El Morro, Datil, El Malpais, Cebola National Forest — I love west central New Mexico!
We need to figure out how to spend part of the summer here!
From Grants we took our favorite
route across the Navajo Reservation through Hospah, Whitehorse, Pueblo Pintado and Torreon.
My favorite business name: Chaco Wash Laundromat,
on Chaco Wash of course!
Near Whitehorse, a herd of goats and sheep wandered onto the road, even lying down in the road, and were not
impressed by our efforts to persuade them to mosey along.
Although there were inky black clouds on the horizon, we tanked up on coffee and pecan pie
in Cuba and continued rolling north through that great red rock country near Coyote and Gallena, and on past Abiquiu and Ghost
Ranch, to a campsite I'd read about along the Rio Chama.
Actually, there are a number of dispersed campsites along the Rio Chama. We pulled into one a few feet from
the river just in time for the most spectacular sunset I'd ever seen, a curtain of vibrant liquid magenta behind powder-colored cliffs.
And then the sky opened up, and it rained. And rained. And rained. And our "campsite along the river" began to feel less and less
desirable. Yes, we were at least one foort above the water, but we know what mountain-fed streams can do in the desert. We eventually
moved to higher ground, without even lowering the roof, on a bench about half a mile upstream.
Rio Chama to Trinidad, Colorado