It got down to the 30s overnight, but I was okay in my sleeping bag and warm blanket. I’ve made it a point to stay in bed until the sun comes up sometime between 7 and 8, because as soon as the sun is up it gets warmer quickly. Soon after getting up I had my 11:00 am department meeting, which is really 9:00 am here on Mountain time. After that and getting as much work done as I could for now, we moved on.
We needed the gratuitous photo op from the giant sign in Grants. Fun fact: both of our vans are under 10 feet tall. After that, we got gas, then followed Route 66 as far west as we could. It took us all the way to the town of Continental Divide, where it disappeared and forced us back onto I-40.
The high plains gave way to the desert today. I could literally see the plains on one side of the highway and desert on the other, again like tiles in SimEarth.
Another thing I’ve seen a lot of the past few days is eastbound trains. The track runs parallel to I-40 for miles and miles. (Actually, the road was probably built alongside the track, way back when.) We often see several trains like this in a relatively short time span, nonstop, and with no westbound trains. I know there’s a massive backup at the west coast shipping docks. I can assure you that once these containers are unloaded and placed onto trains, they’re wasting no time sending them east.
As we pulled into Gallup, which proclaims itself as “the most patriotic town in America,” Birgit saw these enormous red rock cliffs, and insisted that we go check them out. There was no argument from me. We ended up at Red Rock Park, where we checked out the museum. There was also a campground there. We looked, and decided to cut our day short and spend the night there in this amazing environment that was completely outside of our previous experience.
This was the view from our campsite. Can you blame us for spending money on overnight parking for the first time on this entire Route 66 adventure? The prices are extremely reasonable, actually: $13 for dry camping, $25 for power and water. I splurged for everything so that I could refill my water, which was starting to run low. I would’ve ended up paying the difference in price for water alone out here in the desert. Because I could, I also plugged in and topped off my batteries at the same time.
I can see myself coming back here. While motorcycling anywhere off pavement is strictly prohibited in the park (and rightfully so), there are probably many places I could go ride both on and off pavement nearby. This stop was a complete surprise, so I was unprepared to explore the area. It’s ok. It’s just one more reason why I need to return to New Mexico later. I could see myself spending a week, or even a month at their extremely affordable $400 monthly rate that includes everything.
I made an early dinner, then played a one-shot Dungeons and Dragons game online. The WiFi here is excellent, so I didn’t have to worry about burning my hotspot data. Then sleep, and a late start this morning. It took until close to 9:00 am for the sun to rise above the hills, and it’s hard to motivate when it’s cold outside.