We bid farewell to the grand state of Texas and set our sights and the GPS to New Mexico.
After some experimentation, we have learned that if we empty the black tanks the night before, it gives us a smoother morning when moving out. For us, emptying the black tank is a process or ritual of sorts. It's not enough to simply pull the lever on the black tank then clean out the hose with the grey. We have in-tank maceration so this gives us the opportunity to also clean it out good by filling it up with fresh water a few times to ensure we get all the stink out. Naturally, this takes a bit of time and it's best to do this when we are not pressed for time.
After we pulled our slides in, pulled up the jacks and checked our tire pressure, we got on the road. Our first stop was Stripes to top off and get some breakfast. At this Stripes they had a Taco Laredo there which was like a Taco Bell of sorts, that served food pretty fast. Additionally, they had a bit of a complex checkout process where you ordered in one place but had to go to the Stripes register to pay for it.
We pulled out of the Stripes and made our way north on Dowden Road which took us around Lubbock into Shallowater where we picked up US-84, the same road we came in on. For the most part, we drive the bus through major highways or interstates. Driving down roads with such a large vehicles feels odd. I find a bit of comfort driving in the same areas where semi trucks are because at least I know that the roads will support our weight and any clearance issues we may run into.
Driving down US-84, was a bit disheartening right up until we got the New Mexico border. Along this stint of highway were a number of cattle farms that housed black and white spotted cows in very tight quarters. I have seen documentaries with the cows that are bread for the purposes of cheap meat and fed with corn meal. In the center of some of these farms was a giant pile of feed. Off to the side of the farm were pits that were used to collect the run off from what the cows leave behind. This is a stark contrast to all of the free roaming cows we have seen throughout the rest of the state of Texas.
On the border of Texas and New Mexico were the towns of Farwell and Texico, respectively. Crossing the state border was not obvious and I would have missed the sign if Amber had not pointed out that we have crossed into New Mexico. The town of Texico was a bit rough and I almost got the sense that I crossed the border into country of Mexico itself. Just outside of Texico we stopped in to a Flying J to take a break and check our tire pressures. At this particular stop, we found the air was thick with a latent pasture smell, assuming from the collection of cattle farms leading up to the town. We left there to proceed along US-84 to Santa Rosa.
This stretch between Texico and Santa Rosa, spanned roads that started out pretty rough and eventually transitioned into smoother roads. The roads here seem to be under patch work renovations, especially more towards Texico. Once the roads were smoothing out, the scenery and beauty of New Mexico really began to show as well. Northern Texas and Eastern New Mexico is home to much of the high plains conducive to growing corn, wheat and cattle. As we approached Santa Rosa more rocky formations began to appear on the landscape.
Entering into Santa Rosa, before turning onto I-40 we stopped in at Love's truck stop. Here, we had lunch and took in a pretty cool view of how the truck stop was positioned over the town of Santa Rosa.
We took Izzy for a walk and started realizing that we are starting to run into a challenge. In this part of the country, there is not a lot of grass. Izzy pretty much uses grass (or carpet) as her choice for leaving behind her gifts. There were patches of grassy bushes but overall, there was no grass to be found behind the truck stop. We were out there for a good 15 minutes and she opted to hold it in for now. From this point, we were ready for the last sprint into Albuquerque.
Driving along I-40, the beauty of the southern tip of the Rocky Mountains began to emerge. Off to the North we were greeted by various mountain ranges that emerged through the horizon. Eventually we would come to the Sandia mountain range which sets as the eastern backdrop of Albuquerque. As the grades began to increase upwards to the pass, the engine downshifted the transmission to make the climb. As with other mountains we have climbed on this journey, this one was no different.
What goes up, must come down. On the other side of the pass, we began the decent into Albuquerque. Once we see the "6% grade" warning signs, I take that as my signal to drop it down into "4" on the transmission to save the brakes going down and to prevent a runaway situation.
Eventually, the city of Albuquerque emerged and we continued to make our way down the valley. Through the center of the city runs the Rio Grande surrounded by a thick layer of vegetation. What was not immediately obvious was a downtown that was dominated by tall sky scrapers. It seemed as though we were driving through a very large town that was dominated by retail stores, strip malls and neighborhoods.
After crossing over the Rio Grande, we continued west out of the City of Albuquerque to the Enchanted Trails RV park. The hill getting up was pretty steep for not being a visible mountain. We found our exit and were greeted by a La Mesa RV and a Camping World. We were told by the park owners that this was the only Camping World in all of New Mexico, neat.
Our first impression of the park epitomized a stop along Route 66. There were neon signs and lots of historic items that fill up the front office. The road we are on is a portion of Route 66 that was rerouted to accommodate for I-40. If you go back out to the road, you can see where it used to connect on the other side of I-40 that marks the beginning of Route 66 that goes through Albuquerque.
We pulled into our site and setup for the night just in the time for an amazing sunset. I was told by a close friend that "New Mexico has stolen many of hearts," and that has grown quite evident the longer we stay.
That night, we took the Mini into town to grab something to eat. Coming down the hill into Albuquerque east on I-40 was stunning. From our vantage point, we could see nearly the entire city lit up below.
We will be here for the next two weeks before heading to Winslow, Arizona to see the Grand Canyon.