Monday, August 15, 2011

2818 miles on a Bonneville - Day 7

I know I know, I kinda stopped posting.  No real excuse other then the fact that I've been lazy and work has been stressing me out.  My Aunt emailed me last night and threatened to hunt me down if I left the trip hanging in Amarillo.  So here we go...the next leg ended up being ~394 miles..which kinda makes me a liar.  I said my longest leg was 370 miles back on post "day 2".  Never make bold statements early in your trip descriptions.  For all my younger readers out there you should be writing this down.  Life lessons learned the hard way, free of charge.

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Our goal for day seven was Socorro, New Mexico.  Let me warn you that this day/post is light on pictures.  For some reason I stopped using the camera. I can give you a long list of excuses, but it boils down to the fact that unless you really make the effort to document your trip it's very easy to slip into a mode of just living the trip or existing in it.  There's nothing wrong with that, but it's hard to translate that trip into blog post without pictures, and so you must constantly remind yourself to whip out the camera as much as possible.  Easier said then done.

If you remember from the last post Vern and I stayed at separate hotels in Amarillo.  So we agreed to meet at a familiar location in the morning.  What's more familiar then the place you stuffed your face the night before.  That's right! The Country Barn.

Not going to sugar coat it here.  I was scared of the heat we encountered the day before.  So Vern and I agreed to leave as early as possible.  "Early as possible" means 6am in Texas.

From here we caught the the freeway south until interstate 60 where we started heading southwest to the boarder of New Mexico.  What can I say.  A lot of straight, flat riding. We passed through plenty of towns that all seemed to make their living on cattle.  We made pretty good time, and eventually we crossed over into New Mexico.  We were supposed to be in Farwell, but kept seeing signs that said Texico.  It took us awhile to realize the town changed names depending on which state you were in.

From here we made our way to Roswell.  I know what you're can you not take pictures in Roswell.  It's just a normal town overall.  Yeah you see the plastic green space men on the outside of stores and on signs..but I was more concerned with how hot it was getting.  It was only 11am and I was starting to we made a beeline for a subway and mapped out our next destination.  To be fair, Vern he did ask if I wanted to stop and get pictures with plastic space men..but I declined.  Maybe it was the fact that we were getting close to home and I could already see my wife and dog over the horizon.  

While we ate our sandwiches I broke out the New Mexico map and started looking at a change of path.  Our original path had us going through Capitan, but Vern used to live in the area back when he was in the military and mentioned we could go see Ruidoso and the Ruidoso Downs racetrack.  More important to me was that it was at 6500' elevation.  The decision was made..and we were off.

I'm going to cop out and just link a history of the area that I found on a reality web site.  Wikipedia failed me.  Feel free to buy a house while you're at their site:)  Needless to say the area was very cool. I saw little breweries, shops, and restaurants.  If I could do it again I would have found a hotel there and spent the rest of the day exploring the area.  Alas, we just filled up with gas and continued on our way.

Coming down out of the mountains we entered the "Valley of Fire".  From a long way off you can see a large section of the valley floor with a dark spot sitting in the center.  As we got closer the spot became larger and larger until starts to encompass you. And then you enter the lava fields.

Basalt lava, like it formed yesterday, is everywhere.  Imagine the lava you see oozing out of volcanoes in Hawaii and you have an idea of what this looked like.  Vern had come through this area years before and said that if you drive through the area at twilight, by yourself, the whole landscape can become very spooky.  It's very hard to explain, but you almost feel like you're on another planet.  Like a rocky moon or something.
From here we drove west to Socorro.  We crossed the top of the White Sands missile range.  Only a few miles from where the first nuclear bomb was set off at the Trinity test site.  Vern told me they allow the public to visit the area twice a year.  I would have loved to see it.

We arrived in Socorro in late afternoon.  Another top of the line hotel...that's sarcasm if you didn't pick up on it.  The place was only slightly better then in Oakley.  We walked across the road to enjoy some pizza and beer before calling it a night.

Stay tuned for tomorrow when I post Day 8 and 9 and the end of the adventure!!!

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