Getting Familiar with the Grants New Mexico Area

Tuesday June 30th 2020

Today was a sunny day with a lot less wind than yesterday. It still wasn’t a calm day. The wind rattled my RV home off and on all day. The temperature here above six thousand feet was in the low eighties.

After getting the rest of my setup tasks complete, I took a drive to get familiar with the area. Grants New Mexico was founded as a railroad town, then became a mining town and is now somewhat of a tourist town on old route 66. I’m not sure if it is the current pandemic or a general economic down turn in the area, but I saw many rundown and closed businesses. Outside of town there is a lot of open land some of which is used for cattle.

One hundred thousand years ago there were several volcanoes in this area. Dark brown and black lava rock indicative of lava flows from long ago dot the landscape. The campground I’m staying in is right on the side of one lava flow. To the south of here in the El Malpais National Monument other features of the volcanic activity can be viewed. Over the next few days I’ll try and find some trails of vistas that are open. The visitor centers are closed.

This campground is very much an overnight stop. The park was pretty close to full last night, but by the 11AM checkout time my RV home was all alone in a row of sites. There were still a few other RVs in the row behind my RV, but the row in front was also empty. My the time I returned from my familiarization tour a few other RVs had arrived. My night fall the park was about as full as the night before. People are traveling. The RVs are from all across the country. From the east coast I spotted plates from South Carolina and New Hampshire. California and Oregon represent the west coast and Texas, Minnesota and South Dakota represent the central part of the USA.

Travel Day to Grants New Mexico

Monday June 29th 2020

Today was a travel day. I wanted to get an early start to get ahead of the forecast heavy winds, but it wasn’t to be. The heavy wind woke me up around 6AM. It wasn’t going to let me beat it, so I slowed down to a normal pace. I was on the road by 10:30AM.

Interstate 40 east bound from the Winslow AZ area is a slow and steady climb to the continental divide east of Gallup New Mexico. Occasionally on the drive I had a helping wind from behind, but most of the time the southwest wind was just pushing me around on the road. There were gusts reported in the fifty MPH range. It was not a fun travel day.

Site 22 at the Grants NM KOA Journey.

I arrived in Grants New Mexico at the KOA Journey around 2:30PM Mountain Daylight time having lost an hour leaving Arizona in Standard time. It was only three hours of driving torture. Entering New Mexico there were several message boards informing that Masks are required in New Mexico. I took the time to mask up before entering the office to check in. I was greeted by an unmasked women behind the desk. The only thing virus unique about the check in was the comment that the gold pens had been sanitized. Who knows why they needed my signature. The credit card was processed from the online reservation.

This is my first night east of the continental divide in over thirteen months. I’ll be here for a week before moving on toward Albuquerque followed by eastern New Mexico. This area has some National Monuments and nature areas to visit. I know the visitors centers are closed, but I hope the trails and vistas are open. So far I’ve seen some high cliffs and lava rock in the area.

Last Sunday in Arizona

Sunday June 28th 2020

The temperature peaked around ninety today, but the cooler temperature came at a cost. It was a very windy day. My RV home was rocking in the howling wind all day. As the sun set in the evening the ferocity of the wind let up a little, but it was still breezy.

My RV home alone in the desert

This is my last full day at Homolovi State Park. It is also my last full day in Arizona. I’m only leaving the state about two months later than I’d planned and via an entirely different route. Such are the ways of plans in our Covid infected world.

I like Arizona. It’s a nice place to visit with lots of things to see. I much prefer visiting in the fall and winter months. The late spring and summer temperatures are out of this world hot. I’ve been out the Phoenix area for over a month trying to stay ahead of the heat by gaining altitude. The high temperatures in the Winslow area are about fifteen degrees cooler than Phoenix, but it is still hot.

Last sunset in Arizona.

I got many of the travel preparation tasks completed today. Tomorrow I have about one hundred and eighty miles to travel. I’m heading east to Grants New Mexico. Crossing into New Mexico I lose an hour. The time zone doesn’t change but New Mexico follows daylight savings time and Arizona doesn’t. It will likely be a little over three hours of travel, but four hours on the clock.

Slow Saturday

Saturday June 27th 2020

Today was a do nothing kind of day. It wasn’t until I couldn’t find the morning news programs on TV that I realized the weekend had arrived. Even my cell phone wanted to take the weekend off. The battery had run down overnight because the charge cable wasn’t connected correctly.

The weather was nice today. It was partly cloudy with a good breeze out of the southwest. The temperature was in the mid nineties during the afternoon hours. Tomorrow and Monday are forecast to have more clouds and more wind. Since Monday is a travel day for me, I shouldn’t be surprised. For some reason, lately it seems to be windy on every travel day.

This was a slow potpourri kind of day. I did a few chores, watched some TV, researched more travel options and took a couple of walks around the park. Overall nothing to write a blog entry about. This is one of those nights that my commitment to writing a blog entry every day is a real challenge, but if I miss a night I might form a bad habit.

Last Grocery Run in Arizona

Friday June 26th 2020

During the morning the sky was blue with a few puffs of white clouds, by afternoon the sky was filled with white clouds along with a few gaps of blue. The wind also had its moments during the afternoon hours. My RV home was rocking a bit in the wind every now and then. Overall the temperature made it back to the upper nineties.

This morning I got caught up in the White House briefing on the state of the Pandemic. It came across as a half hearted pep rally with a lot of spin control. I didn’t hear anything new or enlightening in the hour plus briefing. All it did was put me into survival prep mode when I got to the grocery store later in the day.

Monday is moving day for me. I’ll be changing states into New Mexico. I’m not one hundred percent certain what kind of Covid restrictions I might encounter, so I planned to stock up on groceries today. With the added influence of the White House briefing I found myself stocking up a little more and even going a little overboard in one case. Over the last few weeks I’ve manged to stock up on TP, but not my normal septic safe brand. Today, when I found my old reliable TP brand, I bought it. Now I just have to find a place to store it.

Today’s experience at Walmart was a little different than all my other Pandemic visits. First I had to wait in a socially distanced line outside for a few minutes to get inside. There didn’t seem to be as many people inside, but this is only a medium size store. The other major difference was the presence of masks. I only saw a couple of people without masks. The fact that the city of Winslow now requires masks in indoor public places is the obvious influence. People still weren’t following the directional arrows on the floor. Maybe the city needs to enforce jaywalking laws inside buildings. Forget I said that. I don’t want to give the politicians anymore ideas.

Very few of the campers I identified yesterday as weekenders stayed. Tonight there are a lot more campers in the park. I have to do better with my guess that most are here for the weekend.

A Short Hike in the Desert

Thursday June 25th 2020

It was a mostly cloudy day with lots of wind. The conditions kept the high temperature under the century mark topping out in the high nineties.

I took advantage of the cloud cover to get in a walk in the desert. The absence of any shade makes walking during periods of full sunlight dangerous, but today was different. I hiked the mile and a quarter trail to the visitors center and back. The visitors center is closed due to the virus so the walk was purely for exercise.

A few more wildflower blossoms.

Out in the middle of all the desert brush I found a few more wildflowers that I thought were gone for the season. Finding a little color variation in the greens and browns of the desert is entertaining. At one point on the hike the trail gets near a barbwire fence separating an area of open range. Sure enough, a little ways further along the path, there were a couple of big black cattle. They didn’t seem to care about me, but I was glad they were on the other side of the fence.

The residents of the campground turned over a little more than usual this morning. A neighbor that’s been here all week suddenly started packing for departure. They hadn’t said a word to me all week, but this morning they were very talkative. It turns out they just learned that they could return home. They were staying here while evacuated from the fire down toward Phoenix. Apparently a couple of other RVs that departed this morning were also evacuees. This evening some of the arrivals look to be here for the weekend. If they don’t leave in the morning, my guess is right.

Tonight’s cloudy sunset.

A More Thinking than Action Kind of Day

Wednesday June 24th 2020

The temperature crossed the century mark again today. Unlike yesterday the clouds and wind arrived too late in the day to keep the temperature down. Most of the day was blue sky and a very light breeze. A little after four the wind picked up and the clouds moved through the area. Once the sun was down the clouds and wind went away.

I spent a good portion of the day exploring travel options for the next couple of months. With the rise of Covid-19 cases I want to have options. While I don’t think states will close things down and reinstate a stay at home order, it remains a possibility. Far more likely is forced quarantine based on where you are coming from. Unfortunately my license plates indicate I’m from Florida the media labeled “new epicenter”. Never mind I haven’t been there in over a year. I have been in Arizona for the last four months which is also pretty bad for the virus. I’m closely monitoring the states along my travel route for changes in their Covid-19 response.

I’m looking forward to seeing some new territory. I will be traveling through eastern New Mexico, the Texas Panhandle and Oklahoma. These are all new areas of travel. I just want to continue my rambling road trip under the radar. I don’t want to cross the arbitrary lines the public health and state governments impose. They have no way of knowing how isolated my Rambling Road Trip is as compared with a random family summer vacation.

Lethargy in the Heat

Tuesday June 23rd 2020

The temperature didn’t quite make it to the century mark today. It was well on its way when just at the hottest part of the day a few stray clouds and lots of wind arrived. The temperature peaked around ninety eight or nine degrees.

The heat has produced a heightened level of lethargy in me. Once again today I did a lot of reading and TV watching around one early walk around the camping loops and another as the sun crossed the western horizon. Most of the sites at this campground get occupied by overnight visitors. Other than the camp hosts, I’m the longest resident of the park. Consequently, the sights I see on my morning walk are different from my evening walk. Tonight there are three other RVs with Florida plates in the park. We may have the local Arizona residents out numbered.

Another change since I got here are the wildflowers. When I arrived last week there were lots of little bits of color scattered around the desert. As the week went by many of the blossoms started to die out. On today’s walk I couldn’t find any open blossoms. Even the tiny ones that were visible yesterday weren’t around today. This is the start of the height of the Arizona heat. Monsoon season started last week, but it doesn’t usually start dropping tons of rain until next month.

One of the disadvantage of having the TV on all day is the ever increasing number of political ads. Arizona is considered a battleground state for control of the Senate and for President. The competitors for the senate seat have had dueling ads since I arrived in the state at the end of March. Every week the rhetoric gets worse. Now dueling presidential ads have started. I can’t wait to get out of the state. I don’t think I’ll be in another battleground state until I get back to Florida in the fall. The ads for both sides just piss me off.

Triple Digit Temperatures are Back

Monday June 22nd 2020

The triple digit temperatures are back. The temperature reached 100 degrees today. I’d hoped that the higher altitude would keep this area out of the triple digits. It is still quite a few degrees cooler than the Phoenix area and there is more wind in this open area. The wind really has a cooling impact.

I got a little bit of exercise with a short hike in the park before it got too hot. Most of my day was spent in my RV home reading and watching TV. The thought of the triple digit temperature is demotivating. Overall it was a good lazy day. Here are some wildflower pictures from my early walk.

Committing to an East Bound Travel Plan

Sunday June 21st 2020

The temperature is climbing a few degrees everyday. Today was about six degrees warmer than Saturday. It peaked in the upper half of the nineties. The bad news is the wind was missing in action most of the day. As the sun was setting a bit of a breeze developed to start the overnight cooling. Tomorrow is forecast to be warmer and the wind should be a little stronger.

It is now officially summer. In my mind it has been summer since April when the temperature routinely reached the nineties followed by triple digits in May. The desert southwest of the United States is not where I want to be in the summer. The pandemic has slowed my pace of travel down so I’m not in the northern slightly cooler conditions. As the saying goes at least it’s a dry heat. The humid heat of the south from Texas east is even worse. Fall can’t come too soon.

I took a drive into downtown Winslow AZ this afternoon in search of some Route 66 historical attractions or the Eagles “standing on a corner …” song commemorative location. I should have done an internet search first instead of after I got back to my RV home. I didn’t find any Route 66 stuff, and must have driven by the corner associated with the song. I’ll try again another day.

Back at my RV home later in the afternoon, I made a couple of the more critical reservations for my trip east. I’ve booked a campsite on the east side of the Continental Divide in New Mexico for the week after I leave here. It includes the Fourth of July holiday. I also booked a two week stay on the Arkansas River near Little Rock at a campground I stayed at in 2018. I have a general plan that gets back to Florida in September. To remain a little flexible, I’ll make most of my three and four night reservations closer to the date of stay.

Tonight’s sunset.