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  1. #51
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    11,305

    Default Billy the Kid and Smokey the bear!

    Day 15. March 3rd.

    We were right about rigs belonging to the oil workers, although they were trying to be considerate us light sleepers were not going to be able to ignore the rumbles of the trucks firing up and idling around the campground between 4 and 5am as they made their way to work. We got up to a chilly damp morning just before 7am with a lot of miles ahead of us today, unfortunately too many to even consider a visit to Carlsbad caverns. It was a shame but you have to make choices and we have some pretty good caves in the UK we have explored. By the time we had breakfast, got showered, tidied the 'house', unhooked and crossed the road to top up our fuel tank it was already close to 10am. Time to get a 'wiggle' on with over 400 miles to cover to reach our destination, Lake Lyman SP in AZ.


    Click here for this RTA Library Map

    We head north on US285 past Brantley Lake and through Artesia to Roswell. As we approached Roswell there was another piece of John Cerney roadside art depicting a Rancher and his family welcoming aliens. We continued into town and past the UFO museum, not only did we not have the time to stop, we didn't have the desire.





    We accidentally missed our turning onto US380 and continued on 285 past the impressive Chavis county courthouse north of town before cutting across on the 246 to US70/380, adding a few extra miles we could of done without. At the town of Hondo US70/380 split and we took 380 on the 'Billy the Kid Trail' to Lincoln NM, a historic town named after Abraham Lincoln. Originally called Las Placitas del Rio Bonito by the Spanish families who settled it in the 1850s, the name of the community was changed to Lincoln when Lincoln County was created in January 16, 1869. The Lincoln Historic District was made a National Landmark in 1960 and is well known for it's links to the Lincoln county wars and the notorious outlaw Billy the Kid. Billy the Kid, an orphan who took to robbing and eventually murder was thought to have killed 8 men before being shot dead aged just 21 years by Pat Garrett. He gained notoriety through press and eventually film, securing his place in history. Having watched the likes of Paul Newman play the role, we always wanted to be 'Billy' as kids when playing cowboys and Indians, but the reality is different. He was a scrawny so and so who looked like he had fallen from the ugly tree and hit every branch on the way down ! Haha

    Billy the Kid Trail.


    Riding into Lincoln.




    We walked through town and read lots of interesting facts written on boards outside certain properties and had a look in a couple of stores before 'saddling up' and getting back on the Trail to Capitan. We had hoped to detour to Fort Stanton and Snowy river cave but time was an issue so we just enjoyed the Capitan mountains.





    Capitan is the adopted home of Smokey bear. Smokey was a small cub when he was rescued outside of town in the Capitan Gap fire in1950. Ranger Ray Bell took him in and cared for him and he was then sent to Washington Zoo. He became a living symbol for the Forest services 'Smokey bear' fire safety and awareness campaigns and became somewhat of a legend. After his death in 1976 he was returned home to be buried in what is now known as the Smokey bear National historic park in Capitan. For just $2 you can enter the park and check out the splendid exhibits and watch TV interviews of Ray Bell telling his story of Smokey. You can then walk in the garden and visit Smokey's final resting place. It was a wonderful short stop and amazing value.





    The town was a little run down but had some interesting homes with old cars out front, a few stores and the Smokey bear restaurant where we decided to eat lunch. It was a bit dated but also kind of quaint, much more of an old locals and truckers cafe than a restaurant. The food was fairly basic, but good old fashion tucker which was enjoyable enough and good value.

    Capitan 'Antique' store.


    With over 250 miles still to cover and time running away from us we were back on the road making our way towards Arizona, not knowing we would narrowly miss potential disaster !
    Last edited by Tom_H007; 05-24-2019 at 05:05 PM. Reason: Added map

  2. #52
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,269

    Default Oooh, A Cliff-hanger!!!

    Oooh, A Cliff-hanger.

    Can't wait to find out what almost-didn't-happen or whatever.

    Mark

  3. #53
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Location
    Phoenix, Arizona
    Posts
    345

    Default

    This is great, Dave, hearing your perspective on "Scenic Side Trip #1!" At that, I have a pretty good idea where you're headed next, but no idea what your potential disaster might have been. We're all on the edge of our seats out here, awaiting your next installment! (Ha!)

    Rick

  4. #54
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    11,305

    Default Oh dear.

    I feel an anticlimax coming !! Haha.

    This is great, Dave, hearing your perspective on "Scenic Side Trip #1!" At that, I have a pretty good idea where you're headed next,
    All will be revealed soon !

    Dave.

  5. #55
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    11,305

    Default Lava flow, Atomic bomb, ET listeners, a big Elk, but we made it !

    Day 15. March 3rd cont......

    From the town of Capitan we continued west on US380 through Carrizozo where the scenery had changed from winding mountain road into open range with long straights. Just west of Carrizoza we came across lava rock in an area known as Valley of fires, remnants of the eruption of Little black peak some 44 miles away. The lava flow travelled into the basin and filled it with molten rock thought to be 160 feet thick and covering an area of 125 square miles and is thought to be one of the youngest lava flows in USA. Before arriving to San Antonio we passed by the Trinity site where the worlds first nuclear device was tested on the grounds of the White sands missile range. We didn't see anything of it and the site can only be visited on the first Saturday in April and October.


    Click here for this RTA Library Map

    US380 Heading west.


    We were able to make up some time on these straight and quiet roads, taking a short drive on I-25 to Socorro and then US60 through Magdalena. The road was lovely and straight, that is until the sun started setting in front of us and then I was really hoping for a bend to give my eyes some relief ! There was no bend and it got worse after this picture.



    I was actually happy to be pulling over at our next stop and the sunset then became a real bonus as the yellow hue bounced of the satellite dishes of the 'Very Large Array'.





    The VLA is a Space listening device, picking up radio waves and the like, the things the eye can not see. The huge dishes, all 27 of them, are on rail tracks and tilt and turn to adjust their focus points. As you drive across the Plains of San Agustin these huge metal dishes come into view from quite a distance and just get bigger and bigger until you are upon them and can appreciate their 25 meter height. With light fading fast and another 120 miles to go we got back on the road as the sun dropped behind the Gallina mountains.



    We then drove through Datil and Pie town, unfortunately it was to late to sample what the 'Pie-O-neer's of Pie town had been baking.



    We carried on along on U60 towards Springerville where I was going to top up the fuel tank but I was starting to get a little concerned as we were quite low on gas. I was relieved when I came across a small gas station in Quemado so we stopped and filled up there and grabbed 5 minutes of fresh air so we were ready for the last leg of our days journey. It was a good straight road and we were the only ones on it and quite happy cruising along around 60mph and then things suddenly got a bit lively. I saw a shadow to the side of the road up ahead and by the time Lezli had started to say "What's that" my foot was firmly on the brake. I had worked out it was something quite large and then out stepped a huge Bull Elk right onto the carriageway, and I mean HUGE!! My natural instincts kicked in, I didn't want to swerve at this speed and I didn't want to lock the brakes, and I certainly didn't want to do both !! As I continued to brake Lezli had fallen silent and this huge beast was just a few feet from us and closing fast, I was still trying to get the RV slowed to a safe pace to try and manoeuvre around him. I didn't feel in danger but I knew the front of the RV would be pretty messed up had we hit him. This all happened in seconds but it seemed to go into 'slow motion' mode, maybe the brain speeds up but all I know is I processed it all and used instinct. I was now a couple of feet away and he looked even bigger in the headlights. We looked each other straight in the eye and I saw terror on his strained face. I was concerned as animals have a tendency to bolt in the only direction they know, forwards straight into our path of avoidance. Going on the inside was not even possible, as I now realised there was a small herd of them and I think he had stepped in to protect themas the dominant male, so I begged him under my breath not to move and it would all work out fine! I felt I had scrubbed off enough speed to release the brake to unload the weight on the front springs and balance it more evenly and went for the swerve. As I did so he went up on his hind quarters and I was convinced he was going to bolt forwards but at the last moment he turned and twisted his body away, losing his footing and slipping in the process, but he managed to stay upright. I kid you not, the combination of me swerving at the same time as he twisted away resulted in us missing him by inches. I came to a stop and looked in the mirror, but all I could see was the blackness of the night. I said to Lezli, "That was close" as I drove off, it must of been a full minute before she replied "Bloody close". (She later confirmed that she thought there was no way we wasn't going to collide) We could of been stuck out here with no lights, radiator and fan damaged or worse, but luck was with us and we were able to continue through Springerville and then turn off onto US191 to Lyman Lake State park. It was pitch black and the campground was quite large, so we drove around a while and eventually found our spot, with a little help from Lezli and her torch. It was 9pm so we had supper and relaxed before heading to bed for a much needed sleep.

    Today's mileage: 440 miles. Total miles: 2847
    Last edited by Tom_H007; 05-24-2019 at 05:18 PM. Reason: Added map

  6. #56
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Location
    Phoenix, Arizona
    Posts
    345

    Default Far worse!

    We could of been stuck out here with no lights, radiator and fan damaged or worse
    Today's mileage: 440 miles. Total miles: 2847
    Dave:

    A full grown elk weighs in at a good 700 pounds; hit one of those at any kind of speed and it's astonishing how much damage can result. I'd say it's a very good thing that you didn't find that out the hard way! It's a shame that you were so pressed for time that you had to travel that stretch in the dark. Daylight hours are not only more scenic, they're also significantly safer (especially in elk country).

    Great shots of the VLA! I really love that area!

    Rick

  7. #57
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,269

    Default too bloody close

    Excellent defensive driving skills!

  8. #58
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    11,305

    Default We try not to, but...............

    Quote Originally Posted by Rick Quinn View Post
    Dave:
    It's a shame that you were so pressed for time that you had to travel that stretch in the dark. Daylight hours are not only more scenic, they're also significantly safer (especially in elk country).

    Rick
    Couldn't agree more Rick and I wouldn't recommend any Holiday road trippers travelling much after dark, it's not fun. Unfortunately, no matter how much I juggled our itinerary, we had to make up some ground somewhere to fit in our other planned stops. This was actually our longest ever distance travelled in a day on a USA vacation ( 440 miles) and if anyone wants to stop and see things as we do, they can expect a long day. Despite our recommendation of not travelling more than 550 miles per day on a multi day road trip for safety reasons on RTA, to really enjoy and benefit from the journey we try and keep it between 250 and 350 miles per day. It's also one of the few downsides of travelling early and late in the season, the shorter daylight hours, but the solitude more than makes up for it !

    too bloody close
    Mark. I wish I'd had a dash cam and had recorded this. I don't normally comment on things like this, as avoiding objects and other road users can be quite the 'norm' on some days. But yes this really was "too bloody close" !

    Dave.
    Last edited by Southwest Dave; 05-22-2019 at 01:00 AM.

  9. #59
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    11,305

    Default Petrified forest.

    Day 16. March 4th.

    Following a very good nights sleep we woke to a glorious morning at Lyman Lake. We took in the views from our campsite for the first time having arrived in the dark and were pleasantly surprised, it was so peaceful too. The sites were a good size and had a table and bench set under a big shelter where we enjoyed our morning coffee while getting a good view of the lake.





    Lyman lake is the second largest body of water in Arizona and is actually an irrigation reservoir, created by damming the Little Colorado River. Sat at an elevation of 6000ft the lake is fed by snow melt from the slopes of Mount Baldy and Escudilla Mountain, the second and third highest mountains in Arizona. It is so quiet here, but I guess this all changes during the Spring right through to Autumn as a place for Locals to come and cool off from the heat of the Arizona sun. It allows boats of all sizes, fishing and has a dedicated swimming area and was Arizona's first recreational State park when given State park status back in 1961.

    As well as the attraction of the water there are wildlife viewing opportunities and some trails to walk. One of those is the Petroglyph trail that means a short walk up a steep hill by the lakeside where there is some 'rock art' left by the prehistoric inhabitants of the Little Colorado river valley. So I took a stroll up the hill while Lezli went to the shower block and got herself ready for the day ahead. There were lovely views of the lake and across the land to snow capped mountains in the distance.

    Lyman lake from the Petroglyph trail.


    It was time to hit the road again as we still have a lot of ground to cover before catching our flight home and not a whole lot of time to do it in. One of the main reasons for covering so many miles yesterday was to allow us time to drive through the Petrified forest on our way to Kingman, our overnight stop some 360 miles away. So it's goodbye Lake Lyman and on with the show !


    Click here for this RTA Library Map



    It was a short drive on US191 to the little town of St Johns where we took US180 to Petrified forest road.



    We had a quick stop at the Crystal forest museum and gift shops by the junction before continuing to the park entrance. Our first stop inside the National park was at the Rainbow forest museum which had a lovely trail that guided you around some amazing petrified timber. The colours of the crystalisation of the timber was both amazing and beautiful, it was also a surprise to us !





    We continued through the park enjoying the views of multi coloured rock which were also a pleasant surprise, it's not all about the wood.



    We detoured along Blue Mesa scenic road and were so pleased we did ! We stopped here for an early lunch as we had found a nice quiet pull out with great views all around. From the hilltop you could see for miles across the desert and some 3 miles away we could see a freight train pulling, what must of been, over 100 carriages.





    Back on the main park road we drove through the 'Tepees' section to the Painted desert rim on old route 66. Once again the pull outs offered outstanding views!

    The Tepees.


    Route 66 stop. No problem, it will soon be as good as new.




    Painted desert.




    I have not come across one National park that has disappointed and Petrified forest didn't change that fact. It offered so much more than I had imagined it would and I'm glad that we had finally had the chance to tick this one off the 'To do' list, fantastic !

    It's time to hop onto I-40 and make up some miles towards Kingman, but we we plan to explore a little on the way........................
    Last edited by Tom_H007; 05-28-2019 at 06:13 PM. Reason: Added map, removed extraneous [/url]

  10. #60
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, Australia
    Posts
    212

    Default Happy all is well.

    Great to see you both survived. Bet the heart was beating a little faster. We have another term we use out here but i won't mention it. hehe.

    Beautiful spot by the lake. I love how they make those little parking bays with a table and usually a bin. Great photo's of the Petrified Forest. Amazing how the old cars and trucks dont rust right away. Must be the dry heat. To much humidity out here down under. Just rot away. I'm sure we could rebuild that car Dave if we had it.

    Do you and Lezli make photo books of your travels? We do. Havn't done the last trip yet though. You would have some beauties. Shame your trip is nearly over. It has been very enjoyable.

    Keith

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