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 > Great Western Circle Trip, 2009

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Damdifino

Comfort, TX

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Posted: 08/14/09 09:01am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I recently got back from a 3000 mile trip and thought I'd share some pictures. A map of my route, not including some short spur trips and forays into the void, is included. The first leg of the trip from just outside San Antonio to City of Rocks State Park, NM, was about 10 hours of straight-through driving. The thing about Texas is you can drive all day and not leave the state.

[image]

City of Rocks State Park.
[image]

With my rig, to show the scale of the rocks.
[image]

After the first night I headed up through Silver City to Gila National Monument. The road from Silver City through Pinos Altos and to the monument is the twistiest paved road I've ever been on. A real nice drive.
[image]

[image]

After Gila, I took Hwy 35 past Lake Roberts to NM 61, where I encountered this. Okay, now we're getting someplace!
[image]

On the road to Upper Black Canyon campground.
[image]

Nice mountain meadow stream.
[image]

Upper Black Canyon campground is really far out there, about 40 miles on this dirt road and then off the road a couple of miles. I camped there about twelve hours and never saw or heard anyone else. The reason I mention this is that it was the night after this that my truck wouldn't start. If it had happened here...well, I hate to think of the hassle.

Anyway, I got lucky and made it to Snow Lake the next night. It was here that my truck batteries went flat. Fortunately, there was a nearby camper with jumper cables who helped me get up and running.
[image]

It's funny how a near disaster--getting stranded in the middle of nowhere--will change your travel plans. After this, I tended to camp at places that were at least within hiking distance of some sort of civilization. I also bought jumper cables at the next town.

Well, on to Mogollon. Mind you, we're still on the same unpaved road that started some 80 miles ago.
[image]

[image]

Finally, I raise the Mogollon metropolitan shopping center:
[image]

and subdivision:
[image]

An oldtimer in Mogollon told me there were 14 year-round residents, down from about 5,000 a hundred years ago during the silver mining boom.

I couldn't leave Mogollon without sharing this picture from the Truck Camper Hall of Fame. Ain't she a beauty?
[image]

After Mogollon, the Catwalk:
[image]

A day or two later I had a close encounter of the tree kind, which I've already described in another post. Here I am in Canyon de Chelley, an inch and a half away from a previously invisible cottonwood.
[image]

From Canyon de Chelley I headed up to southeastern Utah where I planned to do some back-country scouting of Anasazi ruins. But recent rains had made the dirt roads unpassable--and besides, my late experience with dead batteries made me leary of straying too far off the beaten path.

Outside Bluff, UT, I took the Valley of the Gods road...
[image]

...where I met this little fellow. I always wondered who made those little stacks of rocks you see all over the Southwest:
[image]

I had always wanted to drive the Moki Dugway, and now was my chance.
[image]

Near the top.
[image]

About 200 hundred feet before I got all the way up, I pulled off into the turnout at the last switchback and got into my camper to make a sandwich. All of the sudden the sky turned black and a bad storm poured down over the top of the ridge. I didn't get any rain, but the wind blew like nothing I've ever seen. I could barely stand up in the camper it was rocking so violently. What I thought was hail turned out to be small stones that were blown off the top of the ridge onto the rig. I don't mind telling you, it was scary sitting there, rocking back and forth, on a ledge 1000 feet above the desert below. I was sincerely wishing I had set my parking brake.

Here's the storm after it passed:
[image]

It was awesome to watch the dust rise up to meet the rain.
[image]

I went on to spend the night at Natural Bridges National Monument.

Owachomo Bridge:
[image]

Butler Wash Indian Ruins. The ruins are not in the large alcove. They're in the smaller alcove directly above.
[image]

I decided to head for the mountains next. This is Lizard Head Wilderness from Hwy 145 in Colorado.
[image]

The village of Ophir:
[image]

And its Post Office. I love this town.
[image]

I continued on to Telluride. Too rich for my blood... I replaced my batteries here for $170 each. One of my old ones had a burnt out cell, and it was recommended that I replace it with a matched set. As the man said, "It always costs more at the top of the mountain."

My next adventure was to be the Last Dollar Road, but at the recommendation of a couple of locals and you guys, I decided it wasn't advisable with my rig, especially after the rain they've been having. So I went around, through Ridgeway and on to the Million Dollar Highway through Ouray to Silverton.

This is downtown:
[image]

I could have spent the rest of the summer in the San Juans, but it was time to start the long road home. I dropped down through Durango, where I happened to be first in line at the RR crossing:

[image]

I planned to spend a couple of days in Chaco Canyon but after I drove all the way out there the campground and the road to it was closed. So I headed up through the Jemez Mountains, spent the night, and went to Bandelier the next day.

[image]

[image]

Note the holes bored into the rock where roof beams were set:
[image]

Bandelier is where I met this intimidating guy:
[image]

That last leg of the trip was through Santa Fe, where I picked up some trinkets for my wife and daughter, and into Cloudcroft. I spent my last night in Silver Campground above town and early the next morning set a direct course for home.

* This post was last edited 08/14/09 10:53am by Damdifino *   View edit history


2014 Arctic Fox 22H.
2009 Toyota Land Cruiser URJ200 Series
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texastrailrider

Austin Texas

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Posted: 08/14/09 09:20am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Looks like a great trip - more info? I am planning my fall trip with horses - I spend alot of time in San Luis Valley but always looking for other places to see. Not sure I'll do 3,000! Thanks for the map and would love other info!

turtletalk

NC

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Posted: 08/14/09 09:54am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Looking forward to your pictures. Have spent time in that area and would like to revisit with your pics.

Harleybullet

Holbrook, NY

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Posted: 08/14/09 11:50am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

We have been to most of the places on your trip and just makes me want to go back after seeing your pictures...great

Dave

weymard

NORMANDY

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Posted: 08/14/09 11:58am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

WoW And WOW ! Very nice pictures, awesome landscapes, Thanks for sharing !


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silversand

Montreal

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Posted: 08/14/09 02:29pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Excellent report!

Many members are really taking the time to design their Trip Reports layouts and generate interesting and informative text, more and more! Kudos.

Into TR it goes...
Silver-


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seldomseensmith

Flagstaff, AZ

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Posted: 08/14/09 04:32pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Well done, I say! Great post. I understand completely how insecure you feel when you're out in the middle of nowhere and something just quits on you. Even so, I say live fast and take chances!

Besides, they say what doesn't kill you just makes you stronger.... Whoever the heck "they" are [emoticon]


The Road Goes Ever On



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lance815

phoenix

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Posted: 08/14/09 07:00pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

wow, just incredible. i want to go.

TwoMaineiacs

Near Freeport, Maine

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Posted: 08/15/09 07:24am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Fabulous photos - except for the snake (shudder). Glad you didn't get stranded 80 miles out.


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Our travel blog with photos


hasenpfeffer

Colorado

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Posted: 08/14/09 04:31pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Excellent trip report. Looks like a great time! The pictures look great, too. Could I get more details about the equipment you use for shooting?


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2007 Outfitter Apex 8
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