Well, we have completed two months on the road and start our last 3 weeks of vacation. We hope it does not go too fast as we really enjoy being out on the road seeing this amazing country. However, we are looking forward to a little less arid climate, so we can replenish the moisture in our dry skin and hair. The temperatures have been great in Texas along the coast, in Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah to give us some respite from the heat and humidity of Florida this time of the year. We don’t miss that. We had a short drive today of 160 miles from Questa to Albuquerque, so we didn’t have to get going too early. We hooked up the Jeep and were on the road around 10:30. The visibility was so clear that we could see a great distance.
We left on Highway 522 out of Questa to Taos and traffic was light on this Sunday morning.
We had to go straight through Taos to get to the roads we needed to be on.
Lucky for us, most of the road construction that we ran into on Thursday in Taos was gone.
Unfortunately, we hit every stoplight there was in town which slowed us down a little bit, but it was a straight shot going this way to get to Highway 68, the road we needed to be on . Going south out of Taos, the skies grew hazy or smoky. Traveling on this highway, we could see the Rio Grande Gorge for quite a long way.
It was cool to see more of the Gorge from a little higher up. As we climbed into the hills, we got even better views of the Gorge.
We started to climb higher on a narrower, winding road and I got a little nervous for Bob, but I didn’t want to point out to him what lay ahead. He had enough to worry about.
I asked him if he knew what kind of road we would be on here today and he said it was totally unexpected. He knew we would be traveling along the river, but he didn’t expect the elevation rise. He usually does his “Google” homework and knows exactly what to expect, but he didn’t think we’d have any roads like this today. Needless to say, he did a great job! From there, we started our descent.
The road followed the course of the Rio Grande River for a long time down in the valley.
This was the Quartzite Area of the Rio Grande Gorge. It was a busy area of recreation.
There was a boat launch here where rafting and kayaking companies were giving tours. The river was was really moving with lots of rocks in the river bed causing lots of rapids.
We could see many groups of rafters and kayakers on the river as we made our way along the road.
The road wound its way through the canyon.
The mountain scenery was beautiful.
One of the larger towns along this road, Espanola, was located on the Santa Clara Indian Reservation. There we saw the first of the casinos. For the next 10 miles north of Santa Fe. we would see 9 more casinos as we passed through 2 more reservations–Nambe’ Pojoanque Pueblo Reservation and Tesuque Pueblo Indian Reservation. Hence, all the casinos.
There was lots of beautiful artwork on the overpasses and walls along the highway. The name of the community is written on the bridge in the Tewa language.
We saw some unusual rock formations including Camel Rock.
Coming into the valley, we got our first glimpse of Santa Fe from the hills.
There are about 4 wildfires burning in the Santa Fe/Albuquerque area, so the skies seemed more hazy. The fire warning level is extreme and some communities are in the “Ready” stage meaning they should be ready to leave if they need to. It’s kind of scary to think about.
We finally entered into the outskirts of Santa Fe where we would pick up I-25.
After all the back roads that we’ve been on, we were looking forward to some Interstate driving. We noticed that Santa Fe had an overland rail system. We saw this station, but never saw a train or anyone waiting at the station.
Once we were out of Santa Fe, the landscape changed. We had spent some time in Santa Fe on a previous trip, so we didn’t have any plans to stop this time.
Tall mountains and plateaus flanked both sides of the highway as we traveled south to Albuquerque. We were beginning to see the Sandia Mountains.
Can you tell where the river flows? I think the trees will give you a clue.
This was supposed to be a 3-hour drive of 160 miles, but it took us 4 hours due to the back roads through small towns, stop-and-go driving, and mountain climbing. Our average speed was 43 mph, getting 7+ miles to the gallon. We took Highway 556 around downtown Albuquerque towards the Sandia Mountains.
Highway 556 paralleled the mountains which took us along the foothills to our campground for the next 4 nights.
Along the road, we saw burn scars from a previous fire.
We arrived at our campground, Albuquerque KOA, at 2:30 and checked in.
We found our site, D5, right near the restrooms and the dog park. It is a nice campground with huge sites. No dust or dirt in this campground. We have a patio with a table and chairs and a fire pit. It was 96 with hazy skies when we arrived. We settled in and relaxed in the AC after a tiring drive. Bob noticed a burning smell coming from the engine compartment of the bus when we arrived so he was a little concerned. There was no indication of any problem on the gauges, but he wanted to do some diagnostics tomorrow after the motor has cooled off.
We watched more campers arrive after we did. We had turkey again for dinner and got a chance to walk Auggie when the sun was low in the sky and the temps started to cool off. He got to spend some time in one of the dog parks and meet a couple of other dogs through the fence. We haven’t spent much time in Albuquerque before, so we’ll do some exploring of Old Town and other sights while we are here.