Last night’s temps in Farmington NM made it all the way down to 70. A hot and sticky night. We’re outta here!
Still heading east we get very close to the beautiful little town of Aztec again. If I had known at this point that my photos of the Aztec Ruins were gone forever I would have gone back and taken the tour again. But I didn’t know, and we continue on oblivious to what we are letting go.
At Bloomfield we catch Hwy 550 heading south. It’s a long, hot drive. I don’t run the air conditioner in the van. Sounds stupid, I know, but it seems to make the oppressive heat even worse when we stop so I keep it off.
There isn’t much out along this piece of New Mexico, but there are gas stations and a few tiny towns. The Chaco Canyon and more ruins are along this stretch of highway, BUT, as much as I would like to take that in I am not wanting to bump along 20 miles of washboard dirt road to get there in this heat. Another time—in the dead of winter—would be good time to see it.
550 goes from blah flat desert with nothing but greasewood to these interesting sandstone bluffs and rock formations. What starts out as a boring, hot drive, turns into an interesting hot drive. It actually goes back and forth between the two landscapes.
We eventually make it to Cuba. Not THAT Cuba. Cuba, New Mexico, a tiny little town with all the basics: Family Dollar, gas stations, a grocer, laundromat, AND a small library. I get the chores done.
A search on freecampsites.net yields a review of Hwy 126 to Fenton Lake State Park, the place we are looking for. It’s a shortcut that takes 70 miles off the trip to the park. The reviewer says the last six miles are rugged. Slow and steady would make six miles okay, but I also ask the tattooed, earring wearing clerk at Family Dollar about this Hwy 126. Is it good road? “Sure is, as far I know. Good road all the way, but it climbs and is a twisty turny mountain road,” he says. We can deal with that!!
Supplied up, things on ice, and plenty of gas in MissAdventure we head back to the beginning of Hwy 126. That clerk wasn’t kidding. The road begins to climb almost immediately and we are soon twisting and turning our way into heavy timber. The air is getting cooler. Oh my, I love this!!
About 18 miles in, and this is just a guess, we come to the dirt part of the road. There is a sign that says ’26 miles of dirt road, not maintained’. WHAT??? That reviewer on freecampsites must have made a typo, or was being a smart alec. Six miles is one thing, 26 is another. Ain’t happening.
I get the van turned around just in time to get out of the way of a small white car barreling down the dirt road enveloped in a cloud of dust. Some days I am just so happy with the decisions I make, and I pat myself on the back to just saying NO to this road.
We explore a few of the roads leading back into the National Forest where we could easily boondock, but nothing appeals to me. I am tired from the drive in the heat along Hwy 550. I remember a Forest Service campground back a ways, and I decide to check into that.
The Rio De las Vacas campground in the Santa Fe National Forest is $5 per night with senior pass. We pull into a spot that will give us afternoon shade and set up camp. It’s a wonderful 78 degrees here, and here we will stay at least through the weekend.
Thanks for stopping by! Hugs, Shawna