It looked like there might be more rain, so we departed Bisti on Tuesday. We drove down NM-371 to I-40. More south, it was very pretty bluff country. We ended up at the Bar “S” RV Park, in Milan, west of Grants. For $22 per night with full hookups and cable, we had no complaints. There was a lot activity with nice-looking rigs and all types of dogs around us. There was weather activity with sleet and hail that left a temporary coat of white all over.
We had an unhappy evening. There was a problem with an unpaid bill and Dave cut his hand pretty badly on a broken wine glass. He didn’t sleep well that night.
Wednesday, March 29
When the next day appeared all sunny, I drove us out to take a look at El Malpais, a huge national monument that includes lots of lava land as well as blond sandstone bluffs and the La Ventana arch. We chose to skip the lava country because we’ve seen a lot of it and focused on NM-117 that goes past long walls of sandstone bluffs. There were lots of puddles from the rain so we got some reflection shots.
Always suckers for cow shots, we stopped for coffee and to photograph cattle amblin’ down the trail. As we sat in the car, the cattle stopped amblin’ and turned to stare at us. Then they came closer to us and stared some more. What did they want? They weren’t lady cows waiting to get milked. Were they steers looking for love? Handsomely backlit, we got some nice shots.
We continued south to the huge La Ventana Arch and got into conversation with a guy who had been a photographer for the Associated Press. He was also a Vietnam war vet. Because of AP, he had been in many war-torn countries. Now he was focused on getting to his bucket list and taking his girlfriend to Vietnam.
We got about 22 miles south and found the trailhead for a 6.6-mile round-trip hike that wove along the edge of the high bluffs and finished with a view of La Ventana. After driving back to Grants, we went to WalMart to find an odd assortment of necessities: pearl onions, a bracket for the kitchen pull-up shelf, big sponges and a bathroom sink plug. We found 2 out of 4. The pearl onions were good with the Coq au vin I made that night.
Thursday, March 30
The next morning, we pulled it together and went back to the Narrows trailhead. I was ready to do a 6.6-mile hike, maybe. The 500-rise was so gradual as to be non-existent. The trail was well marked with rock cairns. But the trail was very rocky, not so bad when I’m fresh, but a twisted ankle waiting to happen when I’m tired. The trail was all along the edge of the cliffs, but what views existed were difficult to photograph and the wind was relentless. How many photos do you want to take of twisted trees in front of flat lava land?
I was thinking of calling it quits at 2 miles, but the thought of seeing the La Ventana overlook enticed me to continue. Dave was recording his walk on AllTrails but when we reached the 3.3-mile point that should be the end of the trail, we had no view of La Ventana. We had to go 3.8 miles before we saw our sight. An extra half-mile isn’t excessive but I probably wouldn’t have gone that far and why isn’t the extra half-mile shown?
We trudged back the 3.8 miles and I’ve certainly done longer hikes, but I didn’t appreciate doing an extra mile. 7.6 miles is a long way. Anyway, we got back in time for coffee and cookies and a pleasant air-conditioned ride home. And then……showers! Yay! I think we’re done with El Malpais.
We took off Friday and drove a gusty 70 miles to the Balloon View RV Resort in northern Albuquerque. We want to go to Chaco Canyon but we have to see what the weather is going to do. It’s expected to rain today, Saturday, and if it does, we’ll have to wait until the road to Chaco dries out. It turns into a slippery mess of clay when it’s wet.
It has been an unsettling week for us. Dave’s mom has been in the hospital for more than a week now with pneumonia and other complicating maladies. It looks like she will pull through and several of his brothers and sisters are taking good care of her, but we don’t like being so far away.
Saturday, April 1
It was a gray, heavily clouded sky that we woke up to. Blahhhhhhhh. I pulled it together around 10:30 and drove the laundry up through a rain shower to the “laundary” room in the “resort”. Balloon View’s main business is selling manufactured homes and there’s a paved area with a few little streets that I drove through to get to the office. For a Saturday, there was absolutely no activity at the exercise room, the indoor pool or the mailboxes. Boringggggg. (I have to do something to make the blog sizable.)
After recovering from doing the laundry, I did the major grocery shop to get us through Chaco except we probably weren’t going to Chaco yet. By the time I got back, it was 4 p.m. We soon left to meet my high school/college friend and her husband, Cynthia and Jerry McAlpin for dinner. They moved out of California soon after college and have lived in various places over the years, including Austria for 2 years. They are settled north of Albuquerque now, enjoying their daughters and grandchildren.
We met them at El Pinto, one of the largest restaurants I’ve ever seen. It’s built like a large, one-level ranch house with about 8 rooms. I almost got lost trying to find the bathroom. We had great Margaritas and good food. After a noisy family reunion sat next to us, Jerry and Cynthia invited us back to their lovely home for some quieter conversation. One of their normally-aloof cats, Indy, adopted Dave and me for the night and plopped right in between us. (I think it was because she could shed light fur on our black pants.) It was a pleasant reunion.