Leaving Hot Springs, Arkansas, we had planned to just keep driving straight across the country on I-40 to Albuquerque, where we planned on stopping just north of there in Bernalillo, New Mexico, for a couple of days. However, as I was casually flipping through some of the Facebook RV groups, I saw there were several wildfires in Oklahoma, some of which were actually close enough to I-40 to have it shut down in the western part of the state. Figuring that any detour out there would take us way out of the way, we changed up our plans and headed further south, dipping into eastern Texas on the way to Amarillo rather than Oklahoma. The halfway point in the drive ended up being only about 30 miles from Al's sister Susie, so it seemed like a great idea to stop and visit for the night. We had an impromptu, fun evening together at The Rib Crib, catching up and seeing our two nephews.
From there, we had another two days of driving and finally reached Bernalillo without incident. We stopped overnight in Amarillo, staying at the Oasis RV Park. We've stopped in several different campgrounds in Amarillo over the years, and we like this one for its easy access off the highway and easy parking for big rigs.
Once we got to Bernalillo, we stopped for three nights, just to have some down time off of driving, restock the pantry for the upcoming couple of weeks away from any large shopping areas, and to visit Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument. It's been on my radar for a while, but we've never actually made it there when we've been in the area. We stayed at the KOA North Albuquerque, which was very nice and convenient for the shopping we needed to do. Right next door, literally a few steps away, was the Kaktus Brewing Company. I was told by the girl checking me in that the pizza was quite good. Not being one who ever turns down a good pizza, we decided to take a break from cooking and give it a try. It was quite the funky little place, but the pizza was quite good, and folks around us having the local beer said it was very good as well. So give it a try if you're in the area.
Our first full day here, it was extraordinarily windy, which we came to discover would be a recurring theme throughout this spring trip. We used it as a "day off" from our touristy activities. We have found that during the periods where we are in travel mode, usually as we move from the east to the west and vice versa, that we really need to schedule in down days. It's tempting to not bother, as we are usually in an area we haven't been before and want to take in as much as we can, but it does become exhausting. So we just "hang out," catch up on chores like laundry and shopping, and relax.
The next morning, we set off for our visit to Tent Rocks. It was about a 40-minute drive each way. I had checked the website for information and was glad I did so, for I saw that dogs are not permitted at this site. Most National Monument sites they are, so this surprised me a bit, but no problem. They are always happy and comfortable in the rig, so they went for their walk in the campground and settled in for a nap while we went out.
The drive there, once you leave I-25, actually goes through tribal lands, Cochiti Pueblo. After winding through the town area, past the reservoir, you make it to the BLM land that the monument sits on. The end of the road is where the trail starts. This was the description from the website of the hiking:
This is the beginning of the trail, with the massive formation ahead of us. You can see the cone-shaped formations that give this monument its name.
This starts the slot canyon section. The trail is very sandy.
The trail was pretty narrow as we were weaving throughout the conical rocks.
It's so interesting how the trees seem to hang on by a thread.
As we emerged from the narrow slot feature, the trail started winding it's way upward.
Different views as we kept going up. It was a perfect day for the hike.
This was about halfway up.
We kept on going and finally made it to the top of the overlook. I was very pleased with myself...I didn't even feel as if I were ready to drop! Losing some weight and getting more exercise is definitely making a difference in our stamina.
Different views of the rocks as we made our way down. Even on trails where it's not a loop, just an in-and-out trail, you get a different perspective of the view y coming from the opposite direction.
And back down at the base again. It was an absolutely gorgeous hike and a beautiful day. I highly recommend doing this if you are in the Albuquerque area.
The next day, we continued our journey westward, heading to Monument Valley, on the Arizona/Utah border. And that will be the subject of the next entry! Thanks for reading :-).