Thursday, July 23, 2009

Westworld ho

We are at a roadside table on US-60, just west of Quemado, NM (map). New Mexico generously allows stays of up to 24 hours at its rest areas, and this one is in a great spot, a good 40' from the roadway and at the top of a hill, with a partial view of the mountains in the distance.

We had a beautiful drive yesterday, down the eastern edge of El Malpais National Monument. We stopped at the BLM visitor center (the Park Service administers the monument, and the BLM administers the surrounding El Malpais National Conservation Area) and also at Ventana Arch, a natural stone arch in the Zuni sandstone on the east side of the monument. At one point we had cliffs of Zuni sandstone on our left, and vast fields of pahoehoe and a'a lava to our right.

The badlands of El Malpais consist primarily of volcanic flows from several calderas spread throughout the area, the most recent of which occurred a mere three millennia ago. Most of the area is inaccessible from state route 117 on the east side, so we had to content ourselves with what we could see from the road -- still pretty spectacular.

We joined up with the now familiar US-60 in the one-horse town of Quemado, where there are no overnight options, and set our sights on one of the handful of rest/picnic areas west of there. This first one was just perfect, and after getting parked, I fired up the grill and started some chicken breasts. Ironically, shortly after I started cooking, a group of Angus cattle stopped by across the street to check us out -- we could have had steak.

George watched the cattle intently for 30 minutes.

"Steak?!? Where?"

Yesterday morning we did one last warm-up/cool-down cycle, during which I plugged in my handy engine/transmission code reader/programmer, an item I bought recently on eBay for $70 -- a steal. With this I was able to verify that all the fuel injectors were working, relieving any concerns that a seriously damaged injector had caused the turbo problem. Full details can be found on the bus boards here or here.

Once we got under way, we had to find water. When we originally set out from Albuquerque on Saturday, we had enough water to get to Phoenix, where we expected to be yesterday or today. Our delay in Rio Puerco, including a lot of extra washing up from working on the bus, meant that we were pretty much out when we left. In fact, I ended up transferring 15 gallons or so from our drinking supply to get us through Wednesday morning.

The Route 66 Casino had no spigots, and when we asked, they said all they would allow is to fill one five-gallon container. That wasn't going to cut it, so we got out on the road, knowing there were two more casino/truck stops on I-40 before we would turn south on 117. We first stopped at Dancing Eagle, where a spin around the truck and car fuel islands revealed no spigots. They have an RV park there ($10 per night with club card), which had plenty of spigots, but the office was closed, so we couldn't ask. A self-registration sign said using the dump would be $6.25, but we did not want to pay that much for $0.25 of water, so we headed back onto the road.

Our next and final stop was the Acoma Sky City casino, where we have stayed previously. We knew they also had a truck stop, and after threading our way through highway construction around the exit, made our way to it. The casino parking area and roadways were a zoo, and there must have been 50 security officers directing traffic, which puzzled us on a Wednesday. In any event, we made it to the truck islands, where we found no spigots. Louise walked over to the car islands on the other side -- no spigots there, either, but she discovered a line for the pumps that ran out onto the street.

We pulled back out of the gas station and headed up to the RV park, and could see the line disappear into the distance, as far as we could see. It took us a good minute to make the left through the line into the RV park. Once again, the office was closed, but there was a spigot right in front of it, and there was no way we were going to fight our way through the horrendous traffic to the hotel front desk, on the other end of the property, where a sign at the RV park said to register. We just put 15 or 20 gallons in and turned around. Now we were stuck in the huge line.

It turns out that the tribe was selling gas for $1.02 per gallon (possibly to promote their location at Exit 102 and maybe sponsored by a radio station near 102 on the dial), and people were coming from far and wide to fill up at less than half the going rate. The line for fuel must have been hours long; I guess there are lots of folks who could give up half (or more) of their Wednesday to save $20 on a tank of gas. We were only stuck for perhaps ten minutes, and eventually security directed us around the line and back to the freeway. Good thing we stopped, though -- we have not passed another spigot since.

We should be somewhere between Show Low and Globe, Arizona tonight, and in Scottsdale tomorrow, where it will be close to 110°. We have reservations there for a 50-amp space at Westworld, an event center (primarily equestrian, but many folks might recognize it as also the home of the Barrett-Jackson collector car auction) that happens to be just a couple of blocks from the skating rink where our niece is competing. Good thing it was there -- the nearest RV parks or Elks lodges with electricity are at least a half hour away.


  1. I live in Scottsdale-it's a DRY HEAT !!! Should be nice and chilly in the skating rink!!
    Enjoy your stay!

  2. West World has also been the home of the Cynosport World Games for the past 5 years or so...

  3. I'm a new reader and very much enjoying your blog! Have you ever considered making some kind of map of places you think are fabulous to stay? A sort of Google mash-up with just your spots. Maybe you don't want to share that specifically - LOL!

    Also, I was looking for the place to add my link to "Meet Our Readers". I wasn't able to find it to add my blog and emails didn't go through.


  4. @AP: Welcome!

    Unfortunately, the the widget to add your website link on the "Meet Our Readers" page isn't working anymore. Mr. Linky, the company that provided the widget, made some changes and asked us to remove a line of code. When I followed their instructions, the whole thing went kaput :-(

    I'm looking for another, more robust, way to have readers list their sites.


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