Tuesday, September 4, 2012

On the Road: Santa Fe, NM, to Cortez, CO

Sunday, September 2, 2012.

We've been in Santa Fe for a week, and it's time to move on. I like Santa Fe, but it is a busy city. I'm a small town boy, so I'm ready to get away from the city.

Our next destination is Cortez, Colorado, up in the Four Corners area. Cortez, at an elevation of almost 6,200 feet, is a city of just under 10,000 people in the southwest corner of Colorado. It will serve as our base while we explore the surrounding area.

The route today is 277 miles long

The first part of the journey consisted of an approximately 40 mile leg on IH-25 to Bernalillo, just north of Albuquerque. With a full moon still high in the sky and Sandia Peak standing tall at over 10,000 feet just east of Albuquerque, it was a pleasant drive with some great vistas.

At Bernalillo, we exited to US Highway 550 -- a 4-lane highway -- which we would follow all the way to Farmington, NM. This was a long stretch of over 150 miles with only 1 real town, Cuba, in between. The first half of this stretch was treeless with mesas running along the road, most noticeably White Mesa.

As we neared Cuba, we noticed pines starting to appear on the slopes of the nearby ridges. At Cuba, we saw our first gas station since leaving Bernalillo. The small, isolated town also has a McDonald's, a Subway, and other businesses, including several gas stations.

The road continued climbing as we left Cuba, eventually crossing the Continental Divide at 7,380 feet. Trees were plentiful on all sides here. However, as we neared Bloomfield, the trees gave way to a desert environment. Just outside Bloomfield, the road began its descent into the river valley where Bloomfield and Farmington are located.

We had originally planned to spend several days in Farmington. To be honest, we just didn't care for the area or the RV park. So we continued on to Cortez.

From Farmington, we headed east towards Shiprock, a town that shares a name with a prominent rock formation just to the southwest. Along the way, we passed several vendors on this Navajo reservation selling nneeldown bread, a local delicacy sometimes called Navajo bread.

At Shiprock, we turned north towards Cortez. For the first time today, we were on a 2-lane highway.At first, this was a rather barren drive, somewhat resembling nearby Monument Valley. As we neared Cortez, though, tree covered mountains loomed closer and more color appeared. Unfortunately, the road was very bumpy, giving us quite a bouncy ride into Cortez, our home for the next 2 weeks.

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