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Headed for Santa Fe, NM
mini location map2014-07-29
26 by photographer avatarrwstorm
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Headed for Santa Fe, NM 
Headed for Santa Fe, NM
Scenic Drive avatar Jul 29 2014
Scenic Drive
Scenic Drive
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The plan was to drive up to Santa Fe and base camp in a motel for three days. There are various ways to drive up there, and most folks heading from Tucson zip along I-10 to Deming, then take the Hatch cutoff and finish the drive on I-25. That's all well and good if you need to make time, but I prefer to travel different roads. I rarely am in a hurry, and you see the best things by getting off the freeway of course. In recent years I have actually been breaking the drive down into two parts, usually camping somewhere on day one. My absolute favorite way to go there is through Safford, Mule Creek, Glenwood, Reserve, Datil, and then catch I-25 at Socorro for the finish. I really like camping at the BLM Datil Well Campground, as it is 320 miles from my house, so it is in the right position to break up the drive. :) It truly is a great campground with friendly hosts, and get this, all for $5/night (2.50 for old timers like me)! Can't believe they have raised the rates yet. :lol: And what do you get for your five dollars? How about lighted restrooms, good water, firewood provided (sometimes), and now wifi by the office. :o Such a deal! :D

So anyway, I left Tucson around 10 oclock Tuesday, then gassed up and got ice at Safford, and stopped at Subway to get a sandwich for dinner in camp that night. I was going to have lunch at Chalos in downtown Safford but they were closed for renovation, so went across the street to El Charro, but I could see that was going to take way too long as they were slammed. So on to plan C, a rather mediocre meal at La Paloma in Solomon. I hadn't eaten there in over 20 years, but it got the job done. ;)

The really fun part of the drive is when you leave Safford and head up to Mule Creek and beyond. Only widely scattered storms were noted, so it was a mellow afternoon. The section of highway between Reserve and Old Horse Springs is just so scenic, especially around Aragon. Never gets old to me!

Rolled into Datil Well around 6:30 and set up the tent and just relaxed for the rest of the evening, enjoying the pleasant conditions, beer, and my Subway sandwich. :)

Up before the sun as usual Wednesday. Since I only had drive a little over 200 miles to get to the motel in Santa Fe, this would be a day of stopping here and there, taking my time and just being lazy (I'm getting real good at that :lol: ). Lately camping I have been going pretty minimalist too, just living out of the ice chest, making sandwiches and not doing much meal prep. Usually I just use the Jetboil to heat water for coffee, oatmeal, or ramen, but this time I thought I would use it for the first time to actually make a bacon, egg, potato breakfast in a small frying pan. I used the adaptor to hold the pan on the burner and it worked out pretty well. Normally, when I decide I am going to do a regular breakfast, I take my 2 burner stove with the larger propane bottles for the job. After breakfast, it was time to pack things up and head east on US60 for Socorro. Beautiful drive past the VLA to Magdalena. :) One place I had driven by many times but never checked out was a BLM administered site just before you reach Socorro called The Box. It is just off the highway and is basically a climbing area where the arroyo squeezes between some tall cliffs and drops under the highway. There was a Albuquerque Parks And Rec van parked there and I noticed a group heading up to top of the cliff for probably some practice.

On to Socorro, where I gassed up again. I have always liked Socorro and there are some really neat old buildings around. After some picture taking it was off for a cold beer at one of my favorite old time western bars, The Capitol by the town plaza. :D Since I was the only one there at the fairly early hour, Linda the bar manager and I had a nice conversation about road trips, and neat places and bars in New Mexico. She had recently been down to Silver City and was sad that the Buffalo had closed down. She then proceeded to get out a book that had been put together a few years ago by a husband/wife team about old historic bars in the Southwest. She was in the photo at the Capitol taken when the authors stopped by. Pretty neat. The book title is "Hoist a Cold One - Historic Bars of the Southwest" by Melody Groves.

Next it was up I-25 to Albuquerque, but then I headed east to Tijeras so I could finish the drive to Santa Fe on NM14, the Turquoise Trail. This scenic area features some nice old mining towns, the largest and most well known being the old coal mining community of Madrid. It has lots of old buildings, many of which have been restored and it is now quite the tourist destination. I stopped at the Mine Shaft Tavern (sort of overrated in my opinion) for a beer and to try one of their green chile cheeseburgers. It turned out to be rather bland and not spicy at all. That doesn't cut it, especially in New Mexico. :gun: Okay, two mediocre meals in two days, guess the trip's off to a good start (not). :lol: That would be remedied.

My favorite town along the Turquoise Trail is the one closest to Santa Fe, Cerrillos, but I didn't stop this time. Checked in at the motel in late afternoon, just as thunderstorms rolled into town. It was shorts and t-shirt weather then, but not for long!
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