Just to recap our journey to date; last summer we travelled through some of the west coast of the USA and Canada continuing north (Yukon, Northwest Territories and Alaska) driving all the way to Inuvik, this would be the most northernly point driving, we were not able to drive to Tuktoyaktuk as the new road was not open at the time. It’s open now. We caught a flight Tuktoyaktuk and paddled in the Arctic Ocean before heading south and west to Alaska and driving to the most westerly point that can be driven too on mainland North America, which is Anchor Point, Alaska. Last winter was spent touring all of Baja, Mexico all the way to the southern tip at Cabo San Lucas before heading back to Canada. Along the way back we drove to the highest point on our travels so far, this being at an elevation of 10,222ft/3116M, this was in Co lorado.
After spending a couple of months in Malaysia and a three week road trip to Vancouver Island so Catherine could spend some time with our family friend Gini, it was time to continue on our PanAmerican trip and head south.
We finally set off again south in late September (27th). It was late in the day leaving from Calgary after suffering some colder weather in both Edmonton and Calgary while dealing with some personal matters. As we left later in the day, our first stop was Lethbridge for the night to wrap up a couple of outstanding items in the morning, where it rained on and off for the time we were there. Again, next day leaving mid afternoon we set off for the USA/Canada boarder at Sweetgrass, Montana. Clearing customs was a non-issue and we were in Great Falls for Dinner at the Black Eagle Brewery in their Pit Stop lounge.
This trip through the US would be fast and we had no intention of stopping to see the sights as we were a month behind our planned schedule, we were beelining to Mexico mainland.
From here we headed down to Bozeman, MT to meet up with Emily, we had tried to see her on the way back when she was still living in Layton, Utah on our return trip from Baja, Mexico in the spring but did not connect. We did manage to grab dinner with her in Bozeman.
Some of the higher elevations had snow at the side of the road, needless to say we were not stopping!!!
After dinner with Emily we continued on towards Yellowstone NP, stopping north of Gardiner for the night by a river.
Next morning, we drove through Gardiner on our way to Yellowstone, we travelled a route we had not driven before entering through the north gate and leaving through the east gate, heading towards Cody, down to Thermopolis for a quick visit to the Worlds Largest Mineral Hot Springs. After this we continued down to Shoshoni and on to Casper for the evening.
There was a huge Elk just laying at the side of the road and a bison we could just about touch if we had leaned out of the window. These are wild animals and you need to keep your distance and they should not be disturbed.
Yellowstone NP is situated with a huge volcano within its area. There is a huge lake within the Caldara which we had no idea was there until we drove past.
We continued on to Cody (named after Wild Bill) where we stopped for lunch at Millstone Pizza Company and Brewery. I would not recommend this restaurant unless you want your insides cleared out :(!
From here we continued onto Casper, Wyoming. We did stop in Thermopolis to see the Worlds Largest Mineral Hot Springs. Stewart had been here before almost 40 years to the date and wanted to revisit on the way down to Mexico.
There is what started out as manmade structure, but has turned into a natural formation called the Tepee Fountain.
We continued on to Casper after stopping in Shoshoni for diesel, we did not eat dinner this night as our stomachs were bloated. (From the food at the pub we do not recommend).
The next day as it was still chilly (3C/37F) we had decided that we would push on until we reached warmer weather, warm enough to wear shorts and T-shirts. We left just before 9am and decided that we would stop on the way for some breakfast. We made it to Wheatland, WY where while having breakfast we were in contact with Darren & Kim whom we had met in Los Barilles, Baja California Sur. They told us it was 74F/23C at 10:30am and we should come for a visit if we wanted warm, our original goal was Pueblo, Colorado. After looking at the map we though it was doable so set off for Rifle, Colorado instead. That evening upon arriving we all went into Glenwood Springs to a pub that was celebrating Octoberfest.
After spending a couple of days in Rifle the weather had turned cold and rainy, seems as though the cooler weather pattern was following us☹
We decided to continue south looking for warmer weather, leaving around noon taking the scenic route over Independence Pass. This pass had a summit elevation of 12,361ft/3768M high, this is a new elevation record for us. Fall had also come to this area of Colorado, being at such an elevation the trees were turning colour.
Continuing on Alamosa for the night, it was cold and raining when we arrived. Next morning it was warm and sunny. After leaving Alamosa we continued south where we passed Earthship Biotecture. We stopped in to take a look, this is a supposed to be an energy self-sustaining community, recycling all kinds of materials such as bottles and used tires.
We continued in a southern direction crossing into New Mexico to Taos, Santa Fe and finally Albuquerque for dinner at Pappadeaux for some Etouffee, Catherine had Shrimp and Stewart went with the Crawfish before heading over to Walmart for the night.
We had a late morning next day, found a laundromat to do our laundry before continuing mid afternoon, we had not eaten much this day, only breakfast so decided to have an early dinner. After a quick google search we stopped in at Belen which was only a short way from Albuquerque, and found a really nondescript little restaurant called “Montanos Family Restaurant” which had really good homemade Mexican food for a very reasonable price.
Further south we called in at a town called Truth or Consequences, who would have thought that there would be a town of this name? Any way we chose Consequences and called in at McDonalds for a Tea and Coffee 😊
We finally arrived in Las Cruces in the dark and stayed in the Lowes paring lot. All these exotic nights we have LOL!!!
Next morning after breakfast and taking care of some business we travelled northeast to White Sands National Monument, this was approximately one hour in the wrong direction, but very worthwhile the visit.
White Sands National Monument is a United States national monument in the state of New Mexico on the north side of Route 70 about 16 miles (26 km) southwest of Alamogordo in western Otero County and northeastern Dona Ana County. The monument is situated at an elevation of 4,235 feet (1,291 m) in the mountain-ringed Tularosa Basin and comprises the southern part of a 275 sq miles (710 sq kms) field of white sand dunes composed of gypsum crystals. The gypsum dune field is the largest of its kind on Earth. (Wikipedia)
This is a very unique location, where you can drive a 16mile/26km loop into the sands. As stated above the sand is made of gypsum and is quite dense, therefore you do not sink into it and it is easy to walk on in bare feet as it also does not get hot like regular sand. Best of all the Park Ranger’s system was down so we entered for free!
The first successful Atomic Bomb was tested in this area at Alamogordo, NM which was called the Manhattan Project.
Once we left here we travelled back through Las Cruces for dinner, then on to Deming where we stayed the night.
Next morning, we were up early and on the road after breakfast and filling up with diesel by 9am, we wanted to beat the heat of the day, plus the sun was behind us most of the way into Tucson, Arizona.
On the way to Tucson we stopped in at a town called Bowie, we thought we would stop in and pay our respects to David, but all we found was knifes 😊. This town was named after Jim Bowie (Bowie Knife) who was at the Alamo.
We called in at Camping World to purchase some new chairs and pick up some other supplies. We dumped our black and grey tanks while filling up with fresh water. Then found a local BBQ restaurant for an early dinner before continuing on to Nogales, AZ where we found a remote campsite in a local National Forest west of town.
As it was the weekend when we arrived in Nogales we were struggling to arrange vehicle insurance for Mexico before crossing the border. After spending Saturday night in the National Forest, we came back into Nogales where we spent a couple of hours in McDonalds using their internet catching up on business and the blog before staying the night near Walmart. The Monday was Columbus Day so not much was open, that said there was an insurance agent across the street from McD’s that offered Mexican insurance. When we arrived there, it was closed for the holiday. As we sat in the truck deciding what to do next a lady asked us if we were requiring insurance for Mexico. Well it turns out the business owners just happened to be going to the office to catch up on some work, so we were able to arrange our required insurance.
Next: Into Mexico