Word of the day: Dust. We left Silver City about 7 AM heading north. We followed US-180 for about 90 miles, with a stop at a little trading post/motel at Glenwood, NM. Nice people, but rest rooms aren't for the squeamish. We turned onto NM-12, through mountains & prairies to Datil, then onto US-60 to Pie Town, a town with little going for it except for - - pie. We found the Pie Town Cafe, which alternates open days with the other cafe in town. The green chile cheeseburger was excellent, the fries good, and New Mexico Apple Pie - Yum!! It's made with green chiles and pinon nuts!
We were assured this unpaved road toward Grants was fine, so we took it. At a Y intersection, we took the county road with the "Grants" sign. 30 miles of dust and scenery, and we came out at El Malpais Nat'l Monument. It's a lava field from a series of eruptions ranging from 100,000 to 3,000 years ago. There are a few trails and overlooks in this section, plus a sandstone arch on the cliffs bordering the field.
Made it to HIE in Grants about 3:15, ate at La Ventana (same name as the arch), did the laundry, and got caught up. Tomorrow we're off by back roads to Cuba, via Pueblo Pintado (a Chaco outlier) and a badlands wildernes area with some interesting hoodoos. For the day, 264 miles; the dusty shortcut saved us 40 miles.