Thursday, July 15, 2021

Day 6 - Las Cruces to Las Vegas


Sorry - no pictures today

Got to bed early last night, and woke up early this morning, so turned on TV to watch a bit of  'The Open.' Motel breakfast was slightly better, but I picked up Murray for a real breakfast at his favorite spot, Village Inn. We said our goodbyes, then I hit the road at 10:10. Went thru San Augustin Pass, elev. 5755, and dropped back down into the Tularosa Basin. NM road crews had cleared a lot of the debris from Monday's floods, but plenty still remains. Playas still have standing water, just not as much as the did Tuesday.

The Border Patrol checkpoint opposite White Sands entrance was active. Question, “U.S. Citizen?” Answer: 'You betcha!” And on I went. Passsed a Greyhound bus that seemed to have been in an accident. Pulled into Alamogordo (elev. 4330) for gas at $2.75, got back on US-54 bypass, and headed north. A windmill blade convoy sat on the roadside just outside of Tularosa (elev. 4508), giving me hope that there'd be no convoy delays.

The only interesting sights between there and Carrizozo were the white haze to the west from blowing sand, and the 2 dust devils crossing the desert. Carrizozo, elev 5422, is the western gateway to Billy the Kid and Smokey Bear territory (BTW, when did Smokey lose his middle name – 'the'?). Further north, my hope of avoiding the blade runners was dashed. Not only was I behind another convoy, I was right at the beginning of a single lane construction zone entering some mountains.

Came out of the construction area, went thru Corona (elev. 6675 – I'd bet some of that area was over 7,000). Now on more open ground with better roads, made better time until I reached Vaughn (elev. 5598). It's now 4 hours since my last break, so I stopped at one of the 2 gas stations for comfort and a pre-made burrito, then continued on US-54. I hadn't caught up with the convoy before it finally turned off toward a mesa. I turned off, as well, at Pastura (elev 5295).

NM-219 took me into mesa country, showing multi-colored strata. Everything else was green thanks to a wet monsoon season. Pinon and juniper trees are frequent. Crossed I-40 and was now on US-84, aka old Route 66, Santa Fe route. I saw rain to the northwest – the direction I was heading. Outran the first storm, evaded the 2nd one. This route takes one thru some rather imposing mesas and is definitely scenic.  Tidbits: there's a strange small pyramid atop one of the mesas. A house in Los Montoyas (elev. 6070) has a horno and a nice woodpile to fire it.

Hit I-25 a few miles south of Las Vegas (elev. 6424), found my Best Western & checked in. Went to Pino's cafe for the worst food I've ever tasted in New Mexico. Now enjoying a Pistol Pete's 1888 blonde ale from a Las Cruces brewery.

For the day: 294.5 mi, 1391.2 for the trip.

Tomorrow: Las Vegas to Dodge City

Gas: Las Cruces $2.99, Las Vegas $3.09 & up.

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