We left Paul and Sheri and Lake Havasu City on the 20th. There was still a good bit of desert to be covered. We drove up to Interstate 40 and headed east. Something geographic and atmospheric changed when we crossed into New Mexico. Maybe it was the elevation, but we began to see green ground cover and scattered trees. The trees got bigger as we traveled east. It was a different kind of beautiful.
We stopped at a Cracker Barrel in Gallup and ate a late dinner, then we spent the night in their parking lot. It was clearly out of the heat. The windows were open and we were quite comfortable all night. The temperature was in the high sixties Fahrenheit when we got up in the morning!
I had called Susan and told her our location. She instructed us to drive East on I-40 and then south on 117. When got to the Ventana pull-off, we should stop and call her. That would be the last reliable cell phone coverage. Then, she would drive out to meet us and lead us to their house.
We turned onto 117 and discovered that we were in the El Malpais National Monument. The scenery was striking. Big Rocks. That red dot on the highway is a dump truck.
Even though there was a large plain on the right, the highway hugged the cliffs.
Then I realized that the right side of the highway was a massive field of hardened lava.
We stopped at the Ventana pull-off and discovered that we did not have a phone signal. Not even a row of empty bars. Nothing. Should we turn back toward the interstate until we got a signal?
I remembered Susan saying that there were two cafes in Pie Town and someone would let me use a phone to call her to meet us. We decided to drive on.
First, we took a look at La Ventana (The Window). I parked Scamp while Andy waited by the walkway.
The window is one of the largest arches in New Mexico. It is massive, but we did not walk the rough trail up to it.
We continued on through a large prairie with cattle grazing. Absolutely stunning.
We turned left on Pie Town Road. That’s the reflection of my coffee cup on the left edge.
Pie Town Road is a good road. It is wide and generally smooth. Yet, there are sections of washboard. We buzzed over dozens of cattle guards. It is not a flat road. There were many hills and bumps. But the most striking thing about Pie Town Road is that we thought it would never end. When we had gone forever, we topped a hill and saw Pie Town Road disappear in the distance. We decided that we had never been so far out into the Middle of Nowhere, not even on our Alaska trip.
Eventually, we got to Pie Town. The Pie Town Cafe was closedacreand there was a lot of cars in front of the Gatherin’ Place.
This is what we saw when we walked in the door. Two ladies were working with pie crust. The third, on the right out of the picture, was filling empty pie shells. Indeed, the one on the left lent me her cell phone.
Susan was very surprised we were in Pie Town. She was planning to meet us where we had turned onto Pie Town Road. I explained the lack of a cell phone signal. Since it would take them half an hour to come to meet us, we ate some pie! So many choices. We shared a peach pie and then bought two more (coconut and chocolate-cherry) to take to Roy and Susan.
Andy rode with Roy and Susan rode in Scamp with me. We went halfway back down Pie Town Road to the entrance to their “neighborhood”. Note that we had not seen a single house the whole length of it. There was a locked gate across the road. It has started to rain and the dirt road had turned to mud. It was slick mud. I could see Roy skidding a bit in front of us. Scamp did some slipping and sliding in the same spots. Whew! I made it to the house without running into a ditch!
This is the view from the back deck. Of course, the camera does not capture it. That blue streak behind the distant trees is a mountain range. Roy said thay are 50 to 70 miles away. What you can’t see in the photo is how the land slopes down to a large, wide valley before the mountains. It is breathtaking. And, yes, this is the view out her kitchen window.
After chatting for hours and eating dinner, Roy asked if we would like a tour of the place. We rode in their car because “the place” is 175 acres! I could not fathom how many trees that meant. This one is just outside the house.
Here is a closer look at the lovely trunks.
Our first stop was the shed. To the left.
and to the right. The man has tools and stuff.
I knew it and still marvel. Roy and Susan lived in this shed the first (and maybe the second) year they were here. It is well insulated and has a large wood-burning stove. They had a bed, two recliners and a television set near that stove. This is the “dry” kitchen. Another counter is to the right of Roy and Andy. The wooden building is the “wet” room.
All the running water is insulated again inside. Here are the kitchen sink and laundry.
On the opposite wall are the bathtub, toilet, and shower stall.
This was their home while the land was prepared and the house built. At first, they were told it would take a couple years to get a house built in this remote area. So, they decided to buy a prefabricated house and have it delivered. (I don’t know how they got the sections in these roads.) I suppose they didn’t want another winter in the shed.
Our next stop was the new airplane hangar. I love this picture of Roy beginning to open the door.
It has the same speckled floor paint as our garage at home. The runway is in the distance behind that dirt and not really visible in this photo.
The airplane is in Albuquerque (I think) or somewhere else distant. Roy is learning to fly it before bringing it home.
We drove on farther along the road and around another side of their property. One-hundred-seventy-five acres are a big yard. We turned around and headed back to the house as the sun was getting low in the sky. It was shining on the distant Sawtooth Mountains. Roy stopped several times for me to get out and take pictures. I couldn’t decide which to use, so here are most of them.
A little bit of zoom helps.
I had asked how, with 175 acres, did they ever choose where to put the house. Answer: near the pile of rocks. It is huge and I have not captured it all here. They are at the side of the garage.
Roy had several big toys.
Susan and I met each other at work maybe twenty years ago. We did not work together or see each other much but hit it off right away. We have stayed in touch all these years via email, FaceBook and even here paper letters. Now we are enjoying each other’s company even more on this way-past-due visit.