After the excitement of arriving in Pie Town, I pretty much forgot the beautiful drive down from Canyon de Chelly. I looked on the map and saw that we took Highway 191 to Burnside and then took Highway 264 to Gallup, where we got on I-40. So far, New Mexico has been scenic no matter where we travel.
The ride down Highway 117 from I-40 at Grants is especially picturesque. We stopped in Grants for fuel and to call Roy and Susan to let them know we were on the way. The phone was dead. Then, after a mile or so, it rang once. I could see clouds in the distance and said, “It was probably Susan calling to tell us not to come”. There was no cell phone signal, even if the phone was working. We drove on.
The clouds were getting darker, and we began to see a great lightning show in the distance. You can see just about forever out here. There were a number of rain showers, but we could not tell whether they were near Pie Town or not. I kept driving. It was raining when we got to the turnoff from Highway 117 onto the unpaved road. Andy wanted to turn around. I wanted to press on. It is 16 miles from the pavement to Roy and Susan’s house. The road is nicely graveled but has terrible washboard ruts in it. The dishes were rattling in the cabinets, and Scamp was shaking so hard, he could have had a nervous breakdown. I slowed down and tried, unsuccessfully, to find a smoother path.
I was encouraged when a pickup truck towing a huge fifth wheel RV trailer approached from the other direction. Eventually, we got to the end of the gravel and the washboard. The road was much smoother, and I picked up a little speed. Finally, we paused at the entrance to the development (not really an appropriate word to describe the neighborhood). It looked OK, and we opened the gate and continued on – a short distance.
Rain is a big deal here. The sandy soil has a lot of clay in it. When it gets wet just enough, it becomes slick as snot or slick as anything else you can think of. Roy and Susan just don’t go out when rain is in the forecast. And, this is no ordinary mud. It sticks to everything.
Needless to say – this was the sight behind the van.
It took me a moment to realize I was going sideways. Fortunately, we were on a good section of the road to slide to the edge. There we were and could not move any farther. After contemplating our situation for a few minutes, Andy decided he would walk the rest of the way. He opened his door and got out. He had not even gotten as far as the front of the van before he had a thick layer of mud on the bottom of his shoes. He wisely decided that he would not make it the last mile or two in that mud and attempted to get back in the RV. When he opened the door, his feet slid out from under him and he fell down. That mud sticks to your rear end too. I held my hand out for him to hold and, with some struggle, he finally managed to climb back in. There was a little glob of mud on his nose.
Well, what are we going to do now? Wait right here. Roy will come looking for us. We passed the time reading the van owner’s manual, figuring out how to put it in all-wheel drive. Not that it would do any good in that mud. Sure enough, less than half an hour later, Roy appeared in his gator. Smirking, by the way. He looked us over and said he would go back to the house to get a tractor to pull us out. I didn’t get a picture until he disappeared around the bend.
When Roy gets a tractor, Roy really gets a tractor.
Holy cow! It was a road grader! Here he is turning around to hook up his chain to the front of Scamp. I was nervous about being towed with a chain in the slick mud, but it went well. I did not crash into the back of the tractor. He pulled us to a point where he figured the road was good enough for me to continue on my own.
We are safely in Roy and Susan’s house with a new story to tell.