A new state after several months!! Hello New Mexico! We briefly sped through NM on our way to our Mesa, AZ workcamping position so we decided to spend a bit more time as we make our way to Colorado.
We made Cochiti Lake COE park our home for exploring NM. This park is located halfway between Albuquerque and Santa Fe, NM, a bit off the beaten path, in an area with a very interesting history. The park is located within the boundaries of the Pueblo de Cochiti Nation on the Rio Grande. We talked to someone in the area and it seems the lake and dam was not wanted by the local tribe but was basically forced upon them. A developer then came in with big plans to create another Santa Fe size town on the lake area with approx 400,000 people. The deal went south and the developer went bankrupt and there is only about 50 homes. Supposedly the deal with the tribe is that in about 40 years, that land reverts back to the tribe. It seems most of the homeowners are seniors, who may not very much care what happens in 40 years. There is also a gas station, golf course and marina, but they don't seem widely used, except for those that live in the homes. The one thing that did seem to be used was the mac daddy laundromat there. In our travels, I have NEVER seen anything like this! There were big beautiful stainless steel fro-loading wash machines that could handle 8 loads and dryers to that size as well. There had to be at least 30 washers!! There were 5 large flat screen TV's, each showing a different cable program, and CLEAN...utterly amazing! Can you tell I was in heaven??? Alot of the tribe seemed to utilize the facility, especially for their large blankets. I think it was spring cleaning of all winter blankets while I was there.
Wow, ok, I'm back! Went to my laundry happy place for a moment! So, the reason we asked locals about the little community is that the campground seemed oddly like the COE park that time forgot. Sure the loop we were in was nice, with pretty copper shelter over our concrete picnic table and pretty level, but there were sections that were closed and looked like they were abandoned. They looked to be day use type areas, perhaps built with the vision that the numerous local people in the development would come to the lake for a picnic. The lake also seemed to be pretty empty during our stay. A far cry from the atmosphere at Lake Pleasant. I will say, it was quiet. But with being so remote, we exhausted our sightseeing options and ended up leaving a day early.
On our first day we decided to take a drive on the Turquoise Trail Scenic Byway. This is a 50 mile drive along Hwy 14 through the Sandia Mountains and the mining towns of Cerillos, Madrid and Golden. Alot of "artsy" folks have displays and stores along the route and the vistas are beautiful! It is named for the blue green turquoise first mined in the area in 900 A.D. The area has been used for several movies, including Wild Hogs and Young Guns. We stopped in at the Black Bird Saloon in Cerrillos that was really cool and the food was unique and delicious!
Driving around the four block town was quite interesting as most were dirt roads and the old St. Josephs church still has mass and has an interesting wooden statue of Jesus out front.
While at the campground, we ended up having to replace our convection oven again. This time we decided to go with a Samsung that was much better quality and fit the space. We are currently working with Grand Design on some sort of reimbursement since the last one was still under warranty.
We also found another National Monument, Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks. We did not really know what to expect and were blown away at the beauty! We decided to go on a Saturday morning and found out upon arrival, that entry is limited, so basically, you wait until another vehicle comes out when they are at max occupancy. We waited about 5 minutes and were able to go in. The tents were amazing and the landscape overall was breathtaking. The skies were a brilliant blue, which made the rocks that much more amazing. It was such a beautiful day that we hiked both trails and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.
The decision to leave a day early turned out to be a good one. In reviewing our Drive Weather android app, which by the way is a great tool, we found that it would be getting really windy by afternoon, so we decided to leave earlier in the morning to get to our overnight stay before they peaked there. The app is great because you can pick the time you want to leave and it will show you varying weather details, including wind speed along your route and then you can adjust time to determine if a different travel time would be better. It has saved our bacon a couple times now! We reached Raton Pass, which is the last exit before Colorado and also the highest elevation. It was quite interesting being on the Pass when the winds started kicking up. Luckily we were protected a bit against a cliff but still had a bit of rock n roll! In the morning we were off early again to our Colorado destination to beat the winds, and again, our app helped us decide on the time to leave as there were also storms in Colorado forecasted. If you travel, I definitely recommend downloading the DriveWeather app. I know they have it for android but not sure if it is in the Apple store.
Next up...catching up with friends in Colorado...and a snowstorm!
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