Well, when we left Lake Powell, we had planned to go through Flagstaff and down into New Mexico, but the forecast was calling for more snow that way, so we ended up going back the way we had come, through Monument Valley.
We had also planned to stay at a small State Park that first night, but when we got there, it was closed up tight! Turns out it is ALSO on Navajo land, so it wasn’t open yet! YIKES! We immediately pulled up our Harvest Host app and found a very fun-looking brewery in Gallup, NM called “Route 66 Junkyard Brewery” and called to see if they had space for the night. Yep! And we were on our way!
If you’re not familiar with Harvest Hosts, it’s a membership program for those with RVs of any kind where members can camp overnight for free at Wineries, Breweries, Distilleries, Farms, Museums, Tourist Attractions and sometimes Golf Courses. You are just staying in their parking lot or out on the “back 40” on grass, dirt or gravel, and there are usually no hookups, but it’s a free, safe, and usually fun place to stop for the night. In exchange, you are expected to support the business in some way. You can do a tasting, buy a bottle or 6-pack, eat in the restaurant, shop at the farm stand, visit the attraction or whatever is appropriate and suits your fancy!
In the past, we’ve stayed at a number of very cool locations, including some caverns in Missouri, wineries in Temecula and Indiana, and a couple of breweries. You always meet the nicest folks and usually get to meet the owners and hear how their small business got started. Most of the time their wares are just delightful and we’ve always enjoyed our stays! If you are interested, you can sign up through the link above and they’ll give you 15%.
So anyway, we were excited to stay at a new one at such an unusual location. It is an actual junkyard and an actual brewery! I will admit, it does look a little sketchy, but the reviews from other members were great, so we decided to give it a shot!
Going all the way to Gallup made for a VERY long day for us, especially since it was very windy. Plus, even going this way we had a bit of snow. We finally pulled in just at dusk, and saw that there were 2 other RVs situated in the dirt/gravel parking lot, so we swung in and started to line up behind them. Unbeknownst to us it had snowed/rained heavily the night before , so the center of the lot was a mud pit! We got about halfway through and became completely mired in the deep mud!
After about 30 minutes of “seesaw” action to try to extricate ourselves, the owner came out and helpfully commented that there was no way we were getting unstuck that night, so we might as well just hunker down. He said that they were expecting a freeze that night, and suggested that in the morning, we should be able to “drive right out” of the frozen mud. This was NOT welcome news, and we were both frustrated, exhausted and “hangry,” so we just gave up and unhooked the Jeep. Taking Pongo out in that muck was LOADS of fun, and we ended up using all of our beach towels trying to keep David & Pongo from tracking mud throughout the rig.
By the time we were ready for bed, we were all covered in mud and barely speaking to each other! We never did make it into the brewery, although I’m sure we could have used a beer after all of that. We were just too discouraged and irritated, so we decided to just go to bed
Nobody slept much that night, for worrying about what the morning would bring. In the middle of the night it began to snow pretty heavily and we had visions of being stuck there for a week! Before dawn, David got in the Jeep with Pongo and went looking for a car wash that could accommodate the RV because he couldn’t sleep anyway and Pongo was whining constantly. I just sat there and thought maybe this whole trip wasn’t such a great idea after all!!!
The second it was light, David got to work trying to free us. Unfortunately we were not able to just “drive right out” as the owner had suggested, but David figured out to use all of our leveling blocks as ramps, and sort of “walked” us out of the muck. I offered to help but David figured there was no sense in all of us getting muddy yet again, and kindly suggested I leave him alone to figure it out. So I just laid on the bed and stayed out of his way. (Sometimes that’s the most helpful thing I can do! ) It took about an hour, but FINALLY we were free!
We drove STRAIGHT to the coin operated car wash and spent a couple of hours trying to get the mud dislodged from the undercarriage of the RV, out of the wheels and off the jeep.
We ended up having huge mud clods dropping from the RV for about a week, and it took 3 rounds at car washes over the next few days, but we finally got it all off/out of everything!
Being exhausted, we decided to go to Albuquerque and treat ourselves to a night at a very expensive KOA campground with full hookups so that we could do some laundry, get a good night’s sleep and know we didn’t have to deal with any more mud and dirt! It was a nice place with a concrete pad and grass, but we were so delirious from exhaustion that we didn’t take a single picture! We slept great, though, and were able to function a bit better the next day.
We had booked the next night at a private home through another app we love called Boondockers Welcome. Similar to Harvest Hosts, you get to stay for a night (or more, depending on the host) for free on someone’s private property. Sometimes they have acreage, and sometimes it’s a suburban driveway. Most hosts are RVers themselves and have fabulous recommendations for things to see and do in the local area, and for other great places they’ve traveled themselves. We have met some AMAZING hosts through this program and we highly recommend it as well. Again, if you are interested, click on the link and sign up. (No discount this time, but honestly, you’ll probably save the membership fee in your first stay!)
Our host in this case had a huge lot in a suburban neighborhood with 2 gravel driveways, water hookups, and 30amp electrical service! They could easily have accommodated 4 RVs our size, but we were the only ones there. The couple are avid RVers who travel half the year, and gave us some great recommendations for places to check out in our travels. We can’t wait to visit some of them! We were able to finally finish cleaning up from the mud disaster and set out to see what Albuquerque had to offer.
We didn’t get any photos of the host location. but because it was a private home with a fully fenced yard, we felt safe enough to finally let Kiya out on her leash and harness. She’s the only one who’s brave enough to venture outside, but she’s pretty skittish, so we are careful when we take her out. She had so much fun stalking bugs, birds and squirrels, as well as basking in the New Mexico sun! We will definitely take her out more often. Of course the other two just laid around like slugs, as usual. Even Pongo was feeling a bit lazy! You can see a bit of the property in these photos.
I feel so dumb that I had no idea what an awesome city Albuquerque is! Still being a bit tired, we kept it rather low-key. There is a TON to see and do here, and it’s yet another place that we will visit again. (I sometimes feel like this whole trip is just a sample platter of places we want to come back to!)
We just visited a couple of museums, including the National Museum of Nuclear Science & History. It is an extremely well-done museum, and we came away with a much better understanding of the history of nuclear energy. They also had some retired aircraft in an outdoor exhibit but somehow I didn’t get any pix!
The next day we visited the Anderson Abruzzo Albuquerque International Balloon Museum. In stark contrast to the day before, this was probably the least organized museum I’ve ever visited! None of the exhibits seemed related to any of the others, and there was no cohesive storyline. It was just a random series of exhibits commemorating various accomplishments, mostly of the museum’s founder and his friends. If you go to Albuquerque, I would not recommend a stop at this place. It would be way better to get up early and go watch some balloons launch; something we missed this trip. Sorry to say, the only picture we took here was of me!
We enjoyed Albuquerque so much we ended up staying an extra day and when we finally left we were feeling so refreshed! We headed south toward Roswell, but naturally had to make a stop in Belen, the city of David’s mom’s birth. We didn’t grab any photos of the town this trip, but we did get an all-important photo of the “Tortilla Burger” from Circle T Burger, that was highly recommended by David’s former boss, Linda! (Now you know what our real priorities are!
We finally made it to our destination and boy what a gorgeous one it was! Bottomless Lakes State Park did not disappoint. I will say I was getting a bit tired of brown and red rock, so I was thankful for another dose of blue!
The closest town to this State Park is Roswell, NM, so of COURSE we had to go see if we could spot any aliens! They are actually on every street sign and light pole, and pretty much every business features some form of alien. Even the McDonald’s is spaceship-themed! We opted to give the UFO museum a miss and just enjoy people-watching and seeing the sights in the town, but we did watch some YouTube accounts of the museum and it looks like a hoot!
We spent 3 nights at this park and really had a relaxing time. We felt like we’d been through the wars, and enjoyed cooking outdoors, meandering through town, and taking Pongo to the local dog park.
We almost asked if we could stay an extra night, but alas, we decided it was time to move on. We STILL hadn’t learned that we need to slow down! The hardest part of this journey is keeping in mind that we are not on vacation and we don’t need to rush to the next destination. We are trying to learn to linger and just live life in the places we’re visiting. It’s been a slow learning curve but we are starting to figure it out!
NEXT UP: The hits just keep coming!