Day 73 - A Morning In Volks Heaven

Trip Start May 19, 2008
1
75
176
Trip End Nov 08, 2008


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Where I stayed
Valley Of Fires National Recreation Area

Flag of United States  , New Mexico
Wednesday, July 30, 2008

We arrived at "I Luv Used" Discount Auto Parts around 8.15 to discover that the "spares" they carry include a couple of hundred old bugs and buses in a lot out the back. A sort of final resting place for old VW's. And for us it really was Volks heaven. By around 9.00 the beam had been greased and we were let loose in the back lot to see if there was anything of any use to us. A couple of hours later we left with all kinds of goodies, including original VW mud flaps, a better wardrobe mirror than the one in Chip and loads of little fixtures and fittings that were missing when we collected him. And the absolute gem for us, the original manuals for our model and year of bus. As rare as rocking horse manure and enough to make any true dub-head very jealous!

It was a short drive back into Albuquerque where we eventually found the tiny "Old Town". Nothing more than a handful of old buildings and lots of shops all selling the same touristy stuff. If we hadn't been to Santa Fe then we probably would have thought that it was very quaint and very nice. And whilst it is both those things, it just isn't a patch on Santa Fe. So if you're in the area and only have time to do one or the other, it has to be Santa Fe every time if it's history and charm that you're looking for. If you prefer something more modern, then central Albuquerque may appeal as it is quite cosmopolitan and certainly a lot more built up than Santa Fe.

We left Albuquerque around 1pm and took Highway 47 which runs south roughly parallel with the I-25 and passes through several small towns. At Bernardo we had no choice but to get on the Interstate as Highway 47 ran out a few miles further on. It was only a short stretch of freeway for us, around 35 miles and we made two brief stops along the way. One for "comfort" and the other for lunch under the shade of a tree in the village of "Alamillo". Just south of Socorro we exited onto Highway 380 heading roughly east. For around the first 30 miles, when we looked left or right we could see for miles in both directions, no hills just vast expanses of fairly flat, open land. The majority of the area to our right and the south is taken up by the White Sands Missile Range and the "Trinity Site", where the world's first atomic bomb was exploded July 16, 1945. They seem very proud of that fact.

The terrain became more undulating as we approached our campground 4 miles west of the town of Carrizozo, the Valley of Fires National Recreation Area. We hadn't been there long before we realised that it should actually have been called the "valley of flies". Not your standard fly, but really tiny things, similar to no-see-ums (we'll come back to no-see-ums in a moment) and which relentlessly try to get into your ears and eyes making a high-pitched whine all the while. In order to be able to cook our meat on the BBQ outside, Neil had to resort to wearing ear plugs to stop them going in his ears. Not a place to sit outside and watch the sun go down! Having said that, the sunset was pretty spectacular and the campground is set in a fantastic location. From our pitch we had an almost 360 panoramic view.

N.B. No-See-Ums. We were first introduced (as it were) to no-see-ums by Harold the camp host at Cataract Lake Campground on the outskirts of Williams. He described them as the tiny little black specks that give you a tiny bite without you hardly being able to "see 'um"! Well obviously we thought this was a colloquial name for them, only to discover a few days later when buying insect repellent that it is a term commonly used throughout the US, as there it was on the label "Repels blah, blah, blah and no-see-ums". Well we never! The ones at the "valley of the flies" weren't black though, more of a cinnamon colour, so maybe they were chiggers! Yes "chiggers". We don't actually know what these are, but our latest bottle of insect repellent is good for these as well. God help us!!! If anyone out there can tell us what a chigger is please use the "guestbook" facility, we are intrigued!

Miles travelled: 175

Total miles travelled: 6458

Days on road: 53

States visited: 11

National Parks visited: 10
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