New Mexico to Old Transmission…

Well, hopefully this post will take us through New Mexico and into Arizona before the subplot, to the main plot, overshadows the picture!

road runner picture

Road Runners are prevalent in west Texas and New Mexico…and they are usually running on the road, or across it! They can get up to 20 mph even while running. Beep! Beep!

As I mentioned in the last blog, on my way to Guadalupe Mountains National Park (which contains the highest peak in the confederate south) my check engine light went on with codes for battery and transmission. I purchased a new battery, but pressed on regarding the transmission!

bigblue and el capitan

BigBlue approaching Guadalupe Mountains National Park on hwy 54. The face of El Capitan in seen in the center.

I only spent a day at Guadalupe Mountains/Coral Reefs (though I hope to come back one week and hike all 85 miles of hiking trails available).

Walnut Canyon Road

The winding Walnut Canyon road that leads up to the entrances of the Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico. There are 120 caves with the largest section called “the Big Room” which can hold over six football fields and contain the Gateway Arch!

And then proceeded up to Carlsbad Caverns National Park, that has 120 known caves, crossing the Texas/New Mexico border. There is lots of free places to camp for free in this vast dry land.


New Mexico merits another visit, as there is so much to see in this state. I settled for a few sites, the first being the Carlsbad Caverns National Park. But the drive through it was ruggedly…enchanting!

After getting BigBlue outfitted with a new battery I headed up through the Lincoln National Forest (gorgeous scenery and with snow atop of the summits) towards White Sands National Monument.

Lincoln Ntl Forest

View from the heights of Lincoln National Forest in New Mexico. This is the birthplace of Smokey the Bear!

The White Sands National Monument are exceptional wind-designed sand dunes of fine gypsum crystals. It is the largest gypsum field in the world (truth be told, it is the only gypsum field I have ever heard of!)

BigBlue at White Sands

BigBlue at White Sands National Monument at sunset looking towards the San Andres Mountains…the roads have to be plowed daily! Try googling an image of this monument from space…it is really amazing!

Pure as snow and just as fun to sled on! The basin is surrounded by various mountain ranges (San Andres, Sacramento, Organ, Guadalupe) making for a very beautiful panoramic view!

Deb at White Sands

Here I am at White Sands National Monument. The sand dunes have an incredible wave-like design to them…almost hate to walk on it and ruin the pattern. The dunes can move up to 30 feet per year!

Continuing westward, I crossed bythe newly established National Monument by Obama last May. Organ Mountains—Desert Peaks national Monument. A lot of Air Force and lunar testing occurred here as well as Billy the Kid and Gerinomo each having at one time or another calling it home.

White New Mexico snake

Zoom lens is responsible for the snapshot of this critter. Though I appreciate snakes I try to avoid cuddly situations! I don’t know what kind this is.

I was actually trying to find Prehistoric Trackways National Monument which is where several fossils have been discovered. But it is not an established area and so lots of four-wheeling is required. No problem, I have four wheels on this old minivan!

BigBlue with Organ Mountains in background

BigBlue trying to find the Prehistoric Trackway National Monument with the Organ Mountains National Monument in the background! Pictures fail at doing the scenery justice!

But alas, the terrain compelled me to turn back (actually to reverse out at a high speed because the sand was quite deep—too deep to turn around in). There is so much more to see in New Mexico, but I set my sites towards Arizona!

AZ state line

I took Interstate 10 from Las Cruces, NM to AZ state line (I’ve usually try to avoid the interstates). As a result the State sign didn’t have a safe place to pull over and get a pic of BigBlue next to it! So I just took a snap while driving by it!

Talk about a state with lots to see—welcome to Arizona! The weather is great (the rest of the nation seemed to be covered in snow!) and the scenery is vast and beautiful.

BigBlue on lonely AZ road

Here’s a picture of me in BigBlue as we travel the backroads to get to Fort Bowie National Historic Site and Chiricahua National Monument.

My first stop was towards Ft Bowie National historic Site quite a ways off the beaten path near Willcox, AZ. It afforded a great hike and an educational visitor center. But I just don’t know what to make of the Indian vs Military battles. They tried to present the data from both sides, but…

BigBlue at Ft Bowie sign

BigBlue at the Fort Bowie National Historic Site sign. To get to the visitor center is a 1.5 walk which is exactly where the ruins from the old outpost stands.

Established in 1862 in response to John Ward’s ranch being raided by someone… the Apache Pass became the focal point of military operations eventually culminating in the surrender of Geronimo in 1886 and the banishment of the Chiricahuas to Florida and Alabama.

spiraling sectional succulent

This was in someone’s garden. I believe this spiraling sectional succulent is actually from South Africa. I found the geometry and pattern of the whole thing quite mesmerizing! My niece has made me a little more aware of the beauty of these desert plants!

Continuing along the Apache Pass dirt road for about 30 miles is the Chiricahua National Monument full of extensive vertical rock formations in southeast Arizona—very reminiscent of Bryce Canyon with all the hoodoos. Beautiful rocks, mountains, views and streams.

BigBlue at Chiricahua National Monument

BigBlue reflecting some of the vertical mountains (hoodoos) found in Chiricahua National Monument range. This park had 17 miles of beautiful day hikes in the midst of gorgeous weather!!

After finishing up at those mountains I headed westward towards the Tucson Mountains and Saguaro National Park. Because of leaving Chiricahua rather late, I was just going to stay at the Diamond Desert Casino parking lot (they let folks stay there for free…generous, eh!?) which is 5 miles south of the parks western entrance.

succulent center

Another succulent photo (because I neglected to take one of the Desert Diamond Casino near the Tucson airport!)

The sun was setting and I was just a mere 0.5 miles away from my destination on Valencia Road when all of a sudden, the transmission stopped working! The RPMS were increasing, but the van just started coasting as if in neutral. Thankfully, all other power (steering, brakes, etc) continued working. And thanks be to God, I had enough acceleration left to get me all the way to the casino’s parking lot at a prime spot!

shoes in white sands

Me in my shoes at White Sands, but I put the picture here because I’m wondering if I’m going to have to walk the remaining 20,000 miles of my trip with BigBlue out of commission! But thankfully, I have AAA premium membership! I’ll tell more of that story in the next blog, God willing!

I went into the casino to use the restroom and have a look around and thought it wouldn’t be worth my while to break my 48-year-long record of not gambling on an evening when it looked like my “luck” was running low! (Besides, it was Ash Wednesday, seemed like it would turn the observation of Jesus’ fasting on its head if I started then!)

black tailed prairie dog

So like this black tailed prairie dog from New Mexico (whose tail is not really so black), I said my prayers and snuggled down for the night in a very secured and patrolled parking lot at the Diamond Desert Casino!

But in all truthfulness, the Lord was very gracious and had my circumstances so well taken care of. It was late, and I had my home with me. So I just called my brother in Phoenix to see if I could get my car towed to his place. Once he confirmed BigBlue and I could crash at his place, I crawled into my cozy bed, read, wrote, and snuggled down for a very marvelous sleep. What a blessing it was knowing that all I had to do in the morning was call AAA and utilize the great Premium Plus membership purchased back in May (200-miles of free towing!).

bigblue on tow truck

Jim getting BigBlue up on the Bronco tow truck as we travel together from Tucson to Phoenix! Love 200 free miles of towing from AAA Premium Plus!

My next blog entry will, DV, recount the marvelous way that whole situation has been taken care of, so that in about 3 days I will be back on the road again.

red flowers

Two cute little minimalistic red flowers…buddies!


6 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by JesusGeorgePaige on March 12, 2015 at 8:56 pm

    Glad to here Big Blue is well.


  2. Posted by JesusGeorgePaige on March 12, 2015 at 8:58 pm

    I saved the White Sands photo of you cuz I can see you often on my iPhotos often.


  3. Posted by JesusGeorgePaige on March 12, 2015 at 9:00 pm

    Okay! I saved to prairie dog too!


  4. Posted by kim on March 12, 2015 at 11:34 pm

    Great pics Deb! Makes me want to hit the road. Safe travels!


  5. Posted by Linda Koonce on March 13, 2015 at 2:16 am

    Is this just an amazing journey for you or an amazing pilgrimage for all of us who love and follow you on your travels? Either way, I love your posts, and pray safe travels and Happy Trails to you!


  6. Posted by Paola Bozas on March 17, 2015 at 11:15 am

    Awesome adventure Deb!
    You always see the glass half full and the bright side of any situation no matter how hard it gets!
    A true inspiration!
    Safe travels
    Blessings and a huge hug!!


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