|Thu, 24 Sep: Another shortish day's drive...
Today was the last relocation for us with the FMCA roving rally group. We left crowded and traffic stricken Santa Fe and headed north to Chama, a nice rural town just south of the Colorado border. The drive was a mostly easy (for Sandi at least) 114 miles thru some beautiful scenery.
We departed the Santa Fe RV park about 0920 and drove four miles on a crowded and busy arterial to US 84, which we took north for the balance of the drive. The drive took us thru Espanola, a town we visited last week on the way down. The town's many traffic lites are poorly timed and the interval between yellow and red is too short. It is very easy to drive thru a red signal if you're not vigilant.
North of Espanola we encountered some road construction that had us queued up for twenty or so minutes1 awaiting a pilot car. Other than that it was pretty much rolling wheels till we reached our destination, Sky Mountain RV in Chama. We arrived a few minutes after noon, got set up, and got busy with lunch.
We're scheduled to be here thru Saturday morning. Tomorrow we're booked to take the Cumberes & Toltec steam excursion train to Antonito CO. We're looking forward to the experience and will report via an update to this posting.
Fri, 25 Sep: We ride the rails...
A long day! We had to set that alarm thingie and arise before the sun. Today we are taking a ride aboard the Cumberes & Toltec Scenic Railroad. This steam railroad is the longest and highest narrow gauge railroad in North America. Its 65 miles of track winds thru some spectaular scenery and climbs to more than 10,000' at its highest point.
We drove from the Sky Mountain RV Park to the nearby Chamas Station where we picked up our tickets and boarded a coach for the 1½ hour drive to Antonito Colorado, the starting point of the westbound train. We could have boarded an eastbound train at Chamas, but with the bus ride back it would have been a late day.
After many photo ops of the steam locomotive and our restored period cars we boarded a parlor car and found our seats. Our car had an attendant who dutifully kept us well watered and (if we had blown our diet doing so) on a donut sugar high. The train pulled out of the station at ten sharp with much whistle blowing and chuffing and puffing.
The first portion of the ride was mostly on a plateau. We steadily climbed and soon found ourselves in more mountainous terrain. Our 1920's vintage engine was working hard and the plumbs of black smoke and coal dust drifted back and into our car. Riding behind a steam locomotive is very nostalgic but dirty business.
As we climbed the scenery became more and more interesting, accented by the Aspens starting to turn color at the higher elevations. Several tunnels and switchbacks later we stopped at Osier where we met the eastbound train and enjoyed an included buffet lunch. It was very good, and amazingly enough the food was fresh and hot.
From Osier we continued to climb to the high point of the trip, Cumbres at an elevation of 10,015'. From there on it was all downhill as we descended a 4% grade into Chama. We arrived back at the Chama station about 1615, got in our car and headed home.
It was the last nite of the caravan and our hosts provided an excellent hamburger cookout with all the fixings. For us it was also good-bye time as we will not be continuing to Farmington NM with the rest of the group. They're heading to Farmington for an FMCA Rocky Mountain Regional Rally while we head back south to Albuquerque for the Balloon Fest.
Sat, 26 Sep: We bid farewell to our Anasazi Hosts...
We decided to stay an additional nite at the Sky Mountain RV Park in beautiful Chama. We are really enjoying this quiet park and the great fall weather in north central New Mexico. Being at almost 7,500' altitude keeps things cool during the day and downright "bracing" overnite (lows in the high 30s).
This morning we slept in, which was a real luxury after yesterday's early wake up. After breakfast we drove the car north of Chama along the railroad to get pix of the 1000 eastbound train. There were several crossings and vantage points along CO 17 and we were rewarded with a beautiful morning and the train had two steam locomotives at the head end. The train was longer (weekend?) than ours and the two engines were really working to climb that 4% grade.
We're now back at the coach, the lone representatives of the 2015 Anasazi Roving Rally. We're looking forward to a quiet day to get some chores done. We'll catch up on laundry, top up our fresh water tank and dump our holding tank in preparation for the two weeks we'll be boondocking in Albuquerque.
Tomorrow we'll head back south along US 84 to I 25 and the big city.