In late November it was time to return to Albuquerque, New Mexico to retrieve our vehicles from storage and get out to camp somewhere for the weekend.
Day 1 Thursday – A quick flight from Houston to Albuquerque on a Thursday night followed by an Uber ride to our storage lot and we were ready to get to a spot to sleep for the night. Eduardo had found a casino right outside of town that had a 24hr restaurant and plenty of parking so we headed there. We had a quick bite inside the casino and then made our way to our vehicles to get some sleep.
Day 2 Friday – The next morning we got on the road headed toward Jemez Springs, New Mexico and stopped at Kris + Kat’s restaurant located in Jemez Pueblo for quick burrito along the way. If you need firewood be sure to stop at Walatowa Timber Industries in Jemez Pueblo, they have a really nice burning fir firewood sold by the cubic foot so we loaded up as much as we could. We would end up using this batch of wood for the next two trips with great success. Be sure to take advantage of the gas station to top off your fuel as you leave Jemez Pueblo. It is always good to make sure you are topped off when headed into an area you have never been before or when you need a specific fuel such as diesel as not all gas stations carry it.
A bit further down the road we pulled over to talk a bit at a roadside rest stop and snap a few shots of the landscape around us.
As we made our way further down the road toward Jemez Springs we started getting into snow. Eduardo quickly pulled over and we took a moment to reflect on the fact that we were now going to be in for a cool change of weather and scenery. Seriously this is what makes road trips and traveling in general fun. You may find along the way that you never know what may happen to spark an interesting moment that reminds you of how lucky you are in life to have the opportunity and means to roam.
Abel found a natural hot spring that he said we should check out named Spence Hot Spring so we pulled off the main road to check it out. By now my Texas born bones were freezing and when Abel mentioned it was a bit of a hike I proceeded to bundle up at which point about 5 minutes into thermal underwear, wool socks, finding my gloves and of course a quick potty break I noticed the guys had already left down the trail without me.
As I headed down the trail to try to catch up with the guys all I could think about was how I would find them unprepared and freezing because they did not bundle up properly for the hike. I of course was wrong they were just fine.
The view of the water running through the landscape was truly picturesque and we took our time taking in all of our surroundings. The trail was very icy so we had to make sure we were paying attention where we stepped so that we would not slip and fall.
A small bridge crossed the creek so we stopped for a few pictures, those blurry guys behind me are Abel and Eduardo.
After a bit more hiking up a slippery hillside we reached a two level natural hot spring. Since it was absolutely freezing cold outside the warm water was really nice to dip your hands in.
The view from the hot spring was gorgeous and once again we spoke a bit about how cool it was that just one day ago we were in Houston, Texas at work like normal and today were in such a beautiful place. As we made our way back down the hillside I slipped on a patch of ice and took a fall like you can not believe. I saw my brand new hiking boots go up in front of me and then heard full on laughter from my concerned buddies.
On our journey to our off grid campsite in the middle of some BLM land we were asked by a local what our plans were. When Abel told her we planned to camp on the mountain in the snow she simply smirked and asked “WHY?” lol. As we searched for a spot to camp my 2WD Sprinter van came across roads not wide enough to turn around on. Both Abel and Eduardo would then proceed to guide me backwards, talk about fun.
We eventually found a spot worthy of Eduardo and Abel’s complicated calculations for our survival in this blistering snow. We had zero cell phone signal for a distress call and no experience camping it what seemed to me like the worst conditions possible for a relaxing camp spot. As my body fought off certain frostbite I ate the best survival burger ever cooked up by Abel.
Day 3 Saturday – After 17 degree over night weather to my surprise I woke up with 10 functional toes and frozen porta potty in my van. In speaking with Eduardo about his nights sleep it seems that he was able to stay very warm in his truck bed camper because he had a very small area to keep warm with his buddy propane heater.
Early mornings I have a routine that is like clockwork, to be honest I was ready to get off the mountain and partake in part of that morning ritual at the nearest clean restroom. Unfortunately the other guys in my camp wanted to hang out in the snow and make breakfast.
Libby the 1987 VW Vanagon
After the guys decided we could get off the mountain before more snowfall set in we made our way out of the BLM area. As the guys turned onto the road my Sprinter slide backwards and I got stuck. I exited the vehicle and before I could say much about a plan to get unstuck I fell again, this time I fell on my arm and ribs in a way that I know I will never be right again. More laughter from the peanut gallery as they ask why I was wearing sneakers and not my hiking boots. I proceeded to explain to them that the sneakers are my “Driving Shoes”, I like to be comfortable.
Finally out of the heavy snow we found a small local pizza place that had fantastic pizza. We asked the owner how he ended up on the mountain and proceeded to tell us that he came to visit from San Francisco one time and loved the area so much that he never left.
We traveled for a few hours and made it down a washboard road to our next camp spot named Diablo Canyon. Note: This road will rattle the heck out of your vehicle so if possible try to go at least 30 mph if you have a newer vehicle with a German suspension.
Another beautiful view.. blah blah blah lol.
We get settled in and Abel finds the perfect instagram spot for Libby.
Taking advantage of a cell phone signal I call home to check in to see if anything happened important while I was gone like maybe my son getting a good wrestling win, something else broken at the house or maybe that publishers clearing house sweepstakes finally found our front door. Nothing new so loves and kisses to the wife and son and back to important stuff like discussing what Eduardo is making for dinner.
As I watched Eduardo make the ribeye steaks I could not help notice he was using the same fingers he was holding his booger rag with to smear butter on what I would be eating tonight. I kept quite and that booger steak was one of the best steaks I have ever eaten in my life. On to what would be now known as Abel’s famous camp corn which holds a special place in my heart, if you have never had roasted camp corn, butter and some Tony Chachere seasoning you have not lived.
Stars and more stars filled the night as we all talked about wild women, fast cars…..no really we just talked about boring stuff like how much firewood we had left for the next trip. Did I mention that Eduardo accidentally spilled his pee bottle in his camper? Hilarious!!!
Day 4 Sunday – We arose to a bit of early morning snow, we made a quick breakfast and took a few snap shots before leaving our camp site. Our plan for the day would be to head back to Albuquerque to wash our vehicles, grab a quick shower then make our way to the storage unit on our way to the airport. Unfortunately sometimes things do not always go as planned.
The Ta truck stop incident: For a few years now I have showered at Travel America truck stops while on road trips. The normal ritual is go in, pay for a shower, take a nice hot shower, change and leave. We arrived at the Albuquerque, NM Travel Across America Truck stop and Abel and I proceeded to go in separately to buy showers. We did so without problems, Eduardo however had reached the TA a bit later than us after hitting the local car wash and the manager at the TA told him he needed a CDL license to buy a shower. As we exited the shower area we found Eduardo upset at the fact that he was not allowed to buy a shower. After speaking to the manager she told us that that particular TA has strict rules because of previous vandalism, drug overdoses, and various other criminal activity in the showers. For that reason she suggested Eduardo try the Love’s truck stop showers 12 miles out of town. Eduardo having always been known for a calm and collect persona simply left and spent his dollars at Love’s. Due to that policy we made a rule to not spend another dollar at the TA in Albuquerque, NM.
Total Trip Hours: 72 – ROAM72 – Join the ROAM