Friday, June 14, 2013

The Great Darby Road Trip - Day 23

Mike Darby, well-known British car restorer and SABCC'er is on the road his newly-restored 1959 MGA roadster with daughter Stella, undertaking the dream trip of a lifetime. The Darby duo will be traveling from their Alabama Gulf Coast home to Southern California, then up the Pacific Coast to Oregon and then back to the Heart of Dixie. 

Stella has kindly agreed to send along a daily report of their progress as well as observations of the people and places that make up our nation.
After a reasonably early departure from Farmington, we followed Highway 64 through northern New Mexico most of the day. Varied terrain made it an interesting drive. From sandy high desert we drove up and up into lush mountains. Green meadows and conifer and aspen forest made the air cool and fresh.
At about 10,000 feet, it was a bit thin too! Madge simply could not speed up the steep hills but that’s just as well – sharp bends abounded. Mike adjusted the gas mixture before we left Farmington but had to play with the idle speed on the road to stop the car dying in traffic. Tomorrow we’ll have to readjust it as we descend to lower elevations. The starter motor definitely sounds worse for wear…fingers crossed it makes it home. Otherwise we (I mean, Mike) will resort to the trusty crank handle for the final legs of the journey.

In forested areas we spotted a couple of elk. On the way over theTaos Mesa we crossed the Rio Grande, carving an impressive canyon. Skies ahead threatened as we passed a remarkable community of eco-houses, off-grid and built from recycled materials. The dark clouds were a mixture of dust, smoke from a fire in Los Alamos to the south, and thunderstorms (which would hopefully put it out!). News said a rare dust storm happened today in Albuquerque, further south
along the interstate route we’d decided against.

After some tense moments approaching the menacing weather, we stopped to put the top up. Of course this ensured no further rain! We stopped in Taos, with its distinctive pueblo buildings, for lunch and coffee. The local arts and crafts scene is so vibrant we couldn’t resist some shop browsing. Heading out of town we passed lots of pleasant canyon campgrounds and steered carefully round lots of curves. The elevation and breeze made it chilly enough for a jacket – a big change from yesterday! In Cimarron Canyon 
Mike dipped his feet in the river.

Further east, the scenery changed dramatically where the Rockies meet the plains. Our final 85 miles ploughed practically straight across flat, empty scrubland. Pretty antelope grazing at dusk caused us to keep vigilant eyes open, but thankfully none leapt into our path. In Clayton tonight, the sky outside our family-run motel is very dark indeed, showing plenty of stars along with the crescent moon.

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