A Quick Trip to New Mexico (Part One)

In my last post I mentioned that I was going be going with my sister Bonnie on her first road trip with her new to her RV. As I had mentioned she’s becoming a full-time RV year working at her job as an occupational therapist, using her RV as her home base. She is what they refer to as a traveling therapist. She will get short-term contracts usually a minimum of 13 weeks and sometimes longer as a temporary fill-in for either people on medical leave for until they can fill the spot permanently. She had done this for about 5 1/2 years (several years ago), and is now ready to go back on the road again. Her goal is to be south in the winter and further north in the summer. With that being said she was headed for her first winter assignment in “Las Cruces, New Mexico”. We left on October 16 midday, with the goal of getting somewhere in central Illinois by the evening. The plan was that Bonnie was going to do all, or at least most of the driving. I was just going to copilot and help with picking campgrounds and navigating our route. A spoiler alert she did a wonderful job, (with basically no issues) she was a little tense and nervous at first but towards the end of the trip got quite relaxed and confident in her ability to do this on her own. Here’s a photo of her rig at one of our stops as were making her first mountain pass crossing.20191023_102742The plan was to allow ourselves some time so we did not have to rush and could enjoy the trip along the way. The trip consisted about 1500 or 1600 miles depending on the route we took. We were hoping to arrive no later than the 23th of October, that gave us seven or eight days to do the trip which is a nice leisurely pace (In my opinion). After the first day driving, we stopped overnight in a wayside, so that she could experience that side of traveling and save a night of camping fees. I do this quite regularly when I’m going from point A to point B and do not want to fork out for a campsite. I have no problem sleeping in a wayside or truck stop. At the most I might put earplugs in if there’s a noisy truck next to me and after a night’s sleep I’m on the road again. But for her it was a very restless night because of the noises of the traffic and the trucks running nearby. I don’t picture her doing this very often but she did get a little taste of it. The next day we made a short day of travel stopping just after a couple hours at St. Louis to visit the Gateway Arch.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We parked on the Illinois side of the Mississippi and use the Metro train service to drop us off close to the arch. This way we did not have to deal with trying to park the rig anywhere near the arch itself. I had been by the arch numerous times before but never stop to actually explore. We had been talking about places we wanted to stop along the way and check out, to break up the trip and make it an enjoyable one. This was one we could both agree on. It was a lot of fun and it was a cool experience on a perfect day. It’s interesting how this was built. It’s a metal structure that does experience quite a bit of lightning strikes during thunderstorms. Here’s a few spectacular pictures from the outside.20191017_14230720191017_14214320191017_142221

You can pre-buy tickets ahead of time online and schedule a time that you would show up. Then you wouldn’t have to wait for your time to come up. But we didn’t choose to do that, not knowing when or if we were going to get there. Being a week day and with school back in session it was not overly busy and we didn’t have to wait too long. There is a nice Museum that talks about the history of the area and the building of the arch to enjoy while you wait for your time to come, for your ride to the top. We probably had about an hour and a half wait. When your time comes you wait in line and get assigned to cars that you’ll go up in. 20191017_130023

The cars will only hold five people per car, it’s like climbing in a big commercial dryer. There’s not much room in these little cars. Here’s a picture of the door that you will climb in. It’s only 4 feet tall.20191017_132846

I could not get a very good picture but here’s one of the people exiting.20191017_133403

Here’s one after we climbed in and you can see how close we are together, “sorry this one’s a little blurry”.20191017_133448

Here’s one of a couple of the ladies that we had talked to while waiting in line. They road up with us to the top. They were on a work conference trip together from the east coast. There were eight ladies in the group, three went up with us and five were in their own car. A couple of them were a little nervous, but they did find.20191017_133518

It takes 4 1/2 minutes to get up to the top and only 3 1/2 to get back down. It’s a combination of an elevator, Ferris wheel and cable car combined and is the only one of its type in the world. When you get to the top you still have to climb a few steps to get to the actual observation deck. Here Bonnie is standing on the stairs that you have to climb up and down to get into the elevator cars.20191017_140721

Once you get to the top you can spend as much time as you’d like and you can move across and lookout all the little windows. It’s interesting but the windows are only 7″ x 21″ but you can climb right up close and look out them and get spectacular views of the surrounding area. Here’s what it looks like at the top of the observation deck.20191017_134653  It’s 630 feet from the ground.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA  On this day as you looked out the windows you got a spectacular view of the city beyond.


20191017_13432020191017_134146And if you look off to the east you can see the muddy Mississippi.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA20191017_134104It sits right along the riverbank; it is called the Gateway Arch because it’s the Gateway to the West. If you look downward from the Windows it’s a long way to the bottom. 20191017_134601But you get some real cool views. 20191017_134235After we got done spending several hours exploring this interesting attraction, we walked back to the train station to await the train back to the rig. It was kind of a cool looking train station and the trains moved along quite fast. 20191017_143945

 At this time, we were done exploring the area and headed off, trying to beat the afternoon rush hour. This was Bonnie’s first experience dealing with city traffic and she did just fine. Here’s a picture of the traffic, it wasn’t overly congested. 


There are several routes you can take from Wisconsin to New Mexico and they are all fairly good. We chose to go to St. Louis then head west to Kansas City and start working our way down towards Wichita. Avoiding many of the larger cities and enjoying the open countryside. After visiting the arch, the plan was to do a short day of traveling and we stopped east of Kansas City for the night. I found a state park right off the interstate for the night and we had a relaxing evening. The next day we hit the road, timing it so when we went through Kansas City and Topeka, we would avoid the rush hour traffic which worked out fine. That evening we stayed in a little city park just outside of Wichita and had another relaxing evening. By the fourth day we got to the Panhandle part of Oklahoma. We drove off the highway a fairways’ not sure exactly if we were headed in the right direction, because the GPS and the phone were giving us two different routes to take, we were on small town roads. We were headed to Black Mesa State Park in the far northwest corner of the Oklahoma Panhandle. This was a beautiful little park and well worth the side trip to get there. Here are some photos of the lake at the park. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA20191019_170739We got to do a little exploring of the area and some stargazing at night, this is a very dark spot of the country, very good & beautiful for star watching. The first two days we did under 300 miles, the next two were slightly over 300 miles. With that being said we were making great time and weren’t sure how far we would go on the fifth day. There wasn’t a lot we wanted to do or see in the area. We did want to stop at Roswell and Carlsbad, and do some exploring there but that still was a long way away. There was no reason to overdo. I must say it is a lot of fun to just be copilot and watch the scenery and check the web to see where you might want to stop next and not worry about the traffic or road conditions that much. I truly enjoyed it. That’s it for part one of the trip. Thanks for coming along and if you want to see how the rest went read my next post safe travels & “Best Wishes to One and All” Rick


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