Sunday, January 29, 2023

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Two best 2022 travel memories: sweet and sour

Of the several pulls we made in 2022, two stand out. Both gave us good memories. However, one of them turned sour.

Beat the heat

Our first pull came in August. We usually head to the mountains of Colorado and New Mexico to beat the Texas heat. This year found us in Gunnison, CO, for two weeks followed by two weeks in Chama, NM. 

We enjoyed exploring Gunnison. Having never stayed there before, we roamed around town visiting some of the sights. We drove up to Crested Butte for the first time in twenty years. Like every other place, it is very much changed.

This trip’s highlight found us at Ghost Ranch in Abiquiu, NM. We booked the Paleontology Tour. This two-hour hike winds through the ranch to the discovery site of the state fossil Ceolophysis at 6,400 feet elevation. Gretchen Gurtler, Director of Museums, led us along the trail commenting on the flora, fauna, and native history.

This counts as our second tour at Ghost Ranch. The first was the O’Keeffe Landscape Tour a few years back. Follow that up with a trip to the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe for an insight into her work. There are actually six O’Keeffe tours, so we will definitely return.

Big Bend NP and Terlingua

Our second long-haul pull in December found us in the Big Bend National Park at Terlingua, Texas. The expanse seems desolate, yet that is deceptive. Many flora and fauna call this ecoregion home. From the wild burros and the honey mesquite along the Rio Grande to the round-tailed horn lizard and the Ice Age aspens of the Chisos Mountains, the vastness of the Big Bend supports much life.

We followed the 30-mile Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive down to the Santa Elena Canyon. Because we ride in a Ford F-250 XLT 4×4, we took the Old Maverick Road back. This is a 14-mile “improved dirt road” according to NPS. BUT, it is as washboard as they come, equally with dips and rises that challenge any high-clearance vehicle.

The bottom line: That “scenic” drive blew out a sensor. The error messages ran like credits to a cheap movie—fast and furious. We drove in limp mode pulling the trailer to Odessa at 45 mph for eight hours. The first Ford dealer asked, “Did you buy your truck from us?” I answered no. She replied in a soft voice, “Sorry, we cannot help you.” So, I limped 14 miles during morning work traffic at 40 mph to the only other Ford dealer, Ranger Ford. After five days, they found and resolved the problem, a malfunctioning brake light switch (BLS). 

Lessons learned

So, we made it back home after two round trips totaling 1,800 miles. The repair only cost $77 ($32.99 at Autozone) for the part + $300 labor. Lessons learned: 1. BiBeNP has one gas station and NO mechanics/auto parts stores. 2. If you want to travel the “improved dirt roads,” rent a jeep locally. 3. If you are mechanically inclined, go with your gut feeling. I felt that it was the BLS, but lacked the courage to replace it in Alpine, 80 miles away.

It is all a memory. Cannot wait to hit the road again. Happy travels.

##RVT1085

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Roger B
28 days ago

That dealers attitude is usually what you can expect from an RV dealer not a car dealer. I didn’t think they were allowed to refuse to repair a vehicle they sell and service.

Mike Schwab
28 days ago

When a dealer won’t fix you car, call Corporate and ask for a free tow to the next repair station.

Leonard
28 days ago

It was terrific to read your about your experience of Big Bend NP. We had the privilege of being there for three weeks last winter, also visiting Big Bend Ranch State Park. I laughed at your description of Old Maverick Road as we traveled it with our Chevy 3500. About five mph for the whole length! Terrible is an understatement!
Regardless, the stunning vistas, hikes, and dark night skies of Big Bend made it an absolutely fabulous trip! Certainly a long way from nowhere, but a trip worthwhile for anyone wanting to see absolute beauty!
PS. The best food we had was from the food truck across the street from Paisano Village RV Park. It was excellent; hope you had a chance to eat there as well!

SteveAustin
28 days ago

Thanks for the tip – I ordered a spare brake light switch.

Ray
28 days ago
Reply to  SteveAustin

I too took one of those washboard roads, many years ago thinking it was a short cut which it was but at such reduced speed it wasn’t. Lesson learned, you just don’t want to take one of those off-the-beaten-path roads in Big Bend unless 1) it is not your vehicle and 2) you don’t mind long periods of severe vibration. It is a great way to age both you and your vehicle.

Ed K
28 days ago

Did you file a complaint with Ford about the crappy way you were treated at one of their dealers? No dealer should have that attitude, people travel all the time and vehicles don’t conveniently breakdown at home.

Dale Wade
28 days ago
Reply to  Ed K

No, Ed, I did not. It is a very large dealership of all major brands across the state. The dealer did offer to get me in sometimes at the end of January, this at a week before Christmas.

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