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).
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.