After our stay at Brown County State Park, we headed southwest and into Missouri. I drove through beautiful rolling hillsides, around curves and through some nice little towns. I took a site at an almost deserted Mark Twain National Forest Campground outside Elsinore MO. Early the next morning, I awoke to a slight dusting of snow.
I drove carefully south into Arkansas, paying close attention to road conditions as the snow continued to gently fall. Thankfully I had no problems and arrived safely at my sister’s place for a short overnight visit by mid-afternoon.
Friday morning I headed west down Interstate 40, alongside dozens of semi-trucks, through Oklahoma and into the Texas panhandle. We spent a restful night at a busy rest area near Hedley, Texas. We’d now put over 1,500 miles behind us.
Saturday we made it to Fort Sumner New Mexico, where I was planning to tour the Billy The Kid Museum. Unfortunately it was closed temporarily for remodeling. I did get to see his grave, however. His tombstone had been stolen and recovered, so they displayed it behind bars, under locked security. Seems fitting, don’t you think?
I also got to see proof that the high plains does in fact get snow – Fort Sumner sits at just over 6,000 above sea level. Sunday morning I found around 3 inches of wet, heavy snow had fallen.
Fortunately, the roads were clear, so we continued on west as planned, driving just over 400 miles to Magdalena New Mexico and the Very Large Array of radio telescopes. The Very Large Array, one of the world’s premier astronomical radio observatories, consists of 27 radio antennas in a Y-shaped configuration on the Plains of San Agustin fifty miles west of Socorro, New Mexico. Each antenna is 25 meters (82 feet) in diameter. The data from the antennas is combined electronically to give the resolution of an antenna 36 km (22 miles) across, with the equivalent sensitivity of a dish 130 meters (422 feet) in diameter.
Perhaps this little video will give an idea of this huge installation. The tiny white dots in the distance are the telescopes, but only a third of the entire installation is shown.
My disappointment of the trip so far came at our much anticipated stop in Pie Town, NM…the famed diner was closed!!! No pie for Paul. ☹️😫
Sunday night we camped in the Cibola National Forest, west of Magdalena, NM. I learned my lesson in camping in a 9,000+ foot mountain range: when we woke up it was just 7 degrees! I couldn’t wash out my coffee maker because any water I added immediately froze!
One last stop before arriving at our destination outside Quartzsite Arizona had us spending the night 50 miles East of Phoenix, dispersed camping in the Tonto National Forest.