Day Seventeen // Jemez Springs, NM.

By Maggie -- May 07, 2014

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It's not all sunshine and roses when you're on a roadtrip.

Once we left Durango, nothing went according to plan. Several people had told us we could not miss going to Chaco Culture National Park - to walk around the ancient ruins was a life changing experience apparently. The further south we drove, the worse the weather became. We got to the entrance of the Park and turned our radio to the local AM channel, which advised us that if there was any sort of rain at all, we should not risk driving into the park. From the highway, the road to the park entrance itself is 20 miles of very rough dirt road, not suitable for RVs, and could take up to an hour to drive. We called the visitor center for more info and they advised us to "not enter the park at this time". We were bummed and without a backup plan. 

Not too far away on our map was Santa Fe National Forest with what appeared to be almost 20 campgrounds scattered throughout it, along with hot springs, lakes and hiking. Perfect! So off we drove, expecting to be set up and making dinner in just a couple of hours. After driving through a small farming town called Cuba, we began to climb in elevation into the mountains, and noticed that we had not seen another car for miles going in either direction. Then things got wet n' wild: the weather went from cloudy to rainy to... snowy! The highway turned into a dirt road full of potholes. We suddenly found ourselves in the middle of the mountains, in 30 degree weather, driving 3mph through wet dirt, dodging huge road-work vehicles, hoping to god that there wasn't a dead end up ahead that would force us to turn around. Basically we felt like this.  

Every campsite we came to was closed. Finally making it to "dry land" after two hours of off-roading, we stopped at the ranger station, where a bright-eyed park ranger was just leaving on his bike. He informed us that there was a year-round campground a little lower in elevation right outside of Jemez Springs, about 6 miles away - SWEET JESUS! 

We parked and set up quickly and didn't even speak to each other. I was sick with a terrible cold that Ryan had so graciously given me, but Ryan was awake and had energy left, so he went solo to check out the only bar in town (Called Los Ojos or "The Eyes") where the ranger said he would be that night. I passed out in 2 seconds flat and slept for 11 hours. 

Waking up the next morning we were both thankful to be out of the crappy weather but still not sure where we were or what we were going to do next. It felt like the state of New Mexico was sending us signals to get the hell out of there. First thing's first: COFFEE. That's about the one thing we can rely on every single day, and it will never let us down! And then we study the map, pick a place, and move on.