This is a continuation of We Went Platinum – Part I
The road trip begins from Flagstaff at 5:00 AM on Sept 19, 2009. We knew it was going to be a long day. It is not often we are on the road before the sun comes up. We motored East at legal speeds and then headed south on AZ 191. We went down this a little ways until we hit AZ 61 East which turns into NM 53 at the border.We arrived at the border and documented our crossing at 8:09 AM.
Here is Johnny at the NM Border.
We were starting to get hungry and thought we would stop for some pancakes in Zuni Pueblo and get some gas as well. When we arrived there was only one restaurant in town. No one knew quite when it would open. We had to opt for some boxed donuts instead and continued on our journey.
We continued on until we hit El Morro National Monument. This place rocked, no pun intended. It is a sandstone bluff that had reliable water.
Johnny with the pose of the El Morro Bluffs
Water is everything in an arid environment. Just ask anyone that has gone thirsty on a hike. They don’t make that mistake again.
This is Johnny @ the El Morro Tank
This means many people traveled over time to this place on their journeys to other areas. The cool thing is that many inscribed names or pictures into the sandstone.
Johnny in front of inscriptions
There were three Earthcaches here and one Virtual. We spent well over an hour walking around and snapping pictures and taking down information.
The Woodpecker of El Morro
It was getting warmer and clouds were beginning to build about. In Flagstaff we had been getting some afternoon storms again, was NM the same?
We left El Morro and continued on NM 53 towards our next objective. This was the one that convinced Johnny to come along. He heard the name and being a huge Batman fan was mesmerized. The Earthcache here was “The Bat Cave of El Calderone“. It is in an area of cinder cones and lava tubes. We pulled up in the sprinkling rain and were going for it when a big flash of ligntening and the boom of thunder shook the car. Looking out on the proposed hike in the open wasn’t very promising now. We started up the car again and were beginning to get a little hungry. So off to Grants, NM we headed.
In Grants we asked around for a good place to eat. The gentlmen said the best in town was El Cafecito on Rt 66. So off we headed to grab a bite to eat. The food was excellent.
Johnny enjoying his Sopapilla a little to much.
Wonderful Mexican food NM style. They served it with sopapillas instead of tortillas. We spent a good hour sucking down iced tea and enjoying our food. I was trying to figure out if we should just head back or grab a few more Earthcaches. We figured that since we were already here we should continue. Back in the car and South we headed.
I had loaded up a pocket query of the area and a cache was on the GPSr. We weren’t here for geocaches but thought we would get one anyway. We hopped out of the car and Johnny led the way. We were getting close and we heard something we had never heard while Geocaching before. We both froze and then Johnny jumped back. He had almost stepped on a very upset Rattlesnake. After we gained our composure, checked our undies, we watched it. It was the perfect learning opportunity. We watched it rattle at us for a good five minutes. The closer we came the more it rattled. The farther away we went the less it buzzed. Now the question. To get the cache that was behind it? I sidestepped around as Johnny watched, I got close and grabbed the cache and signed the log and put it back. A very close call for sure, but a great experience for both of us.
The Guardian of the Cache!!
Back in the car and south we headed to El Malpais National Monument. Here the first stop was atop some sandstone bluffs that overlooked a rather large lava flow.
Johnny getting the smiley while wearing a smiley
The cool part about this location was not only the Earthcache, but a Virtual and Benchmark as well. We like benchmarking but don’t ever get to as many as we would like. We are usually to pooped to climb up the hills they are on. We grabbed these and off we ran back into the car.
Next we were headed to a natural arch. We have run across a few of these and they always fascinate us. They look so strong but we know that over time they will fall. This arch was no exception.
Sometimes Johnny looks so small. This pic is one of those. Can you see the Arch?
Back in the car and now heading back North this time.
The last stop @ El Malpais was on a trail that crossed the lava flow. It linked the pueblos of Zuni with Acoma. It had been used for hundreds of years. Out of the car and towards the lava flow we headed. We have lava flows around home but none with a trail across them. Up hills, jumping cracks, dodging this and then that. It was pretty cool. Johnny just loves the jumping climbing stuff and he was in heaven here.
Johnny on the Lava Flow next to a Cairn
We followed the cairns till we were about a half mile into the flow. We fulfilled the requirements and back we went to the car. We had done a lot of this today and it was time to head back home.
Back on I-40 we headed West. Johnny was getting tired and nodding off. We stopped off and grabbed some fireworks and then picked up our last Earthcache of the day. This was on the Continental Divide of the US. Divides are an interesting concept and we gathered the information for this and continued on. I could hear Johnny snoring in the back seat. He was pooped out.
He woke up just before Holebrook, AZ and Johnny woke up hungry. I have to say I was hungry too. We hit McDonalds. While there I remembered that there was a couple of Waymarks at a certain motel. Of course we stopped just before dark and snapped a pic.
Johnny at the Wigwam Motel
We arrived home after dark after 550 miles of travel during the day. Our butts were tired but we had made it without injury or harm. After Johnny went to bed I sent in the information needed to become Platinum Eartcachers. Two weeks later our pin arrived in the mail.
Until next time,
Mark & Johnny