Day 20, Mile 2436 Chama NM
Oh Pine Trees! And thee smell so good, even in the rain. There are clouds covering the mountain tops, but you can see the moon coming thru. It’s chilly and will get chillier during the night. And, it’s hunting season.
Am here at an RV park for a couple of nights. Tomorrow I have a ticket to ride the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Narrow Gauge Railroad (3 ft wide). I take a bus up to Antonito CO in the morning, board the westbound train at 10 a.m.
The day driving went pretty fast. I came by the 4 Corners and wanted to go but their is a $3 entrance fee charged by the Navajo Tribe and I only had $2 cash, no credit cards used. Pretty commercialized around the Corners too. By the time I drove down to Teec Nos Pos AZ to use the ATM machine, I decided there would be another time to visit and kept going through Shiprock and Farmington NM. Big oil and gas areas since the 1950’s. I came along US64 entering the Carson National Forest and seeing pine trees! Too bad back in Kansas, the oil wells and storage tanks aren’t more environmental friendly like they are here. You hardly noticed them as the pumpers were those systems you just barely see or if they used the familiar pumpers they were painted to blend in with the background. Same with the storage tanks - painted green or sand or brown color. Ours are black, or dull red, or dull or faded blue - they stand out anyway. And the systems I saw here were clean around their areas. Okay off my soapbox. The Chama Valley is a beautiful mountain meadow area.
Day 21, Chama NM
The ride on the train was awesome. I have been wanting to ride on that particular train ride since the 70’s and I finally got to do it. I started at Antonito CO and rode all the way through to Chama. It’s a long day staring at 10 a.m. and finishing at around 4:30p.m. We took an hour for a wonderful lunch at Oiser CO so that broke it up. The train winds and turns and winds and turns upon itself as that is how the steam locomotives had to climb up to the 10,015’ summit at Cumbres. The east side of the mountains to the summit was created by volcanic activity and on the other side it was glaciers that carved out the valleys, leaving behind deposits of large boulders here and there. The west side is a 4% grade down into the Rio Chama Valley and the east side is less than half that, if I remember correctly. We saw some deer but ohhhhhhh the aspens. They haven’t reached their beautiful orange colors yet, but the yellows were starting. Many forests of aspen were still green, so in a few weeks it is going to be beautiful. I was glad I went, but glad I wasn’t around in the days when passengers rode the train!