Day 188 – New Mexico North, June 3, 2011
Today turned into more of a maintenance and travel day than a scenic drive day. By the time I finished using the free wi-fi at McDonald’s, fueled up VANilla, loaded up on groceries, and caught up with a few folks while I had good cell service in Durango, it was past noon and I hadn’t begun driving to Angel Peak Recreation Area, my first stop on my scenic drive through the northern portion of New Mexico.
Angel Peak is a monolith that resembles an angel with outstretched wings. I didn’t really see the resemblance, but it didn’t much matter given the pastel painted badlands beneath the rock is where the beauty lay. Petey and I bounced in VANilla along the dirt road near the rim of the canyon as tumbleweeds flew over the top of us. I’ve never seen a tumbleweed fly, I thought they always tumbled! While we took a very short walk by a remote campground, the area peppered with as many gas wells as picnic areas wasn’t laced with formal hiking trails, but simply offered an expanse of land on which to wander around. I prefer trails, so instead I just sat at the picnic table and let Petey do some exploring. I think it may have been his favorite part of the day. He plopped down in the shade and rested…some adventurer he is.
We continued east and briefly considered stopping at Navajo Lake State Park; however, it was 15 miles north of the Highway 64 and the map of the park only displayed one trail. The next suggested place to visit was the Jicarilla Apache Indian Reservation. The book suggests to follow Routes J-8, J-15, and 537 on a scenic loop past five sparkling lakes tucked beneath hills peppered in pinyon pines. I only managed to spot a bunch of dirt roads without names and chose not to accidentally drive unlawfully across Indian land. Instead, I stopped at a historical marker. “The Jicarilla Apache agreed to settle on a reservation in 1851, but unratified treaties and local politics hampered the process of obtaining a reservation for 36 years. President Grover Cleveland finally issued the Executive Order which established a permanent home for the Jicarilla on February 11, 1887.”
On the northeast side of the reservation, is Dulce, a town where many of the Jicarilla reside. I let Petey stretch his legs at the visitor center’s park before we continued on through Tierra Amarilla and Cebolla where we found an area in the Carson National Forest to camp for the night, not a developed campground but a space off the side of the road that with a rock, campfire ring has clearly been used as a camping spot previously. I enjoyed a lovely sunset from my bedroom window. ETB