Spring Break 2000

Well, this trip was sort of a strange one. The usual suspects all had different schedules this year and so it was just Lolli, myself and the dog heading out. It so happened that there was a conference at Ghost Ranch, New Mexico, that Lolli wanted to attend. I wanted to experience some substantial travel with my new Vanagon/Subaru combo and the dog? Well, she just likes to travel.


We hit the road March 22nd. leaving Elk, Ca. at seven in the morning. At one thirty the next afternoon we were passing through Santa Fe, New Mexico!! We did stop for five hours of sleep somewhere east of Needles, Ca. during this high speed, low level run! Pushing the Vanagon at 75 mph for hours on end resulted in gas mileage of 17.5 to 18 mpg.

By the way, regular gas in Needles cost $2.11 per gallon!

We stayed two nights at some friends in White Rock, New Mexico, up by Los Alamos and then it was time for Lolli's conference. We zipped on up to Abiguiu and then to Ghost Ranch a few miles to the north.

Lolli unloaded her stuff at the conference center, kissed me good bye, and then the dog and I headed out for...

Ronnie's Excellent Adventure!

I had Friday, Saturday and Sunday before me to go poke around in the sticker bush country! E-ha!

Looking at the New Mexico Delorme Map Lolli bought me for my birthday I noticed an interesting looking road heading out along the Chama River. Away the dog and I go.

Interesting road!

The road is all adobe. The week before there had been rain and snow and the road had obviously been a mess. Now it had pretty much dried out.

I found that if I strattled the ruts my Subaru oil pan had plenty of clearance!

We arrived down alongside the Chama river which was chocolate brown with silt. A beautiful tree and a wonderful spot but I wanted to camp more out in the open. Moving on I finally arrived at the end of the road where the Benedictine Monastery "Christ of the Desert" is located. I took a quick look and then turned around.

Rattling along I notice an interesting arch on the face of a sandstone bluff. The dog and I took a hike up a sandy wash towards this feature.

This image doesn't do it justice but it was huge. The few trees you can see on the slope in the foreground are probably 10 to 14 feet tall.

Coming back down the road we come upon a rock that had tumbled down onto the road sometime since we had passed by a few hours earlier!!

I guess luck is all in the timing!!

I noticed the dog starting to pay more attention to the rocks hovering along the cliff edges!

After our fun filled day of adventure we found a nice spot overlooking the Chama River and kicked back.

The best part was that we still had two more days ahead of us!

Finally, Sunday afternoon, I picked up Lolli at the conference center and then it was four days of visiting weaving studios, Art Galleries and museums in Taos and Santa Fe. Thursday we started heading for home but zipped down through Phoenix so Lolli could visit the Herd Museum. We got back to Elk April 2nd with 3,388 miles on the odometer!

We couldn't be happier with the Vanagon/Subaru. The camping features of the Vanagon are wonderful. We operated the refrigerator with 12 volts while driving and switched over to propane when camped. Once I figured out how to watch for the LED to light up on the control panel, when trying to start the refrigerator in the propane mode, made it a snap. The bed is very comfortable and we were warm even though it snowed while in the Taos area! The swivel front seats are great when camping - the bus becomes one big room!

The Subaru engine didn't miss a beat. We did quite a bit of washboard road and evidently my wire harness doesn't have any cold solder joints!! I would have shook it loose if there were! The best gas mileage I got was 22.6 while driving around in the Taos area. Keeping the speed down to around 50 mph makes a lot of difference.
Gas in New Mexico cost around $1.47.9

No oil leaks and no loss of coolant. I'm a happy guy!

We got back and I discovered, via my answering machine, that our Spring Break traveling partners, Ed and Suzanne, had just purchased a 1991 Subaru Legacy engine for their 1985 Vanagon. Oh boy, the adventures will continue!!

For information about Ghost Ranch


For information about "Christ in the Desert" monastery.


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