While driving to Albuquerque from Roswell, the desert landscape left me awestruck. Prairie grass and sage cover the red dirt of the desert. Dotting the land are thousands of Pinyon Pines. Today is the first time I saw mountains on the trip.
Entering New Mexico from Texas, first stopping in Roswell, and now in Albuquerque, my route has mostly been determined by weather. My near term goal is Sedona Arizona. Much of this part of the country is having very high winds. North and northwest of here have nightly temperatures below freezing. Operating the coach in sub-freezing temperatures is something I still need to learn. South of here is too hot with temperatures already climbing into the 90s in southern NM. I am trying to find a route with winds below 25 mph, and temperatures between 40 degrees and 75 degrees.
The websites I’ve used most on this tour are the Weather Channel and Google Maps. The weather website helps me decide where to go next, finding a place that is neither freezing or sweltering and also not being blown away. Google Maps lets me know far the destination is so I don’t end up driving more than 200 miles a day. After waking up this morning, I changed my mind to drive north instead of west, and headed to Albuquerque. The winds here are not as bad as other places in the area and the temperature should only dip down to 40 degrees. How the early pioneers traveled west in their Conestoga Wagons without internet access is beyond my understanding.
Today’s drive was still windy. Strong gusty winds buffeted the coach the entire way. Half way here, the cruise control suddenly shut off. Three error messages illuminated on the instrument panel. One said ESP, the second Take to Shop. The third was an icon of a tire. I thought, this can’t be good. The messages where the first ones I’ve ever seen since I got the rig.
In several online forums for the type of RV I have, I’ve read about others who had similar experiences in high winds. I figured ESP did not mean extra sensory perception. I hoped the error messages would go away. Hope is not a plan, and the messages remained. I pulled off the road, and did the standard electrical engineering reset. That reset is turning everything off, and then turning everything back on and hope the problem goes away. When I restarted the engine, the error messages cleared. I drove the rest of the way without using the cruise control. My best guess is that constantly changing high winds affected the speed sensor inputs for the cruise control.
Back in June 2007, during the third day of the “Chasing the Great Divide” bicycle tour from Lordsburg New Mexico to Jasper Alberta, we cycled from Quemado to Grants NM. We had a 45 mph tailwind, and I was riding along at 35 mph without even pedaling. We covered 84 miles in four hours with almost no effort. Just like a scene out of “Return of the Mummy”, I remember seeing a 200 yard wide, five foot high wave of sand blowing over the desert floor. The winds knocked out the power in our hotel in Grants for three hours, and hurricane force winds of 100 mph plastered the northwest part of the state with sand. Maybe New Mexico is always this windy.
Tomorrow I will check the weather again and decide between heading north to Sante Fe and Taos, or west towards WInslow Arizona on Monday.
As for the UFO crash in Roswell, here is a link that describes what really happened there. Although the UFO story is a lot more fun, the crash vehicle was actually a sturdy high altitude balloon from project Mogul. “Project Mogul used sturdy high-altitude balloons to carry low-frequency sound sensors into the tropopause, a faraway part of the Earth’s atmosphere that acts as a sound channel. In this part of the atmosphere, sound waves can travel for thousands of miles without interference, much like under the ocean. The scientists believed that if they sent microphones into this sound channel, they would be able to eavesdrop on nuclear tests as far away as the Soviet Union.” – from History.com. The real story might be more interesting than the UFO stories.
This part of NM is where the acclaimed TV show Breaking Bad took place. I think I will head out now and see if I can find Walter White, and Gus the Chicken Man. Oh, they are both dead, maybe I can still find Jesse. Since I arrived in New Mexico, I keep hearing the same birds that chirp at the very end of the show’s introduction.