4/15/2011 – Day Nine – Albuquerque to Santa Fe – 72 Miles

After a very relaxing night, we ate breakfast and Diana spent some more time in Old Town while I did some business at the bank.  The main Wells Fargo bank here is in a big multi-story building and the staff were very helpful.  I felt right at home.

We took off toward Santa Fe with the wind whipping around us again, blowing dust clouds up into the air and obscuring the beautiful mountains.

Arriving in Santa Fe, we decided we would try spending a night at the park the ranger recommended — Hyde Memorial State Park.  As we were driving through town, I plugged the address into our GPS and was surprised to see the altitude here is over 7,000 feet.

It was about an 8-mile drive to the park, through pine covered hillsides, up a fairly steep road.  We arrived at the campsites and were amazed to discover we would be spending the night slightly above 8,500 feet!  We set up camp and then took a drive continuing up the two-lane road which was surprisingly busy.  Finally, after reaching 9,677 feet, we turned around and returned to camp where we had a new neighbor — a young guy with a Subaru, all by himself.

He had a campfire going so we asked him where he got the wood.  He had purchased it in Santa Fe, but told us he had seen wood at the closed National Forest campground just down the road.

Diana and I “liberated” some cut wood that was piled up at the empty facility as well as a couple of big logs.  Back at camp we gave our neighbor some of what we had gathered and I loaned him our axe so he could split a big log.  He did a masterful job of using the axe and then offered us some of the split wood.  Soon after that he was in our campsite using moss and flint (!) to start our fire.

We started talking and found out he was a server in Santa Fe, and currently living out of his car since he and his girlfriend had broken up.  (Do you know that he gets paid $2.18 an hour plus tips, which in this economy is awful.  Servers even have to split tips with the bartenders.)  We spent the rest of the evening together enjoying the fire he had built and listening to his story.  When the fire was dying down and we began to get cold, we said goodnight and slipped into the teardrop.  It was cold enough that we kept our clothes on!  The forecast said it might drop to the high 20’s and I believe it was accurate.

I can’t type under the covers, so aloha from high in the New Mexican mountains!

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