TOWB: Day 3, Pine Top to Albuquerque
After kind of a late night last night our drive this morning was pretty peaceful and beautiful. We set out from Pine Top to go to another P.T. town, Pie Town! The first part of our drive was through the beautiful Fort Apache Indian reservation. Forest after forest of nothing but tall straight pines and small patches of snow on the ground everywhere. It was gorgeous and mesmerizing to watch out the window. Then it was about an hour and a half driving up the west side of the continental divide until at its peak we arrived at Pie Town!
Okay, before you ask, no, pie town isn't a land of magic pies around every corner, it's really just a few restaurants(only one of which was open) along part of Route 40. The being said, it was really a lot of fun. The one restaurant that was open was called Gatherin' Place Cafe and it was almost painfully quaint. It was run by a married couple, he ran the kitchen, she waited on guests and baked the pies. There were 3 larger "family style" tables and a display case full of pies. A chalkboard menu listed the food on offer and the tableware was all disposable. It had a really nice cozy feel and it was a joy to give them our business. We both had a breakfast burrito on the recommendation of a local and we weren't disappointed. Then we both split and traded halves of a cherry pie and a blueberry butterscotch pie a la mode. Both were very delicious and it was really hard not to get another pie to go.
After heading out we just had a short drive to our main attraction for the day, the Very Large Array. The approach to the VLA was really pretty impressive, just a few minutes before we saw the first dish we were talking about how far away we thought we could see it. The main road that goes right by the VLA is incredibly straight and goes for 15 miles to the west of the site and 5 more to the east. The array can be configured in 4 different diameters by spreading the dishes out or gathering them close. The smallest configuration is A and the largest is D. As we found out on the tour, the array was currently in the C configuration. The scale of the place was incredible. It's really hard to do it justice by description alone, so I hope some of these pictures are helping.
After taking a zillion pictures at the VLA we headed out to our destination for the nights rest in Albuquerque(and yes, I know how to spell that now without looking it up). The drive it was very easy and it lead us right to a restaurant called Cervantes(thanks to Jake Cross for the excellent recommendation). We both ordered our combination enchilada plates with the chile sauce not red or green, but Christmas. It was really good food, but we both regretted doing the spicier sauce. You can see from the picture, but the other thing that must be said about Cervantes is that it was excessively, and yet still tastefully and exquisitely, decorated for christmas. It had a really great atmosphere.
Then on to a Holiday Inn Express and an enormous room for a little time relaxing watching the movie Baby Driver and off to bed.
The biggest thing of interest today was the complete lack of cell service for a good portion of the drive. We've been driving through some areas with pretty spotty reception, but there was a good solid 4 hour block today where we had zero reception at all. It wasn't bad from a navigation perspective because most of our route was straight on one road for forever(and Balson had the presence of mind to download the maps in Google Maps). It was more frustrating from a logistics perspective because we had been planning to use the time on the road to look up hotels and sights to see. We didn't have any trouble finding a room tonight, but we're looking ahead to New Orleans and we're still trying to figure out what we're going to do for new years eve.
Tomorrow we're going to the National Museum of Nuclear Science and then heading out for our first real big block of driving with 8 hours to Oklahoma City. As always, if you have something fun we should check out, let me know in the comments on Facebook.