Part 2: Gila River, NM to Grants, NM


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The Trip

We spent a "down day" on the banks of the Gila River in a nice wooded camping area.  The next morning, we broke camp and headed out.  Our path took us from the Gila River area north through the mountains to just south of Grants, NM.  We encountered some challenges, but prevailed in the end.

The Photos

The photos below are what we saw.

During a morning inspection of his rig, Len discovered that his spare tire holder was falling apart.  We repaired it the previous day, but yet another pin had come loose.  We worked on it for awhile before we concluded that we could not actually repair it because some of the components were bent.

The spare tire is on a 4-bar mechanism, but it cantilevers out some feet from the rear of the rig which puts huge stresses on the joints and pins, particularly during a bounce resulting from hitting a rut in the road.  Really, you want the tire low and tight to the frame for minimum stress.

I walked around and took photos of the other rigs.  This in Vince's U500 with custom box.

This is Len's 1017A, the sister to Thor.

Thor, our 1017A with a HiLo pull trailer that we slaughtered and mounted to the frame.  It is ugly, but battle-proven.

John's custom U500 with GXV living quarters.

Tony's LMTV with custom living quarters.

The LMTV looks rather like Thor, although very different under the hood.

Mark's high-low style pickup camper.  This has some really nice features inside.

Mark and Gail's U500 with custom GXV box.

Chris' U500 with custom shelter.

We traveled south from the Gila River to Sapillo and did a minor resupply (ice, beer) and then headed north into the mountains on the dirt.  It was rather slow going with narrow trails and steep grades.  Around noon, we pulled into a campsite for lunch.

Further north, we encountered a lake nestled among the hills.

The trail dust was bad, so the convoy spread out over several miles both for visibility and personal comfort.

The dirt road terminated at the blacktop and many miles east we did a brief roadside stop where I spotted this thistle in bloom.  Note the various colors of pollen.

While stopped we were able to photograph the rolling grasslands and mountains in the distance.

South of us was a yucca in bloom.

We headed north on the dirt again toward Bear Trap Canyon and came upon this herd of horses with several babies.  I am sure that the rancher is very happy.

We traveled hard all day and made it to Bear Trap Camp.  I was a nice open field with plenty of room for all the trucks.

Next morning during his pre-travel inspection, Len discovered more damage.  Both of the forward cabin stabilizers had been ripped from the frame.  Upon a more detailed inspection, we discovered that this had happened before and that the weld was marginal.  Furthermore, we noticed that the sub-frame was of thin-walled tubing which was not expected.

Notice that there were welding wires left over from the previous repair.  This mounting is contrary to common sense as the 1017's frame is very "twisty" and can tolerate several FEET of twisting during "normal" off-roading.  These struts were "fighting the frame" and the frame won.  An alternate mounting mechanism needs to be developed.  On Thor, we spent a good amount of time addressing this particular design issue and in the 5 years that we have had it, no problems have developed.  And trust me, we have not been kind to the truck.  We have driven it hard over rough terrain and the mounting for the house is intact.  If we had done a marginal job, the house would have self-destructed due to the torsion.

We continued north into the Plain of Saint Augustine.   The road was laser-straight for 20 miles or so as we approached the Very Large Array (VLA) radio telescope.

This is a dish transporter.  This contraption carries the multi-hundred-ton dish from one mounting to another and to and from the service shop.

This is the service shed, AKA "the barn" where the dishes were assembled are serviced as required.

There are 27 active dishes and one spare.  This configuration allows the ability to service the array without disruption of observing schedules.

These dishes are huge and are mounted on concrete pillars, visible underneath the dish.

This is what happens when tall trucks go through low-hanging brush.

We had lunch in Datil, NM and then traveled west to Pie Town.  From Pie Town, we hit the dirt again and headed north toward Grants, NM and our camp for the evening.  Our convoy raised huge plumes of dust as we sped down the dirt roads.

We ended our travels at a BLM campground south of Grants.  It is a nice place with new steel ramadas and best of all, it was free.

We traveled plenty of dirt roads and are still coughing up the dust.

Tomorrow we head north toward a state park near Tierra Amarillo and a rendezvous with Rob who is meeting us from Colorado.

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Photos and Text Copyright Bill Caid 2016, all rights reserved.
For your enjoyment only, not for commercial use.