Saguaro To Sea: Pie and the Universe

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Whew! The Saguaro To Sea Road Trip 2016 logged over 500 miles on Day One. But, the American West is huge, and you have to put in the time to get anywhere. In between the wide open spaces the winding roads showed us a spectacular day in Arizona and New Mexico. Climbing over 5000 feet on Arizona 87, up the Mogollon Rim and out of the 110 degree Valley of the Sun, was a great feeling.

Arizona Route 87
Heading North on Arizona Route 87

 

Adios Saguaros!
Adios Saguaros!

Arizona 260 took us into the White Mountains, through Payson, Heber, Overgaard and Show Low, and we experienced something we haven’t in months: rain!  Just a little, but enough to make these desert-weary travelers happy.

And, I guess we couldn’t get out of Arizona fast enough. A quick stop for gas was our only break from U.S. 60 until New Mexico.

Welcome to New Mexico
Hola New Mexico!

Quemado was the first town to grab our attention. It was a quiet Sunday afternoon and we actually felt cold for the first time in months thanks to the clouds and a few rain drops. We pulled over and had a little picnic in town, just off Main Street and watched the Sunday comings and goings at the local store across the road.

 

 

Quemado, NM
Quemado, NM
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Our lunch-time companion in Quemado, NM

 

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Rain on the plain!

Once you pull out of Quemado you are hit with the signs for Pie Town. And, if you’ve just had lunch, it’s a little hard to resist the subliminal messaging. But really, how good could pie be in the middle of New Mexico in a town name Pie Town? This reeks of tourist gimmick, right? We gave in and stopped at one of the little shops.  All I can say, without any exaggeration at all, is that it was the best pie ever. No lie. Chocolate Cherry Pie. Dark New Mexico style chocolate (with a hint of cinnamon) and fresh, not canned, dark cherries. I mean, pie is pie. Pie is always a good thing to consider, but this pie makes you think about heading hundreds of miles out of your way.  I’m prone to cross-country driving and central New Mexico just got more appealing.

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This year’s theme is Spaceships and Aliens, and a trip to the Very Large Array of satellite dishes pointed at the Universe from the desert of New Mexico got us started. The self-guided tour lets you stand under the massive dish and every few minutes you can watch it move, probably re-programmed by someone far away. Scientist all over the world book time with the array to study their own little space nooks.

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The array can see clear into the heart of the galaxy, over 150 quadrillion miles away.

 

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The VLA is in the desert to keep humidity out of the dishes and to avoid radio wave pollution from humanity.

The very long and winding US 380 (that goes clear through Texas) took us on to Roswell for the night. Despite some intense scrutiny of the wide desert plains at dusk, no aliens spacecraft were seen. But, those guys are pretty stealthy and we may have to settle for the UFO Museum tomorrow!

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Off we go to Roswell in search of aliens!