Warren & Emily SwanTrips → 1996

We had no full vacation in 1995 due to financial considerations.  This trip we decided we would do 2 things: travel some of the historic old US-66, and also make the bulk of a state or two the object of our trip, as we had in 1990 (Colorado) and 1994 (Kentucky), as well as 1989 (Vermont & New Hampshire).  Although we’d been to the Grand Caņon in 1987, we wanted to see more of the Southwest, starting with New Mexico, then Arizona.  We didn’t make it to Arizona this trip. 

We had sold our all wheel drive Astro lemon.  Although we still had our old 1986 Astro, it had so many miles on it, and problems, that we didn’t want to take it.  So we used our recently purchased 1991 Toyota Corolla station wagon and a small utility trailer for the camping gear.  Daniel and Amy were still small enough to squeeze into the back of the wagon, sitting on tiny chairs with the ice chest between them.

We caught US-66 in Bloomington, IL.  In Missouri we visited the over-rated Meramec Caverns.  Although 66 only goes through a few miles of Kansas, we enjoyed our time there, stopping at the Eisler Brothers Old Riverton Store.

We wasted too much time trying to find the Spook Light road at night.  We took a picture of us at the marker for the corner of 3 states: Missouri, Kansas, and Oklahoma.  We stopped at the round barn at Acadia, OK, and camped at Foss Lake State Park.

One of favorite US-66 stops along the way was the Devil’s Rope Museum in McLean, TX.  It has a small US-66 museum in the facility.  We stopped at the giant cross just west of Groom, TX.  We stayed at Palo Duro Caņon State Park.

Once in New Mexico we left US-66 and headed South.  We visited Fort Sumner and stayed at Sumner Lake State Park.  This is Billy the (Rotten) Kid Country.  We visited the spot where Billy the Kid had been buried, although flooding has rendered the actual location uncertain.

We stayed at White’s City campground near Carlsbad, NM, where we enjoyed two sites: The Living Desert Zoological & Botanical State Park is worth a good day or a half a day to visit.  The Carlsbad Caverns are one of the best systems of caves we’ve ever been to.  Meramec Caverns is a mere joke in comparison.  Mammoth Cave is bigger, but mundane by comparison.  Carlsbad is remarkable for the number and types of formations, which seem to be present everywhere in the cave, not just in certain “rooms”.  It is not as well known as some other inferior caves because it is simply not on the way to anything.

Heading West, we stopped at McKittrick Caņon in the Guadalupe Mountains National Park.  We hiked the nature trail there. 
Heidi & Soaptree Yucca Emily & Sotol
Heidi & Soaptree Yucca Emily & Sotol
Amy & Prickly Pear Olive & Century Plant
Amy & Prickly Pear Olive & Century Plant
Daniel & Ocotillo or Coachwhip The mouth of McKittrick Caņon
Daniel & Ocotillo McKittrick Caņon

After passing through El Paso, Warren was getting sick.  We stayed at a hotel in Alamogordo, and Emily and the kids visited White Sands, which they really liked.  Warren was feeling good enough that we all visited the White Sands Space Center Museum.

As we went toward Lincoln, NM, we stopped at the sign commemorating the murder of J. Henry Tunstall, which precipitated the Lincoln County War.  As usual, we brought rain with us, even to the desert.  The only campgrounds around having suffered from too much water too sudden, we decided to stay at the historic Wortley Hotel in Lincoln.  We wandered around this historic town where this civil war climaxed.

We stayed at Coronado State Park, and drove up the beautiful Jemez Mountain Trail.

Near Albuquerque we stayed with Warren’s cousin Gina and husband Tim, just down the hill from Uncle Dan & Aunt Nancy Searle, near Sandia.  We also visited Uncle Jim (d. 2003) and Aunt Mary Searle a little further East, near Moriarty.

On the way home we took expressways, rather than US-66.  We did the “Big Push” where we just snoozed at rest areas.  After driving all night, we stopped for gas and to eat breakfast at the Dixie Truckers Home in McLean, Illinois on old route 66.  It also has displays and memorabilia about US-66.  (In subsequent years this would become a favorite destination when coming down to Funks Grove to purchase our yearly supply of pure maple syrup.)

visited 6 states (12%)
Create your own visited map of The United States