The plan was to get to Flagstaff on a scenic but paved route... and to avoid excessive wind, rain, and snow.
We wanted to see a little of Monument Valley, which we missed when we were in Arizona last October. That meant taking a northern route out of Santa Fe, but iPhone weather told us we'd find cold temperatures and snow at the top of our route.
Our first step was going north to Espanola, where I wanted to visit the Espanola Valley Fiber Arts Center because they sell local spinning fiber. Nice big building, large sign.
Uhh, this should have been easier to find. The GPS gave us a long convoluted tour of Espanola, taking us down country roads and to dead ends where it insisted that there was a connector street or telling us that we had just passed the building. At one point, it just gave up and couldn't even tell us where we were. We finally found the shop by accidentally driving by as the GPS was taking us somewhere else.
But we were really glad we did because they had a great supply of natural dye stuff, like dried plants and bark. I can't wait to get home and start using it to dye spinning fiber. Plus the woman at the counter showed us a small but paved scenic road to help us avoid the sections of road that were already getting snow.
We drove to Abiquiu to catch the 96 across to the 550 north to Bloomfield (where it hadn't begun snowing yet).
We drove to the restrooms at Abiquiu Lake.
I actually got to take one photo in the parking lot... instead of through the window of a moving car.
The colors and textures along the road were stunning.
And the desert sculptures. How does this happen?
Driving through Coyote, NM (a few houses along the road) we passed this shop.
We quickly pulled into the gravel in front, but the door to the shop was locked. We were intrigued at the combination of groceries and weaving. Turns out Santana Salazar is a well-known weaver who uses handspun naturally dyed fiber. Now I really wish he'd been there.
Before turning onto the 550, we saw this.
Now we were heading north to the part of New Mexico that promised to be much colder. We didn't know what to expect, but we were easily distracted by the painted landscape. (Note those ominous clouds.)
But it did get more difficult to ignore the weather in the distance.
It was clearly snowing to the north.
Each time we came over a ridge we'd see the landscape change dramatically.
It began to rain after we reached Bloomfield. Then the rain started bouncing off the hood of the car and smearing the windows. I suspected snow. Dave didn't believe me until we saw the swirling flurries of snow. It melted as soon a it hit the windshield but it was fun to watch.
The town of Shiprock is located just east of the border crossing into to Arizona.
In this weather, the rock looks very much like a phantom ship. Gusts of howling wind only added to the ghostly mood.
We reached Monument Valley just as the sun was beginning to cast long shadows.
We took the road in, but didn't go all the way. We still had a trek ahead to reach Flagstaff in the dark and avoid icy roads. But we saw a few monument rocks closer up.
In the sunlight this would clearly be magnificent.
So much beauty, even as the sun was setting.
But the sun did set.
And we finally arrived at the La Quinta in Flagstaff at about 9 pm, where it was 20 degrees and dropping. No fresh snow, just chunks of icy snow in the flower beds.
Cold temperatures predicted for the next day, but sunny. Hooray.