Around the World... One Journey at a Time. Around the World... One Journey at a Time.

Route 66: Day 9

by Kathy 9. March 2010 22:00

<< Day 8: Petrified Forests (Not People) | Day 10: The Wonders of the Navajo Nation >>


Engine Issues and El Morro


This morning we had some mellow “down time,” to balance all of the activities that we had packed into the past 8 days. Genevieve and Sebastian enjoyed the heated indoor pool in the hotel next to our RV park (one of the perks of camping here), and I did a few loads of laundry at the 24-hour laundromat next door.

Here are the kids jumping into the pool:

The laundromat was bustling. Every machine was busy spinning and humming. People stood guard over their wheeled baskets, even when they weren’t using them. All the seats and countertops were taken, by either people or their belongings. A woman reluctantly moved her basket from a seat so that I could sit down beside her. I eventually moved to a cozy spot on the floor.

I sat and listened to the voices around me, many of which were speaking a Native American language that sounded like Navajo.  New Mexico has a large Native American population, and the Navajo Nation sits just north of Gallup.  In the laundromat, about 95% of the people looked like they were Native American. (I must note that my own looks do not reflect my Native American bloodlines.)  The words swirling around me had a very different rhythm from spoken English.  Navajo is a very complex language.  I thought about the World War II “Navajo code talkers” who had served the U.S. military by creating an unbreakable code based upon their own language.

After lunch, we decided to take a 1 1/2 hour drive to visit El Morro National Monument.  I had spotted the Monument on our map yesterday afternoon.  Since I had never heard of El Morro before, I was curious to learn more about that special place.

Genevieve and “Mr. Bear” were ready for the adventure:

Along Route 66 was the historic railroad depot that had been restored and transformed into the Gallup Cultural Center.

The Center has a Native American art gallery, a Storyteller museum with exhibits on local Native American cultures, a gift shop with Native American jewelry and crafts, and a café.

As we were driving through Gallup, the RV engine light popped on, and the RV went into “limp mode”—reducing the gears and preventing the RV from going more than a very slow speed. This occurs when the vehicle computer senses a problem that may cause serious damage to the engine; as a protective measure, the engine automatically reduces its power. We didn’t know this at the time and thought that our engine was failing.

After calling several repair shops, we wound up at a place that ran a computer diagnostic and determined that the RV engine light had been triggered by low fuel pressure.  Ben had just replaced the fuel filter before we left on this trip, so he didn't think that we needed a new one; and everything else checked out fine. The mechanic turned off our “service engine” light, and the "limp mode" problem went away (for the time being).

Ben at the shop:

The kids and I were able to stay inside the RV while the mechanics looked at the engine. Genevieve and Sebastian were very patient.

By the time we left the repair shop (still perplexed regarding what was causing the problem), it was mid-afternoon. We realized that we wouldn’t reach El Morro National Monument until 4:30 p.m., and that the Visitor’s Center closed at 5:00; however, we still wanted to visit the site. Off we went!

This jet was displayed outside of the small Gallup airport:

Our 2-lane road headed south from Gallup, and then turned east. Here are some views of the interesting rock formations along the way.

The Zuni mountains on our left had a line of yellow rock along the ridge:

A few of the homes we passed:

The sandstone bluff on the right side of the road ahead is “El Morro,” which translates to “the headland.”

At the base of El Morro is a waterhole that is 12 feet deep. For hundreds of years, the water there quenched the thirst of many people--Ancestral Puebloans who lived nearby, Spanish conquistadors, Native American travelers, and U.S. Army troops passing through the area. These people made over 2000 carvings into the rock--petroglyphs, dates and messages. In 1906, the bluff was declared a national monument.

From the roadway, we couldn’t see any carvings on El Morro.

However, the park has a half-mile trail (the Inscription Trail) that leads to the waterhole and hundreds of carvings. A 2-mile loop (the Headland Trail) goes all of the way to the top of the bluff. We were disappointed to find that we had arrived too late for either hike. We needed to have arrived by 4 p.m. for the Inscription Trail, and by 3 p.m. for the Headland Trail.

We contented ourselves with looking at the visitor center exhibits. We learned that Pueblo people built homes on top of El Morro between 1200 and 1400 A.D. At one time, there were 850 rooms there. Early in the 1500’s, the Puebloan people moved a short way west to the area where the Zuni people currently live. The Zuni call the El Morro site “Atsinna” and consider the area to be sacred.

Here is a diagram showing the locations of the Native American Pueblos at the time the Spanish invaded this area.

The visitor's center offered a video that showed images of the Atsinna ruins, the waterhole, and some of the carvings on El Morro. We watched the images and pretended that we were seeing them from the nearby trail.


The waterhole:

Some of the carvings:

Back in the parking lot, we looked longingly back at El Morro—so close and yet so far.

We will definitely come back here and hike the trails on another journey.

Ben got up on the RV roof to take some better photos.

Ben’s view:

He was able to get some good close-up shots:

The hillside behind us was catching the last of the sun’s rays:

We had a long drive back to our campground tonight, with the RV going into “limp mode” once again, causing a bit of worry.

The sudden “limp mode” condition would happen repeatedly during the rest of our journey, until we headed to lower elevations and warmer temperatures. Later, after many perplexed brows and much internet research, we figured out what the problem might be: The weather at night was freezing (with temperatures down into the teens), which caused the diesel to congeal; and the paraffin in the diesel solidified inside of the fuel filter. Once the engine was running, the onboard computer would get a signal that there was low fuel pressure, and the engine would automatically go into limp mode (we found this sudden engine decrease to be a bit stressful when going up a steep mountain on a 2-lane road, with cars stacking up behind us and nowhere to pull over). We discovered that we could temporarily "fix" the limp-mode if we pulled over, turned the engine off, and waited five to ten minutes before restarting the engine. 

Tonight, we spent some time mulling over “what to do.” We had a flexible schedule for this trip, but we were planning to travel through more remote areas over the next few day--away from larger cities, and with vast distances between small towns.  We weren't sure if we would be near a truck repair shop if the RV engine completely failed.  Decisions, decisions . . . .  We finally decided that we would forge ahead tomorrow as planned.

After dinner, we played some fun card games as a family. I went to bed optimistic that the engine issues would be resolved soon.


<< Day 8: Petrified Forests (Not People) | Day 10: The Wonders of the Navajo Nation >>

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Map of Our Journeys

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Our travel map

Places We’ve Been, w/Quick Links

   Bumthang Valley
   Gom Kora
   Paro Valley
   Punakha Dzong
   Sangdrup Jongkhar
   Wangdi Phrodrang

   Janko Marca
   La Paz
   Laguna Colorada
   Laguna Verde
   Salar de Coipasa
   Salar de Uyuni
   San Pablo
   Santa Rosa
   Sud Lipez
   World’s Most Dangerous Road

   Banff National Park
   Battle Hill Nat'l Hist. Site
   Boya Lake Prov. Park, BC
   Burns Lake Bike Park
   Canyon Sainte-Anne
   Dawson Creek
   Eastern Townships
   Fort Nelson
   Jasper National Park
   Kluane Lake, YK
   'Ksan Historical Village
   Lake Louise
   Liard Hot Springs
   Niagara Falls
   Quebec City
   Thousand Islands
   Vancouver Island
   Watson Lake

   Forbidden City
   Great Wall at Mutianyu
   Hong Kong
   Summer Palace
   Terracotta Warriors
   Tiananmen Square
   Yungang Caves

Costa Rica
   Arenal Volcano
   Finca Corsicana
   Hanging Bridges
   Manuel Antonio
   Poas Volcano
   Proyecto Asis
   Sky Trek Zip Lining
   Venado Caves


   Amazon Rainforest
   Chaquiñan Bicycle Trail
   La Mitad del Mundo
   Napo Wildlife Center
   Papallacta Hot Springs
   Proyecto DCR
   Yasuní National Park


   Baja California
   Frida Kahlo Museum
   Hierve el Agua
   Marietas Islands
   Mexico City
   Monte Alban
   Oaxaca City
   Puerto Angel
   Puerto Escondido
   Puerto Vallarta
   San Agustin
   San Martin Tilcajete
   Santa Fe de la Laguna
   Santa María el Tule
   Studio of Jacobo Angeles
   Teotitlán del Valle

   Dead Vlei
   Elondo Village
   Etosha Nat'l Park
   Hippo Pools Camp
   Hoba Meteorite
   Khowarib Camp
   Moose McGregor's Bakery
   Mowani Camp
   Ngepi Camp
   Nkasa Lupala
   n'Kwzi Camp
   River Dance Lodge
   Seisriem Camp
   Treesleeper Camp

   Cañón del Pato
   Cerro de Pasco
   La Oroya
   Machu Picchu
   Nuevo Jaén
   Tingo Maria
   Yungay Memorial


South Africa

   Rock of Gibraltar
   Santillana del Mar

United States National Parks
   Arches National Park, UT
   Badlands National Park, SD
   Bandelier National Monument, NM
   Bryce Canyon National Park, UT
   Cahokia Mounds (UNESCO site), IL
   Carlsbad Caverns National Park, NM
   Canyon de Chelly Nat'l Monument, AZ
   Cape Hatteras National Shoreline, NC
   Capitol Reef National Park, UT
   Civil Rights Memorial, AL
   Death Valley National Park, CA
   Denali National Park, AK
   Devil’s Tower National Monument, WY
   El Morro National Monument, NM
   Ford’s Theater in Washington, D.C.
   Glacier National Park, MT
   Grand Canyon National Park, AZ
   Grand Tetons National Park, WY
   Great Basin National Park, NV
   Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, HI
   Joshua Tree National Park, CA
   Kaloko-Honokohau Nat'l Hist. Park, HI
   Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks, NM
   King's Canyon National Park, CA
   Martin Luther King Jr. Nat'l Hist. Site, GA
   Mesa Verde National Park, CO
   Montezuma's Castle Nat'l Monument, AZ
   Monticello, VA
   Mount Rushmore National Memorial, SD
   Mt. Rainier National Park, WA
   Olympic National Park, WA
   Petrified Wood National Park, AZ
   Pinnacles National Monument, CA
   Pu'uhonua o Honaunau Nat'l Hist Pk, HI
   Pu'ukohola Heiau Nat'l Historic Site, HI
   San Antonio Missions Nat'l Hist. Park, TX
   Tuzigoot National Monument, AZ
   Walnut Canyon National Monument, AZ
   Washington Monument
   White Sands National Monument, NM
   Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, AK
   Wright Brothers National Memorial in NC
   Yellowstone National Park, WY
   Yosemite National Park, CA

United States, Cities and Places
   The Alamo, TX
   Alaska Wildlife Conservation Cntr.
   Alpine Loop in CO
   Anchorage, AK
   Antares Junction, AZ
   Arctic Circle, AK
   Barrel Oak Winery in VA
   Biloxi, MS
   Bottle Tree Farm in CA
   Calico Ghost Town, CA
   Canfield Mountain Trail System, ID
   Cape St. Vincent, NY
   Carson City, NV
   Carter Caves State Park in KY
   Chappie-Shasta OHV Area, CA
   Child's Glacier, AK
   Circle B Chuckwagon Show in SD
   City Museum in MO
   Cody, WY
   Corn Palace in SD
   Crazy Horse Memorial in SD
   Custer State Park, SD
   Dalton Highway, AK
   Dinosaur Tracks in AZ
   Discovery Place in Charlotte, NC
   Dry Falls (Sun Lakes-Dry Falls), WA
   Fairbanks, AK
   Front Royal, VA
   Gallup, NM
   Goffs, CA
   Grand Canyon Caves, AZ
   Grand Canyon Skywalk, AZ
   Grave Digger Monster Truck in NC
   Great Salt Lake, UT
   Hackberry General Store in AZ
   Hannibal, MO
   Hatteras Island, NC
   Hawaii (Big Island)
   Hickison Petroglyphs, NV
   Holbrook, AZ
   Hole in the Rock, UT
   Homer, AK
   Honey Island Swamp Tour in LA
   Hoover Dam, NV
   Hyder, AK
   Jim Gray’s Petrified Wood Co. in AZ
   John’s Peak OHV Area, OR
   Kailua-Kona, HI
   Keepers of the Wild Nature Park in AZ
   Kennecott, AK
   Kennecott Copper Mine in UT
   Kingman, AZ
   Lake Havasu, AZ
   Lake Tahoe, NV
   Las Vegas, NV (winter 2010)
   Little Brown Church in IA
   London Bridge in AZ
   Loneliest Road in America, Hwy. 50, NV
   Los Angeles, CA
   Lost Colony Show on Roanoke Isl., NC
   Lowe’s Speedway in NC
   Mardi Gras World in LA
   Mark Twain Museum in MO
   Meteor Crater, AZ
   Million Dollar Highway, CO
   Minnesota Zoo
   Mitchell, SD
   Moab, UT
   Moab, UT (dirt biking)
   Montgomery, AL
   Montpelier, ID
   Navajo Nation, AZ
   Needles, CA
   Nevada Beach, NV
   Newberry Springs, CA
   New River Gorge, WV
   New Orleans, LA
   Niagara Falls 
   North Pole, AK
   Oatman, AZ
   Old Faithful Geyser in WY
   Omak Stampede, WA
   Painted Desert, AZ
   Park City, UT (summer)
   Plymouth, NC
   Portage Valley, AK
   Portland, OR
   Prospect OHV Trail System, OR
   Resaca, GA
   Riverside State Park, WA
   Rock City in TN
   Rosa Parks Library and Museum in AL
   Roswell, NM
   Russian River, AK
   Salt Lake City, UT
   San Antonio, TX
   San Diego, CA
   San Juan Islands, WA
   San Francisco, CA
   Santa Catalina Island, CA
   Seattle, WA
   Sedona, AZ
   Shoe Tree in CA
   Shoe Tree in NV
   Silverton, CO
   Sonora, TX
   St. Louis, MO
   St. Paul, MN
   Talkeetna, AK
   Telluride, CO
   Route 66
   Twin Knobs Recreation Area in KY
   Virginia Beach, VA
   Washington D.C.
   Wayne Fitzgerrell State Park in IL
   Williamsburg, VA
   Winom Frazier OHV Area, OR
   Winslow, AZ
   Zion National Park, UT

Planning Our Adventures

For us, each journey begins with the initial heart pangs to venture to a certain part of the world. Then the ideas start coming together . . . ahh, the possibilities . . . and the dream evolves gradually into an actual plan. But, oh, the joy of the dream!  Click here to learn more about how we plan and prepare for our journeys.

Where Are We Now?

Click here to discover where we are now, as well as our uncoming travel plans.

Words for the Heart

“. . . and then the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”

Anais Nin