Thursday, September 08, 2005

The Honda Accord Test Drive America

So, two years ago when J! came out to CA from Western Massachusetts, he bought a 1997 Honda Accord of his dad for the hefty sum of $1. J! figured that because the car got better gas mileage than his dad’s SUVs, Papa Romano might be interested in a sweet bargain (taking into account inflation) of a slightly used car (but with a brand new windshield!). Naturally, before selling off such a gem of a vehicle, J! thought it would only be fair if we drove the car for a while, to make sure it didn’t have any intermittent defects. Hence, the Test Drive.

Phoenix, AZ to Grants, NM

number of KOAs: 1. number of times creeped out by a campground: 1; number of times slept on gravel: 1. number of signs we passed advertising "knife city": 4; number of times we stopped at "knife city": 0.

We got to Grants in pretty good time, exited the freeway (our good friend Interstate 40) and headed towards our first campground, Bluewater Lake State Park, NM. I was really excited about the camping, I admit. I figured we'd get into these lovely scenic places, hike around a bit, take some breathtaking photos and enjoy a brisk campfire before turning in. Let me just say that Bluewater Lake State Park was a bit of a disappointment--actually, to be more specific, we never actually saw the lake and I have no idea what the park was like. As it turns out, to get to the park you have to drive through a small one street town that looks like it hasn't seen a tourist in about twenty years. Not so bad, you say--plenty of hometown charm and undisturbed tranquility. We thought so too until I hopped out of the car to get a park permit and passing by us on the road were three men on bmx bikes, one of whom was being pulled by two dogs. The place was creepy, and the town was even worse. Plus, we didn't actually have anything to eat except about five pounds of red vines and the only store in town was named "Johnny's Country Shack" but as far as I can tell only sold liquor. So, we headed back to Grants and decided to try instead El Malpais State Park. Unfortunately, El Malpais (aptly named, meaning "the bad country") is a bit undeveloped--no restrooms. Actually, no campgrounds, either. We went back to Grants again and stayed at a KOA about 100 yards away from the Interstate.

A few notes about Grants, NM: There's a large mountain to the north of Grants that used to be a volcano. A lot of Grants is actually cooled lava, which is pretty much all over the place wherever it hasn't been developed. Our KOA had a large area in the middle of the campground that was off limits, labeled with a sign "Please Stay Off--Lava Bubble!" We saw a lot of these from the Interstate as we headed east--kinda cool.

Bluewater Lake State Park, NM. If you look carefully,
you can see one of the bikers in the background.

J! not keeping off of a lava bubble.

They cleverly hid the Interstate
with that sound-proof wood fence.


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