Sept. 14th found me on NM hwy.117 and I was only a few miles south of I40 when the scenery went into incredible mode - incredible rock formations on the left, remains of volcanic  rock on the right. I was in the El Malpais wilderness. After a while, the road leveled off, and went for miles across a high (7000') plain before reaching more mountains on the other side. I was going to Quemado Lake, where I camped one night at 7782'. No wonder it was 45 degrees the next morning. During the night, I heard a chorus of coyotes and in the very early morning hours, several elk bugles. Pictures below are, in order: rock formations in Malpais,  rock butte when driving out of Quemado Lake, the view from Aldo Leopold rest area in the Gila Wilderness (on my way to Silver City NM). New Mexico has some incredibly scenery yet somehow does not get the mentions of Colorado or Montana.

Sept. 17th I went to Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument. I got my highway numbers crossed, and before I realized it, I was on a narrow, twisty road better suited for a motorcycle or small car. It was not easy, but I eventually got there. The return route was a superhighway by comparison. Just after making the turn to this easy route, I stopped for a hitchhiker. She was a young, pretty Asian woman who was surprised to get ride in an RV. Once her packs were hauled aboard, off we went. She was enjoyable company, asking me about my travels. She got off in San Lorenzo, where she was to meet a friend. I bade her safe travels, and went on my way back to Silver City. I am staying at Manzano's RV Park there, which is owned and operated by Virginia and her husband. Virginia is a very nice lady and the atmosphere is incredibly accomodating, with a house that serves not just for the office, but the living room is available to sit in, free DVD borrow, bath / shower and laundry room.