New Mexico to Illinois
Our second year of full-timing started with a trip from Santa Fe, New Mexico to Shelbyville, Illinois. We did the Oregon Trail backwards, so we decided to use our Santa Fe Trail guidebook to trace the Santa Fe Trail backwards. Annette just got done reading the book Glorieta Pass about the Civil War set in New Mexico. She was excited about seeing the locations of the real battles just east of Santa Fe. Glorieta Pass is located in the Pecos National Historic Park. The battle grounds are only accessible with a guide, so we decided to save that for another time. However, we enjoyed driving along the roads that were described in the book.
We stopped by Fort Union National Monument. Established in 1851, it operated for forty years from the Santa Fe days through the Civil War. Santa Fe Trail ruts can still be seen. Build as three different forts, the final Fort Union was the largest in the American Southwest. We enjoyed walking around the grounds on the self-guided tour that included stops with text, pictures, and audio. There are many large ruins to explore on the grounds that are located in a remote area of the state. At the park we also picked up the park service guide on the Santa Fe National Historic Trail. The Santa Fe Trail was a commercial road linking Missouri and Santa Fe from 1821 to 1880. It was used by the military to haul supplies, by gold seekers heading west, and by some emigrants. When the railroad reached Santa Fe, the trail began to fade away.

When we arrived at the Capulin Volcano National Monument the sky was getting dark with storm clouds. Capulin Volcano is a cinder cone. It last erupted approximately 60,000 years ago and now is covered with forest. We watched the movie and talked to the ranger about updating our National Park Pass, then we decided to move on rather than try the 2 mile walk.
We drove on nice two-lane roads to Dodge City to spend the night at Gunsmoke Campground. We knew we were entering tornado country, when they gave us the campground map. In addition to the regular information, the map showed counties for weather warning information.
The next morning we stopped at the Fort Larned National Historic Site in Larned, Kansas. Established in 1859, the fort was set up to protect traffic on the Santa Fe Trail from hostile Indians and robbers. Most of the buildings have been restored and are furnished to their original appearance. Wandering the grounds you get a sense of what life was like during the mid 1800s. Annette checked out the stockade and decided that life with a ball and chain might be good exercise.

After exploring the fort, we headed to the Emporia campground to visit Annette's parents. After a few days of spring cleaning and visiting, it was time to head to Shelbyville, Illinois for time with Larry's parents and Ben's graduation. We also took a sidetrip to northern Indiana for some service on the motorhome at the Holiday Rambler factory. After a family reunion in Arkansas, we headed back through Illinois and Kentucky to North Carolina for the summer.

Created by Annette Lamb and Larry Johnson, 7/01.
Updated 5/02.
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