Day Three


Day Three

Tuesday July 20, 2010

575 Miles

Objective for the day:

Cool Mountains


Up at 4am pack the bike, and hit the road before 5am.  It has become my morning norm.  It is still dark as I pack the trailer.  I must be near the railroad tracks because as I load the first of my stuff, I hear a train passing.  About 15 minutes later as I am getting ready to leave, another train is passing.


It is cool enough that I need a light jacket.  This is the best time of the day.  It is cool enough to enjoy the ride.  Yesterday I took pictures of deer stands.  Deer stands at the local stores, deer stands everywhere you look along the highway, and wherever you see a deer stand, you see a deer feeder.  With this in mind, I take it a little easier and watch the edges of the road very carefully.  If there are deer stands every couple of hundred yards, there must surely be deer.  I do not want to run head on with one of these furry critters.


The highway is long and straight.  As the sun starts coming up, I start to relax a little and quit worrying about the deer.  I pass a border patrol truck sitting on the side of the highway right next to the train tracks.  I wave and he waves back.  A couple of miles further up the road; I meet a train heading straight for me.  It looks close, but it takes a while to get me.  This land is flat and you can see forever.  I stop and take pictures of the train.  As the sun gets higher in the sky, I stop once more to take pictures of the sunrise. 


I have to continue to stop to take pictures, because I killed my small camera yesterday.  The only camera I have left is my large Nikon and I am not about to try to take pictures on the fly with it.  While I am stopped one car comes by and you can hear another vehicle in the distance.  I am still taking pictures when I hear this vehicle slowing down and stopping.  It is the border patrol guy I passed earlier.  He wants to make sure I am alright...  I tell him I just wanted some pictures of the sunrise.


This is my opportunity to ask him a few questions.  I asked him about the rock roads along the highways, and were they looking for tracks while they rode along these.  He said yes.  I told him that I guess I could blow their minds by going over to one of these roads and walking back and forth a few times.  He said it might slow him down a couple of minutes, but once he tracked me to the road, that would be it.  I asked him if he was parked to look at the train.  He said yes, he also told me they have agents in Alpine that carefully look at every train that passes through there.


I am off again and loving the 75 mph speed limits.  I am normally running about 80, just 5 mph over the posted speed.  I am really making good time.  I come upon a Texas Highway Patrol Officer who appeared to be doing paperwork on the other side of the road in some sort of driveway.  At the last minute, I decided to stop and talk to him.  He looked a little surprised to see a blue motorcycle pulling up beside his window.  I told him I was from Georgia and that most of the time the police would give you up to 5 or 10 mph over the speed limit before writing a ticket.  I asked him what the policy was for Texas.


He told me that because the speed limit is 75 mph, they only allow you 1 to 3 mph over the limit before writing you a ticket.  He said that they believe 75 is fast enough.  He also said the interstate is 80 and they are just as strict there.  He said they may be even a little stricter on the interstate.  This is good information to have so as to not get a ticket.


I finally get to the interstate, set my cruise at 81 and head for El Paso.  As I get near El Paso, I start to look for a Wal-Mart.  I need some sunscreen and a few other items and I can look at cameras also.  My gps takes me directly to Sam’s instead of Wal-Mart.  I asked a guy in the parking lot where Wal-Mart was and after he gave about six turns I said thank you and moved to another area of the parking lot where I found another Wal-Mart on the gps.  I made all of the correct turns, but when the gps said I was there, I did not see a Wal-Mart.  I decided to go around the block and when I made the first right turn, I recognized the roof of the Wal-Mart.


I did my shopping and forgot to get most of the items I had intended to get.  I did get sunscreen, the one thing I needed most.  I looked at cameras, but kinda had my mind made up to go to Best Buy.  Back at the bike, I programmed in Best Buy on the gps and headed out.  I missed the turn to the first one, but found that there was another one a couple of miles ahead.  This time I made the right turns and there it was.  I guess in one way I was lucky I missed the first turn, because when I arrived at this one, I still had 15 minutes to wait till they opened.


My destroyed camera was a Nikon so I opted to see if there were any Nikons that would use the existing batteries I already have.  No such luck, all the new cameras have a new battery.  My old batteries are headed for E-Bay.  I pick out one I like and out the door I go.  I hook up the camera to the inverter I bought on day two and now it is time to make tracks for Lordsburg New Mexico. 


As soon as I enter New Mexico, I am in Mountain Standard Time.  Actually I think I have been in this time zone for a while but didn’t know it.  I am now two hours off of my time.  I pull into Lordsburg fairly early, check into the motel, and head for Silver City and the Gila Cliff Dwellers.  I figure this is some place I can go where there are mountains and real trees.  I am also hoping it is going to be cooler.


It is about 40 miles to Silver City and off in the distance I can see some black clouds.  They appear to be in the mountains north of Silver City.  Isn’t that where I am headed?  I figure that it can only cool me off a little and after this desert heat, I could use some cooling off.


It is a very pleasant ride to Silver City.  I find the road to the Gila Cliff Dwellers and head out.  The road gets narrower to the point that two cars would have trouble passing each other.  A sign tells me that it is 35 or 40 miles to the destination.  I remember looking at a map of the area and there is a road that turns off about halfway up.  The black clouds that I saw earlier are now moving over top of me.


The rain starts to fall and in only a couple of minutes I am getting cold.  Not cool, cold.  I stop and put on the top of my rain suit.  That is much better.  The clouds really look menacing and the thunder and lightning makes me decide to make that turn and head back down the mountain.  I have missed the worst part of the rain, but the road is covered in water in some areas.


I start to see some houses and some very good scenery. As I come around a curve there are deer just off the side of the road in a thicket of trees.  They stand there while I stop and take pictures of them.  They don’t seem to be very afraid of me.


A couple of miles further, I come to a line of cars with all of the occupants standing around in the road.  They wave for me to stop and park.  I walk up to see a car off the side of the road upside down in a ravine.  The wrecker has hooked to it by wrapping his cable around the window posts.  He tries a couple of times to pull the car back up to the road before he gives up and tells the trooper he will have to reposition the wrecker.


They allow the traffic to go by while the wrecker waits to reposition.  By now there is quite a line of cars.  I understand from the trooper that the car lost control in the rain and went over the side.  They took all occupants to the hospital but he did not know what their injuries were.


The dark clouds are still behind me, but they are slowly moving south.  I need to get going if I am going to outrun them.  By the time I get back to Silver City the rain has caught up to me and it is starting to sprinkle.  I decide that my looking for a place to eat will only get me caught in the rain.  Another plan for a meal goes out the window.  I had planned on eating here because there is nothing in Lordsburg.


I am heading south toward Lordsburg when I come to a large open pit mine.  They have a viewing area with displays to show you what you are looking at.  I spend about 30 minutes there looking at the displays and watching the lightning in the distance.  I try hard to time the lightning strikes so I can get a picture of them, but it just wasn’t going to happen.  With the storm getting closer, it is time to head on.


I stopped at a small overlook in the middle of nowhere.  There was a historic marker there that told of the “McComas Incident”.  It was just a little plaque in the middle of nothing.  It read:


“In March 1883, Judge and Mrs. H. C. McComas were killed in this vicinity by a group of Chiricahua Apaches led by Chatto.  An extensive manhunt failed to rescue their six-year old son, who had been taken captive.  This incident was part of a violent outbreak towards the end of the Apache wars”.  


As I look around, I imagine what it must be like to ride a horse and survive in this dessert.  There were no roads back then, at least not like we have now.  The brush is only 10 or 15 feet high, so it would hide anyone who was riding a horse.  I was amazed to think people would even live in this wilderness so far from any civilization.


It has been a good day.  I have enjoyed this ride and rate it second because it would be almost impossible to beat yesterday.  The coolness of the mountains was probably the highlight of this day.


I am still a ways away from Lordsburg, but I am coming down out of the foothills.  I am probably still 15 to 20 miles from the city, but from this view I can see the town.  As I get lower I can no longer see the town.  I search the gps, but just as I thought, there is nowhere to eat here.


I guess it’s McNuggets for supper tonight.