Day 54 April 23, 2011 Total Mileage: 2,314; Today: 67 miles

Cycled from the KOA in Silver City NM to Coal Creek Campground, in Apache National Forest, Arizona.  Yes, I am done with New Mexico already!

Crossed the Great Divide
I met George who teaches at Western New Mexico University, he was cycling for the day from home in Silver City to Cliff, NM and back – about 60-65 miles.

View from the road
One mile from the New Mexico - Arizona State Line

The New Mexico and Arizonaa State Line

Flowers look different West of the Great Divide...

We dry camped in the Apache National Forest, Coal Creek Campground.  There was a pit toilet and no water.  It was actually very nice, and peaceful... we were the only ones there that night.

Camp 54 - Arizona



Day 53 April 22, 2011 Total Mileage: 2,247; Today: 20 miles

I finished cycling into Silver City, NM KOA Campground today with "sunshine on my shoulders" and the wind in my face.  We planned to drive up to the Gila Cliff Dwellings this afternoon and back to Silver City (elevation: 5,150 feet, population: 10,545) tonight. 
While cycling toward Silver City I meet small groups of people walking along the route; I spoke with a few of the groups and found out they chose to walk 15-miles on "Good Friday"  as a demonstration of Christ scarifice for us. There were about 25-30 in all, it was inspiring and gave them an opportunity to speak of the true meaning of Easter. Yet there doesn't seem like anything we could do, that would ever match the suffering and scarifice Christ made for us and never with the same results -- Praise God, He has risen!

View from Road: Yes that's fresh oil/tar

The brother with the tie had recently had a knee replacement and this was his first long distance walk!
Chino Copper Mine located on the way to Silver City, NM.
That's a might big hole!
David and I stopped at a restaurant in Pinos Altos, NM (elevation:7011 feet, population: 300) for lunch.  It came highly recommended by Glen B. as a good stop.  It was very tiny, five tables, seating for about 22-24 people; when we came in all tables were taken, but a couple of tables asked us to join them. 
We sat down with a couple of lovely ladies, Neta and Judy, kind of local folks.  Neta is writing a book about Bayard Fort in Silver City and Judy is her editor.  Who knows whom you’ll met when you sit at a table for lunch?  It was interesting conversation and good food.  As we were leaving I thought sharing a dinner table with perfect strangers is a great idea and we should do it more often.  Neta and Judy were in Pinos Altos to complete some research in the towns cemetery for their book, as we drove out of town we saw them and to their delight the headstone they were looking for was still there and intact.

As we continued our trip toward the Cliff Dwelling and through the Gila National Forest we came across Dana of Colorado, along the road with a flat, David assisted with air pump.  Ultimately her blown tire was too far-gone and she decided to wait for her crew to pick her up.  I met her again at the KOA in Silver City, everything worked out and she bought a new tire at the bike shop in town.

Dana from Colorado
We did make it to the Gila Cliff Dwellings visitor center and to the dwellings, being one of the last people inside before they closed for the day.  We caught up to a guided tour seeing and learning much more than we ever would have on our own.  It was very cool to be in places that had been the living quarters of people from 1275 AD, and who are believed to have left the area in 1300 AD.  More questions than answers surround the story of people (Mogollon’s) who built structures in natural caves of Cliff Dweller Canyon.

We enjoyed this sign

Jo Ann's style Hummer


Day 52 April 21, 2011 Total Mileage: 2,227; Today: 52 miles

Caballo Lake New Mexico State Park over Emory Pass to 20 miles Northeast of Silver City, NM.  Whew, what a day!  Going from scrub brush prairie to ponderosa pine forest.  Emory Pass has redefined Pass for me. 
Emory Pass 8,828 feet elevation; 4,000 foot rise in 20 miles
Staying at Silver City, NM KOA


Horse and wagon near Caballo NM

Open range in many places


Day 51 April 20, 2011 Total Mileage: 2,175; Today: 52 miles

Las Cruces, New Mexico to Caballo Lake, New Mexico.  We got an early start, temperature started in the 60’s and went to mid-80’s; wind was light, predicted to increase in the afternoon. 

Sunrise April 20, 2011 Las Cruces, New Mexico
Welcome sign as I came into town
David and I met in Hatch, NM (elevation:4,058 feet; population:1, 673) for lunch at a small city park.  I must say that the town of Hatch is the Yard Art capital of the U.S.A. (so far).  I’ve never seen so much yard art in one town; I could not get pictures of all of it

Pig at the far end of town

Steak in Hatch NM

Baling Time

View from the road

With the light wind and early start; I finished around 1:30pm, meeting David at the Caballo Lake New Mexico State Park Campground (elevation: 4,100 feet).  The breeze picked up keeping things bearable and each site had a picnic table and shelter.  Our site has electric and water, close to the bathroom and a masseur.  No Wi-Fi… it’s nice to take a break sometimes… after my massage and a shower I sat around and read a book, cleaned my bike chain, went for a walk and typed up today’s posting.
Caballo Lake & Mtn Range
It's a hard life on the road!


Day 50 April 19, 2011 Total Mileage: 2,123;Today: 50 miles

Happy 85th Birthday Mom!  Thank you for your example, for your support and your love!  Hope your Birthday was just the way you wanted it to be…
We intended to start off early today, as the prediction was for increased winds from the Northwest, temperature in the upper 80’s and sunshine.  I could get use to the sunshine everyday…  Something went wrong with David’s alarm and we where up by 6:30 am, had breakfast, drove through El Paso, Tx rush hour traffic and got on the road around 8:20 am.  The wind did pickup, but it was manageable (15-20 mph NW). 
Crossed into New Mexico, I am done with Texas!!  We’ve been in Texas since March 25th… whew, that’s 20 days on the road (plus 6 days off) and 1,064 miles.
Rio Grande River, New Mexico
Followed and crossed the Rio Grande River most of the day. Cycled through La Mesilla, New Mexico (population: 2,180; elevation: 5,627 feet) once the capital of the Arizona Territory, location of the signing of the Gadsden Purchase, a stop for the Butterfield Stagecoach and home to the infamous “Billy the Kid”.
Finished the day in Las Cruces, New Mexico (population: 97,618; elevation: 4,000 feet). Staying at the Las Cruces KOA.

View from the Campground

Sunset at Camp 50


Day 49, April 18th 2011, Monday – Chuck Wagon Report #7

Today was not only a Rest Day, but a Recovery Day as well.  Jo Ann convalesced from her Road Rash and Shoulder injury, see her post about the 17th.  She spent most of the day in bed.  Since she could not find anything good on TV (if there ever is), she spent most of her time working on blog postings.  So we did not have a chance to see much of El Paso.  But after a pain filled, hot, and windy slog through town Sunday, Jo Ann had seen all of El Paso she wanted to.  We did get to two local restaurants for some good Barbeque and Mexican.

Speaking of good food, this week I had a chance to try out another recipe from the Chuck Wagon Cookbook.  While the recipe for “Stolen Chicken” was intriguing, but I could not come up with the first ingredient, a stolen chicken. 
But I was eyeing these specimens at the Van Horn campground
Besides it calls for 4 hours in a Dutch Oven, and I have neither a Dutch Oven nor 4 hours in one place.  So I settled on “Beef and Beans”. 

They turned out very good.  You may be questioning the wisdom of feeding Jo Ann beans, since we are sleeping in very close quarters.  Do not fear, the Sunroof comes in handy for venting to the outside atmosphere.  And besides, she thinks the little “turbo boosts” help propel her up the hills.  Next week I plan on making “Nickelson’s Hominy Green Chile Casserole”.


Day 48 April 17, 2011 Sunday, Total Mileage: 2073 Today: 33 Miles

God uses set backs to move us forward
 All did not go well today.  At about 1.1 miles into this (beautiful, cool, no wind) morning’s ride in the middle of the road stood the “Monster Chihuahua”.  I was prepared, as just moments before two larger dogs had been chasing me.  With water bottle at the ready, I was thinking no way am I going to squirt this little dog.  Then suddenly, he darted in front of me… what else could I do but… throw myself at him?  Before I knew what happened, I was bouncing on the ground face first, watching my water bottle roll down the street .  Dogs 2: Jo Ann 0  (I really like dogs, I am not sure why they are so much of a problem for me now)  When I saw blood and could not get my handle bars twisted back around, I called David and he was there in a minute. I got back on my bike, with David running interference in the Chuck Wagon (which by the way, dogs do not run after like in the advertisments) with the other dogs in the neighborhood.  I struggled on for about 5-miles, until I came to where David was waiting and called it a day, as my right shoulder/arm was aching.  David, the knight that he is, got a room at the motel down the street and I iced my shoulder/arm and took ibuprofen.  (Note to self: Water bottle in left-hand, brake with right-hand.)
By noon, I felt better and was really anxious about getting through El Paso on Sunday, when traffic was lighter; so I went out on the road again.  I got most of the way through El Paso and hope to be in New Mexico on Tuesday.  We are taking a rest/recuperation day on Monday in El Paso, Tx (elevation: 3,740 feet, population: 51,5342).  The extremes I must go to, to get a day off!
Pecan Grove & Glossy Ibis
WARNNG: The photo below contains graphic content not suitable for the queasy!


Day 47 April 16, 2011 Saturday, Total Mileage: 2040 Today: 65 Miles

Broke 2000 miles today!  Almost done with Texas, if all goes well, we’ll be in New Mexico tomorrow! 

We got up early again today; the temperature was predicted to be in the Mid-90’s.  We started the morning at 41oF; let me tell you, that is cold.  I keep putting away my warm clothes.  It was sunny and the breeze was light, from the East, which was good for me, when I left Sierra Blanca. 
Road Side Rest Area
While cycling near Esperanza, Tx (elevation: 3,500, population: 0)  I met a young man heading East.  He started in Los Angeles, California and was going to Houston, Texas then to South Carolina.

Yard Art - Fabens, Texas
Finished the day in Fabens, Tx (elevation 3,615 feet, population 8,006).

We were unable to locate a campground that accepts tents… only RVs – what is up with that?  The Franklin Mountain Texas State Park Headquarters was closed on Saturday and Sunday, again what’s up with that?  We did not have a map of the park and saw no signs to suggest where or how far the campground might be.  It is the largest state park within a municipality, El Paso, with 26,000 acres. 

So we stayed at the Deluxe Hotel off I-10 in El Paso, Tx.

Happy Birthday Nena!


Day 46 April 15, 2011 Friday, Total Mileage: 1975 Today: 67 Miles

Today the wind was light, for the first 2-hours it was from the East (helpful when traveling West).  Again the temperature was in the 70’s and nothing but blue skies!

I traveled from Kent, Tx (elevation: 2,116 feet; population: less than 60) to Sierra Blanca, Tx (elevation: 4,528 feet; population: 460)

I spent a bit of time on the freeway today... I didn't realize the speed limit was 80 mph (only in this part of Texas) until I saw this sign!  The truckers are mostly respectful (safety conscious) and pull over into the other lane when they can; when they cannot, I get a big pull forward from their slipstream. 

I have become a "road surface snob" after nearly 2000 miles – I really prefer concrete or near pure asphalt with no gravel or chunks of stuff.  I seem to go much faster and my butt feels much better.  In many States the surface changes from county to county or municipality - so if I get on a surface that does not feel good, I know if I keep going it will change.  In Texas it does not change (I've been on Farm Roads mostly) unless I get on the freeways -- I really do not like the ratio of gravel/chunks to asphalt they use on their Farm Roads.  Sorry, since I no longer complaining about the wind or the hills I'm inclined to complain about something else.

I met two guys on recumbent cycles/trikes who are doing their own route based on the Southern Tier route.  I spoke to them but did not get a picture or their names… it was about 2 miles before I ended my day… the mind goes after a while.  One of the guys did say "it's like an arm chair race across the country."  Those seats look better and better every mile!

Another night at the Van Horn KOA. 

At the campground we met two other gentlemen cycling self-supported from West to East.  They’ve been on the road for 2.5 weeks and have customized the Southern Tier Route to include some hiking at the Guadalupe Mountains and will be going to Big Bend National Park in addition to other places before they head back to Munich, Germany.

Mario and Bernie

Site from the highway near Sierra Blanca

Some purple catus for Ariel


Day 45 April 14, 2011 Thursday, Total Mileage: 1908 Today’s: 52 Miles

So apparently it can get windier!  I know I said I would not complain about the wind anymore and I won’t, I’ll just say what was so… 50 mph gust and steady 30 mph winds from the West; I was heading West.  I have never experienced anything like this on a bicycle, the closest experience I have had is being overpowered on my sailboard with a sail too big for the wind speed.  For 6-hours today, I was whipped side to side, pushed off the road, and nearly blown off my feet, while ducking my head and waiting for the gust to past.  But other than that it was a beautiful day, temperatures in the 70’s and the sun was shining all day!

My view for most of the day

McDonald Observatory (on the hill)
Finally made it - elevation 6,800 feet

Finished the day in Kent, Tx (2,116 feet elevation)

Kent Public School

We are spending the night in Van Horn, Tx (population: 2,035; elevation: 4,047) at the KOA Campground.  People are nice and facilities are good… they have Wi-Fi and a recreation room (no A/C).

Campground 45 with Chickens

Camp Cat - KK

Catus Bloom