31st Oct – 2nd Nov 2018
Lordsburg to Silver City 74kms
After a heavy rain in the night, we weren’t even sure we’d ride on today, but as we opened the door, it was overcast, cool, but looking like getting clearer. So Will walked to reception, returning with coffee, and we got through our morning routine in good time. We still needed to do some food shopping, as it was going to be a tough day, and if we needed to camp out, we’d need food and water.
Unfortunately we had to backtrack to take the turn onto highway 90, towards Silver City. Once we turned onto it, we were heading uphill. It was a fairly light grade for about 25kms. The scenery was great, especially with the storms around us. The wind was blowing them ahead of us, but it was getting a little cooler, and I was getting nervous.
New tarmac, very pretty rumble strip, and the shoulder is reasonable. If only the poor weather would piss off.
It was slow going, and we used the white tailed deer to keep us amused. A group of them spotted us, and raced around like chickens with their heads cut off. They’d run off in the direction we were riding, then stop and watch us ever so slowly catch them. Then off they’d go again. Hilarious. It lasted a good 15 minutes.
Highway 152 is a doozie. Up, up and more up. It is gorgeous though. Amazing flowers bursting out after some water, and as always, mountains all around.
Now the grade increased more, and the storm that was moving ahead of us, seemed to be going to cross our path. To add to the issues, they were doing roadworks, and we had to hold up and wait for the pilot truck to come back to our end. This gave the storm a chance to get in front of us. Then off we go, slowly climbing again, and right into that bloody storm. It wasn’t a huge cell, but it was freezing. So cold in fact, it was actually hailing on us. The road started to rollercoaster, with more up than down, but the downs were very hairy, in the wet, cold conditions. I was not happy Jan! This is uncalled for.
Will promised me this wouldn’t hit us……..He lied! Aaarrrggghhhh!
The storm moved on, and we rolled on towards the top of our day. The sun came back, so we found ourselves a quiet spot for some lunch. I also put on more clothes, I was getting colder. Long pants, a second t-shirt under my pink shirt, and the full gloves. I was starting to feel a bit shattered from the cold, but a good rest in the sun, and some good food was very helpful.
After defrosting in the sun, we ate some good wholesome salami, cheese and tomato rolls. Just for a change. Then I added layers.
Literally over the next hill, we crossed the Continental Divide, which was the highest point for the day. Now we hit the rollercoaster hills for real. We had some nice downhill runs, coming to White Signal, and that’s about when the wind started to pick up too. The downs were good, but the ups were long and slow. Lots and lots of low gears, and now we are pushing into the wind to top it off. It was getting hard. We came to the Tyrone Copper mine, and a frickin enormous, long, slow and difficult climb. Holy cow, we did not expect this shit.
The highest point for the day is always fantastic. Even the Hulk got excited.
The copper mine is huge, and at least I could stop and look at it, every time I stopped to rest my legs, and have a little pep talk with myself. My energy was really flagging, so we stopped, I sat on the road shoulder, and ate a nut bar. Ugh, how are we going to do this, we still have about 10kms to go. Surely this is the last hill. Nope, there’s more! They are never ending torture, today. It’s Halloween, and it feels like it too.
. When we leave here, we just have to regain it.
Finally, we hit the city limits, and just a couple of rolling hills, then into the old historic side of town. It is very cute. But really, right now, I just need somewhere to park for the night. From my research, and seeing as it is almost my birthday, we’d decided to lift our standards, and chose the Palace Hotel. It is a super old building, decked out with quirky local art, and lots of old photos, portraits and paintings from the beginning of time here. Luckily Rose had a room for us, for two nights, a safe store room for the kids, and the only down side was the stairs to the rooms. It was gorgeous though.
Just what I needed. A Palace. Yay, we do enjoy an old, historical hotel. Happy Halloween, we made it.
While I was inside sorting it out, a lady came over to talk to Will. Tami and her family are on the Southern Tier also, and have been passing us ever since Quartzsite. How can that be, I here you ask? Well Tami is driving a support vehicle for her daughter, Tatum (18), her husband Dave, and friend Tom. So they have been seeing us regularly, and just didn’t have safe places to pull over. So we got changed, and went across the street to Little Toad Creek Brewery, and met the whole crew, enjoyed one too many beers, and had a really awesome night, after a very tough day.
Silver City – 1st & 2nd Nov
Slept in, walked the town, did washing, the usual. What we did too, was find Gila Hike and Bike, a local bike store, and got some good info from Martin. The Gila Cliff Dwellings, 75kms away, over some gnarly hills, was a must see, but not on a bike. He suggested hiring a car, found us the number for the hire company, offered to drop us off there, and was really helpful. A great shop. So Will decided that, instead of tackling the hardest climbing day of the whole route, on my birthday, we’d stay a third day, hire a car and see the cliff dwellings. Righto then.
The Palace had a great collection of old photographs, portraits, and local artworks. It was a nice place to hang out.
An eclectic little old town, and a beautiful day to just wander around.
For dinner we went to Jalisco, Mexican restaurant. We’d been told it was one of the best in the state. It was good. The service was impeccable, just watching them was impressive. We ate too much, waddled back to our room with our twin food babies.
Team Wiljen and the Mexican food challenge. Delicious, and we beat it, just.
The drive to the cliff dwellings was beautiful, but challenging. Our hire car was a small Corolla, which was heaps better than the Motorhome of Madness. So, these cliff dwellings were made by erosion and nature, well, the initial caves were. The dwellings inside were built and inhabited, by the native Mogollon people, about 800 years ago. The area is really pretty, and the caves and walls are really incredible. About 40 to 60 people lived in the caves, and hunted, gathered and survived the harsh winters for around 20 years. It was a nice way to spend my 48th Birthday.
A beautiful drive out to the Gila Cliff Dwellings, and a short video at the visitors centre , before some lunch, and a great explore of the monument. Lots of Crevis Spiny Lizards trying to warm up on this cool Autumn day.
There was just so much to look at, in this small area, so I’m sorry for all the pics. Such a beautiful spot.
They chipped the rock with very basic tools, to build the walls. There were 800 year old corn cob husks, still in one room (I’m sceptical), and petroglyphs on some walls.
Had great views, and was warm in winter, cool in summer. No wonder they picked these caves.
These caves are one of the only monuments of it’s kind in the states, that you can still enter. We were grateful.
Back in Silver City, Will returned the car, then we had a couple of celebratory drinks (not many, big ride tomorrow), and some bar snacks. We tried to have an early night, and a good sleep. This next day, takes us up to the highest point on the Southern Tier, and is also a huge kilometre day.
A couple of cocktails, a few spicy chicken wings, and we were ready for an early night. Thanks for all my birthday wishes everybody. Really made my day.