There has been a little interest in the pictures of the ghost town I posted the other day. So here is some more about the place. Chloride is about 40 miles north, as the crow flies, of Kingston, where we stayed in the Black Range Lodge. I was incorrect about the last people leaving in 1920. The owners of the general store (The Pioneer Store and now a museum) locked the store up and left in 1920. In 1975, the Edmunds, a retired couple from Canada, were driving their RV through the mountains of New Mexico and made a wrong turn, stumbling upon what was left of the place. Seven people, all seventy years of age or older still resided in the town. They were either original owners or relatives of former owners. The Edmunds bought the general store and began the restoration. All the city records were found but a good portion of them had deteriorated beyond hope from mold, bats and rodents. Ew. The Edmunds have been buying other properties and restoring those, as well. Their daughter is the museum curator and guide now. That is about the extent of what I know. Here are a few more pictures. They were taken with my old phone and the indoor pictures are not the best.
We spent the rest day in El Paso driving to Fort Hancock, the next town we will ride to on L3. We used Google Bike Maps for directions but it was a road different from Adventure Cycling Route Map Section 3. West Texas seems more desolate than anything we have encountered yet. (We will start our ride about 7 miles from downtown El Paso as that is the extra distance we needed to ride to get to the Courtyard Marriott near the El Paso airport. The streets in El Paso don’t make much accommodation for bicyclists. It will be safer that way.) After Fort Hancock, we visited The Border Patrol Museum. What a waste of time…enough said. Wasn’t my idea!
I will try to blog about our summer rides just because I don’t get any other chance to write.
By Day 8 everyone was ready for Leg 2 to end. Burnout had set in, all the scenery was looking the same, and we were all starting to miss our homes. Fortunately the last day’s ride was supposed to be pretty easy, at least compared to Day 7′s slog. And finally, for the first night of the trip, Dad had gotten a good night’s sleep.
The guys got a late start so as to avoid traffic out of Las Cruces, which meant we all got to hang out with Mary, Nalla, and Soukuma some more.
It was a pretty easy day for me, too. I saw Mary and the kids off, worked a bit in the room, then started for El Paso. The drive was striking for the many pecan farms along Route 28. Pecan trees are planted in grids, and it makes for a neat effect when you’re driving past them. I think one of the guys posted a photo, but here’s one from Flickr for reference. The desert was beautiful but we all welcomed the change of scenery.
I found the cyclists on a trafficky road in El Paso just a few miles from the finish line. They were all a little grouchy and were disagreeing about the best way to get to the hotel. Dad almost called it a day — after all, they’d made it to their destination city. But he decided to stick with the team and ended up leading them the rest of the way.
I checked in to the hotel, chatted with Chris a little bit, then realized I needed to go out and get some celebratory beer. I drove to a Walgreens and grabbed a cold six pack of Dos Equis. When I pulled into the hotel parking lot the bikes were lined up outside the front entrance. The ride was over.
Hotel Art of the Day
Sorry you can’t see this too well; it was really tough to get a good shot. It has an even cooler companion piece against a green background, but there wasn’t enough contrast for it to render well in a photo. And it wasn’t fully visible.
Hotel Art Score
6/10. I’m not thrilled with this choice of matting; I see what they were going for with the squares, but I think they should either have done a thinner white matte or none at all and used a slightly thinner frame. I’m thinking too much about mattes and not enough about trees. Also, this and its companion were hung in a weird spot, partially covered by the TV. But the smallness is great — it makes you look, and it’s pleasant to look at.
Art Art Score
6.5/10. This is actual art and I like it.
The trip is over, but I want to write about the rest of my L2 experience; I regret not having recorded the final days of my L1 adventure. This blog is for family and friends, but it’s also very much for me and for us. I will treasure being able to go back and relive these experiences.
Day 7: Kingston, NM to Las Cruces. I woke up in the early a.m. hours after my body sobered up, my throat parched from all of last night’s wine. My bed at Black Range Lodge was extremely comfortable, but I couldn’t relax back into sleep. I lay in bed thinking about work and life, finally going downstairs to turn on the coffee maker at 7.
Within a few minutes, Tom, staff cook and woodworker, freelance silversmith and gold digger, came in from outside and began making breakfast, chatting affably about life in Kingston. Mark and Tim filtered in, and we quickly downed a pot of very good locally farmed coffee. Black Range Lodge easily takes the prize for best coffee of the trip.
In continuation of my inadvertent weight gain plan, I enjoyed a hearty breakfast of French toast, eggs, turkey bacon, and fresh homemade bread. Then around 7:45 a glassy-eyed Brian zombied into the kitchen. Yet again he had not slept well. Today’s ride, while not mountainous, would be the longest, at almost 90 miles. I was seriously worried about his ability to make it, and so were his brothers. I kept making jokes that weren’t really jokes about how I could just drive him to Las Cruces. He insisted he was fine. He looked miserable.
After the bikers left, I did some work in my room and stressed out about Dad’s condition. If something happened to him, would it be my fault for not insisting he take the day off? I concluded that he’s a grown-up and it was his decision. His brothers would look after him and someone would call me if I needed to rescue him. Then I resumed stressing out.
I planned to meet them in Hatch, New Mexico, chile capital of the world, for lunch. I drove there on I-10 (speed limit 75, gulp) and didn’t pass them. I parked in a lot behind a gas station to worry more, making many fruitless attempts to track Dad’s location. I texted the team asking them where they were, but no one replied. After 20 minutes I started feeling antsy and self conscious, so I drove to a nearby Dollar General (there are many Dollar Generals in this part of the country) and parked Midnight Rider. For once feeling hungry (a rarity on this trip), or maybe just to take my mind off of not knowing when or whether I would ever see the guys again, I ate the small bag of Cool Ranch Doritos I’d been given by the cold check-in lady at the Holiday Inn Express in Silver City.
I’m not kidding when I say this: the happy childhood memories contained in the experience of eating Doritos were a magic balm; I instantly calmed down and finally started thinking clearly. Obviously the guys had taken a different route; they wouldn’t have gone on the interstate. I decided to head out to find them, and within minutes I passed Tim and Mark, who looked confused that I was going the opposite direction. About half a mile behind them I found Dad soldiering along.
I turned around, pulled up ahead of them, and told Mark and Tim to pick out a place for chile burgers. They asked if I’d seen my dad, which told me he’d been well behind them most of the day. I planned to try to convince him to give up again.
We ended up at Pepper Pot. Chili burgers were just what everyone needed (except Tim who was a wimp and got a regular burger) to power through the rest of the ride. I discovered that Dad’s phone had been on airplane mode, which explained why I couldn’t track him. I made my pitch for quitting, but he seemed much better after eating, so I gave it up and figured he’d be okay.
On the drive from Hatch to Las Cruces I even stopped to get out of the car and take some photos.
My cousin Mary arrived in Las Cruces about an hour after I checked in. I don’t get to see her often and it was really nice to catch up and spend time with her adorable kids. With the help of the tracking app I timed the guys’ arrival perfectly, and we all met them as they pulled up to the hotel. I gave Dad a hug. I was so happy his day of riding was over.
After relaxing for a bit we headed out to a nice dinner at La Posta, a huge restaurant in Mesilla that keeps a bunch of parrots in its lobby. This dinner is most notable for Tim discovering a beer he likes enough to drink regularly: Dos Equis. He owes it all to Mark, who had been craving one (or more accurately, two) after the long day’s ride.
Hotel Art of the Day
I forgot to take a photo of the art but found one on the Springhill Suites website. You will now appreciate the efforts I have made to cut out the glare of the glass in my shots.
Hotel Art Score
5/10. It’s very easy to ignore this piece, which looks like a a close-up of a nice kitchen backsplash. Yeah, it goes with the sofa. It’s got some texture. It’s completely inoffensive. Its blandness works against it, though. The colors are too cold and unvaried to make the room feel homey. But its failure is partly the fault of the overall interior design of these suites, which I would label “confused modern.”
3/10. I like the idea of examining everyday objects like tiles closely — genuine beauty and wonder can be found in things like this. But I detect no heart, and not much thought, behind this piece. It had the potential to be something real but it just doesn’t care enough.
This was a great day of riding, that is until we got to the city traffic in El Paso. The road we took from Las Cruces is called ‘the farm road’ and is aptly named. There were miles and miles of farms on both sides of the road, especially pecan orchards. It is all irrigated agriculture. We saw dozens of road kill dead skunks, perhaps attracted by the pecan trees. We saw several wineries for the first time since leaving California.
The road was flat and smooth and had a nice paved shoulder most of the way. This trip has been remarkable for the lack of other cyclists we have seen, but today we saw dozens of other cyclists on the ‘farm road’. I guess it’s a haven for cyclists in the area. A let down was when we realized that we were in Texas. There is no ‘Welcome’ sign. That has always been a photo op for us. Oh well, we’ll get over it. Texas, our fourth state, four more to go. I guess I am getting ahead of my self. The combined mileage of the trip so far is less than the miles we have to cover (1124) just to get across Texas.
Some observations about Leg 2 of our trip:
The roads were a little better.
Scenery was spectacular because of the mountains.
Litter along side the roads in Arizona was depressing. Miles and miles of broken bottles and trash that no one picks up. There weren’t any trash receptacles either.
Perfect weather, again. I hope carmaker doesn’t get even.
No flats, pretty amazing.
Other than Brian’s one fall, no mishaps.
Last but not least, the best and most entertaining Sag Lady anyone could ask for. You done well, Brian and Nancy.
Thanks for all the support from you guys back home. It really helps. Until the next leg….
We started the day at about 8 a.m. by having a nice breakfast together, including Mary, Nalla and Suokamo. We got on our bikes and began the last ride of this cross country leg L2 at a bit after 9:00 a.m. Not too far from our hotel, we came back to Mesilla, where there is a historic district containing a small, wood construction Catholic Cathedral, the jail in which Billy the Kid was once held, and the La Posta restaurant we visited last night. Here is a shot of the Cathedral.
I took my last video along NM 28. The trees in the video are pecan groves, which we first began to see yesterday along NM 187 and NM 185. Pecan groves very much like the ones in this video line a good portion of NM 28. Also, as you will notice in this clip, it was very comforting to see bikers coming the other way on NM 28, since it meant this was a bike-friendly route.
Not too much after this, we again came upon the Rio Grande, which we had crossed a few times during yesterday’s long ride. Yesterday, the two times we crossed it, it had water in it. Today, further south and almost to Texas, the river bed was completely dry.
The most difficult part of today’s 54 mile trek was when we rode into El Paso on Texas 20. The rode became very urban and there was quite a lot of traffic. We met Beth along Mesa Blvd (which is also Texas 20), took on a few more fluids, and retrieved printed biking directions of the route to our hotel, which I had printed out from Google maps before leaving on this trip. At times they were a little difficult to follow, but they definitely worked and we made it to our hotel (the Courtyard by Marriott at the El Paso Airport) safe and sound. We celebrated with some cold beers Beth picked up for us after she had made it to the hotel ahead of us. After tossing down the beers, intermingled with the rest of our salty snacks, we all went down to the pool and hot tub. So here are a few pictures we took while relaxing there.
We finished off the evening by enjoying another good Mexican meal at Los Bandidos De Carlos And Mickey’s, a short drive from our hotel. Tomorrow some of us (like me) plan to finish disassembling our bikes and then taking in a few sights that El Paso has to offer.
I know Tim and Brian will describe our journey today so I won’t bore with more of the same. Enjoy the pictures I took today and before you know it, we will be writing again about the next chapter of the Brothers Bike ride. Thanks to all who faithfully read our posts every day. The fact that you want to hear what we do and see is a big part of the enjoyment of these rides. Thanks again.
We had a nice breakfast, cooked by Tom (who also happens to be a gold prospector) at the Black Range Lodge, and were on our way by about 8:30 a.m., which was a little later than we would have liked. I took my one and only video of the day shortly after leaving Kingston.
There is just no other word for it – this day’s ride was tough! We all agreed that this was the most difficult ride, even though we dropped about 2,300 feet in elevation. But it was an 89 mile ride and it took us about 9 hours total, including about a 30 minute or so lunch break at The Pepper Pot Cafe in Hatch, NM (which was very nourishing and tasty, by the way!). I took only a few pictures during the ride, and here they are:
We finally arrived at our hotel at about 5:30 p.m., when we were beginning to run out of daylight. Our late arrival reminded us all of a similarly long day on L1 when we arrived at the Fairfield Inn in El Centro, CA after dusk.
When we arrived, we were met by Beth, and also by Tim’s daughter Mary and her two children Nalla and Suokamo. Mary lives in Albuquerque, NM and made the 3.5 hour drive south along Interstate 25 to meet up with us for the evening. Here is a picture of Mary and her children, taken from Beth’s room at our hotel.
After showering, enjoying a beer, and visiting with Mary and her children, we all went to dinner at a Mexican restaurant named La Posta in Mesilla. We had a very good meal and just enjoyed being together. I was happy for Tim that he was able to spend some time with Mary and his grandchildren, with whom he doesn’t often have a chance to visit. Here is my last photo for the day, taken by Beth in La Posta.
I should have blogged when we got back to the hotel, but I was just too exhausted after the long day. However, for really the first night of this trip, I was able to get a great night’s sleep!
We started this day pretty bundled up, since it was only 31 degrees Fahrenheit with a wind chill that made it feel like 21 degrees. But we warmed up quickly as we started to climb out of Silver City. We left NM 180 behind and got onto NM 152 shortly out of Silver City. NM 152 was originally constructed in the 1930′s as part of a Works Progress Administration project and it is a beautiful road with very little traffic. Silver City is at an elevation of 5,938 feet and Kingston is at about 6,200 feet, but first we needed to climb up to Emory Pass, which is at an elevation of 8,228 feet. So we need ahead of time that it would be challenging, even though our total mileage for the trip was about 45 miles. I took a few photos while on the ride, but I was mainly focused on completing the day’s ride, which had been on my mind for several days in advance. Here are some photos to give you an idea of what we saw on this ride.
This was the first day using the new seat that Mark, Tim and Beth had strongly encouraged me to purchase the previous afternoon when we were in downtown Silver City. I was really glad they were all so insistent, because the new seat actually made this ride possible. We climbed almost the entire day, using switchbacks that had been carved into the mountain to make the grade tolerable for motorists. I’m pretty sure the transportation engineers that designed the road were not really thinking of cyclists, but the grade is fine for bike riders also. My one video of the day was when Beth met us exactly as planned at 12:30 p.m. along NM 152. Beth had told us she was going to work out in the Exercise Room of the Silver City hotel and then go shopping for contents of the meal I would be cooking that evening, leaving the hotel around 10:45 aa.m. By checking the driving directions on Google Maps for our destination, she was confident that she would catch up to us at about 12:30 p.m. and she was right on target.
After meeting up with Beth and filling up on all our fluids and snack items, Beth continued on her way and we did too, with about another 6 miles or so of climbing ahead of us. About the best I could do climbing the mountain was 4 miles per hour, and I told myself that if the grade got any stepper so that I slowed down even more, I would just get off the bike and walk, since my walking speed would be about the same as my biking speed. But fortunately that did not happen and I never needed to walk. It felt really good to make it to the top of Emory Pass, at which point I took some photos.
Here is another view from the Emory Pass lookout. The white spots on the mountains are snow.
After making it to Emory pass, we had about eight more miles of riding, and all of it was downhill, a drop of 2,000 feet. It took concentration and strong hands on the brakes to make it safely which, of course, we all did. We made it to the Black Range Lodge in Kingston, where we stayed for the night. Kingston was once a town of about 7000 people in the 1880′s and early 1890′s, when silver was still backing U.S. currency. When that changed in 1893, the town’s economy plummeted, as did the population. Today there are only about 2 dozen people still living there, and that includes Katherine (the proprietor of the lodge) and Gary and Tom, who help her run it.
Beth and I made dinner for this night, which consisted of breaded boneless chicken, white rice spiced up with hot salsa, and a green salad. We invited Katherine and Gary to join us, and they both seemed to appreciate both the dinner and the conversation, which somehow included a fair share of history, politics, and bashing of Republicans. It was all in fun and I know we all enjoyed it.
We all called home on the lodge’s landline. There was no cell service to speak of and internet coverage was via satellite and spotty at best. So there was no blogging this night.
Day 6: Silver City to Kingston, NM. Dad and Tim were pretty anxious about climbing Emory Pass on Black Range (aka Sierra Diablo, Devil’s Mountains). It was the coldest day so far, and Day 5 had been extremely windy. They didn’t know what to expect. Neither did I.
The bikers quickly relaxed once enveloped by the mountain’s beauty. But I, a few hours later, cursed constantly in surprise and fear at how dangerous the road was. This was the twistiest path I have ever driven, and there were no guardrails. Driving off the road into my death was an unrelenting option. I greatly disliked having that option, just as I dislike having the option to jump onto the subway tracks or jump off a hotel balcony when it has a low railing. Plus, at every turn (so about 117 times) I thought, “Maybe they fell off there.” I worried for us all. And I had no cell signal, so I couldn’t track Dad’s location with the GPS app we have on our phones.
But it was gorgeous. In my sporadic calmer moments I felt like I was in Disney’s Davy Crockett, crawling through unspoiled, Technicolor splendor. (Is it sad that I often first think of Disney when I experience real-world beauty? Is it because beautiful wilderness is so foreign to me? I will explore this on my own time.)
At last, only about 15 minutes after I expected to find them, I found them. They were in good spirits and ready for more supplies.
I breathed only a little easier for the 12-mile drive from the rest stop to our B&B. At one point (because at 15 mph, it seemed to be taking forever) I yelled, “Get me off of this mountain!” And then amended it to, “But safely, not by me driving over the edge.”
Thanks, me, for not driving over the edge.
The Black Range Lodge was pretty much as I expected: cozy, quirky, and hospitable. Roosters crowed. Dogs wandered into rooms wanting some petting. Catherine, the proprietor, gave me a tour and shared the history of the place. As a former assistant director in Hollywood who has written screenplays, she originally envisioned Black Range Lodge as a writers’ retreat. The lodge, and Kingston (pop. 24) in general, certainly make for a remote escape — maybe a little too remote for me — but it would be a good place to write if you want to cut yourself off from civilization.
The guys arrived about an hour after me, we had our snacks by a gas fireplace outside our rooms, then Tim and Mark went off to soak in the hot tub and Dad and I made dinner. We invited Catherine and her handyman Gary to join us, and thankfully I’d bought just enough chicken breasts for everyone. Dinner conversation topics included Vietnam, LBJ, and I don’t remember what else because I drank a lot of wine. I needed it after that harrowing drive.
We then retired to the game room and played pool while listening to Chuck Berry on the room’s CD player. I was in no shape for a game of anything, to everyone’s amusement. Tim dominated and humble bragged about not having played in years. Then Mark put on Sting’s Ten Summoner’s Tales while Tim read to us about the next day’s trek. All in all an unforgettable day.
Hotel Art of the Day
Hotel Art Score
9/10. If you’re a remote B&B in New Mexico you can’t go wrong with a Georgia O’Keeffe print. But let’s say I didn’t know there was such an artist as Georgia O’Keeffe, and this was just on the wall without any marker. It’s immediately obvious that this is in another class. It invites you into its spaces; it wants you to look, and look closely. It reminds you to go outside and look closely at the world. Plus the yellow in the flower ties in nicely with the wall.
Art Art Score
8/10. It’s kind of a different ballgame when the artist is critically lauded, but I’m trying not to let it affect my judgement. I should say that in general I’ve never been much of a fan of O’Keeffe’s work. My usual response (one I should maybe reconsider) is, “Oh, another flower that looks like lady parts. Mmhmm.” But: I really like this piece. It’s intimate but not the most overtly “feminine.” Looking at it makes me feel peaceful. It’s just lovely.