Lower Great Divide and Shadow of the Rockies
First of all I would like to thank those that made this trip possible. My wife, Sandy, for understanding my need to do crazy stuff like this. Perry, who follows along without question and tolerates all of my navigation errors with a smile. Kurt, Rusty, and Scott who all agreed to monitor the SPOT and help Sandy to find us in case of emergency. My sister Leslie and her family for letting us use her home in Colorado Springs as our base camp and fixing some awesome meals. :eat: The rest of my friends and family for cheering us on.
The Continental Divide Trail is a route composed of a series of dirt roads that follows the continental divide as close as possible from the Canadian Border to the Mexican Border while staying on public right of ways. Originally developed as a ride for mountain bicycles by the Adventure Cycling Association, the roads are County Roads, US Forest Service trails, and State roads. I'm not sure but from anecdotal experience approximately 85% of the entire trial is dirt varying from well groomed very wide roads to seldom traveled and never maintained two track jeep trails. There are even a few sections of single track along the way. Last summer we rode the northern 2/3 of the Continental Divide Trail from the northern border to Salida, CO. You can read all about that trip HERE, if you want. We were limited by time available so we were left with some unfinished business to take care of. This trip was conceived on the way home last summer. Planning began immediately. Dates for vacation were reserved at the earliest possible opportunity. To make the trip more interesting I decided to make a loop out of the ride to include the New Mexico portion of the Shadow of the Rockies trail. We would also use part of the Trans America Trail as it shares the route with the Shadow of the Rockies in southern Colorado. Here is the overall map of our ride. Nearly 2300 miles in 8 days.
Here is a shot of my gear piled on the dining table to give an idea of what I would carry on the bike. As little as possible but it still would end up being about 40 lbs.
We would haul the bikes to Colorado Springs were my sister would let us use her home as a base of operations. We left home early and arrived in CO Springs just after sunset.
Day 1: 9/16/2010
We had no trouble waking up in the morning with anticipation of the ride. But, we weren't in a hurry either. There was a long way to go and unlike many other rides we have done there wasn't any kind of schedule other than to ride, eat, sleep and repeat the next day. Leslie took care of breakfast and we did final prep and loading of the bikes. With bellies and bikes fully loaded we were ready to hit the trail. Bikes: 2000 DR-Z 400 and 2004 KLR 650. After this trip my DR-Z has 26,500 miles and Perry's KLR has 36,000+
This is the view my sister gets every day leaving her neighborhood. Pike's Peak and Cheyenne Mountain. Not bad.
Our route was loaded into my Zumo 550 gps and Karen would be whispering directions into my ear for the trip. I've tried many of the different voice programs and found the Australian accent to have the nicest tone with the no perceptible attitude. The American and English versions get snooty when they have to recalculate due to wrong turns.
We rolled out around 0830 and had to make our way across CO Springs. The weather was perfect. West of IH 25 we went through some very posh neighborhoods on our way to Cheyenne Mountain. This is just one of the homes we passed. Not too shabby.
We stared to climb very quickly and were directed onto Old Stage Rd. which continues to climb high above The Springs and heads to the west side of Cheyenne Mt. In less than 30 minutes from leaving base we were riding through pine and aspen forests on dirt roads. It took a while for me to get my "dirt legs" as I had not been on any dirt rides since our trip to Big Bend in the spring. So soon into the ride the beauty of the trees was breathtaking.
Before getting to far we were treated to one last look at CO Springs.
Old Stage Rd soon transitions into Gold Camp Rd which would take us all the way to the mining town of Victor. We took one detour which which was labeled on the maps as Short Cut. It cut the corner on a large lopping section of Gold Camp Rd. It saved about a mile. It was a short up hill followed by a short downhill section. It was obvious the jeeps had been using this and there was no maintenance. This would be the first challenge with ruts and loose rocks. Here is the view from the crest of the hill looking down.
We both made it though with little difficulty and a couple of jabs on my part. Back on the main road we continued west as we skirted the south slopes of Pike's Peak. Like many roads in Colorado this is and old railroad route converted to dirt road. There are many cuts through rock and even a cool tunnel to go through. You have to go slow and stick to the far right due to many blind spots.
Gold Camp is a really nice road, well maintained, that could be driven by any type vehicle and for me is the preferred way to get from CO Springs to Cripple Creek and Victor.
Perry on his KLR catching up.
After a couple hours we arrived in Victor, CO. An old mining town that is a town frozen in time. Lots of old mining equipment can be seen by just driving through.
In between Victor and Cripple Creek is the Cripple Creek and Victor Gold Mine. An active open pit mine that produces around 250,000 ounces of gold annually.
Welcome to Cripple Creek, CO.
Cripple Creek is the more tourist oriented of the two sister towns. Complete with casinos and restored hotels this is the place most people visit when in the area. Across the street there was a cool sand sculpture. There had not been any rain around here in about a month.
This is my kind of municipal building; a Colt Firearms add on the side. :clap:
The view down Main St.
We were in need of a rest stop so we thought we would check out the fire station. We speak the lingo so figured we could talk out way in. :trust:
We were greeted by one of the local firefighters and within minutes were invited in to take care of business.
She gave us the cheap tour of the truck room and we exchanged uniform patches, a tradition in the fire service. I try to take a few on every trip for just such and occasion.
Next: Skeletons and the first fall. ;-)
We continued to head west towards the town of Guffey, CO. This is one of the many eclectic communities we would travel through along this route. A collection of 100 year old cabins and unique individuals just enjoying the life they have away from the rat race. As we came into town we were met by some very cool yard art in the form of skeletons.
Across the street was the tire repair shop/tee shirt/antique store.
This shot helps to remind folk that our route was on public roads but much of the land on either side was private. We spent much time opening and closing gates and crossing cattle guards. There were no bump gates like found in the Texas hill country. Our routine became one that I would ride up to the gate; dismount and open said gate; Perry would ride through and dismount followed by me; then Perry would close and secure the gate. It worked very well.
And this brings us to the first fall of the trip. We were riding through and area of plotted roads that had not been fully developed. Meaning they were overgrown and seldom used. Perfect. The route led us up to a locked gate, no problem. I rode up to the gate to check the status of the chain and lock. Sometimes they will try to fool you with a lock in the middle of the chain yet the chain is only handing on a hook on the post. As I came to a stop at the gate I put my right foot down on top of a small rock that proceeded to roll out from under my foot and over we went. :doh: Of course I waited for Perry to get a good photo.
She was heavy to pick up as she was laying slightly downhill but I managed without assistance. The spot was perfect for this next photo. I'm glad I fell there and got this shot.
After a few recalculations of the route we joined the actual Continental Divide Route just in time to meet our first "Dividers". A husband and wife team from Denver. They had jumped on the trail in Abiguiu, NM and came north to get back home from a rally they had attended in NM. This was their first "off road" trip and they were having a blast.
You can see her smile inside the helmet. A normal condition among dirt riders.
We had covered this section of the route last year so much of the views were familiar as we approached Salida. A little water action.
Some great views of the Collegiate Peaks along the way.
And finally our destination for lunch in Salida, Amicas Pizza and Microbrew.
Yummy. A regular stop for us when in the neighborhood.
Having refueled both bodies and bikes we had to make one more stop for supplies that we either forgot or just needed to pick up for the next week on the trail.
Next: the rest of the first day.
After a short run on the highway we got back onto the dirt on Marshall Pass. Another well maintained and well traveled dirt road that is popular among the leafers. Leafers: people who enjoy looking at the leaves changing color. In this neighborhood that means aspen leaves. And they were just starting to come into full golden color.
The first official crossing of the divide and the first posing in front of a sign. Don't worry, we didn't do this for every one but we had to include a few; it's tradition.
After the pass we took a short break in Sargents before heading south along the trail. The Tomichi Creek Trading Post has a well stocked store, a cafe, camping, and cabins that are reasonable if you are in the area whether riding street or trail. We weren't done for the day yet so we took a pass and continued on. This section of the road had some navigation challenges as the old roads had been replaced by a new, wider county road. We missed the turn since we were looking for the old roads. I spotted a two track road that followed a fence line that led to where we should be. After some consideration and spotting a set of fairly fresh knobby tire tracks in the ditch leading to the road I decided to give it a try and after about half a mile we were on the new road. It followed the old road pretty closely but would occasionally get far enough off the planned route that Karen would ask if I wanted to recalculate. On a ride like this that had preplanned routes you are best off to say no when asked to recalculate the route. The Zumo is not as powerful a mapping tool as Mapsource so when rerouting you can easily loose the planned route. If you think this has happened just go back and select the original route and you are back on the track you should be using.
Some of the scenery we passed.
The sun was getting low so I pulled up some preplanned camp sites from my "favorites" list and set my sights on Storm King Campground. A primitive campground provided by the US Forest Service. We pulled in next to a group of hunters out enjoying the muzzle loading season. We set camp in what light was left then started digging into our packs for supper. Perry sliced up some summer sausage, cheese and crackers. I had some Mountain House lasagna that I felt like re-hydrating to add to the meal. It's pretty good for de-hydrated food and I was itching to try my new compact stove.
It's based on the simple soda can stove but made from heavier gauge aluminum and riveted together so it is more durable and holds more fuel. I bought if from a guy on this very forum that makes them and sells them shipped to your for about $7. It burns alcohol fuel which can be purchased in the form of gas line antifreeze, Heet is one brand name, from most any auto parts store so fuel is readily available. It take less than an ounce of fuel to boil two cups of water. I thought I'd play around a little to show off the flame it produces.
Add the red light from my headlamp.
Fun to play with fire. :trust: We only covered a couple hundred miles but it was quality riding and good for the first day.
Day 2; Indiana Pass and into New Mexico
The night was pretty cold. I actually had to zip up inside the mummy as the temps were probably near or just below 40. Don't know for sure. We woke before sunrise and started packing in the early light the sun would never get to us at camp as we were in a valley.
Breakfast would wait for Del Norte which was about 30 miles as the crow flies but we aren't crow so I figured it would take a couple hours. The sun was directly in front as we rode east past a few homesteads.
After taking the previous photo Perry rode up next to me and asked if I had dropped this. One of his jobs in following me is to watch for things falling off my bike.
The flag belonged to someone else but since he is from Canada I told him he could keep it. We eventually found ourselves on some very nice two track road that started out like a roller coaster. Small hills of about 8 feet tall each that would roll from one to the next. Smooth surface made for a fun ride. Then across a high middle section.
Finally the road dumped us into a river bed, more of a wash actually, that was full of marble size gravel that went on for about a half mile. My mind wandered to thoughts of having to wrestle a GS Adventure through trails like this and was glad to be on the DRZ. Another navigation challenge when the road we were supposed to use was being rebuilt into a landing strip for the new airport in Del Norte. I could see a new road being cut over to the west so I took off that direction. Sure enough it made a nice loop around the under construction airport and back onto the road we were supposed to be on. Sometime you just have to improvise; pull your head out of the gps screen and go with your gut. We rolled into Del Norte and I gave Perry the assignment of finding a place for brunch. He chose this cafe.
This is the rig that most cyclists use on the Divide trail.
After filling up on omelets and cakes we found that our bikes had some company in the parking lot. A little fancier and not going where we were but kindred spirits anyway.
From Del Norte we go south toward one of the highest mountain passes on this trip. Indiana Pass. The road was good to a point where there was a three way fork and Karen advised to take the middle. Less than a hundred yards up the hill there was a gate but there was room on the right side for a bike or horse to go around and several had been through judging by the tracks. The road soon became overgrown but still obvious that it was a road. Then a tree across the road. I tried to go over but got hung up/high centered on the branch when my back tire spun the loose and dried bark off the trunk of the tree.
I know it doesn't look like much but what the photo doesn't show is the two foot deep washout just to my right. Perry help me get the bike off and we found a way around to the left that I didn't notice before I attempted to cross. :doh: We kept going and eventually came to the locked gate at the other end. This time no easy way around. We would have to go downhill then make a turn on the slope to make it back up to the road. Perry went first.
And fell making the turn in the loose soil.
I ran over to help him pick up the beast and added weight to the back to help him get traction to make it up the hill. My turn was less eventful but between helping him and taking my turn I was out of breath. I checked and we were up around 10,800 feet. No wonder I was winded. Looking back at the gate you can see the slope of the hill.
We pushed on toward the summit of the pass. 11,910 feet. The road going over the saddle.
A mining operation and the runoff collection pond. There was a lot of activity and new construction going on at this location. Must be making money.
A little further down the road and a couple parks over we saw this nice cabin at around 11,000 feet. Nice and secluded for a summer place.
This was probably the nicest reservoir we would see on the trip. It was posted private and no fishing but the view was primo.
Alamosa Canyon was beautiful with red and yellow colors. The soil is very acidic from the runoff the these hills that are rich in iron and other minerals. Vegetation will not grow in the soil resulting in the bare hill sides.
After taking that picture I notice that a bee had tried to take on the armored gloves I was wearing; he lost. What was the last thing that went through his mind as he hit my glove? :lol2:
Next on the agenda was Stunner Pass. At 10,541 feet it was.....stunning.
From the pass we descended through the aspens...
to the village of Platoro.
There is a nice lodge with a cafe, store, and GAS. Never pass up gas or water when you have a chance to fill up on a ride like this. It was 4 bucks a gallon but we only needed a couple to top off so not to bad on the wallet. The village consists of all log cabins, many over 100 years old.
On down the trail a little further we reached the border with New Mexico.
We had been warned by the couple we met on the trail north of Salida about a very rocky climb that we faced a soon as we got into New Mexico. It wasn't long before we were there. A couple hundred yards up the trail I came a cross a fella pushing his bike up the hill. I had to stop and give some support; in words if nothing else. These guys have all the respect I can give another adventurer. They are hard core for sure. And they have all been a pleasure to talk to. I suppose the adversity they overcome makes them have an attitude such that nothing can bother them; even dirt bikers. Kindred spirits of sorts.
The bike he had was something unusual. It was very long as if it had a trailer but it was a single frame piece. Only two wheels. He said it was better than any trailers he had towed. Made for a wheelbase of around 7 feet. Not as maneuverable but easier to handle was what he said.
We continued up the hill being careful not to roost the cyclist. The rocky slope went on then leveled out then got worse with the world famous baby head rocks for around a mile as we climbed. At the top we were treated to this vista.
I was trying to make Abiguiu for the night so I didn't stop for many photos. The terrain was definitely transitioning from mountain to foothills and on to the desert. We stopped at this old cabin for a break.
I enjoy trying to imagine what it would have been like living in a place like this. There was an old corral across the road probably from the same era. And the view down the valley was soothing.
We made it to Abiguiu in time to eat supper and get to Lake Abiquiu where there is a Corps of Engineers park to camp for the night. Supper was a plate of chicken enchilada and chile relleno with green for me.
And for Perry a chicken quesadilla. With poblano cream sauce so you can't pick it up with your fingers so easy.
The food was awesome and we decided then that we would be back for breakfast. I plugged the campground into the gps and off we went. MISTAKE. I forgot to reset the navigation settings to keep us on the highway. So, she took us on a road that paralleled the highway which on the map was named OHV Road. That's off highway vehicle for those that were wondering. It was dusk when we left the cafe. So, we were on a two track trail, at night, with deep ruts and potholes that would swallow a jeep. I could tell that there was a river on our right so I knew we must be heading toward the lake. Then, there it was. It loomed above us in the darkness. The dam that made the lake was blocking out the stars in the sky. I had a sinking feeling that we would have to retrace our path and go back to where we had started. Not happy about that thought. We got to the bottom, rode past the generators and through the parking lot where we found a road that took switchbacks up the face of the dam and deposited us on the highway about a quarter mile from the entrance to the campground. Sometimes you just have to get lucky. Here's the path we took.
The river split the space between our path and the highway. We checked in and set up for the night. Perry put his KLR on the center stand to do some chain lube work. The surface was a little two steep and the bike rolled forward and fell against the split rail fence. Damage: one broken mirror perch. We will check in the morning to see if it can be fixed. That's two drops for him, one for me. But it's a long road ahead so we'll see how the tally ends.
Our track for the day:
Next: Into the desert
:lurk Excellent pics!
Excellent report and photos. That mine south of Indiana Pass is actually a superfund site. Not sure how toxic it is if you're just passing through. I know I sped up a little.
Summitville superfund site
Awesome ride, report and pics!!! Thanks for sharing it :thumb
Thanks everyone else for the comments.
Day 3; Abiquiu to Cuba
The trail as it heads south from Abiquiu begins very easy on well maintained roads. We could really tell we were no longer in the mountains.
Long straight roads.
Then winding through low hills.
Then just past an intersection the trail became more challenging. We use this hill as an example. Deep ruts to the left, rocks and more ruts to the right. Pick your line and go for it.
We climbed up to a mesa top and the road went along the western edge. A fence a 50 feet of trees between us and the valley. The top was a mix of silt and foot deep ruts. We slowly picked our way through what firm lines we could find and plowed the silt when needed. Another hill with more ruts.
This section would be impassable if wet. The silt would become sticky muck and the ruts would fill with the same. We where there when it was totally dry and it was a challenge. Another section that the heavy trailies would find to be a problem. At the end we started winding our way down toward Cuba.
Lots more rocks. I stopped in the middle of a section that was about a mile long going downhill. First looking back up.
Then looking down the hill.
It was slow going in first and second gear. Another section where a heavier bike would be a handful. In the flatter parts there would be huge mud wallows that would swallow a jeep. Most had trails to bypass but too much speed could get you in trouble.
The terrain eventually smoothed out as we got lower in elevation.
At an intersection we took a break before heading down this red dirt road.
A BMW GSA flew by on the main road while we parked here. Way too clean to be doing the whole trail but he was riding dirt roads. Maybe he was local and knew how to get around the worst sections since he New Mexico plates.
We took the trial indicated and ended up at this gate. How do you spell trespassing?
A couple minutes studying the alternatives and we were back on track in just a few miles. The last section coming into Cuba is a super smooth and fast paved section of twisty turns that was a blast even though it wasn't dirt. Very fun. This was our choice for lunch in Cuba. Excellent bacon and cheese sirloin burgers.
Next: The desert
After a good lunch we road about 10 miles asphalt before heading off into the desert. No plants taller than about a foot except in the wash areas, rugged rock formations and vistas that go on forever. Not much else to say so enjoy the photos.
After a while riding in the flat open we came to an area that skirted a mountain and was once wash after another. Slightly elevated we had nice views out over the lowlands.
On the level areas between the washes the trail turned into a fine powdery sand. This was deep on the order of 8 inches in places. Usually not a problem but the trail was winding around with pretty sharp 90' turns so we would have to slow to make the corner. The front tire would not want to stay on top through the curve so it was only a matter of time until......
Going slow through a turn the sand grabbed the front wheel and I tipped over. Low speed, no damage to me or the bike. It was a real soft landing. I stood the bike up and the front wheel sunk into the sand above the rim, it was that soft. We pressed on to a place where there where two holes in the road. Not potholes. I'm talking holes about 4 feet deep and one was 3 feet in diameter.
The drainage pipe running under the road had failed and the road washed from below. :eek2 If anyone hit that it would swallow the front wheel and would send the rider flying over the bars. Perry stuck a piece of the pipe in the hole to make it more visible to anyone approaching.
A couple more gates.....
and a few more rock formations......
and we were at the location marked on the route as WASHOUT. It was fairly obvious that heavy equipment had been working there. The road had recently been maintained.
Looking back toward the wash.
We took a short break here and rode on towards Grants.
As the day wore on, we once again found ourselves riding late into the day and I was looking for a campsite. It was very pleasant the last half hour coming into Grants as we rode over the mountains through the pine forest. We stopped in Grants for gas and some decisions. There was a campsite 20 miles south of Grants. We could get dinner in a restaurant and we wouldn't finish till after sunset. Or, we could grab something to go and make camp before dark. We try not to ride after dark so we grabbed some gas station food and got on down the road. The highway takes us past the El Malpais National Monument. This is an area of lava flows with sandstone rock formations. Formations include this arch in the face of the rock. You can see the sun was getting low.
We arrived at The Narrows. This was a campsite marked on the Adventure Cycling Assoc. map. We pulled all the way to the back where we found a pavilion large enough for both of our tents and our bikes to be parked under the roof along with the two picnic table. Perfect.
We first set camp and then went for our gas station dinner. Here is what we had.
Those burritos were really good. One was Carne Asadero (pork with red chile, potatoes and cheese) and the other was Steak with green chile, potatoes and cheese. We talked to the nice lady that made them so we know they made just before we bought them. They were very filling, I couldn't finish mine. A gut bomb for sure but I slept pretty well that night.
Our tracks for the day.
Up with the first light we continued south toward Silver City. The roads were long, smooth, and straight which means fast.
We were able to maintain speeds of 55-60 through this section. It sounds easy but you still had to have total concentration as you scanned the road ahead for rocks, animals, ruts and whatever else might make you take evasive actions. In less than an hour we arrived in Pie Town. Pie Town is all about pies, duh. Pies were not a priority of my planning so it just happened that we were there at 0830 on a Sunday morning and everything was closed up tight. :doh: We got some photos and moved on.
A windmill museum.
And a bit of humor. People out here always have a good sense of humor.
A bit further south we stopped here for our Sunday morning church.
Moving on we traveled through areas of open plains broken up by short sections of forest.
The roads had all be in real good condition until one section of about 15 miles where there had been rain and the road had been rutted by trucks. Had to go slow to make sure we didn't get tied up in the ruts. The ruts where about 8 inches deep. There were some mud puddles to go around but no real problems.
We eventually got into the Gila National Forest which was a very nice section. Tall pine trees with very little undergrowth except grass gave it a park like feel. We set up a couple video fly by shots. You decide which you like best.
Mine of Perry on his KLR.
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Perry's of my DRZ.
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As we climbed the switchbacks to the top of the mesa we were treated with nice vistas.
A sample of the trail as it dropped to a creek bed.
The road dropped down towards Mimbres and I was watching my fuel get real low. The route kept changing along with the new roads so I wasn't sure how far we had to go. This section is why I brought the extra fuel pack because I knew it was a little beyond the range of my 4 gallon tank. We hit the asphalt and kept the speed down to the 45 posted limit which is barely using the throttle. Now on reserve, having already tipped the bike to get the last few ounces to the petcock we reached the turn to Georgetown Road which heads west toward Silver City, another 35 miles or so. About a quarter mile past the turn I spotted a store that had large above ground tanks out back so I figured they had fuel. YES! We both put in a couple gallons to get us to Silver City and went back to pick up Georgetown Rd. Georgetown was a fun road with dirt twisties. Very good riding.
We rode past the Santa Rita mine on our way into Silver City.
Decision time again. I knew from research that the trail south of Silver City was all fast riding. First some desert then asphalt for the last 65 miles. There is a store in Hachita that has gas but no credit card reader so if it's after closing, no gas until Columbus, NM. I thought we could make it with my extra 1.5 gallons but it would be after dark for the last leg of 45 miles from Hachita to Columbus. No real camping until Columbus but there is some commando camping in Hachita if we can't get fuel and decide not to ride after dark. After discussing options we decide to go for it and make a run for the border and take whatever comes along. So we left Silver City around 1530 heading south. It started out sandy and not as fast as I thought as we made our way through creek beds. Then we climbed up to the top of the rolling hills and started to make good time.
We crossed under IH 10 to find a tourist stop selling fireworks and snacks. Not quite beer, bait and ammo but pretty close. Make sure you drink plenty of water in the desert or you'll end up like the guy in this car.
For the next 10 miles we rode a dirt road that went along IH 10; a dirt "access" road if you want to call it that. 65 mph standing on the pegs kicking up a dust cloud got us some strange looks from folks traveling IH 10 and a thumbs up from a Goldwing rider that rode along with us for a short while. :rider:
The dirt road led us to the highway heading south toward Hachita. NM 146. I had to stop and insert earplugs for the long highway run. The one complaint with the Nolan N-102 is wind noise. I don't get it on the Harley behind the shield but the DRZ has no wind protection and with 150 miles of road ahead of us I wanted a little protection.
We rolled into the store at Hachita at 5:45; the store closes at 6. Good timing. There are no card readers on the pumps so if the store is closed, "NO GAS FOR YOU!" We topped of our tanks and fuel concerns disappeared.
Heading south to the border is a nice two lane road. I was surprised at the scenery. Very nice with mountain ranges and plenty of vegetation of the desert variety.
Perry got a photo of me taking a photo.
Shortly after this picture there was a sweeping corner with a cattle guard at the exit. Just beyond the cattle guard was two cows in the middle of the road. :eek2: I stomped and grabbed brakes and slid to a near stop while the beasts ambled off the roadway. The next cattle guard was less than a hundred yards away.
No issues from here to the border. We passed a couple of Border Patrol trucks parked along the side of the road. We waved and were not followed. We got to the border and it was locked up tight. This crossing is only open for business hours. We were there pretty much all alone. Plenty of ops for posing.
Photos done we head back north using what daylight was left.
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We got to the place were I nearly hit the cows and one of them was back on the road. She must like the warmth on her hooves. This time I was well prepared and as I rolled up, she ambled off and out of the way. It was getting dark as we arrived in Hachita and we rode the next 44 miles to Columbus in the dark. Perry noticed my tail light was out so he stayed close as we plodded along at around 55 mph so as to not out run the lights on our bikes. We passed several Border Patrol and a couple of National Guard observation posts without getting too much attention and arrived in Columbus. We pulled into the state park campground and set up for the evening.
450 miles, our longest day.
We were greeted in the morning by a brilliant sunrise.
We stayed at Poncho Villa State Park. From the website:
This jackrabbit was a more recent casualty. Looks like he bought it in full run.
You really don't want to crash into one of these.
We took advantage of the early morning cool air to do some basic maintenance since this was about the half way point in our trip. Perry had a spare 1057 bulb so I fixed my tail light. Air pressure and oil levels checked. A general survey for loose parts; non found. However I found this in the radiator shroud of my DRZ.
Poor little guy should have flapped when he fluttered.
We hit town for breakfast and had to stop at the Pancho Villa Cafe. One of the two eateries in town.
We sat next to a couple of border patrol officers. It was like being in Mexico with the same language barriers with the cook/waiter. She did not speak English and I had to use the little food ordering Spanish that I know to make due. As we were waiting a local Sheriff Deputy and a police officer joined the crowd. As my coffee ran low the police officer served as waiter and she refiled by cup. I like this town. Food was great. The officer told us about the local FD and encouraged us to pay a visit so we did.
Nice folks with a huge job as volunteers. We talked to the Chief for around half an hour. He said around 70% of their calls are medical for illegals. He specifically mentioned how they cross the border and call 911 for a ride to the hospital to have their babies in the US. The feds just built a new school for the area and send buses into Mexico to pick up all the minor US citizens to take them to school. Your tax dollars at work. He is a little frustrated as he has to scrape for funding to continue the call volume that they have. Every quarter they come close to running out and have to go in search of funds to run their two ambulance and staff the fire trucks. He did mention the violence from the drug cartels. He feels the focus on Arizona and in El Paso are starting to funnel the bad guys towards his neighborhood. He mentioned there were six human heads found in the town square across the border where the cartels were sending some kind of message. He has concerns. Good luck to them.
It was around 1000 when we finally got on the road heading east on Hwy 9 to El Paso. Long straight road that goes very near the border. We could see the fence about two hundred yards to our right in many spots.
As we neared El Paso we were met by a National Guard convoy heading out to deploy somewhere. Humvees with gun mounts and small armored vehicles. There were around a dozen in the convoy. On the eastern edge of El Paso one of the armored vehicles was watching the intersection. We had to stop so we got a photo.
Coming into El Paso Perry was no longer following me. I backtracked and couldn't find him. I stopped and turned on my phone and retrieved a message saying he had to stop for a broken clutch cable. He had one pre-routed and was making the swap out. I backtracked farther and found him under a shade tree working on the swap.
El Paso is huge. I tried to come up with a route that would get us through with the least suffering. While playing around on Mapsource I found a road call scenic drive that skirted the northern edge of town. That sounded good and it was. In the middle there was a nice overlook high above the town.
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We spent several light cycles stuck behind this as we passed through some road construction.
We could easily see across the border and could see the traffic jam on IH 10 eastbound. Glad we went around that as the temps were in the higher 80's.
As we got to the east side of town we stopped to fill up with gas. I pulled up next to a guy riding a very nice Victory and started up a conversation. I asked if he knew of a good place to eat close to there. He gave directions to a local joint that ended in "next to the fire station". I mentioned we could find that since we were firefighters and he says he is one too. Cool. I say we are from Austin and he says his brother is an Austin Firefighter. He give the name and sure enough we know him. Small world indeed. Here is the place he recommended; our type of place.
Lunch done we made our way into the wilderness east of El Paso.
Next: Timberon and Cloudcroft
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