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Old 03-02-2014, 12:07 PM   #1
gregdee OP
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Joined: Oct 2011
Location: Tijeras, NM
Oddometer: 495
To Patagonia and back in a week

It is now late February which brings a week from her schoolwork for Kerry and time for another motorcycle adventure. Always thought it would be awesome to ride to Patagonia so that's where we're headed. Unlike some we don't plan our routes turn by turn. Rather we just point ourselves in a general direction then just let the adventure unfold as it does. So far we have never not found a place to spend the night, with camping at the end of a dirt road, on the road, in the La Sal mountains east of Moab being our low point so far.

Despite spending weeks packing and organizing our gear, as well as setting up the bikes with last minute farkles and new shoes,

we are never actually packed until it's time to start riding. Saturday morning came and went and we were still running around like a couple of headless chickens trying to get all our gear sorted and packed. The primary culprit to our delay was the missing dry bag we stuff our sleeping bags into. Turns out it was lying under a tarp in the corner of the garage. Not sure how it ended up there but since the sleeping bags were already packed in a different dry bag we stuffed the tent into this one and brought it along anyway. It's strapped to the back of Kerry's Tiger in the picture below.

12:30 p.m. - we're finally on the road. Guess we won't get too far today with only about five and a half hours of daylight left. We head south down highway 337 from our home in Tijeras, NM winding through the hills towards Mountainair to get gas. Weather was nice but still chilly enough to make heated gear nice. Still not entirely sure where we are going today but decide to make haste south and take I-25 from Bernardo to TorC, about an hour’s ride on the super slab. Stopping again for gas just south of TorC we decide to take 152 up and over Emory Pass to Silver City, a super fun road in either direction.

We had thought about camping off the pass at one of the campgrounds but it was chilly up there and not all that appealing as all of the campgrounds are right alongside the highway. We had heard about a place called Faywood Hotsprings from some friends. It was close by so we decided to give it a go.

After riding about 30 miles down highway 61 along the Mimbres River we arrived at the entrance to the hot springs. This was kind of an odd dusty compound surrounded by a large fence but we were greeted at the gate by a nice young lady. We chatted her up and found that they still had one cabin available for the night and an hour’s soak in a private tub was included with the price. By now it was getting dark so we were forced to unload our gear from the bikes without much light. A picture of us unpacking.

They put us up in the Mimbres cabin. They're all pretty much the same. Basic structure with a queen sized bed and a loft. Bathroom facilities are adequate but the water pressure was weak. No cooking facilities other than a microwave oven and a grill out back but charcoal and lighter fluid are not provided. No store for miles around so you'd better come prepared.

The grounds are dimly lit to say the least and the place has kind of a hippy feel to it with several pools set aside for those that prefer not to wear clothes. Others we saw wandering about were wearing robes they must have brought with them. We had a good soak in our private tub which was 107F - pretty freakin hot if you ask me. We ate some dinner and called it a night bringing a rather hectic day 1 to a close.
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Old 03-02-2014, 12:25 PM   #2
Truffle Rustler
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Joined: Dec 2008
Location: Earth
Oddometer: 2,381
Looks like a great trip. I first thought you were going to the other Patagonia until I saw the one week plan :)

Normal is just a setting on the dryer.
2009 R1200GS A, 2008 K1200GT
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Old 03-02-2014, 02:10 PM   #3
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Joined: May 2002
Location: Fort Collins, Colorado
Oddometer: 19,247
Trying to break Nick Sanders' record?
Oh wait Patagonia, AZ
Some great dirt roads down that way.
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Old 03-02-2014, 02:35 PM   #4
gregdee OP
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Joined: Oct 2011
Location: Tijeras, NM
Oddometer: 495
Man, ya'll are too quick. I was hoping to at least get a few days into this before people started wondering how the heck we were going to do 14,000 miles in 7 days. Guess I should have left out the one week part.
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Old 03-02-2014, 05:19 PM   #5
gregdee OP
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Joined: Oct 2011
Location: Tijeras, NM
Oddometer: 495
Day 2

A shot of our accommodation from the previous night in daylight this time.

After having some good coffee and a bowl of oatmeal we got packed up and hit the road, exiting the compound just before 10:00. Not our best start time but hey, we're on vacation!

The goal for the day was to get over into AZ and hit the Black Hills Back Country Byway, just south of Clifton and a very large copper mine. We are familiar with this area as highway 191 runs through there - an awesome motorcycle ride with something like 518 turns in 91 miles.

Heading north we had selected a dirt route that bypassed Silver City to the southwest taking us up towards the very small town of Cliff, NM. We stopped to check out another small mine in the area, the Tyrone Mine, and then continued north through the Mangas Valley. Our first taste of dirt for the trip, interspersed with bits of pavement. Here's a shot of Kerry riding off. I thought she was giving us all the ADV salute but it was actually just a wave.

We needed gas but assumed we could get some in Cliff as I recalled seeing a decent gas station there in the past. I was wrong. There was a tiny store with a pump but we chose not to stop there thinking we'd find something else up ahead. We didn't and consequently had to ride highway 78 over Black Jack Pass down to Three Way in a rather reserved mode to conserve gas, which was too bad since this is one of my favorite sections of twisty highway.

We rolled into Three Way and found a small gas station there. It was only a short ride up to Clifton but we succumbed as the attendant walked up and pretty much handed me the pump handle without giving us much of a chance to think about it. Turns out the price of gas was something like $4.78/gal for 87 octane! WTF? Shoulda paid more attention but we weren't that far from civilization so I hadn't really given the price of gas much thought. Good thing I wasn't filling up the Dodge.

We rode to the entrance to the byway which was perhaps 10 minutes up the road. We stopped to check out the campground then went to the picnic ground to have a break and some lunch by the Gila River. The campground was fairly bleak with gravel all around and simple shade structures over picnic tables. There were toilets but no water, though one could filter from the river a short distance away if necessary.

The Black Hills Byway was fun to ride. It went up and over the Black Hills (go figure) winding its way in and out of many drainages along the way. Great scenery all around with good views of the mine by Clifton and Morenci. This mine is truly huge. Here's a not-so-great shot but it gives you an idea of the scale. (See my Big Bend RR for more pictures from our ride through the mine.)

A few shots from along the byway:

On the way up....

Me winding through some turns... I just love this landscape. So beautiful, so rugged. Need to come back with more camera gear and get some sunset shots.

Over the high point heading down to the valley where the towns of Solomon, Safford, and Thatcher are.

Once down to the other side and back onto 191 we rode in towards Safford, picked up 70 and then saw a sign for the Gila Box just east of the town of Solomon so we headed that way. We rode in under some cliffs through an odd sort of neighborhood area for several miles before we saw another sign pointing us in the right direction. The road surface turned to coarse slippery gravel, then paved, then pea gravel. We dipped into and out of several drainages with steep descents made extra exciting with stretches of hard-to-see pea gravel at the bottom. We followed the river for a few miles, passing a boat launch site and then a picnic ground. About 5 miles after leaving highway 70 we eventually saw signs to the Riverview Campground so we went to check it out.

The Riverview campground was pretty nice. We normally prefer primitive, private, backcountry camp sites but when motocamping it is just easier to find uncrowded campgrounds with water and tables. This one had water and tables, and was very well maintained. The campground was set up on a mesa overlooking the Gila river canyon. There were more picnic facilities down by the river with a sand pit for volleyball and a horseshoe pit. I bet the place is bumping during the warmer months but there were only two other groups camped there at the time, two at either end with us in the middle. We had a water faucet about 50 yards away with the toilets another 20 yards away.

We unpacked, set up the tent, cleaned our chains, and settled in for the evening. Down at around 3500 feet the weather was warm enough to just hang out. Not bad for February. Unfortunately it was a bit cloudy and overcast so no stars this night but that certainly made it warmer. Hard to complain about a good day of riding in some rugged, remote, and scenic country.
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