WanderlustBy Sam Lepore
(Click map for full size)
Alamogordo to Silver City
Subject: Wanderlust 36 - Silver City, New Mexico
Date: Tue, 13 Jul 1999 22:59:52 -0700

        In a segment of my WanderLunch trip, I opened by saying New Mexico backroads are the reason I ride motorcycles. That was written about northwestern New Mexico, but southwestern NM is equally a land of enchantment riding. From FatCottonwood, I passed the secret everyone knows, Holloman Air Force Base where the stealth 09r49049lkcoi)*?)&(&^^$#llnjcdojr ... (we now return you to your regularly scheduled story), and the white sands of (what else?) White Sands National Monument which mark the edge of the flat basin terrain below the Rockies. Here the mountainous west rises, and here so do my spirits.
        Across the Rio Grande and a right turn sent me north along the river into chile. Not the country ... the pepper. Chile farm after chile farm ... from Las Cruces to Hatch (The Chile Capital) is where those trademark sun dried New Mexico strands of red death to taste buds come to life. Riding along between the fields is like throwing a handful of crushed reds into the air. It brought a tingling warmth to the nostrils. How wonderfully enveloping it is to ride through!

        Just north of Radium Springs, tight between the hills and the river, is a Border Patrol checkpoint. This being the only paved road running north (other than the Interstate) it is a perfect location for interdiction barely 30 miles from the border. As I slowed, I couldn't help but think how the field workers just over there felt working in the shadow of La Migra. There was one young officer on duty. He asked the typical simple but probing questions, which I must admit were difficult to answer.
        "Where did you come from?" Well, that depends. Alamogordo this morning, before that, Texas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Montana ....
        "Uh, ok, where are you headed?" Well, I'm not sure. Arizona, Colorado, Utah, Nevada ...
        He stepped back for a moment, looked me up and down, and said, "If you don't mind me asking, what drives you to do this?" Tough question. For a second, but only a second, my mind was blank. Then I answered: I am a traveler. It doesn't matter as much where I go, but that I go.
        He shook his head and waved me on. But it brought to mind an item from my traveler's quotes.
        "The journey not the arrival matters."
        - T. S. Elliot (1888-1965) American born English poet

        Yesterday I mentioned Karen thinking she was in the middle of nowhere. She is close ... but here in the western foothills, at the intersection that carries the name of a nonexistent town of Nutt, there is the Middle Of Nowhere Bar. And as a final touch from the kiss of desolation, it is abandoned.
        Been watching the weather lately? The southwest is under a monsoonal air flow. Las Vegas is issuing water wings to all residents, and desert lakes dry for years are being eyed by speculators for dockside marina condos ... it is 85, sunny, and clear. A beautiful day to run through gorgeous country on the Geronimo Trail - one of the twistiest roads I've ever met. In the 22 straight line miles from Hillsboro to San Lorenzo, NM152 covers 33 road miles. That is 50% squiggle factor! And it makes for 100% giggle factor. These curves are so tight, I was watching the GPS indicator spin in 180 degree increments. It usually notches its way around a turn, but some of the turns were less distance than the GPS precision measurement, so when it next sensed itself - it was traveling in the opposite direction.
        Next on the moto-vational agenda was NM35, the road to the Gila Cliff Dwellings, which is about 40 miles. The beginning of the route is marked "2 hour travel time, monument open 8-5". In a car, or an RV, those two hours up and two hours back are a marginal trade for the result of touring the dwellings. But on a bike, oh joy, those same 45 minutes :) :) each way are an exquisite trade for the time - whether you tour the dwellings or not. The road climbs and twists along the Mogollon Rim with look-down-on-the-world views that rival Blue Canyon in California. The road surface is gloriously clean and even, and its curves are as tight and smooth as those on a Las Vegas showgirl. To paraphrase a Seinfeld shopping commercial, Do I like riding? Oh Yessssss.

        In keeping with the good travel omens received so far, my motel selection for the night in Silver City just happened to be: The Drifter.

FuelPlus 293 miles, 6:07 hours engine, 48 mph average
Alamogordo US70 NM185 NM26 NM27 NM152 NM35 NM15 Silver City

Sam Lepore, San Francisco
Wanderlust Rider

Previous  Index Next
© 1997, 1999