ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST

by | Jul 1, 2023 | Dad's Travels | 0 comments

   Sounds like a title to a song? Well, it is, released by “Dire Straits” in the 70s.

   This is not about the song, although it was a good song.

   Once again we focus on a trip west, through New Mexico and Arizona.

   We made our arrangements to meet in Junction. Mcdonalds’ on I-10.

   The crew this trip was as follows, “Easy G”, “Happy Hour”, “Roadrunner” and myself. Jetson from Colorado was to meet up with us later in Carlsbad.

   We meet around 9 am and roll shortly after. Rolling down I-10 at a pretty good clip, not much interference from the elements or traffic. Only stopping for gas, we reach Fort Stockton.

   We head up hwy 285 towards Carlsbad. In past travels, this road was in bad shape from all the truck traffic from petroleum companies. Believe it or not, most of the hwy from Pecos north has been repaved. Excellent, we make good time till we reach the New Mexico border. Suddenly, the traffic comes to a screeching halt. Wait 10 minutes, move 50 feet! Do this for a better part of an hour. Finally get to the problem, large trucks turning. They have to hold traffic to let the big trucks turn.

   Finally traffic opens up so we can move at a normal speed. “Jetson” is to meet us at “Chief Sitting Bull Falls” about 50 miles southwest of Carlsbad. The park closes at 4 pm. We are on a time line, I hate to be in a rush! O well it is what it is. We take the shortest route, over cattle guards, not much more than a pig trail. We hurry along, the clock is ticking. We arrive 5 minutes after 4. They are closed to motor vehicles but we can walk in. About an hour walk, not bad if you got a beer to propel you!

   “Jetson” calls, where you guys at? We are looking at the falls how about you. Turns out he’s on the top side of the falls and we are on the bottom. Anyway 30 minutes he arrives.

   Years back had to be a large amount of water coming over those cliffs. The evidence is there in the grooves of the rocks. Today the water is down to not much more than a trickle. So evident that water or the lack of will be a great problem in the future.

   We enjoyed the area for a bit, time to get to Carlsbad before dark. We catch a much more traveled road on the way back to town. We intersect the main hwy. just north of town. Get a room at the Stagecoach Motel, right in town. Same motel we stayed at last year.

   Unpacked our gear and walked next door to a restaurant / bar. Always nice to rehash the days events and a game plan for tomorrow.

   Next morning, coffee and breakfast in order! Our motel didn’t offer anything, but the one next door did! We just borrowed a little coffee and breakfast, they got a good tip!

   Time to roll, Artesia make a hard left towards Cloudcroft. Flatlands for a bit then turns to hills and valleys. Lot of apples raised in this area, only problem this is April, no apples till fall. We ride through Hope and Mayhill making our way to Cloudcroft. When you drop off that mountain in Cloudcroft what a ride, cliffs on either side of the road. A Kodak moment and beer stop about half way down. Always got to stop and smell the roses! Alamogordo is the next stop, pretty much fuel only. White Sands is right on the outskirts of the city. Never seen so much sand, very white!

   We continue on down through Las Cruces, we catch I-10 and head west. Travel I-10 to the exit for Silver City. We missed this stop last year because of fires and the town just being full of people.

   We hit down town first. The old hotels down town is our first choice. No room at the inn! Plan B.

   Go to the north side of town and secure a room. Not far from a place called “Wranglers”. Good food and cold cerveza what more could you ask?

   Next morning up early, travel north about 50 miles to the “Gila Cliff Dwellings”. Takes about 2 hours to make this ride, very winding and twisted roads. Great scenery, I highly recommend.

   The inhabitants of the dwellings were supposed to live here around the year 1200. Who knows for sure. The walk to the dwellings is about 1 mile loop. Better be in pretty good shape, pretty much all uphill. A lot of the framework is still intact, pretty amazing after all these years.

   We depart traveling a different route back to Silver City, much faster, maybe 1 hour.

   It’s lunchtime, travel back to downtown to catch the local brewery. Always one of our stops. Good burger and a cold brew. It gets us ready for the ride west.

   We take hwy 180 west and north to Alpine. Just north of Alpine 100’s of elk are grazing in the meadow, what a sight! We continue on hwy 180 to Eagar. We connect hwy 260 on the west side of Eagar. Still snow in these higher elevations! About 2 feet still on the shoulder of the road. Alot of it is melting and running across the road. Kinda sketchy running 80 mph.

   Roll into Pinetop and check into our favorite motel. “7 Pines Motel” Got the log cabin look.

   Located between two restuarants/bars. No driving required. Just walk a block either direction!

   Music at both places. Met a guy that was there last year. He remembers us, I guess we’re hard not to forget! A great place to hang out.

   Next morning make our way down to Trudy’s, great home cooking and friendly staff. Biscuits and gravy hard to beat!

   Roll out to Show Low, gas up and head down to the Salt River Canyon. One of our favorite stops. The river is flowing very full this year, snow melt and recent rains. Great pullout areas and overlooks.

   We had planned on doing mt lemon near Tucson. Time seems to slip away when your having fun! Make our way down to Globe. Make a right at Globe and run to Superior. Make a quick stop in Superior to check out my old buddies house. It’s still standing, more or less a storage place!

   Turn on hwy 177 south towards Tucson. Great road with many wild flowers very little traffic.

   Make our way down trough Tucson and catch I-10 east. Trying to make Tombstone before dark.

   As usual all rooms are full in Tombstone. Just like last year we settle for a room in Benson. Not bad only 30 minutes from Tombstone.

   Unpack our gear and roll to Tombstone. Not many people in town, hard to believe all the rooms are filled! Hit the first bar on the right. Ask about Norm, He’s the old bouncer at the door from years back. They said he had health problems, hope he’s ok.

   Everyone has a cold brew to cool off from that hot ride. Relax a bit then head down the street to survey the town. Not much action in town, kinda quiet for a Saturday night! Hit a few places, time for dinner. Catch the same place as last year. I think the only restaurant open at this hour, maybe 9 pm. Eat light, soup and salad.

 

   Make our way back to Benson, at least cooled down some!

   Visit with some other riders back at the motel. Time to turn in, been a long day in the heat.

   Next morning, everybody goes their own way. “Jetson” runs west to see family, “Roadrunner” heads back to Kerrville, “Easy G” and “Happy Hour” run to Big Bend.

   What the heck, going to run south and see Bisbee. Ride back through Tombstone, nice and early good photo opts. Get to Bisbee, have coffee in the old part of town. Nice old church in the center of the plaza. Nice time to reflect on the trip. Nice trip, good people, no breakdowns, all good!

   Bisbee, an old mining town, evidence all around, large hole still exists at the south edge of town.

   Make my way down through Douglas then turn north up hwy 80. Nothing but wide open country!

   Pass by the monument erected for Geronimo’s surrender. !886 was the year.

   Continue on hwy 80 till I intersect I-10. Head east on I-10 to Las Cruces.

   We had stopped last year at the Picacho Peak Brewing Co., Problem is, I couldn’t remember which exit, I Had to guess. Took the first exit, bingo! I guessed right.

   Make my way into the parking lot, it’s 2 pm straight up. Not many cars in the lot! Maybe a slow day. Walk in, sorry we are closed, close at 2 on Sunday! Spoke with manager, hey rode all the way from Texas for a cold brew! He said really, What would you like! It’s on the house. Thanks, Bro!

   Very courteous! If your by that way in Las Cruces stop in!

   Back on the bike, run I-10 back through El Paso. Getting very hot! Make a quick stop at Barnett Harley Store. Sunday they are closed! Just a photo op. Very hot just east of El Paso at least not facing the sun!

   Roll into Van Horn around 7, secure a room. Steak house right next door, Chicken fried steak and a cold brew finishes off a great day and a beautiful trip.

   Next morning, it’s the home stretch! Nothing but open roads all the way back.

   Stop at Junction to get some of that good Texas BBQ at Lums. Welcome back to Texas!

   Next issue, 100th anniversary of Laconia! Quite the trip stay tuned!

   Always remember, “Live Life To the Hilt” Never know when it’s your last trip!

   RIDE FREE AND RIDE OFTEN

   DAD

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