Friday, April 25, 2008

Silver City to Kingston NM

We had an interesting time in Silver City on Sunday. We got into town around 3:30pm but we had not connected with the warmshower host regarding when we could come by. We knew it would be later in the day so we tried the Library but it was closed and then we went to the local college campus where we were able to use their computer for about half an hour. I called the warmshower host at 5 and was told he wouldn't be back until 8 or 9pm. This is a bit later than what we were used to so we just hung out on the main street. I also called Phaedra and she told me about a warmshower host that was 18 miles outside of town that offered cookies to cyclists passing through. After I got off the phone with Phaedra, I called this host (Pat) and was happily surprised to find that indeed she would be willing to bake some cookies and have them ready for us when we drove by the next day.
To pass the time, we tuned up our bikes and while doing so noticed that Taran's rear tire needed replacing. We changed his tire but our pump broke while we were inflating it. The only place open that would have a pump for sale was Walmart...but it was on the other side of town...up a big hill which was under construction. We were famished by the time we got there so we decided to buy 1.5 pounds of chicken nuggets from the deli and some broccoli and ate in the Blimpys restaurant. Taran really enjoyed this meal (except for the broccoli part). We then went to the warmshower host and met this really cool fellow named Tsama (pronounced Chama). He was very friendly and helpful. He worked in the local bike shop.

We got off fairly early the next day (despite Taran having a flat - broken valve) and set off for Kingston NM. We passed the largest Open Pit Copper Mine in the US and Vista where you could see part (it's huge) of the operation. Exactly 18 miles from the center of Silver City we pulled into Pat's place and were greeted with two bags of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies. We chatted with Pat for a while and met her donkey, her mule and her horse. She has a lovely property that she recently purchased to retire on. I'm not positive, but I think we were the only cyclists to take her up on the "cookies on the go offer". They were terrific!

Although Kingston was only 45 miles from Silver City, we were going to climb the biggest hill we had encountered: 8,288 feet above sea level (Silver City is at 4000 feet). Lucky for us it was a fairly gradual grade with quite a few switchbacks. Most of it went through what is called the "National Wilderness Preserve" which meant there were no services. There's quite a story about this particular Wilderness Preserve. It's the first one ever established in the US and is approximately 3 million acres in size. There is only one road that goes through the preserve. We saw very few vehicles along the way which was good because there was no shoulder. When we got to the top of the mountain pass (not the peak) we walked up to the Vista Point and were treated with an incredible view. We could see for 75 miles in three directions. It was breathtaking!. We could see the tree covered mountains, the deserts, the valleys and the small communities in the distance. I'm hoping my pictures will turn out! From the Vista point to Kingston is 8 miles...all down hill. It was a very windy road so there was no way I could attempt to break the previous high speed mark, but it was still fun!

Kingston: 30 full time residents, no stores or anything commercial except for Black Range Lodge

When we arrived at the Black Range Lodge, we went in to find out where we could pitch our tent. The adventure cycling map states that this place allows camping. Catherine came out to greet us and informed us that the map was misleading. There are camping sites in Kingston but they were a half mile up the road with no water, bathrooms or anything (it's called primitive camping sites). Catherine generously offered to provide water and the use of their toilet. I got to talking with her about this and that and she must have felt sorry for us because she offered to let us use her computer and then a little while later she suggested we could have showers. I was very taken (heartfelt) with Catherine, the ambiance and the sense of wellbeing that seemed to emanate from the Lodge. Catherine must have noticed this because it was at this point she said that she would offer a room at a discount price. Well, I jumped at the opportunity. Thus begins the tale of "The Greatest Adventure of The Trip".

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