Bisbee to Silver City to Las Cruces

We are going off the grid tomorrow, heading down toward Big Bend National Park during, what we now know, is its peak season. Not sure if we'll boondock in the park or stay at a funky ranch outside the northern entrance to the park. But either way: no TV, no Internet, no cell, and probably no hookups. (We have been getting spoiled by running the silent ceramic heater during cold nights instead of that heinous propane heater, which is needed for boondocking.)

Yesterday and today were nice days. The tour of the Queen Mine was a real treat. Ours was led by a 77-year-old veteran miner who was able to attest to the conditions in the mines. His mind and physique were amazing; his hearing? Not so much. Too many years of dynamite :-o My next favorite thing? The 1950s mining film, voiced by that same guy you heard in your school days. We could infer the rough age of the film by the complete lack of safety equipment (shirtless guys with no eye protection working with sulfuric acid) and the telephones, mixers, and other appliances shown as examples of why copper mining is so important.

Then we proceeded along the border toward Douglas and then up to I-10. Boy, howdy, were we glad we take good care of Rocksie. Hardly passed another soul on this long stretch of 2-laner. We expected to hit a border checkpoint--we'd been seeing them for days, always for the other side of the road--but we never encountered one, thank goodness. Nick isn't keen on guys in uniforms. (An aside: we think he's moving into healthier territory.)

We made it up to about 6000 feet in western New Mexico in Silver City, a pretty quaint old West town, very different than the rest of the state. This area feels more generically Wild West (mining, ranching). Our plan was to head out early Thursday for the 60-mile drive north to the Catwalk National Recreation Area. Good thing we stopped at the visitor's center in Silver City Wednesday afternoon--thank goodness for retirees staffing Chamber of Commerce offices! Found out that winter rains had washed out the bridge into the park and that a 10-mile hike was required to do the Catwalk. Sigh. Given that 6 miles is a good hike for us, we passed and head south to Las Cruces.

We took a circuitous scenic route down to Las Cruces, passing one of the world's oldest open pit mines. It's 1.7 miles across.

Spent the afternoon doing a bit o' shopping, as we learned that our Friday night event next week in New Orleans is a bit dressy (who knew?) and replacing Lisa's ruined khakis. (Oops, I didn't pack the overhead cabinet properly and a box of pasta fell out, hitting the salad dressing cruet that doesn't close properly, and spilling our yummy homemade walnut oil balsamic vinaigrette all over the light-colored pants. Yeah, that's not coming out.) We both detest shopping, but now have two successful shopping trips notched up for New Mexico--once in ABQ last trip and once here. Apparently, we like Dillards....

Now, we're off on a backcountry adventure, where we need to plan our diesel consumption. We'll start out tomorrow with full propane, full water, empty tanks, and enough food to last a week, but gotta think carefully about fuel--there's not a lot of options in the middle of nowhere. I'm sure we'll do fine. Awaaaay we go--

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