Saturday, February 20, 2010
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
We crossed our highest pass yet at 6355' on our way into Silver City. I had previously made contact with a couple on the Warm Showers list who have been generous enough to host us for the evening.
I had to explain the Warm Showers list to my then-girlfriend Karen the first time I told her some girl from the Warm Showers list was coming to stay at my place for the evening. It's an online network set up to give touring cyclists potential contacts throughout the world - possible offers of shelter, laundry, warm showers and, if you're lucky, food.
Our current hosts, Patrick and Eileen, live in an original adobe brick house built in the 1930's, a few blocks away from downtown:
That's Patrick's grandmother's spinning wheel against the wall.
Upon our arrival in Silver City, we cleaned up and Patrick took us out for lunch and showed us around town. The main street from the town's early days when it was a working silver mine is now a 50' deep ditch that the locals call the "Big Ditch". Rain and floods over time slowly washed out main street, until eventually there were numerous pedestrian bridges crossing over. The wall of water that smashed into Silver City in 1895 destroyed much of main street, and the remaining businesses began using their back doors for entrances. Main street is now one block over, and the curbs on the street get as high as 2' or 3' to accommodate the water that still floods the town.
Silver City has survived the closing of the silver and then the copper mines by transforming into an art mecca. There is a food co-op, several gourmet coffee and deli shops, lots of arts and crafts shops, and an active downtown restoration and revitalization effort. There are even two bike shops in a town of 10,000!
For dinner Patrick and Eileen served us spaghetti with home made sauce, and for dessert Patrick made me a nice espresso to go with the blueberry pie from the local deli. It sure it tough out here on the road.
It was an inauspicious start, Adam took a little spill on the tricky
streets of Bisbee, not a hundred yards after leaving Shayna's front
door, tearing off a small, unimportant part of his knee. Unimportant,
but it's absence has been rather painful.
We spent the last two days since leaving Bisbee beating into a strong
headwind, cutting our average speed in half. It's been grueling,
demoralizing work. At least when you're climbing uphill, you get some
great views and a ride down on the other side. After twenty miles of
fighting twenty mph gusts, you stop to rest, you look like you're in
the same spot, flat and sandy with lots of yuccas, with distant brown
mountains on the horizon. Then you realize you could turn around and
go back the same distance in a quarter of the time.
Just east of Bisbee is a giant pit mine, inactive since the seventies.
Shayna told us that with the current high price of copper, there are
plans afoot to reopen it.
This thing is huge! A mile long, and at least 1000 feet deep, it
boggles the mind. My camera phone does not do it justice, I'll post
some better pics when we get to a computer. In this one, you can just
make out the buildings on the left for some scale.
Sunday, February 14, 2010
There's so much to write today! It feels like forever since my last post, and indeed we have had lots of fun and pain since then. Adam covered the outline of the past few days pretty well, I'm going to try to fill in with some pictures and a few stories.
Another word of apology - a few people have asked for info on total and daily mileage. I can guess, but for now, the computer is out of commission again, and we will not be able to get those numbers till we find the correct parts to get it mounted again.
It was great to get back on the road again after Tucson. We were there almost three full days, and it felt like forever. The break did give some of our aches and pains a chance to fade a little bit, and we left feeling great and looking forward to the ride.
Coming out of town, we followed the shared-use path beside the river, which actually had a little running water on the eastern end of town.
about as old west as can still be found. We departed Tucson for good
on Friday morning and headed south east along the Old Spanish Trail,
which took us to Colossal caverns. We have decided to take it a little
easier and see more of the sites.
The caves were a worthwhile stop. We signed up for the tour after a
lunch of peanut butter on bagels. Our guide, Travis, let us stash our
bikes behind their office. He then took us through an amazing cavern
system with several features that I hadn't seen before. There were
several formations of cave ice, a layer of sediment that forms and
solidifies, then stays suspended when the water leaves.
After the cave we headed back into the mountains toward Sonoita. We
made it about 60 miles total and stopped when we found a flat spot in
the national forest.
The next morning we woke up to see snow covered peaks to our south and
an unknown amount of hills between us and Tombstone. We stopped after
12 miles for some Internet and breakfast. After our break, we turned
east and headed to Tombstone.
Tombstone was the least old west place we went because it tried too
hard to relive the times of Wyatt Earp and the OK Corral. We did feel
like new cowboys riding into town as we pedaled down the middle of the
old historic distric.
After lunch, we decided to keep going the last 22 miles to Bisbee.
It was about 1600 and we expected about an hour and a half of
daylight. The first half was a nice downhill that allowed us to keep a
nice pace. When we got to the bottom of the valley, the bridge over
the creek had an Arizona survey marker that indicated the elevation
was 4624 feet. Six miles later we rolled into Bisbee at 5300 feet. It
was one of the more strenuous sections of our ride.
Bisbee is a great town. It is a lot more what you'd expect out of the
old west because it has allowed itself to evolve while still
maintaining its charm.