March 19 - 23: New Mexico

3/21 - Silver City (0 miles 722 total)
layover day in silver city, NM - 0 miles biked
the only riders i can report on today are the 8 of us who rented a van & went to the Gila Clif Dwellings about 44 mi north of silver city. we left town around 10. the sign said '44 miles' to the gila cliff dwellings, & that it would take 2 hours. i was incredulous that 44 mi could take 2 hours...'til we started out on the road north. it was the windingest, narrowest road up to the top of a mesa, across the top of it, then down again, then up on another mesa & down. with bryn driving, it took about 1-1/4 hrs; she's an expert mountain driver.
we passed thru an extensive stretch of forest that had lots of snow; it was clear that a snowplow had come thru recently to push snow to the sides of the road. the vistas all along the way were storybook beautiful.
once at the dwellings site, we watched a short video in the visitors' center that offered lots of interesting background information on the area & the mogollon indians who lived here over 700 years ago. the walking loop to the cave dwellings is about a mile long, but some of it is quite steep.
here's our group on the lower part of the path, with a couple of the caves above us in the background. the next photo will be from the larger cave you can see in this photo. from left are roma, kathy grubb, becky, bryn, kathleen, marilyn boger, & caroline.
we wound our way up to the path along the front of the cave dwellings. becky had bought a booklet giving info on different stops along the path, so each time we reached one of the numbered markers, we stopped while our guide becky read from her booklet. we also came across a park ranger up in the caves who gave us more information, so the visit was very informative & interesting.
here are roma & becky inside the larger cave, with the area we traversed to get up here in the background.
at one point in the path thru the dwellings, we had to go down this ladder; backwards worked best.
i'm grateful to kathleen & caroline for offering me lots of help at dealing with the heights & dropoffs of the paths we needed to follow; i'm a real acrophobe. without their kind help i wouldn't have enjoyed this little walking expedition at all.
we spent an hour or so here at the dwellings site, then drove down the road a short ways to a spot where we walked a much shorter path & observed some of the drawings the indians had made on the rocks.
there was a small wayside there, where we found elaine & her family, who are visiting elaine at this layover town, having a picnic lunch. rita had joined them for this side trip today.
the weather today was on & off rain & sunshine....typical of this terrain.
bryn & kathleen are big hot springs fans, so they knew there was an area of hot springs along our route today. we had all taken along our swimming togs in case we decided to stop.
as you can see in this photo, we did stop. the hot springs pools were in a little camping area along the side of the road near a river. 5 of us changed our clothes at the doorways of the van & hopped into the hot pools. my oh my it was relaxing. from right are roma, kathleen, bryn, becky, & mary (me).
on the drive back to silver city, we made a stop at this vista point. this photo is taken back toward the spot where we'd been....way way down at the base of that V near the furthest mountain range.
we got back to the motel shortly after 4:30, just in time to attend the map meeting at 5. tomorrow we have a 48-mi ride to kingston, where we're staying in a lodge. again there may be no easily accessible phone jacks, so perhaps no web-site report for tomorrow 'til a day later. the ride tomorrow features the highest point on the entire southern tier route...emory pass at an elevation of 8228. michelle says the climbs aren't any worse (grade-wise) than others we've already done. i, of course, dread the long steep downhills.
the 8 of us, along with mary from boston, used the rented van to go off to a wonderful restaurant in silver city for dinner this evening...diane's. the food & ambiance were outstanding. i had a delicious salmon fillet; caroline had a filet mignon that she said melted in her mouth. everyone else's food was delicious, too. as time went on, more & more folks from our tour group wandered in, 'til there were finally 17 of us at various tables in the restaurant. needless to say, we know how to find good food.
a PS on our day riding from safford to buckhorn: becky has an altimeter feature on her cyclometer & tells me we did 5700 ft of climbing that day. i'll try to remember to check with her to find out tomorrow's climb data so i can include it in my report.
If you would like copies of the original, full-size photos, feel free to e-mail me, and I'll save your note and get back to you after the ride. Stay tuned....

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