March 19 - 23: New Mexico

3/23 - La Mesilla (90 miles 863 total)
90 miles from the black range lodge in kingston to the hampton inn in las cruces, NM
yesterday afternoon, as we watched the beautiful roosters scampering around the yard, some of us were waxing nostalgic about having the roosters waken us this morning. our touch of romanticism was quickly dispelled when marilyn dehaan pointed out that roosters crow all day & all night. roma & i, who slept in a storeroom over the yard, found out marilyn is right. those roosters were calling out to each other whenever i was awake during the night. but i still enjoyed their crowing.
our natural-foods breakfast at the black range lodge this morning was delicious. here are several of us anxiously filling our plates in the kitchen of the lodge. there were waffles, pancakes, home-made bread (front of this photo), scrambled eggs that were full of delicious herbs, fried potatoes, some organic, home-made dry cereals, & a pot of hot cereal; it looked like oatmeal, but was rice instead. as at supper, there was a bowlful of green chilis grown nearby; they went wonderfully with the eggs.
i took this photo as the sun hit the front steps of the lodge. roma, mary from boston, & michelle were leaving, michelle carrying her guitar. it was a clear beautiful day; a half moon was still in the western sky.
it was very chilly again this morning...i'm sure in the 30's, maybe upper 30's. we rode downhill for over 20 miles. for the first 5-6 miles, we were in the shadows of the hills we rode through, so we got colder than ever.
then the sun rose higher, we got away from the hills, & we started a climb, so we warmed up very quickly. for the rest of the day as the temps got warmer & warmer, there were lots of stops along the road for bikewear adjustments.
i was pretty excited as we first spotted this body of water out ahead of us. i initially thot it was the rio grande river. but as we got closer, i learned it's lake caballo. (caballo is 'horse' in spanish, & indeed we are seeing lots of horses in this part of the country.)
a little further along, we got our first glimpse of the rio grande as we rode across it (but not into mexico...i always thot the rio grande was always the border between the US & mexico; so much for my geographical knowledge).
here's sandy (feeling very good today & happy to be biking again) with the rio grande & beautiful hills in the background. we found today that the hills look especially beautiful when we know we won't be climbing them.
along these roadways there were many signs about chiles (or chilis) &/or green. there are many businesses along here dealing in chili peppers. there are also many pecan groves. roma & i decided that the pecan business must be lucrative, because there was almost always a very nice home situated at the edge--or in the middle--of the large pecan groves. there were also many fields of plants that are a beautiful emerald green color; someone told me it's alfalfa. it's not the right season to be growing chili pepper plants.
here's a photo across one of those green fields with a pecan grove to the left. way in the distance are the hills/mountains we rode out of early this morning.
we enjoyed a delicious lunch prepared by michelle at hatch, about 50 mi into our ride today. she parked the van & luggage trailer/galley in a parking lot in town. when we got to the lunch spot, we met & chatted with some of the members of the "bike & chowder" bike club from las cruces who had ridden here this morning from ft. selden to bike with us today.
here are jim burnett (from the bike club) & roma on another bridge over the rio grande. notice the river is already getting wider. behind roma & to her right is a rodeo-training site that we passed as we rode toward the bridge. we saw several fellows on horseback in a large ring; a heifer had just been let loose in the ring. we assumed those fellows were going to practice roping it.
the las cruces bike club set up a wonderful snack stop for us at ft. selden, near radium city. by the time i got there, many of our bikers had already passed by, & some of the las cruces bike club members had already gone home. but here are a few of them, including jan, 2nd from left in the front. she's the one who did all the organizing of today's rendezvous. at the right in the front row is our own catherine. jan & catherine had met when catherine was a guide for an elderhostel trip that jan attended. we thank jan & other members of the bike club for riding with us today & providing us the delicious rest stop.
the day was long & hot. & we had spells of headwinds that made the heat & dry air seem even more dessicating. after being chilly for several days, we're having to adjust quickly to summer again. we'll have to remember to apply lots of sunscreen & drink lots of water & gatorade.
tomorrow we ride into texas. it'll be about 65 miles to el paso. michelle says it's always complicated getting into el paso; she gave us a city map in addition to our usual route sheet. she also tells us that we'll have a 5-mi climb during the day. so much for "all downhill to florida."
ps: the trail-mix cookie recipe will come in tomorrow's 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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