En route to Silver City to meet Bobby T, one of our wonderful 10-year head counselors. The area is gorgeous with the mountains in the background—the Guadeloupe, and the San Andres. They shine beige and gold in the sun, and brown and black when a cloud covers the sun. But the signs of drought are everywhere, with stunted growth of trees, brown grass (if there is any), parched earth, and desert.
I’m learning geography as I go. Somewhere between Jamaica Plain and Brookline, when I moved from fifth grade to sixth, I missed geography. But travel is broadening and I now know that New Mexico borders Texas. The time just changed from 8:15 a.m. to 7:15 am, which should make the trip one hour shorter (on the clock, not on the bottom.) We made a stop in El Paso at a Mercedes dealer (hard to find in this neck of the woods) to check a display that Allie gets as he’s driving. We can’t find a thing about it in the book, so figured a Mercedes mechanic would know. Alas, it was Saturday and he wasn’t working. We’ll leave it for CA where we’re sure to find a dealer. What the man in the shop did tell us was that an intermittent signal is not serious. If it were, it would be continuous. Sounds good to me. El Paso, a city built right into the mountains, was gorgeous.
Welcome to New Mexico: the Land of Enchantment. A stone bridge in the desert—colors of coffee and raspberry jam—did the welcoming. And then we drove to Silver City. The speed limit in NM was 75, and the roads were straight and boring. Nothing to see but feed lots for cattle, slaughterhouses, a sign: Prison Facilities in this area. Please do not pick up hitchhikers. Ok with me. Pecan and walnut orchards peaked out of the landscape, bringing a welcome change to green. The Border Patrol broke our boredom-trucks to the right, cars to the left. We drove up to the guardhouse wondering if we needed passports, but were disappointed at the casualness of it all. A guard looked at Albert, nodded, and waved us on. Finis. I asked Bobby T about it later and he said, “Ev. He saw Al’s complexion, he saw the Mercedes logo on the RV, and he said to himself. “Ain’t no way this old couple is transporting anything dangerous.” So much for excitement. I think our license plate, treasured by Allie, helps. It’s a purple heart, earned during his stint in World War II. Mostly, when stopped, Allie gets a salute or a handshake and a “thank you for serving.”
Before we could even begin to enjoy Silver City we had to find our RV park. Neither Sally Mae of the GPS nor we could find it, but we did find the neighborhood and we said NO NO this is not for us. Fortunately there was a KOA nearby, but with no room at the inn. My “little old lady with membership in KOA” came to the rescue and a lovely man said not to worry, he would come to rescue and guide Allie in. Just as we pulled in, up came Bobby T with his friend Codi and we were off.
They took us to a wonderful Mexican restaurant and then the scenic tour of the Trail through the mountains that Bobby reveres. He has biked on the roads, he has bicycle raced, and he has hiked on the trails, and it soon became clear to me that he couldn’t live anywhere else and be so happy. He and Codi were off for a 45-mile hike through the mountain trails for the next week and were kind enough to spend the day with us instead of packing. So he was not a hermit, hiding away in a ghost town, he was an outdoorsman athlete having the time of his life. He knew every turn, every switchback, every view and we had a wonderful, exhausting day. We kissed them goodbye, wished them a wonderful trip, and flopped into bed. During the night, when the temp went down to 40 degrees, I thought of them in the woods, hopefully cuddled under a very warm sleeping bag. Thanks, Bobby and Codi, for a day to remember.
En route to Apache Junction, AZ. We passed the Continental Divide (6355 feet altitude), leaving NM and entering AZ—Welcome to the Grand Canyon State. It too, warned us of dust storms, visibility, high winds, and asked for caution. But we had a gorgeous day with none of the above. Orchards of pecans and walnuts, which also offered homegrown wine dotted the road. Homes struggling for a patch of green in the little towns we passed. No grass to speak of, a few yuccas, some cactus, and the Joshua tree all over. We stopped at politically incorrect Walmarts, where I have to admit we could buy everything we needed and park anyplace we wanted: Hand wipes, a very small hand vac to clean up the cabin, a huge loaf of French bread for a dollar, and all the food we needed in one quick stop.
We passed mountains, which had been stripped for their copper, and felt the way we did when Bobby showed us one yesterday. The mountain is left barren, striped with different mineral colors, and layered with roads for the big trucks to move on. We talked about how we felt about it. It’s heartbreaking to see the mountains desecrated, but it’s also easy to see that without the copper industry these towns would be left with no jobs and no way to make a living. It’s complicated.
I never tire of the mountain roads: the Tonto National Forest was magnificent, rugged and awe inspiring. Allie does tire of them, he being the driver negotiating the switchbacks. Runaway trucks have an exit ramp they can climb; runaway cars, not so much. But we arrived in good shape and are settled in Apache Junction.
Just talked to Carole Wacks, my niece. We’re going to meet in Indie, CA tomorrow to spend some time with Carole and Michael. Will do the Joshua tree Park, see their new house in Palm Springs, and have dinner. What fun picking up with old friends and family. We appreciate the RV more each day.