Radium Springs, NM

Everyone woke early.  I was up at 4:30, and by 5, heard activity outside.  By 5:30, all the others were actively making breakfast and packing.  My plan was to leave later, since my distance would be more conservative, and since I would be slower.

up inthe dark
Headlights were the mandatory accessory in the morning.

javelina statue
I included this picture to remind me that there are Javelinas (Peccaries) in the area. 20 steps over the ridge from our camp was the river, and Fabian saw a Javelina sow with 2-3 piglets. He got some good pictures with his camera. Fabian, if you’re reading this, I would love to have a picture of those animals.
mountains along rio grande
Most of the day’s road looked like this. Glad I didn’t have to go over those mountains.
caballo lake
Caballo Lake gas station. I’m trying the cantaloupe this time. Ferdinand was at the store when I got there – that’s his bike in the background.  He was having 2nd breakfast.
Cindy the Organic Farmer
Outside the store, we met Cindy, who was delivering some bags of spinach. Originally from Connecticut, she had similar political views to Ferdinand and myself. She mentioned that someone wanted to reopen the mine, but that it was just to get the water rights and sell them, which, as a farmer, she opposes. At Animas Creek Honey and Herb Farm, they grow vegetables at an affordable price, which they sell in a store next to the Black Range Vineyards in Hillsboro. “Organics for Everyone” is their philosophy.

Ferdinand headed north on 187, to try to hitch a ride towards Colorado. I was headed south on 187, following the standard ACA route, so we parted ways.

At the next town, Arrey, I tried this mango thing, because it reminded me of the ice cake that I got from the truck in intermediate school. The ice cake truck product was 5 cents – this one was $2.99. Not bad, but not worth it.
While eating my mango ice cake, I met Max, who is doing a grand loop tour from Chicago. He had gone 3000 miles so far, but apparently was not using ACA maps, so I let him study mine. He said that Texas west of Pecos was flat, with roads extending to the horizon in a whole lot of nothing. He also said that he had a tailwind, which would be bad for me.
gross
This sign caught my eye, as it described the capricious wind that often shifted to 10-20 mph in my face, or tried to blow me into traffic or off the pavement. Many times during the day, I thought about the 4 guys from Team Edmonton that were trying to make El Paso that day. Maybe, with a draft line.
flooded pecans
They grow pecans in this area, and for some reason, seem to like to flood the trees. This was not just an isolated puddle – whole orchards were flooded.
I stopped in Hatch, at the place Nicki recommended – Sparky’s. She said that green chili releases endorphins.
green chili shake
As a tourist, I had to try the Green Chili Shake, with chunks of cooked green chili. I ate it all, but will stick with chocolate in the future.
green chili cheeseburger
My lunch was the World Famous Green Chili Cheeseburger (fantastic – big grilled burger for $7.99), which included a side. I selected sweet corn with green chili.

I didn’t feel too good after that big lunch. Maybe it was the green chili shake? It was a slow slog for the next 20 miles through shifting winds along the Rio Grande. I took pictures of the Rio Grande, but it’s not very impressive in this area. Kapalama canal is wider and clearer.

running water warning
I have no idea what this meant. Couldn’t just be that they have indoor plumbing.

I had set my GPS to get me to Leasburg Dam State Park, but it directed me to the Day Use area. I was about a mile off. There was no ranger there, but a River worker told me that the campsites were on the other side of the river, and I might reach them by going over the bridge, since I had a bike. I followed that route, but quickly realized that it was a sand trail on the other side, designed for mountain bikes. Nope. I went back to the main road, and went in through the main park entrance. The camp host told me that since it was Memorial Day, a site could only be booked for the 3-day weekend. Remembering that I had passed an RV park on the way in, I decided to double back. The RV park office was empty, so I called the posted phone number. Nothing. I knocked on the door of the trailer that looked the most permanent, and the caretakers called the owner. Sorry, they don’t take tent campers. Okay, back to the State Park.

Please, let there be sites left. At the State Park, the ranger told me that the 3-day rental was $42, no plastic accepted. Sounded great to me. Less than a motel, with most of the advantages of one, including wi-fi, electricity, hot showers, and good water (the water at the RV park was smelly). Plus he was a nice guy. He was part Mexican, part Navajo, and spoke fluent Spanish, as well as some Cantonese, Mandarin, German, and French. He said that since Navajo and Asians look very similar, his father’s friends would sneak his father into Chinese school in El Paso, and he could fool all but the old people. Saved his life in the Korean War, he said, because he got stranded behind enemy lines, but passed himself off as Chinese.

water at Leasburg
The Leasburg Dam State Park had good tasting water, much better than the foul-smelling water at the nearby RV park.
Half a mile outside the park, there was a Family Dollar – the first store open since Hatch, 20 miles away. I got a half gallon of V-8 Splash, some Jerky, and a Coco popsicle. Time wise, this was closer than the nearest store to the Gila Mountain Inn.

The bathroom/shower was 300 steps from my campsite, over loose gravel. For some reason, they gave me the most distant campsite, even though there seemed to be no other guests in the entire area. I went to take a shower, but when I got there, I realized that I had forgotten my towel. Go back and get it, or adapt and overcome? I decided it wasn’t worth going back. I washed out my clothes in the shower, and when I was finished washing myself, I just squeegeed the water off myself as best I could with my hands, then put on my clean clothes. Everything dries quickly in the desert wind. By the time I was back at my tent, the clothes I was wearing were dry. I hung the washed clothes on posts to dry overnight.

evening
Just relaxing after my shower at my enormous campsite designed for an RV.

The site was very windy, so I initially thought I would just roll out my sleeping bag on the picnic table. However, after dusk, the wind died down, and mosquitoes and other flying insects came out. I decided to pitch my tent, after all, just for bug protection. It was not cold.

powered tent
(Picture taken the next morning.) I pitched my tent right next to the power outlet, to power my laptop inside the screened tent.
2/3 adapter
The 2-to-3 prong adapter I brought was a lifesaver, not just for 2-pin outlets, but as a riser to enable me to plug things into tight spots.

Miles for the day: 72.8

(Visited 56 times, 1 visit(s) today)
    1. Yeah, the shake was not very good at all. I didn’t see anyone else ordering it.

      If I had made it to the campground sooner, it would have been wonderful to sit under the shelter and watch the desert for hours. There were quail and rabbits running through the campground, and probably a lot more things for anyone who sits and waits. Hard to get a picture of those, though. I saw a 4-ft ribbon snake go across the entry road to the campground, but it was gone in a flash.

    1. Glad to hear that you made it! But at the same time, given the headwinds (and no buddies to draft), I’m glad I broke the trip into two shorter days. Even that was hard. I’m in El Paso now, at the hostel. Very nice. I’m going to put your comment up on the blog, if you don’t mind. I was wondering whether you guys were going to make it or not.

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