Since last post I have crossed into New Mexico, after surviving a few windy rainy nights in my tent. They call it the monsoon here, when they get periods of heavy rain, which causes flash flooding. There is nothing more terrifying for me than to see big black rain clouds and strong winds in front of me when I am alone on a desolate road with no trees, no shelter, no houses–nothing to escape the deluge. In those cases I just drape my rain fly over me and my bike and hunker down, waiting for the storm to pass.
The heat has lessened a bit in New Mexico, probably due to the altitude. I am at 6200 feet now. It is very pleasant after the 108 degrees in Phoenix.
Speaking of which, here I am at my Uncle Frank’s house, just about to leave Phoenix.
Storm clouds the first night out of Phoenix.
Got to be careful out here. It is easy to brush up against one of these and get stuck.
I took a detour to get off the highway and see the Coolidge Dam. Here is Gila Lake which was created by the dam.
Here is the river downstream. Nice scenery, but the low water levels must have exposed some algae because the whole place smelled like a rotten swamp.
Here is the Coolidge dam. Not too impressive, especially after seeing the Hoover dam. I wonder if Coolidge was jealous that Hoover got the big dam and all the glory, and all Coolidge got was a red-headed stepchild.
The road after the dam got increasingly bad. it ended up a jumble of broken concrete, washboard, rocks and sand. I had to ride 20 miles on this mess to get back to the highway. Here I am on the road catching a small break.
Then when I did finally get on the highway I had to ride 30 miles to the next town, with a storm brewing. This is where I had to hide under my rain fly and pray I don’t get hit by lightening. I rode 57 miles that day, I think the second highest mileage day so far on this trip.
Finally made it to New Mexico.
Some hills in western New Mexico. I had to climb from about 1000 feet in Phoenix to over 6000 feet now.
I see a lot of dead animals on the road, which always bothers me. So when I get the chance to save one I feel pretty good. In this case a snake was just starting to cross the highway. I stopped and escorted it safely across, warning passing cars to go around. My good deed for the day. It was a big snake too—about 3-4 feet long.
Typical campsite. Quiet, dry, peaceful. But lots of flies.
I passed by the Santa Rita Copper Mine, the oldest operating copper mine in the country. About 2 billion tons of copper have been mined here since it first started producing around 1800. It is a huge open pit mine—almost two miles across and 1300 feet deep.
Here is a google maps satellite photo of the mine. You can see by the scale how big it is.
A tire from one of the trucks that haul rocks from the mine to a processing facility.
Here is my current position. The plan is to continue east through the state into Texas. Stay tuned.