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Thursday, March 12, 2015

Goodbye Arizona, Goodbye Desert, Goodbye Cacti

Thursday March 12, 2015 Comfort Inn Room 320 Socorro, New Mexico ( AGAIN!)

Had trouble getting to sleep last night because I started to second guess the mountain route I’d chosen from southern Arizona to Mid New Mexico. The drive from Florence to Globe yesterday wasn’t too bad, but it was a much shorter mountainous road. This one, while looking pretty benign on the map,covered 66 miles of absolutely nothing before reaching Carrizo. But, Bill was asleep and so I couldn’t discuss backtracking and taking I 10 to Deming and up the Rio Grande Valley to Socorro. So, I went to sleep at last. When I mentioned  reversing our route, Bill said we could do that, but he was reluctant.

Oh, hell, I thought—it can’t be worse than the Gallinas and perhaps, with luck and lots of Hail Marys, it wouldn’t be as bad. So after a breakfast of coffee and grapefruit, I gathered a scarf to use as a blinder and off we went through Globe to route 60 West. It was not reassuring to see that there was an accident 35 miles up the road ( the sign was hung across the very beginning of the 66 miles ) but hoped it would be cleared up by the time we reached the site.

Those first 35 miles were easy—we went through the mountains instead of over them—so the drop offs were not any deeper than what we have at home and the scenery was beautiful. Arrived as a tow truck blocked the road before us. They were pulling up huge blue and pink pipes that looked like PVC piping—big bundles, obviously a truck’s load lost on this slight downgrade. No curve involved,no other vehicles around other than the emergency crew’s. At the pullout an empty flatbed was attached to a tow truck also. The windshield was blown out on the passenger side of the cab and the driver’s side was that awful spider web pattern that shatterproof glass makes when heavily impacted. No evidence of the driver—hope he survived and wasn’t seriously hurt. A very chilling sight.

Little did I know what awaited us just up the road—Salt River Canyon--7000+ feet at the top. We descended over 2000 feet on a twisting road—fortunately, most of the curves were not tight though there was a 35mph hairpin curve that was not a treat. Since the open side of the canyon was on Bill’s side ( the road was fairly wide, with passing lanes on upgrades and pullouts for slower cars ( us ) to let the nutsy natives get by, I was able to look at my side and a bit forward. At one point we had a tanker truck behind us and Bill crossed the road to a pullout which made me nervous but it was better to follow the truck than have him breathing down our necks.

Eventually we reached a rest area at what I thought was the end of the canyon—well, it was the end of our descent, still at least 300 feet above the river, which Bill tells me had water in it—i wouldn’t know. Once we crossed the canyon on a pretty bridge, the real nightmare began—the ascent of the opposite side with the drop-off on my side. Okay, up came the scarf over that side of my face. Just like blinders it worked—i didn’t panic, looked out Bill’s side and once in awhile peeked out the windshield until be got up to 7752 feet and the narrow end of the canyon and closer rock walls.

It took about 30-40 minutes for the whole canyon crawl but the rest of the 66 miles was uneventful and beautiful. It took us 2 hours to cover 80 miles but we arrived safely in ShowLow where we got gas and checked in with Hatch Toyota to see if we needed an oil change since we’ve put over 5000 miles on the car. Since we use synthetic oil we don’t need a change until 10000 miles.

Continued on the familiar road to Springerville and through the yellow grass prairie, watching the strange cloud formations and the veils of rain and probably snow falling all around us. We did have a bit of drizzle but nothing heavy. It seemed strange to see all the green on the Globe side of the mountains and the dormant trees and parched grass on the Springerville side The 84 degrees of Ajo is also a memory since the temperature went down to 51 in the mountains with patches of snow all about. Oh, yes, it is goodbye desert.

Soon we entered New Mexico once more, crossed the 35 mile wide Plains of San Augustin with the Very Large Array dwarfed by distance and mountains. Through Magdalena, once the railhead where cattle drives ended and where the cattle were transferred to cattle cars for delivery to market. Round a few more hills and valleys and in Socorro once more. Four hours and almost 300 miles from Globe. K-Bob for steak, sweet potato and broccoli and into our suite for the night.

Now The Blacklist is on so I’m signing off until next time. Goodnight from the Two Traveling Peas.

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