November 3 - 7, 2017:
The ride today starts on I-25 south for about 75 miles with big wide open mountain vistas in all direction but that was the boring part. At exit 63 we turn off onto route 152 passing through the quaint small town of Hillsboro, NM and then start climbing into the Mimbres Mountains, also known as the "Black Range" peaking at Emory Pass at 8,228 feet elevation. I’ve been up much steeper and higher roads before, but none with so many narrow 15 MPH hairpin turns and 1,000 foot drops (no guardrails) off the road for about 45 miles. We have done this ride before in the Jeep, but in the RV it was a handful. About 10 miles from Silver City the sight of the Santa Rita Mine comes into view which is another mind boggling sight. I would rate this road as one of the most beautiful drives in the US.
|Heading for the Black Range|
|Lots of narrow twisting roads|
We arrive at the Rose Valley RV Ranch in early afternoon and get set up in a campsite with a nice view. We stayed at this campground on our last visit to Silver City and really liked it. It’s convenient to everything, has nice shower and laundry facilities, working WiFi and roomy campsites.
|View behind the campsite|
|Rose Valley has all the trappings of an old ranch|
|Old farm and ranch relics tastefully decorate the ground|
Silver City is a favorite stop for us, we have done about everything here, but its nice, once in a while, to be somewhere familiar, where you know the way around. It’s a quirky, artsy town for the most part where the people are friendly, laid back and loving life.
|Downtown Silver City view|
|My favorite building downtown|
|Many interesting buildings to be appreciated|
|Great roof lines|
|Love the colors|
|And the southwest murals|
|The Palace Hotel is a beauty|
We do dinner at the Jalisco Cafe, a local favorite, which is clean, tastefully decorated with good food and service.
|The place for Mexican|
I catch an interesting musician, Robert Kuhn, at "Little Toad Creek Brewing" in Silver City. I checked his web site, which was well done and read his bio which I thought to be a little overly creative. It’s difficult to believe that a 20 something year old can be so world traveled and done so many things. As he performed, I sort of started to believe the hype as he sang several songs in fluent Spanish, then switched to a beautiful done Reggae song, several thoughtful originals and had a great stage presence.
Unfortunately I will miss a favorite blues duo act of mine, Joe and Vicky Price, who I saw in Colorado Springs last year and is performing here a few days after we leave. The "LittleToad Creek Brewery" is the only real brewery in Silver City and does draw good musicians on weekends and has a roomful of merchandise for sale, but I wouldn’t give it rave reviews. They have decent food but don’t walk past and look into the open kitchen door on the side street, if you do you probably won’t want to eat there.
We go for a hike up to the top of Signal Mountain which is a fire lookout in the Gila National Forest. It is located at milepost 14 on route 15 north which is another crazy twisty scenic road into the mountains similar to route 152. We really didn’t know anything about this trail except that it was 2 1/2 miles in length. It’s probably just as well as it probably would have discouraged Twinkles from doing it. It was a beautiful trail with great views, but an uphill climb for almost its entire length with an elevation gain of 1,800 feet. I thought that Twinkles was done as I left her sitting on a sunny rock to continue on to the top. It turned out to only another 1/4 mile climb to the top where I rested for a while. As I was about to start back down she came into view, with that big smile of hers. She just couldn’t stand to let me get one up on her, a very stubborn woman !
|The view near the continental Divide on the way to the Signal Mountain trailhead|
|Twinkles taking a break on the trail|
|Trail view into the hazy distance|
|Another view later when the sky improved|
|We made it to the top|
|From the top of the fire lookout|
I missed going to my usual Sunday afternoon music session at the “Yankee Street Coffee” due to our Signal Hill hike, but they have changed the name to “Tranquil Buzz” and I’m not sure if they still have the music. Typical of these places, they don’t have signs, or a decent website to promote anything they do.
We do another 4 mile hike on Monday on the Dragonfly Trail in the "Fort Bayard Nature Refuge". This is a beautiful hike through rolling Juniper and Pinion grassland that lead to a creek where many petroglyphs are found in the rocks, including a few Dragonflies from which the trail gets its name. The Alligator Juniper Trees are especially beautiful, healthy and large here.
|The start of the Dragonfly Trail|
|Its a beautiful grassland filled with yucca, pinion, cholla, Juniper and various grasses|
|How could I forget the beautiful colors of the Cottonwood Trees|
|Such a blue sky and a beautiful day|
|The dragonfly petroglyph that the trail is named for|
Another good adventure is a ride north on route 180 to 152 to the Santa Rita Mine area. Apaches, Spaniard and Mexicans have all obtained copper from this site. The Chino Copper Company started a mine here in 1909 which is now the third oldest active open pit mine in the world. There appears to be renewed activity here since our last visit, in fact in every direction there seems to be an expansion of mining.
I took a side road past an old shut down mine site and a road sign that said “Historic townsite of Fierro”. Fierro is totally in ruins, mostly demolished now, truly a Ghost Town, although some people still live in the surrounding hills. Ironically, a large, maintained cemetery exists that is still active indicative of a sizable town. Active mines are practically surrounding the old village and I wonder if they will eventually engulf it. One day the only thing left may be the cemetery with a historic sign in remembrance of the town. Back on route 152 there was a sign telling of the legendary mountain peak they call the “Kneeling Nun” which is now also surrounded by the mines, I wonder if it will be spared ?
|The Silver City area is filled with mines, careful where you walk|
|The Santa Rita or Chino Mine is huge|
|A marker to the brave women who took the striking |
mine workers places on the picket line which
inspired the documentary film "Salt of the Earth"
|I see these old fence posts everywhere in the west and |
always wonder how old they are. I like to touch them and
think about the lives of the people who cut these posts
and built these fences so long ago
|This appeared to be the only building still standing in Fierro|
|This one is slowly falling apart|
|Saint Anthony's Church Shrine remains active|
|In spite of mining activity just behind the church grounds|
|The Fierro Cemetery appears well maintained|
|Many old graves and probably ghosts|
|The "Kneeling Nun" remains but if you read the following link you will understand |
why it remains today
We pend some time at the "Jumping Cactus" coffee shop which I will say is small but the nicest one in town with beautiful wooden tables and art work.
|Good coffee Shop in Silver City|
As always, I make a stop at the nearby Diane’s Bakery which always has great bread and yummy cookies, muffins, pies, pastries and much more. We then visit the "Silver City Museum" which we haven’t done for a couple of years. It’s in a beautiful building once owned by Henry Bower Ailman an early mine owner turned prosperous mercantile store owner and businessman. The house was used as the Silver City fire station prior to becoming the museum.
|The Silver City Museum|
|A sign describing the flooding that resulted in the "Big Ditch"|
|The flood of 1895 wiped out much of Main Street|
I also took a ride to the town of Tyrone, NM site of the huge Tyrone Mine. The original townsite eventually was swallowed up by the mine and was relocated a few miles away. It's now a really boring looking development tract of homes. The only thing I found of interest was a recycling dumpster !
|The Tyrone Mine|
|One of the nicest dumpsters I've ever seen ?|
Continue to watch our friends on: www.hitchupandgo.com
Next stop is another favorite, Bisbee, Arizona;