Monday, June 12, 2006

Day Nine

Dan woke me up at 9:00 – the latest I’d gotten up so far on vacation, but we were up the night before until 3:00 talking to my father. Actually, I was surprised Dan was even up at 9:00, since at home I’m always the one out of bed and lacing on the running shoes after only a couple hours of sleep.

But this wasn’t a day for running. We needed to get on the road and our stuff was strewn everywhere. So I started a load of laundry and began packing while sipping coffee. Dad finally woke up around 10:30 and we all visited for a little before Dan and I hit the road.

Our plan was to explore southern New Mexico, so we headed toward Socorro and then went looking for the site of San Marcial, the town my grandparents grew up in and that was destroyed by flood in 1929. We didn’t find much, but we saw a few things that looked like they might’ve been part of the town. I know that part of the old roundhouse was still standing as recently as a few years ago, but we didn’t find it. I hope to go back and explore some more another day.

We continued south, hitting the Black Range. I hadn’t been there since childhood and found it mysterious and stunning beyond words. I got a lot of pictures as we wound through the narrow mountain roads and passed through half-forgotten little towns. I would’ve gladly stayed the night up there, but we had plans to press on.

We arrived in Silver City and our first impression was that it was a dump. But it’s a college town and I knew there had to be something more to it than what we were seeing and sure enough, we managed to locate the historic district where we did some window shopping and had coffee at an artsy coffee shop that would’ve been totally appropriate in Austin. We also walked along a sort of riverwalk in the town center that had an interesting history. A disastrous flood sent a river down a new course right through the main street of Silver City. So rather than fight it, they turned it into a park and rebuilt all around it. Weird, but kind of cool in a way.

We were all ready to stay the night in Silver City, but to our shock, there were no rooms available. There was a policemen’s convention in town and all the decent hotels were booked! So we consulted our map and decided on Deming as the next nearest town of sufficient size to have reasonable hotel options. The road to Deming would also take us past the City of Rocks, which was on our list of things to do.

Well, we never made it to Deming. We stopped first in Hurley, to see the town my father grew up in. Wow. I regularly see subdivisions bigger than that town! No wonder he says there was never any crime. Look any one direction and you can see the whole town and everything in it!

Then we got to the City of Rocks. What an amazing place! Think Stonehenge, but made by some sort of natural means and you get some concept of what it is. We got there as the sun was starting to go down and we wandered around in complete awe. Then we figured that since we had our camping equipment, why not stay the night? It seemed like a good idea at the time, but it was touch and go at first. We had all new equipment and neither of us had ever put up a dome tent, so we were cursing the poles and wondering why it was so hard to find an ordinary canvas tent with ropes and stakes any more. Then we had issues with some of our equipment and we argued over the quickest way to get the water to boil. But we finally got settled in and I have to say that Mountain House S’Mores rock! Yes, I know we could’ve done them the ordinary way, but this was an impromptu campout, without a store for miles and miles in any direction.

After dinner we stayed up watching the stars come out. I love the way the stars look in the country—so big and so close, like you could run your hand across the sky and feel them rough against your fingertips. And later the moon came out and lit up the camp and all its rock formations like daylight. It was magical and I slept well.

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