The road across the desert began as a flat, boring, straight-away for 14 miles as I left Elephant Butte. All I had to worry about was not pushing the bike too hard as I am dead in the middle of the engine break-in routine, and hauling down for a cattle guard about every four miles.
Suddenly there was a sharp left turn into a yet-to-be seen canyon with a series of steep s-turns into the village of Cuchillo.
Here live 40 or 50 hearty desert dwellers in various style of mostly ancient housing and what appears to be an abandoned, yet nicely painted Catholic Church.
From that moment the road became really fun! To begin with it was a roller coaster of in- and-out of one arroyo after another. As the altitude began to climb into the Sierra Cuchillo mountain range the curves became more frequent and tightened. This was really good for the Burgman as the break-in routine calls for varied rpms and pull loads. I leaned it over to the maximum edge of the new tires, shifting up and down and applying the ABS front double disks hard before entering a new switch-back. (yes, the automatic transmission also paddle-shifts, just like the new sporty cars) At the top I stopped and snapped some photos back toward Truth or Consequences.
From there I dropped into one of the most beautiful canyons, secluded, old, quiet, remote, quaint and a whole dictionary full of other descriptions. There lies a General Store. I entered, bought a snack and began to browse. The village is Winston. It is 34 miles from anything that looks like civilization. The walls are covered with trophy mounts of deer, elk, antelope, but no jackalopes. It was well stocked with basic necessities but also high priced art and other items only a well-healed rancher would need–or want. $439 each or two for $586. Plus tax and title.
Outside sat this lonely CJ—something. The hood isn’t correct for a 5 series, unless it might be a 5(m) for military. I couldn’t make it look like a 3a or 3b either. Beats me, but it’s a Jeep, a true and faithful Jeep.
Most of the buildings in Winston were easily recognizable as the abandoned dwellings you’d find in any declining village.
But then there is this—what in the world did this used to be? It is being used as a garage. The block was obviously prior to 1900. I couldn’t not identify the facade. Copper? Iron? Something-or-other.
In two more miles I arrived a Chloride, the Jewell of Sierra County. A nice 80-something lady drove her golf cart with a Yellow Hummer Body down to the museum store to greet me and show me around. All you can say is wow. Thirteen souls live there. If you want (or need) to get away from it all–Chloride is the place.
Chloride began as a Silver Mining Town. Following the boom or bust cycle, it chose bust—or perhaps bust chose Chloride. But mining is not finished. They now mine Zeolite–“any of a large group of minerals consisting of hydrated aluminosilicates of sodium, potassium, calcium, and barium. They can be readily dehydrated and rehydrated, and are used as cation exchangers and molecular sieves”.
And just what would one use this odd and amazing mineral solution for? It is the primary ingredient in Kitty Liter AND Oil Absorbsion for mechanics shops. !!! The museum lady told me they run from 11 to 17 semi-truck loads of the soft, white rock out of there every single day.
Well, homeward bound. At our next stop at TorC I will take Mileta and we will travel the full length of the road, which ends on top of the next mountain range, the Gila National Forest and the Continental Divide. But before I leave you, some thoughts on my new 2016 Suzuki Burgman AN650Z Executive…… (why can’t they just call it a cushman or something?
The BURGY 650: Has the heart of a sport-bike (a 650cc twin pumping out 58 horses); The legs of a touring bike (with a seating position and better seats than the 2011 model for eating up 300-400 mile days all month long); The lungs of a 250cc (so far averaging right at 60 mpg and should improve); The soul of a high-end sports car (the 6 speed automatic transmission shifts up and down with just a slight acknowledgement, more prominent on the downshift, can be transitioned into “power” mode for quicker, higher rpm, and can be hot-rodded through the gear with a paddle shift via the right thumb!!) It is a sport bike in a scooter body, a touring bike that doesn’t weigh a half-ton, an all-around, do everything well—just don’t get off road with it or you’ll crash. However,it’s still a scooter.
The best day on two wheel is the best day.