Winding My Way Into The Real New Mexico

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.

LK

 

 

Daniel Boone was a man, yes a big man

IF you’re my age you remember the TV series, and can sing most of the song!  Daniel Boone was of course mostly known for the Kentucky years, and somewhat in Missouri later in life. (more on that later)  But did you know he spent most of his childhood in Pennsylvania, and late teens-early twenties in North Carolina?

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Our campground home for the last 10 days has been on the Yadkin River in Rowan Country, North Carolina.  In studying some fun motorcycle trips, I stumbled across a county park called “Boone’s Cave.”

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The Boone family were from England and Wales.  They were Quakers (hooray for our side), and migrated to Pennsylvania in 1713.  Daniel was born in 1734.  As the story goes, two of the older siblings married outside the Quaker family of faith and the family was “churched.”  (milder word for excommunicated)  Consequently they left Pennsylvania, and the church, and settled in the wilderness of central North Carolina.  The operative word is wilderness.  This cave was home for three families for a full year while they built cabins.

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That much is well verified.  The trouble is, remains of the cabins or their foundations have never been found.  The cave looks out onto the Yadkin River.  There is a large rock slab just under the surface that creates a walk-way across during low-water seasons.  One set of foundations have been found on the other side of the river that is presumed to be one of the homesteads.

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Daniel Boone never attended church again.  However, he identified himself as “Christian” and had all of his children baptized.  Upon marriage he moved about 55 miles upstream into the edge of the Blue Ridge mountains.  There is a town there named Boone, which has much more extensive written history, festivals, folk-sings and the like for the tourists.  Boone is on the east side of the crest with Johnson, Tennessee on the west.  Boone eventually forged a path through the “gap” to what was to become Kentucky and Tennessee  Due to his frontier-blazing, and his exemplary service in the military establishments of the time, he became the first world-wide known name associated with the great American Wilderness.  The main attractions to visit are in the Boone National Forest in Kentucky.

As we began I gave you a tease about his later life in Missouri.  It was widely believed he was kidnapped by a band of natives and hauled off.  However, in the Lewis and Clarke expedition they happened upon this village on the Missouri river above St. Louis and met Daniel Boone.  The biographer claims there is ample evidence that he was there willingly and had a second family at that location.  Well, whatever, we all have skeletons.  He lived to 80 and his grave site is disputed.

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Back to the cave:  Somewhere on these two-hundred acres is said to be a Cottonwood Tree that is number four in size in the nation.  It is sixteen feet around and over one-hundred-sixty-feet tall.  This photo is not it.  I didn’t hike down into “the wetlands” area of the park to view it as I would have had to climb back out!

If you’re ever near Salisbury or Lexington North Carolina, this is a nice two-hour stroll through a bit of history.

LK