Friday, June 22, 2007
Safford, AZ to Van Horn, TX
A pack of sport bikes passed me as I backtracked east on US191 this morning. I watched wistfully as they made the turn to head north on the Coronado Trail and I continued east on AZ-78. It was very hot, so I was glad to find that 78 attempted to mimick both US191’s cool elevation and twistiness with a very desert-y flair of it‘s own.
I made my way south on US180 to Silver City, NM where dark clouds and lightning strikes ahead encouraged me to take an early lunch. I sat down to an eggplant sandwich with sweet potato fries at the Adobe Café while thunder shook the building.
Gearing up, the dark clouds around me told me that thought that particular storm had passed over, I would still have lots of cells to worry about.
Following a line of vehicles down NM-152, I anxiously watched the sky and the GPS. I told myself that I would stop if the route seemed to take me through an area with active lightning. Somehow, it seemed to keep missing storms, gently easing away from black cloud areas.
I was less sure of my decision to continue as I passed San Lorenzo. The road narrowed, traffic disappeared, and curves began. It was raining and I was on a tight mountain road.
I kept looking for that ethereal break in the clouds….. The place which I had to reach to get out of the storm. The road would tantalize me with a view of it… and then swoop away.
Hyper-aware of the slippery conditions, I rode cautiously. Deep turns that might normally be worthy of a WAHOO! got barely any lean.
I passed several interesting rock formations and beautiful vistas. I would have stopped, but I generally try to avoid exposing my camera to rain.
I was hugely relieved upon reaching I-25. It had been a stressful morning and I was very ready for the soothing ease of interstate riding.
Reaching Las Cruces and my turn east, I saw dark clouds hovering over my next mountain range. I stopped for gas to consider the situation. The mountain range ahead was somewhat familiar. I had ridden it in April with a group from Sport-Touring.Net. I really had no pressing need to ride it again in a storm.
Decided, I got onto I-10 and resigned myself to getting as far as possible into Texas before stopping for the night.
I think Mother Nature really wanted to throw some freakish weather my way, because there was a major dust storm going on in El Paso. The sky was brown and the wind strong.
Bottles, cardboard, lumber, and all sorts of miscellaneous trash was getting tossed around the freeway. At one point as I rolled down the left lane, the center lane played host to a rollicking horde of tumbleweeds. I eyed them cautiously and hung back with the rest of the cars before passing them in a quick burst of speed. A few got me, but I got them back. Looking in my mirrors, where one large tumbleweed had been, three little ones remained.
When the speed limit changed, I ramped up to just over 80mph. The ride across west Texas was mostly uneventful. The only really bright spot was the frog-strangler that hit just as I was going through the Border Patrol checkpoint.
I checked into an inexpensive hotel in Van Horn, TX and followed the clerks recommendation to a local Mexican restaurant for dinner.