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Friday, February 17, 2012

Day 37 (32 Riding): OFF DAY

Random thoughts of the day:
-I just woke up at 6 and had a massive breakfast...only to remember I'm not riding a bike today and going back to bed from 7-8
-Really,'re giving me a bright yellow Volkswagen Beetle...ha
-This ride would have been beautiful on a bike...but also really difficult and I'm glad on on 4 wheels
-I like lasagna
-Throw some wifi and a few outlets in here and I could survive
-This kid is awesome
-Who made you?
-I "snap" need to "snap" stop taking "snap" so many "snap" pictures
-No I don't
-I want DD munchkins
-Why are there like 3 gas stations in this area and they are all closesd?
-We are gonna run out of a bright yellow bug car...on the same road we struggled on yesterday while on bikes
-It is a miracle that we made it to this gas station...thank you neutral for half of the 40 mile ride

Today was one heck of a day. It started with a massive breakfast at 6...even though I wasn't riding today and didn't need to be up until 8. Oops. At least it was a free buffet and really good! Ed, Katy, and myself said our goodbyes to Ricky, Paul, & Nadine (although hopefully only for a week or two until San Diego) and then were picked up by a bright yellow Volkswagen beetle. My first thought was: You have got to be kidding me! My second thought was: Well now I can say I have driven one of these things. If I had to pick which car we would have looked the most ridiculous in...I would have said a bright yellow beetle. It kind of made sense to get that car on a trip like this.

The drive up to the Gila National Forest and Cliff Dwellings was only 45 miles but took just under 2 hours because it was the most ridiculous road I've ever been on. It had massive, steep climbs and descents as well as crazy hairpin turns with a lot of them coming on the hills. It was silly dangerous but luckily there was virtually no traffic. I can't even imagine doing that ride on a bicycle though. It would have been out of control...literally. It was quite a beautiful ride though. When we made it there, we first went to the Visitor's Center and had a quick look through some ancient Indian artifacts from around 1200-1300AD...when the "cliff dwellers" inhabited these caves. Pretty neat stuff to see. Then we went to see some pictographs and a miniature cliff dwelling as a sort of teaser before the real deal. Then we made the climb up to the beginning of the dwellings just before the tour began at 1:00. The tour was really really cool. Very informative with really awesome facts about the ancient Indians that lived in these caves and literally built stone rooms into the caverns. It was unbelievable to see, like something out of a movie.

Just before the tour, we met a guy who was driving from California to Georgia and thought we were lunatics. Pretty typical. During the tour, we met a family of four, a husband, wife, 12 year old boy, and 10 year old girl. We didn't talk to the father or daughter much but had some great conversations with the mom and son, mainly the son. This kid, Andrew, was probably the most mature and well-manured kid I've ever met. We had quite possibly the most intelligent conversation that I've had with anyone I've met for an hour or two along this trip. He was a sponge for information and just a really cool kid. His mom used to play golf and was fun to talk to as well. They are home-schooling their kids for this year and traveling around the country in an RV with a jeep and mountain bikes attached. Very interesting considering just last week I was thinking to myself how I would want to do just that for a year with my future family...god willing of course. Anyway, I really enjoyed meeting them and if you are interested in their trip...their blog is:
Good luck with the possible film career Andrew, email me anytime!

After we finished the tour and our conversation with the Bournes, we headed off to find the hot springs. Considering this little "town" is called the Gila Hot Springs...we figured it would be quite simple to find some...wrong. First we drove 5 miles away from the Visitor's Center to a private campground that would cost $4 to soak in a hot springs pool. Seemed like a decent plan until I drove down there and passed through some sketchy areas to get there. Then the "pools" were about 4 feet long and 1 foot deep and one of them apparently had a nude woman in Katy found out. Anyway, we left and went back to the Visitor's Center to get more information about the free hot springs that we heard were a small hike away. We got some directions and then drove up about 200 yards to a small gravel lot on a hill. We were told it was a 1/2 mile hike through a canyon and we had to cross 2 shin-deep rivers to get to the hot springs. Well it seemed longer than 1/2 mile and the path was barely there. Luckily I brought my sandals so 1 of us would cross the freezing cold river and then toss over the sandals to the next person who would then do it for the last person until we were all across. We did that twice there and twice back. The path was about a foot wide and hard to even notice. All in all, I cannot believe how difficult it was to get to hot springs in a town named for their hot springs. We finally reached the springs and it was pretty cool. Not much a a "pool" so to speak but there were two small shin-deep areas of water that were about 105 degrees. The coolest part thought was that the water was just running out from under a rock and was coming out absolutely scalding hot. I found out the hard way by stepping into it and almost boiling my foot instantaneously. Definitely the most natural hot springs I've ever seen though.

We finally left Gila a little before 5 or so. That's when the real fun began. First, it started snowing...and it was without a doubt the biggest snowflakes I have ever seen. It was actually pretty cool to see. As we climbed out of the canyon, it went from rain to slush to snow to heavy snow to the biggest snowflakes of all time at the top. It was a complete white out at the top of the mountain but we were only there for a minute or two before we started our decent to the other side of the mountain. Again we went from big snow to heavy snow to slush to rain to just about nothing. Oh, and the best that the gas light came on right after we pulled away from the small gravel parking lot. Fantastic. Katy had been saying all day how she wasn't a big fan of I led them on a wild goose chase to the hot springs and now we were in risk of being stranded in a blizzard in a gasless yellow beetle. On a quick side-note, Gila is going to get 8-14 inches of snow tonight and tomorrow...meaning I would have been in some serious trouble if I had taken the bike there. Thank you man upstairs for having everything work out. The weather also looks dicey for tomorrow where I am, but more on that in a little while. Back to the story, so here we were driving through a blizzard in a beetle with very little gas. The next town with a gas station was 14 miles away. Shouldn't have an issue getting there but just in case, I put the car in neutral to coast down the mountain and save as much gas as possible. We got there...and it was closed. Now we are worried because the next station is 26 miles away...did I mention we have no cell phone reception. I continued to put it in neutral as often as possible, which at one point was a while when we passed the Continental Divide at 7,000'. The whole time we were discussing our options for when we ran out of gas because we were most likely going to. There was very little traffic so waving someone down could take a while. One of us could walk until we got service, but who to call and it would take anyone a very long time to get to us in the middle of nowhere with gas. Those were really the only two options, plus the third option of knocking on a door. So I kept going, pressing the gas as little as possible. We got to Mimbres and saw a gas station and pulled in and stopped. Turned out to be closed so we kept going to the town of San Lorenzo where we knew of a gas station from our biking maps. This was the town that was 26 miles away and 6 more from Mimbres. Somehow we got there...the gas station was closed. You have got to be kidding me! What do people around here do for gas?!?! Now we ended up on the same 17 miles of road we struggled with yesterday on bikes...because of the long hills to climb. We had less confidence in this car among it up them all than we did ourselves yesterday. We got up the first one, and then coasted down. We made it up the second and coasted and barely up the third and coasted. Literally running on fumes at this point. Then I got service and found a gas station 8 miles away off to the left of the road we were on. Somehow, this road was ALL downhill to the town and I coasted the entire 8 miles. We for there and had to ask the person stopped behind us at a stop sign where the station was since my iPhone was wrong but we somehow miraculously made it there. Since good ole Enterprise started us with 1/4 of a tank, we only had to fill it enough to drop it off with 1/4 of a tank left. We put $25 in it and filled it to 2/3 like idiots. I wasted as much gas as I could driving around town looking for a dinner spot before settling on an Asian Buffet where I had 8 plates full of food. Then I wasted more gas getting Frostys later before dropping the car off with just over 1/2 tank. Figures...we go from no gas to too much gas. Live and learn I suppose.

Tomorrow looks dicey for weather and there are not a lot of options for spending the night. A few campsites but all before a big steep 6300' pass so they would be freezing. The best option is to go about 115 miles to a warmshowers host in Safford, AZ. I guess we will see what happens!! Might get wet though :(.

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