Silver City to Hachita Community Center
Start 7:15 to 16:10
Weather: Over 90.
We woke up extra early this morning. It was hard to believe we were just two days from finishing our journey. The map had us on a highway for the first twenty miles. Being the end of the three day holiday weekend, we knew the faster we got on the road early in the morning, the less traffic we would encounter. Even though the map said downhill trending we knew not to always trust the elevation. So many times down meant up. And as soon as we started to leave Silver City we had to climb out. We passed a home where they decorate their driveway with toilets. Not having a toilet while in the woods, this just made me laugh.
As we turned onto the red sand road, we were worried that the monsoon rains might hit. There was clear evidence of the flash floods coming through the area. We were making great time, and the miles were ticking down. The plants and wildlife were different from the normal trail. These were desert plants and desert critters. The grasshopper was the most fascinating creature. Several times it would fly above our head, and the cool thing was its wings inside the body were bright red. So as it flew over us, this odd red winged thing was flying over our heads. I tried many times to capture this on film, but they were just too fast.
At 10:30am we stopped for our usual snack. It had been just three hours in the saddle and my legs just needed the break. There was no where to sit, nor was there any shade to be had. We had left the New Mexico forests yesterday at high altitude, to the hot dry deserts. And it was going to get hotter. I asked John if it had sunk in that in 24 hours we would just be hours from finishing. What kind of emotion do you think we would experience. At this point, we just are sore and want to finish, but I know we be much more emotional tomorrow.
By noon, we had reached Interstate 10, we had already biked 51 miles. It was time for lunch, and we were hot and ready. John had been very concerned all morning about our safety from Silver City to Antelope Wells. The book as suggested different places to camp than our route, but was clear to point out not to friend anyone and to be extra careful of every person we encounter. We talked about our safety on the bike, and I finally had to let it go, as it was very scary to think we could be in danger.
When we reached the trading post on Interstate 10 we were warmly greeted by the staff. They were accustomed to Great Divide Riders and couldn’t have been more welcoming. They offered us a bathroom, free ice, and all the water we could take. What a place. As we purchased several cold drinks, I asked about the safety of the route, and the town of Hachita. To my complete surprise and delight the lady at the counter knew the guy who ran the community center in Hachita. They often opened the center up to bikers and hikers for a safe place to stay.
We went out to the porch and enjoyed our lunch. I was so hungry the call would have to wait. After lunch we called Jeffery. The phone rang a few times, and then he answered. I told him where we were and that we were divide riders. He said he would be happy to open the community center up for us. That there was a full kitchen and snacks, to make ourselves at home. I asked him how we could pay, and the community center accepts small donations in exchange for staying there. John almost jumped out of his skin. He was so relieved, we were going to be safe. He went in the trading post to let the ladies know we were going to stay at the community center. When he came out, he was crying. He said my safety was the most important thing to him, and that we had just secured our safety.
The next 30 miles were brutal. We stayed at the trading post for one and a half hours as it was so pleasant to have shade, a restroom and cold drinks. We knew we had to sunblock up, as the rest of the day was sunny and hot, with no shade and no clouds.
When we arrived in Hachita the lock on the door to the community center was unlocked and we were welcome to stay. We quickly got out of our hot clothes, unpacked our food and put in the refrigerator. The place was stocked with snacks and food for folks like us, and there were welcome signs every where. We would be the only people to stay at the community center that night. John found a hose in the back of the building, and there was a newly installed water spigot in the front. So, we grabbed our small hotel soap, got into our swimsuits and headed outside, where we took a quick, but wonderful shower.
Hachita town history is like so many others. Boom to bust. Train to truck, coal to mining. All towns had big dreams and had bust with the change of times. There currently was less than 40 folks who remained in Hachita, and many of the names of supports on the walls, were also the same names that rested in the local cemetery. The evening brought a beautiful sunset, followed by a lightning storm. We took chairs outside to enjoy the storm. While it rained good on 4th street, the east side of the building, on 3rd street it was completely dry. The community center posted the history of Hachita on the wall and I read it out loud as the lighting and thunder crashed around outside. We were starting to realize this was it. This was our last night out in a foreign city. In 24 hours we would be having dinner with John’s parents and enjoying a hot shower and a real bed. The journey would be over. We couldn’t be more happy to finish. We were starting to realize what we had gone through.
As we laid down in our sleeping bags on the stage in the community center, the flies buzzed around us and the crickets chirped. Having electricity, I pulled up the photos on my iPhone and John and I enjoyed looking back at where we had been. We immediately recognized the harder days and would talk about hills, or people we met, or the length of the trip, and how you couldn’t really focus on one day or one point of time. How would we describe this to others? How do you share seven weeks of hardship and joy? These times and memories our ours to share, live in our head, and go back to, hopefully often and fondly as time passes.