After a hard week at
work, it was time to hit the road again. On a beautiful Friday just before
noon, I get on the bike and continue the trip south. It's warm enough to
only wear a long sleeve shirt under the 'Stich. I have a hard time believing
I wont be cold, but as the miles accumulate, it seems I made the right
decision.m Welcome to the southwest.
A note on something I forgot to mention in the previous report. Both in
Oregon and NorCal, where the weather was not SW-like, and I know it's not
scientific or statistically significant, the only other bikes I saw on the
road were Harleys. Say what you will about Harley riders, but not all of
them are RUB posers.
Traffic south of Phoenix on I-10 is incredibly heavy. I am guessing it's not
moving at more than 55 and sometimes even slower. A bad combination of 18
wheelers and "paisanos" making their way south and blocking traffic from
making progress. "Paisanos" is what Mexicans call the Mexican ex-pats
returning to visit (and most typically go back for the holidays). You often
see then caravaning, 2-5 cars/trucks heavily loaded, bringing back
everything and the kitchen sink. Oh, wait a minute. I have one of those
Mexicans at home that does the same, except she drives much better than that
and she usually takes a plane to go home...
Back to the "paisanos". For reasons I donít fully understand, they tend to
drive in tight formations (no one ever heard of safe following distances
here), typically well under the speed limit (on I-10 in AZ where the speed
limit is 75 - and effective speed is actually quite a bit higher than that -
these caravans were going about 55) and unfortunately, almost always in the
left lane. Now imagine one of these caravans trying to pass an 18 wheeler
going, oh, 1 MPH slower then they are. No wonder traffic wasnít moving going
south. But, if you drive as if you were in a RHD country, there is always a
passing lane available.
I finally manage to find some clear road and start making progress. It's a
still a beautiful day, and I can't help but enjoy the ride. When I stop to
get gas in Benson, AZ, the road to Tombstone is calling my name. Never been
to Tombstone, this is the day to go check it out. The road is OK, I was
hoping for a bit more entertainment, but certainly better than an
interstate. Tombstone was a bit of a disappointment (Wyatt Earp wasnít there
to greet me). Maybe I wasn't in the mood for a tourist trap.
I continue on to Bisbee, going over Mule Pass. Finally some curves.
Unfortunately, they decided to put a tunnel instead of going over the
mountain, so the curves didn't last long. You go through the tunnel and you
are in the great metropolis of Bisbee, AZ. Bisbee is also the name of a huge
copper mine on the east end of town, you can see much of the open pit mine
as you drive AZ-80 towards Douglas. Douglas is a border town, and if you werenít paying attention, you couldnít
tell when you are downtown on which side of the border you were. I followed
the main downtown street all the way to the border. It's strange, you run
into a dead end and a fence, but the street seems to continue on the other
side of the fence. Only the Border Patrol truck parked by the fence clues
you in to the fact that this is an international border.
After that short detour, I got back on the highway and started making time.
I calculated that I could have made the whole loop from Benson back to Lordsburg, NM on a single tank, but as I
was making my way NE from Douglas I started second guessing my estimate. Not sure why, but I decided to
stop and fill up before I got back on I-10. I found gas in Rodeo, NM. A few
miles after Rodeo I see a sign for New Mexico Hwy 9. NM-9 runs parallel to the
border, and itís a shortcut to Deming, NM. I figured there would be almost
no traffic, so itís probably as fast as using I-10. Turned out to be much
faster and it had some nice curvy sections (everything is relative) for
As I was getting to Deming, the sun was disappearing fast and the
temperatures dropping even faster. It was getting really cold really fast. I
went from thin long sleeve shirt to long sleeve shirt, heated jacket, fleece
and Heat-Troller cranked way up in one gas stop. Welcome to the SW. Hey, at
least it wasn't raining.
Which reminds me. Yes, I spent most of the day singing - and I miss you,
like the deserts miss the rain...