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  1. #1

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    Trekkie Dad's Road Trip Part II--Arizona and New Mexico

    In Part I, Jimmie and I visit Disneyland and attend the April 1 Mice Chat meet. If you haven't read Part I, click here, and then come back here for Part II.

    OK, back now? After a morning at DLR, we checked out and headed east. Our first stop was for lunch at the outlet mall on I-10 before you get to Palm Springs. I called Earkid in Phoenix and we decided it would be too far out of our way to stop for dinner in north Phoenix. "Maybe on our way back," I said.

    It was just as well, since signs along I-10 advised going around Phoenix altogether if heading for points beyond. As advised, we headed south to I-8 where the traffic was very light and spent the night near Casa Grande where the 8 and 10 merge.

    Not having ridden my bike since leaving Stockton, I studied Google Earth and got up early for a bike ride around the little mountain range just to the west of our motel. First I headed south to the edge of Arizona City. Then I headed east and found an entrance to the Tohono O'odham Nation.


    I ventured in a mile or two to Chuichu, since I could see a tower in the distance. Not much was there. A school bus came by and picked up what looked to be a teenager. Then I took a closer look at this building, which I recognized to be an abandoned school.


    Being on an Indian reservation, I did not want to take many pictures (especially of the residents) without talking to them first, so I turned around and continued on my loop, this time heading north (again putting the mountains on my right). I didn't realize how big this reservation was until I checked it out on the map.

    I rode all the way into Casa Grande, checking out the bike shop (It wasn't open yet), and then headed east and south back to the motel. By the time I rolled in, I had ridden 22 miles. Jimmie had gotten up and was getting ready for the day. I brought back a light breakfast from the lobby for her. (I had already eaten some oatmeal before the ride and a Clif Bar during it.)

    By 10:00 we were on the road again. Our first planned stop of the day was Saguaro National Park East Unit. We got there in time to watch the orientation film, and then we headed into the paid area for the 8-mile scenic drive. Here are the pictures I shot with my phone:







    I was thinking what a great bike ride this would be, especially on this climb:

    In fact, I had talked to a couple cyclists at the visitor's center, but they weren't locals, and we passed one on the drive. Oh, how I envied her (and told her so, too).


    Here are some more shots from Saguaro National Park:






    After the drive, we found a cafe outside the park and headed on to Deming, New Mexico to meet my sister and stay at her place for a few days. We got to Deming about dinner time. Not having seen me in over two years, my sister did not recognize me at first, because of the weight I had lost during that period. I told her about the dietary changes I had made to control my cholesterol, and the weight loss was a beneficial side effect. She was impressed that I am able to stick to it pretty closely. We had dinner at a local Mexican restaurant (There are quite a few in Deming.), and then Jimmie and I settled into my sister's motorhome that sits in her driveway. My sister and her husband live about eight miles south of town, near a wide spot in the road appropriately named "Sunshine."

    Jimmie and I hadn't decided exactly where we would head from there, but after some discussion, we decided to stay a couple days, and take an overnight trip to Carlsbad Caverns. That will be in the next part of this trip report.
    Have bicycle, will ride. Finished 2012 with 10,089 miles, 683 hours, and 482,000 feet of elevation gain.
    2013: 201 rides, 8171 miles, 544 hours, 480K feet.
    2014 so far: 7846 miles, 451,000 feet


  2. #2

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    Re: Trekkie Dad's Road Trip Part II--Arizona and New Mexico

    Pretty pictures so far! Looking forward to seeing more!




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    Re: Trekkie Dad's Road Trip Part II--Arizona and New Mexico

    Thanks for sharing


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    Re: Trekkie Dad's Road Trip Part II--Arizona and New Mexico

    Cool pictures Trekkie! I know what you mean when you see a scenic route and cyclists are going by.
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    Re: Trekkie Dad's Road Trip Part II--Arizona and New Mexico

    Great pics Trekkie!!!
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    Re: Trekkie Dad's Road Trip Part II--Arizona and New Mexico

    The next morning, I went out for a bike ride. My brother-in-law suggested a route to Rockhound State Park that would take me off the main highway and around a two-mile stretch of road reconstruction. While it's flat around Deming, Rockhound SP is nestled in the Floridas (pronounced flor-EE-dus) mountains to the east. It was around here that I discovered my front tire had gone soft from a goathead it picked up early in the ride.

    So I carefully made my way to the entrance

    and up to the visitors center where I could change the tube in relative comfort.

    About a mile or two past Rockhound is Spring Canyon, and the only challenging climb anywhere near Deming:


    Actually the 17% portion is rather short. Here's what it looks like looking back from the top:


    Here's the entrance sign and a few pictures of the canyon:




    The rest of the ride was pretty uneventful, though I did have a more favorable wind on the way back. 34.8 miles total, with about a 1000 feet of climbing.

    That night, before we left for Carlsbad Caverns, I proposed that we take a longer, more scenic route to get there, since we would want to spend more time there on the following day. So we headed first for White Sands National Mounument near Alamogordo.


    We got there just in time to see the orientation film and learned that unlike beach sand, which is mostly silica, the sand here is a crystalline form of gypsum, the same stuff found in wallboard and plaster of paris. It's as dazzling as snow, and it's hard to take pictures that do justice.





    And even though you are not supposed to take any of it out of the park, the sand is rather clingy.


    After about an hour and a half, we headed to Alamogordo for lunch and drove up to Cloudcroft. In under 20 miles the road rises about 4300 feet. It's totally different up there. (Elevation at Cloudcroft is 8663, according to Wikipedia.)



    It was still a long way to Carlsbad Caverns, but we made it to White's City in time for dinner. And even though the evening bat flight traditionally starts in mid-May, we heard that some of the bats had already returned from Mexico. So we drove into the park and discovered that indeed bats were flying that evening. However, everyone had to remain quiet, and no one was allowed to take pictures of any kind, in order not to disturb the bats. The ranger on duty answered questions while we waited to hear the "ticking" in the loudspeakers that announced the bats were on their way from deep in the cavern to the natural entrance. Then the speakers were turned off, and the bats began to swirl out of the entrance and over our heads. We watched in silence for about 20 minutes as bats continued to exit the cave.

    Now that it was dark, we headed back to our motel for the night and prepared to get up early to visit the caverns in the morning.

    That will be my next post.
    Have bicycle, will ride. Finished 2012 with 10,089 miles, 683 hours, and 482,000 feet of elevation gain.
    2013: 201 rides, 8171 miles, 544 hours, 480K feet.
    2014 so far: 7846 miles, 451,000 feet


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    Re: Trekkie Dad's Road Trip Part II--Arizona and New Mexico

    Thanks for sharing your pictures! I am really homesick for Arizona this time of year and the desert is so beautiful- sorry you didn't get to ride. It is so amazing to just get lost (not really, but hike or ride) in the desert and enjoy nature and the quiet beauty of it all.
    Last edited by dramaqueen; 04-17-2007 at 08:47 PM.
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    Re: Trekkie Dad's Road Trip Part II--Arizona and New Mexico

    I managed to get in four bike rides during the trip, and four more before spring break was over.
    Have bicycle, will ride. Finished 2012 with 10,089 miles, 683 hours, and 482,000 feet of elevation gain.
    2013: 201 rides, 8171 miles, 544 hours, 480K feet.
    2014 so far: 7846 miles, 451,000 feet


  9. #9

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    Re: Trekkie Dad's Road Trip Part II--Arizona and New Mexico

    Great report, thanks!

    I'm happy you were able to get a small taste of AZ. Next time you're here, check out South Mountain, located in Phoenix, they have amazing bike trails, and I remember that Phoenix got an award for being so bike-friendly.




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    Re: Trekkie Dad's Road Trip Part II--Arizona and New Mexico

    Quote Originally Posted by Max Fischer View Post
    Great report, thanks!

    I'm happy you were able to get a small taste of AZ. Next time you're here, check out South Mountain, located in Phoenix, they have amazing bike trails, and I remember that Phoenix got an award for being so bike-friendly.
    Actually, I did ride a loop on the north side of Phoenix. That part of the report will come up pretty soon. I've heard about the mountain biking in Phoenix, but I had my road bike on this trip. I'm not keen on mountain biking solo.
    Have bicycle, will ride. Finished 2012 with 10,089 miles, 683 hours, and 482,000 feet of elevation gain.
    2013: 201 rides, 8171 miles, 544 hours, 480K feet.
    2014 so far: 7846 miles, 451,000 feet


  11. #11

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    Re: Trekkie Dad's Road Trip Part II--Arizona and New Mexico

    Quote Originally Posted by Trekkie Dad View Post
    Actually, I did ride a loop on the north side of Phoenix. That part of the report will come up pretty soon. I've heard about the mountain biking in Phoenix, but I had my road bike on this trip. I'm not keen on mountain biking solo.

    How cool! I should have clarified, sorry, I am referring to paved trails, which are used for touring cycles, as opposed to off-road mtn. bike trails. It is cool. We also have adaptive recreation trails that are wheel-chair accessible and totally open for all to use. It's great.




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    Re: Trekkie Dad's Road Trip Part II--Arizona and New Mexico

    Carlsbad rocks. It amazes me when even when natives haven't visited. It's not just for tourists!





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    Re: Trekkie Dad's Road Trip Part II--Arizona and New Mexico

    Friday morning. We've been gone a week, and now we're in White's City--the gateway to Carlsbad Caverns National Park. We're up about 7 having breakfast and driving in the entrance:


    We're not allowed to enter until after 8:30 so we kill a little time on the roof deck:



    This is the trail leading to the natural entrance--the same one the bats flew out of last night.


    Near the natural entrance, a ranger stopped us to explain the rules and what we were about to see. Now follows a series of pictures starting at the natural entrance and working our way down into the big room:





    This is a remaining portion of a staircase that my grandfather used when he visited the caverns long ago:


    Getting close now:


    And here we are:

    Can you see the aircraft drawn to scale?

    Pictures in the big room. (They say it could hold 14 Superdomes.)





    Of course, the whole cavern was dimly lit, so I had to pick the brighter features. While they do allow flash photography, it's not very effective.

    We spent about three hours underground, and then took the elevator up for some shopping and lunch. Then we were back on the road to Deming, by way of El Paso. We got back in time to have dinner at the home of my sister's friends.

    We spent two more nights in Deming before heading west towards home.
    Have bicycle, will ride. Finished 2012 with 10,089 miles, 683 hours, and 482,000 feet of elevation gain.
    2013: 201 rides, 8171 miles, 544 hours, 480K feet.
    2014 so far: 7846 miles, 451,000 feet


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    Re: Trekkie Dad's Road Trip Part II--Arizona and New Mexico

    Amazingly cool !

    Great pics as always
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    Re: Trekkie Dad's Road Trip Part II--Arizona and New Mexico

    Very neat pics!
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