It rained all night last night. I would have heard it if I hadn’t slept like the dead. I awoke to partly cloudy skies and the promise of another wonderful riding day.
Our destination today was the Gila Cliff Dwellings. After fueling up in town (I won’t make that mistake again of not fueling up before we leave!), we headed out on NM15. How could a road named “The Trail of the Mountain Spirits” not be mystical and magical? The promises of a wonderful riding road were true, the road lived up to every one.
We rode through dense trees and foliage, and overhead, the sky was more cloudy than partly cloudy. The turns on this road were tight, some were 180°, but there were plenty of “s” curves connected together to form a path to fly through. The scenery was breathtaking, the elevation changes on the road were exciting. It was another perfect road for motorcyclists!
We arrived at the Visitors’ Center at the cliff dwellings at the same time a thunderstorm came through.
We parked the bikes, then went inside. The rangers were not allowing anyone to walk up to the cliff dwellings because of lightning in the area, so we stayed at the Visitors’ Center, looked around for a while, then watched the informative video about the dwellings themselves. I was glad we did because later when I saw them, the video made it more meaningful. Soon we got back on the bikes and rode to the cliff dwellings area. By the time we got there, the rangers gave the “all clear” and we were allowed to hike up.
The hike itself was beautiful. It started out in a deep glen with running water. It was all I could do to not stop every couple of feet to shoot photos of something pretty. I could not imagine a more perfect site for establishing a living area with the beauty and running water in the lower part, and the caves, facing south, high up. The Native Americans made a smart choice when they established their community here. Eventually we climbed up the steep part of the trail and got to the caves which contained the dwellings.
This dwelling is inside Cave 3, which is the biggest:
I shot this photo looking up from the hiking trail to the dwellings right above my head:
We stayed up there for a short time, but the rangers were threatening to close the trail again because of lightning, so we hurried down. I didn’t want to get stuck up there, especially since I had mostly finished shooting what I wanted, so we meandered down the trail. After all I’ve been through, I am not worried about lightning!
Strike a pose!:
Of course I found some burned trees to shoot:
When we got down to the parking lot, we found some big black birds having a meeting:
It seems they were plotting how to get food from humans. The ranger told us that the day before they’d found a way to get into someone’s jeep, which was parked in the parking lot, and managed to find some food that was inside. Those darn birds! Clever things, they are.
This photo is of the fender on my motorbike:
I like it because it shows my dirty ADV sticker (www.advrider.com), and it is on my road bike, not my dual sport bike! Hmmm. It must have been that 20 feet of gravel I rode through on the way to the parking lot. LOL!
In the parking lot, another visitor stopped and talked to us about our BMW motorcycles, and then we got back on the bikes and looked forward to riding the road back to Silver City. The sky was filled with dark clouds by then and I thought for sure we would run into rain, but we managed to avoid it again. We had a fun, spirited ride down the 15. It’s funny how it takes so much less time to ride a road the second time. I think it’s because your brain maps the ride on the way up, and your subconscious remembers it on the way down. I know I was a lot faster going back the way we’d come, not that I was supposed to be caring about that.
After we relaxed a little at the hotel, we went back to explore downtown Silver City, riding two-up again.
One of the many things I love about this town is that their old downtown area hasn’t been “updated” and therefore ruined. They have managed to preserve the old buildings without people putting silly modern facades over the historic ones. The insides of the buildings are mostly preserved as well with a few updates to fix things worn by time, for example flooring, where appropriate. I really enjoy seeing the old buildings as they were, not some inferior “updated” version.
This time, after cruising around for a while, we asked a guy on a bicycle which little restaurant he recommended. He recommended Tre Rosat. After we got talking to him for a while, it turned out he was a former BMW motorcycle rider and knew many of the people we do. That’s why I told Hal to ask him as he rode by because he must have looked like a “kindred spirit.” Perhaps because he was on two wheels.
After dinner, we rode around and shot more photos. Here is another pretty storefront:
This is a random street scene that I shot. I thought it turned out kind of cool:
I wish I would have used the fish eye lens, though.
Tomorrow we ride home. Not sure which route we will take, we’ll figure it out in the morning, but I am hoping it is the one with the most curves. I want one last fling before I have to come back to Earth. The good thing is, though, we are back on the road Wednesday for our last trip of the summer!