A dull, clouded morning light crept into the tent after a dreamy sleep in the tent. Wayne and I stayed up half the night talking about everything from how washboards are made, to current political issues. I suspect all that jawing brought a quick, sound sleep.
This was going to be a day of lasts, and not many firsts. While Zina and Wayne finished squaring away their camping gear for the last time, I swapped my pusher and sidecar wheels. The knobby Duro had carried us the length of the divide, and was now showing some wear.
The road out of our camp, and back towards Silver City provided some morning amusement. This is apparently the place where all the trucks come “mudding”. Doesn’t seem terribly challenging to me, but I appreciate the two hard-pack tracks the left for us.
We rode through the erie still of Fort Banyard again on our way into Silver City for gas and breakfast.
Photo proof that 2 fully loaded DRZ’s and a Ural can fit nicely in one parking space. As long as your friends don’t want to leave before you, everything is cool!
After cruising main street without any good places to eat breakfast with the dogs, we settled on McDonalds again. Zina and Wayne got their meals almost immediately, while I waited 15 minutes for an Egg McMuffin and some burritos. Lola hovered nearby for scraps of fallen hash brown or the few egg crumbs.
We motored on the pavement out of Silver City for awhile. Frequent rolling hills slowed the Ural progress down a bit at speed, so I waved Zina and Wayne onwards.
Almost immediately after they disappeared from view, I felt the rear end get a little squirmy. I grabbed the brake and immediately started pulling off the road, knowing I had a flat. “Just have to have one more trial, don’t we?” I said to Lola while I rocked the Ural on the center stand. She gave me a blank stare, before lying down in the sidecar with a loud sigh.
I worked quickly, having gone through these motions so many times already on the trip. Cotter pin out, castle nut off, pinch bolts loosened, and ziiip; Out comes the axle. By the time I was stowing the tools, Zina and Wayne rode up. Just under 5 minutes flat.
While I was proud of myself for the quick fix, I sensed Zina and Wayne were getting tired of these little breakdowns every time I waved them on. They rode behind me for the rest of the way.
Not more than 5 miles down the road, we turned onto the last section of dirt for this trip. Beautiful groomed roads, with some nice twists and a thin layer of loose dirt on the top. The gods had given us one last perfect Uraling road.
Cotton-ball clouds had popped up in the blue skies, keeping temperatures cool. With long lines of sight, I wound the Ural up to 50mph and cruised cheerfully through the desert. I concentrated on everything around us, trying in vain to soak up every last detail of this day.
I think Lola could sense that somehow this day was different. On long, straight dirt sections she usually curls up into a ball for a nap. Not today. She was up and alert the whole time, occasionally jerking her head to follow the dragonflies that careened off the sidecar nose.
I stopped short of the intersection with I-10 to take it all in. This machine has taken us down the length of our country. Short of a few little issues along the way, its done a wonderful job. While Lola lazily sniffed around the side of the road, I smiled with the immense joy and satisfaction of having completed such an extended trip.
And there I was, grinning like a fool as Zina and Wayne pulled in. They let Simon out of the backpack so he could pee on everything Lola peed on, and we suited back up.
A short 20 mile jaunt on the two-lane I-10 highway. The engine raced into a light headwind, and we broke steady at 60mph. Semi’s and autos zipped around us at 75 and 80mph. Riding a Ural on the highway really feels downright dangerous sometimes
Only sixty-five miles of this red, brown and dry desert until we reach Mexico. A lonely stretch of land. Yucca trees and distant border patrol emplacements dot the land like periscopes. I secretly wondered if they had started to deploy radar units camouflaged as Yucca trees.
Onward we ride, to that flat line on the horizon where the Mexicans are. The clouds are slowly puffing up with moisture. “A quick cloud burst could do a nice job cleaning off the Ural” I thought to myself and grinned. I still have not washed this thing!
Hachita is a pretty busted-up town. From the looks of it, it used to be a pretty big town. Crumbling buildings and vacant lots dot most of the town.
Interestingly enough, the town church is almost immaculate in comparison with its neighboring buildings. A beautiful rock wall and bell tower. A tall, brilliant gem shining in a sea of dust and rocks.
I had finally decided to run the Ural dry, and see what my total range with both cans would be. At almost exactly 370 km (230 miles) the Ural bogged, and then sputtered to a stop. Running at 55-60mph burns a bit more fuel than normal 45-50mph speeds. I poured the spare jerrycan into the tank and we were on our way again.
A big smile on her face, Lola sat carelessly in the sidecar with no notion of the big line on the map we were about to hit.
And suddenly, there we were. I made sure to hang way back from the border, fearful of getting into some sort of no-mans land with a firearm and a dog.
A trip of a lifetime completed for Lola and I, with some really great friends. The two old dogs did really well, and despite their general disinterest in each other, I think they grew to enjoy each others company.
Wayne walked down to the border station to take some photos and talk with the guard. Zina and I mused between mouthfuls of trail mix, that Wayne might have wandered into the wrong zone and was now being searched in the tiny building.
Wayne returned, with his pants still on and a smile on his face. “He’s a really cool guy!” he spoke in reference to the border guard. So, we walked down there to chat and check out the scene. He was nice enough to take this picture at the “real” line. Zina asked if they ever get anyone trying to smuggle something in our out, and he nodded with a smirk. “We have nothing to do here, so if you give us a reason we’ll just take your car apart”.
The metal border fence stretched on as far as the eye could see. Thick gauge steel in all of it, like it was built to prevent a massive column of Mexican (or American) tanks from passing through. I thought quietly about the poor welders out here in the heat that put this together. Hard work.
A couple of dogs wandering around came up to greet Simon and Lola. The border patrol officer explained that the dogs were Mexican nationals, but had been granted amnesty in the United States for a better life. Pretty cool that these guys just get to roam around down here.
The shaggier, larger dog with poop-encrusted dreadlocks hanging from his butt tried to get frisky with Lola. She gave him a shrill bark and a growl, stating clearly “I didn’t come three-thousand miles to get violated by a border bunny!”. The other dog was clearly a gentleman, and didn’t try to press the issue with her.
We bid goodbye to the border patrol officer that we been talking to, and got ready for the 75 mile ride to Lordsburg, NM. I picked out a number of these hitch-hikers that had gotten stuck on the blanket Lola lies on. I stopped counting after I hit 10. It’s a dragonfly genocide in the sidecar tub.
The way back up the lonely road to I-10 was uneventful, except for this cloud burst. The road only goes straight, and it looks like we are getting wet.
It was a hard, driving rain that streaked all the dirty spots on the Ural to the rear. My ranch gloves dried out in record time with the sun. Lola simply laid down, and didn’t get a drop on her.
We stopped at the intersection with I-10, so Zina and Wayne could dump their Rotopax containers into their tanks, and make it to Lordsburg. While walking around, I spotted a brightly colored package. I did a double-take when I read what it was. “Look! There it is!” Wayne exclaimed and pointed to the discarded douche, on the other side of the fence.
Not far away we spotted this flesh-colored gem, still in its plastic package. We looked at each other in a bit of disbelief. For a spot in the middle of nowhere, this place must see some action.
Right as we were getting ready to leave, a border patrol truck rolled up. The border officer is an member on ADVRider, and told us about his attempted trip from Texas to San Diego, riding along directly the border. When we asked about the sexual instruments strewn across the field, he said “Truckers. We see them parked here a lot, and we just don’t want to know what they are doing”.
Taking photos of border patrol personnel is frowned upon with cavity searches, so Zina got this shot of our friend driving off.
We saddled back up, and hit the highway for the last push into Lordsburg. Beds, WiFi and hopefully margaritas laid in store for us. It was to be the last supper (if you will) for everyone in this trip.
Both my younger brothers are in the Navy, so I had to get a shot of this patrol boat rolling down the highway.
At long last, we had arrived. Simon and Lola took up posts on the opposite beds, and promptly fell asleep. Wayne went to get some celebratory ice cream, but could only find fruit popsicles. I contributed a large bag of chemical wedges (Doritos) while we transferred and shared photos from the trip.
We had our last dinner together across the street at a garden-variety diner. Unfortunately they did not sell beer or margaritas, so we all hoisted our iced-teas and waters in celebration of the completed trip. Tomorrow Wayne and Zina would blast westwardly back home to San Diego, while I motored a couple days back to Colorado Springs.