Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Big Bend & The Land of Enchantment - 4

Cache at Franklin Arms
The next morning we headed east toward Las Cruces and Dona Ana County, the last one in New Mexico before our return trip from Texas. We skirted the western edge of Las Cruces and found a well camoed cache at an old building that used to be Franklin Arms, a gun shop. The owners had been killed by a couple of customers around 1980. This part of town was a bit run down because it was beneath the flood plain and no new buildings were allowed.
Franklin Arms
After picking up one more NM cache we entered the El Paso area and the traffic was really intense. One of my goals was to get a cache in Mexico and I had one picked out on the other side of the bridge across the Rio Grande. I did not want to ride across because that involved a lot of red tape including buying an insurance policy. Sam said “no thanks” to this adventure (he has pretty good judgment) and agreed to meet me down the road at another cache. From where we parted the only way I could get close to the border crossing was to enter an area that said “No Thru Traffic”. This route put me in a Government parking lot right at the border. A sign said any unauthorized vehicles would be towed away. There was plenty of parking there, however. So I made my way walking/dodging across four lanes of traffic and started toward the bridge. Suddenly an unusual wave of better judgment got the best of me and I decided the prize wasn’t worth the risk of returning to find my bike gone. Shortly after turning around I was accosted by a border agent telling me I couldn’t go back that way. I explained what had happened but he said the problem was that he hadn’t seem me attempt the crossing in the first place only as I was heading back. He advised me to cross four lanes of bumper to bumper traffic to get to the US entry. I said, “Do you mean right here?” He said, “Sure, you’ll be OK. Just be careful. These people are used to that”. So I make it across and with a sigh of relief saw my bike was still there. As my family would say, “Just another Mickey Warnock adventure.”

I made my way to the Interstate and headed south. I pulled off to get gas and met an Indian who said he was an ancestor of the people who had lived in the Canyon de Chelle. He was so talkative I had trouble politely leaving. While I was off the Interstate I made a little detour to pick up a cache for El Paso County, my first one for Texas on this trip. It was in a cemetery across the street from an old mission. It was a camoed pill bottle in a thick juniper bush and I was just about to give up when I spotted it.

Sam and I had agreed to meet near a cache called “Screwbean”. As I approached the cache site I could see his bike parked at a small store about a block away. This was fairly open country and that was the only thing around. “Screwbean” was a clever cache consisting of a short length of old rope lying casually on the ground with one end extending down into a 4” pipe. It had a ring on the end to prevent it from falling down the hole. The end in the hole was attached to a smaller line which in turn was attached to a small container housing the geocache.

Culberson County Cashe
It was getting really hot and Sam doesn’t do heat well. He decided he would press on toward our evening destination of Presidio and leave the geocaching to me. I encouraged that decision because it was just too hot for anyone without an urgent interest to be stopping and searching for caches.

I stopped in the small town of Sierra Blanca and picked up a couple of caches for Hubspeth County. One was at the court house and the other at an ald depot. There were two more caches in Van Horn which took care of Culberson County.

There was only one cache in Jeff Davis County anywhere near where I’d be traveling and it had an incredible 80 Favorite points. Even more astounding was that it was literally in the middle of nowhere. The highway to get there which went through Valentine and Marfa was under construction and one lane was blocked. The one lane open was what would have been my lane and what was left was the broken gravel shoulder. I just rode in the wrong lane until I met oncoming traffic which was fairly infrequently and then I would move over and ride the shoulder.

Boyd Elder
Prada Y'all
Not long after leaving the construction I came to this cache called “Prada Y’all”. It was this elaborate store (except it really wasn’t a real store) like you would see downtown in some big city. It had plate glass windows with fancy women’s shoes and purses displayed. Back from the building about 30’ was a wire fence where folks had hung all kinds of things with their names and hometowns. The cache was on the fence too. Shortly after I pulled up an old fellow in a pickup pulled up and was very interested in my motorcycle and helmet which has a design on the back. He got out of his truck and started taking closeup pictures of the helmet and bike while I searched for the cache. He said he was an artist and had just sold a piece for $90,000. I thought, “Yeah, right”. I asked him his name and he replied “Boyd Elder”. If you want to know about Boyd Elder, look him up. He is, in fact, a renowned artist who lives in the tiny town of Valentine, TX, and specializes in painting on animal skulls. Now I understand why he was so interested in the design on my “skull like” helmet. I can tell you, he’s quite a character. While I was there several cars arrived and stopped to look at the display. They weren’t geocachers. As it turns out, Boyd hat a lot to do with constructing the display although he didn’t tell me that.

I found 3 more caches, all in Presidio County before reaching Presidio where Sam had already arrived. It was about 98 degrees at the motel and I made good use of their pool. A Mexican family was having a family barbecue at the pool. We found that although Presidio is in TX, English is a second language. In fact, Sam asked a question to one old man who couldn’t speak English at all. As far as we could tell The Three Palms motel was the only one in town. It was old but clean and certainly adequate for us. Totals for this day was 367 miles, 12 finds and 1 DNF.  To be continued.

1 comment:

Kathy said...

Attempted border crossing -- Mike's "adventuring" is perhaps 85% of the reason I am content to staycate.