Friday, June 16, 2017

Big Bend & The Land of Enchantment - 6

Ye ha!
The clear sunny morning found us heading northwest toward Pecos, TX, which is in Reeves County. If we didn’t find “Home of the World’s First Rodeo” in Pecos which quite a few others had not found we would have to make a detour in order to get a cache in that county. The cache was at a big cutout sign with the cache name (which I see I didn’t quite get in my picture). We looked quite a while before Sam came up with it. That was good news that would save us some time and miles which we soon blew.

Sam wanted to stop at the Walmart to pick up some items so I left him there with plans to meet at the next cache no too far away in Ward County. This was an out and back cache and after I found it and he hadn’t shown up I headed back to town. However, I traveled all the way back to Walmart and never saw Sam. Luckily I was able to reach him on the phone where he was at the cache site. How could I have missed him? Turns out his GPS took him to the Interstate rather than the back road I had taken. After this little fiasco Sam adjusted his GPS for shorter distance rather than quickest time so it would match mine.

Loving County Court House
New we headed north to pick up Loving County. We stopped at the courthouse for a cache and learned that Loving is the least populated county in the continental US with a population of 80. That was a real surprise to me because I would have thought that distinction might go to a Montana county such as Petroleum with a population of less than 500. It wasn’t even close. I can tell you one thing, however, there are many counties with a lot less traffic. I had pictured in my mind little traffic in this area but that certainly wasn’t the case. The highway was extremely busy, mostly big trucks. We guessed it was due to oil activity.

Now we had to jog east to Winkler to pick up our last Texas county by that same name. We found a couple of caches at the library and adjoining little park and enjoyed the shade.

Hwy 18 took us north back into NM and Lea County where our first cache was at the Jal Cemetery. We stopped to get gas in Jal and I joked with one of the ladies there asking her if you pronounced that town as “Why’d jal do that?” She said no it was like “Why’d they put you in jal?”

From Jal we proceeded northwest toward Carlsbad and Eddy County. This is hot desolate country. We stopped for a couple of roadside caches along the way and had our lunch at a Subway in Carlsbad. While there I struck up a conversation with a couple of highway patrolmen asking what folks did for recreation there because I thought it was about the most God forsaken place I’d seen. (I didn’t say that second part to them.) I didn’t really get a good answer which I guess proves my point. At least poverty stricken northeastern AZ has some nice scenery.

The Trail Boss
From the other side
From Carlsbad we traveled north to Artesia where I saw the most outstanding non-natural cache of the whole trip. It was a huge larger than life sculpture of a cowboy pushing through a herd of cattle at full gallop called “The Trail Boss”. It was located at a major intersection in town.

Meanwhile Sam had decided to take another route to Roswell hoping for a less traveled road. While stopped at “The Trail Boss” I asked a backhoe worker about a road I could take. I headed north out of town but I must have misunderstood his directions because I soon realized I was traveling in the wrong direction. At a four way stop I pulled up beside this Mexican lady with several kids in the car and asked her how to get where I wanted. She tried to explain and then said, “Just follow me.” So she turned around to the opposite direction she was headed and led me for at least a mile to the road I wanted. Now that’s what I call a random act of kindness. As it turned out part of my route was the same one taken by Sam.

Roswell was one of the nicest places we stayed. The motel had a pool which was very refreshing. One of the caches I got in Roswell (Chaves County) was very interesting. It was a whole store devoted to alien related items. You may recall in 1947 personnel at the Roswell Air Force Base discovered remains of an unidentified flying object and since then there has been speculation about alien space travel in the area.

While I was motoring around Roswell picking up a couple of caches Sam was walking around and his hat blew off and landed in the middle of a busy street. He said there was no way he was going to risk life and limb to get that hat. He went into a sports bar nearby and shortly this well dressed black man complete with gold chains came in and presented him with his hat – another random act of kindness in the same day. Our totals for the day were 307 miles, 14 caches and 1 DNF.

The next morning found us heading north before angling northeast toward Ft. Sumner. My GPS had been giving me problems with increasing frequency. It would either just turn off or hang up and I would have to stop and sometimes even remove the batteries to get it to function again. I tried my fallback GPS which seemed to stay on okay but the map color was so dark it was hard to see unless the sun was shining directly on it. After discussing the possibilities we thought maybe there was a loose connection where the cord plugged into the GPS unit. So we took a rubber band and looped it around the plug and GPS and problem solved.

Billie the Punk
We were in Billy the Kid country now and one cache was at a Billy the Kid themed museum in Ft. Sumner. That one along with a couple more took care of DeBaca County. We also had a couple of DNF’s. At Ft. Sumner we turned east and I was a little concerned about Roosevelt County because if we couldn’t find the one cache on our route we would have to turn south at Melrose opposite our intended route in order to get one for the county. Fortunately we found this one which was hanging on a fence even though the coordinates were off about 40’. This was mostly grazing country and considerably greener than the southeast corner of the state.

From Melrose we headed north toward Tucumcari to pick up Curry County. From there we turned northeast for Quay County. We stopped for lunch at a well named Rest Area cache called “A Windy Break on Highway 54”. Many Rest Area caches are placed by truck drivers or RVer’s as was this one.

Just before reaching Logan we again changed directions heading northwest toward the little town of Roy for Harding County. One of our more enjoyable caches was another well named one called “A Road Alone”. It was on a meandering back road with absolutely no traffic. It was a bit windy but you can’t have everything. Nearby we had to ride a couple of miles on dirt roads to find one at a cemetery. It was near what had been the thriving community of Roy but it never completely recovered from the Dust Bowl.

We eventually hit Hwy 412 and turned west toward our evening destination of Springer. Along the way we picked up two caches for Union County. Springer is a small town that didn’t even have a restaurant. After we checked in to an old motel I motored around town and got a couple of caches for Colfax County along with one DNF. We had to make an out and back trip down the highway to find a place to eat dinner. It was an interesting place with three main themes – old 50’s GM cars, Elvis and Marilyn Monroe. There were actually a half dozen restored Chevys, Olds and Pontiacs in the place. Our totals for the day were 366 miles, 13 caches and 4 DNF’s.  To be continued.

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