It is known that for every 1,000 feet of elevation loss, the temperature rises 3.6 degrees.  We certainly have started to feel this fact as we continue on south.  With every twist and turn, Mexico has begun to open itself up right before our eyes, revealing lush valley after lush valley.  We traveled through the towns of Guerro and Guadalupe, stopping to camp by Presa Abraham Gonzalez, a rather large lake calling to us from the road.  Excited to get in a late afternoon swim, we bumped down the dirt road towards the beckoning water.  Very sadly though, upon reaching the lake, we were confronted with quite a scene.  There were ambulances parked close to the water and a few boats out dragging nets, evidently looking for a body.  Our mood sorely dampened, we respectfully crept around the other side of a lake and offered our silent prayers for the family involved in such a terrible ordeal.

The next day brought more glaring sun and flat road heading towards San Juanito.   The map we have showed this road as the alternative to get to Creel (our next destination).  It was paved the whole way and traveled mainly by farmers and locals, so we did not have to contend with too many cars.  I took advantage of some Chilequiles on a menu in San Juanito and found it tortilla heavy and red sauce smothered.  Delicious!

Now, for the past two days we’ve been enjoying a little break and what the town of Creel has to offer.  We got hooked up with a courtyard camp experience for 50 pesos each, partied down with some locals and a gang of motorcyclists and explored the bits of town we’ve wanted to.  The Tarahuma Mountains line this area, and the natives dress quite traditionally and very colorfully.  A common occurrence we enjoy is the train that rumbles through several times a day heading to or from Copper Canyon.  The freight is usually full of riders which, as you can imagine, sends Kurt out into the street to catch a glimpse of how his favorite activity is done in Mexico.

We were originally planning to head to Copper Canyon from here, but the lure of the Basaseachi Falls is pulling us ever so strongly towards them.  We’ve decided to take the next few days to ride to them, though it means back tracking a bit on some roads we’ve already traveled on.

Sunset leaving Madera...

Some early morning delicate tent magic...

Everything gets thrown into tortillas these days. A package of 10 can be purchased at the Tortilleria for about 10 pesos, or a little more than $1 US...

"Pinole! Pinole! Pinole! Give you power!" says Tony (usually said while smacking one's shoulder.) Kurt and I were sure to pick up a bag before leaving Nueve Casas Grandes and we have been mixing it in our oatmeal and pancakes in the morning...

A roadside observer...

The alluring lake we camped next to for the evening...

One of the many ups and downs of the day...

A view from just one of the canyons we road through, and its tiny village nestled in the valley...

A roadside market. These usually contain the "essentials", such as spices, sodas, snacks, eggs, and sometimes pastries...

Kurt's semi-custom rig. More on this beast later...

Chilequiles, San Juanito style...

He camoflaged best he could, but then politely posed for this photo when I explained how good looking I thought he was...

Outside the shrine...

Inside the shrine...

Mangus, the guesthouse pooch, keeping a good eye on things...

Quite a hilarious translation...

Another classic...

The Ferrocarril Chihuahua Pacifico, or Copper Canyon Railroad, tracks which run through the center of town...

The turista train. Quite a popular way for many to view the canyon, as the tracks are layed out impressively throughout many of its twists and turns, making it one of the "Wonders of Engineering"...

It was hard to resist these big juicy grapes. Most of our snacks and meals on the road consist of simple grains that stay well and are easy to carry and cook. Fresh anything is always a treat...

The Renegados, giving tattoos up on the porch. They later had us sit down for a huge feast with them...

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Back on dirt…

July 22, 2010

After spending the last few days in seemingly bustling towns, connected by quite bustling roads, we were most excited for the days ahead where we could get back on some dirt.  Our visit to Mata Ortiz proved uneventful because we got there just too early and nothing was really happening at that hour.  We proceeded on to climb the newly paved grade that officially put us up into the Sierra Madres, the mountain range running through the center of Mexico.  Not long after reaching the top, we encounter trucks of various natures, all poised to continue paving those dirt roads we all enjoy so much.  Happy to be back on dirt, we wound up and down through tiny mountain roads, twisting through quaint little villages and passing endless amounts of ranch animals.  The air was cool and crisp at this elevation, which made for some very enjoyable riding.  An added bonus to this dirt road in particular was the fact that there were rarely signs informing us of our whereabouts.  Every once in a while we would happen upon a legible sign, though usually it was directing us toward towns that were not on our map.  For two days we guessed our way through most forks in the road.  Eventually the road started to flatten out and began to show signs of life, mainly that of loggers and logging trucks.  We ended up popping out on a highway passing through the town of El Largo.  Turning left, we were back on pavement and continuing our ride up through a stunning canyon, where every twist and turn revealed another stunning detail of breathtaking landscape.

The next day brought more paved ups and downs, making it feel like a roller coaster ride at times.  We made a brief stop at Cascadia de Salta only to find that barely any water was running to make for a spectacular waterfall.  Next stop was Madera, where I learned that I cannot handle two large agua frescas back to back, no matter how thirsty I feel.  There we met Carlos and his son who very kindly invited us to stay with them for the night.  Anxious to continue on, we declined the offer but swapped a few travel stories before parting ways.  Carlos informed us it was “all downhill from here” and we set out again while the sun dropped down, soon finding our ranch land camp spot.  I should mention one of my favorite parts of the day is the camp spot hunt and set up.  We’ve been making a habit each night of getting settled in and enjoying some tea and biscuits while we start cooking dinner (read: biscuits… really just an adult attempt at saying cookies).  We’ve gotten quite attached to a brand called Maria’s.  They are nice and crunchy, hold their form when dunked in warm liquids, are not too sweet and cost around 6 pesos, or $0.50.

Heading up into the Sierra Madres...

After climbing the paved grade, the road turned back to dirt. It will make for easier travel for those heading to and from Nueve Casas Grandes and Madera by car. However, we were quite happy to catch it in the undone phase...

Some interesting rock formations we passed and maize, the most common crop found in these parts...

Adobe kilns. Many of the homes are built with bricks made in these...

At times the road was steep and very rocky, not very conducive to my wiggly form of bike riding...

Our chosen camp spot for the evening. The stream was tiny and quaint and allowed for a late afternoon dip. We enjoyed the spot, until...

...we had to make a mad dash for high ground. Due to the afternoon monsoon, the stream turned in to quite a flowing river, rising an unexpected foot. The night was an interesting one, as we watched the water rise and then fall, before rising furiously a second time. We eventually had to abandon the spot and throw all the gear and bikes up onto higher ground in attempts to get at least a little rest for the evening.

The next day brought a few river crossings...

Sometimes having to push...

One of the many unmarked forks we would encounter along the way...

Signs such as these did not help very much...

A sign like this would be extremely helpful, except the town names shown were not ones listed anywhere on our map...

Jaw and teeth of some unlikely wild(or maybe not so)life...

Mind if we play through?...

Again confronted with a late day monsoon...

...we spent the afternoon constructing a veranda for our tent and frying up some potatoes to go with our endless cups of tea. Thanks to some huge puddles nearby, water was far from scarce and we relaxed in our cozy fort the whole next morning while the rain continued on....

Freshly hatched, this butterfly would not leave Kurt. He went from his shorts to his finger, continuously flapping and drying his wings. He was reluctant to let go, but eventually we had to say goodbye and Kurt placed him on a log...

Unfortunate signs that we were getting close to something and someone somewhere...

Pumping water with a curious crowd...

We made it only so far down the road, before stopping in Casas Grandes to check out some of the old town scene.  While circling around the park in the center of town we were met by Spencer, who said his wife and him had seen us on the road and he wanted to personally welcome us to Casas Grandes,  hoping with his encouragement we’d take some time to explore it.  As it turns out, Spencer was quite involved with putting Mata Ortiz on the map, having purchased two of Juan Quesada’s unsigned pots in a thrift store back in 1976.  Enamored by them, he sought out to find the artist behind them, eventually finding Quesada in Mata Ortiz.  From there they became friends and Spencer helped Juan’s pottery and Juan travel throughout the world, giving pottery seminars and the likes.  Spencer took us to a compound he is renovating and showed us some of the most impressive wood work I had ever seen.  Made by a local artist, all of the tables and chairs were made from fallen timber and still held their original form in some sense.

From there we visited Paquime, a maze-like settlement of adobe structures from which Casas Grandes  (Big Houses)gets its name.  It once was the largest trading settlement in Northern Mexico before being ransacked by the Apaches, so the belief goes.  We took time, at Spencer’s recommendation, to check out the museum there as well.  I really enjoyed looking at all the jewelry made of shells and bones, so intricate and unique in their colors and antiquity.  Further along we took another detour through Colonial Juarez, a settlement of Mormons tucked away in a lush valley.  There we met Fred who was out cruising on his bike.  He gave us as impromptu tour of the area…which consisted mainly of us riding up to the highest lookout point/massive Mormon church grounds and picking some apples.  Fred’s English was excellent and it was fun to practice my very frustrating a very poor Spanish with him.  From him we got the real scoop of what it’s like to grow up in a Mormon run area, while remaining on the outside in terms of religion and culture.

It was a beautiful evening as the sun set and we camped in a field not too far from Mata Ortiz, planning on visiting the town and its potters in the morning.

One of the many roadside shrines we see along the way. Some are elaborate, towering off the ground with brightly painted bricks, while others are more simple, made only of recycled metal and stone. They are usually filled with pictures, candles and other various offerings...

The washroom in Spencer's beautifully renovated compound. We made plans that once the trip is finite in a few years, I would possibly come back here to take a bath...

One of the rooms in the compound. Notice the intricate table and wooden bowl in the center, hard carved and polished. Interestingly, the brass bed in the back may have slept both Pancho Villa and Madero at separate times...

Some pottery shards discovered by archeologists staying at the compound. They say the area is slim pickings due to years of vandalism at the sites...

A view of Paquime, the ancient maze-like adobe settlement...

Fred, our buddy who showed us around Colonial Juarez...

Nueve Casas Grandes…

July 22, 2010

We awoke to our first sunny day in Mexico, reminiscing and swapping stories about the last time we had woken up in another country.  For me it had been about two years ago in Prague and for Kurt it had been Holland two years prior as well.  We headed back out onto the highway to take on the trucks.  To my surprise, it really wasn’t as bad as I had anticipated.  Granted the shoulder was nonexistent, the trucks were kind enough to move over to give us room or slow down to let other trucks pass before trying to come around us.  By mid afternoon we had reached Nueve Casas Grandes and our first agua frescas.

In our wandering around town looking for some good inexpensive tacos, we were befriended by Tony, who not only led us to a great place to eat, but also offered us a place to stay for the night a little ways out-of-town.  Wanting to get a few things done in town, we told him we’d think about his offer and perhaps meet him later on, at which point Tony drew us an excellent dirt map to follow.  A few hours into the night we decided to take Tony up on his offer and rode to his place of work, where he acted as night watchman for what was explained to be something of a lumber yard.

We arrived pretty late, but Tony was just as happy to see us, welcoming us in with a very enthusiastic “This is a special day!” and thanking us so much for coming.  He had already been preparing us a snack of tortillas, roasted jalapenos and hot dogs in his camper van, which he told us was a Volvo (Tony was crazy about all things Volvo) but was clearly a VW with all of the name plates switched.  We got right down to business talking about bikes and being shown his Cannondale (which he claimed was made by Volvo), complete with a homemade sheath hidden in the seat post.  This was eventually gifted to Kurt later on in the evening to use for protection in Mexico, which was very thoughtful of Tony.  Tony’s family came by later on as did his friend and we all took some photos with us and them and the bikes, before retiring on a covered patio.  We were woken up a mere 5 hours later to Tony’s “my friends…the sun is coming.”  (I still here Tony’s voice in my head most mornings when I arise, warning of the sun and a reminder to best get on with things.)  Tony very kindly brought us to his home where we shared breakfast and marveled over lots of family photos (“family is the most important thing in Mexico”) and the 12 copies of the Book of Mormon that Tony had in multiple languages.  After more photos of us and Tony and the bikes in front of the Volvo, we parted ways and headed for town.

Tony (right) and the family in front of "The Volvo"...

We are clearly not the only ones who get spoiled by Tony...

A practical use of some sturdy tire rubber...

"Family is the most important thing in Mexico"...

Crossing the border…

July 22, 2010

We were accompanied by Glen on our way out of Silver City, and for the first time since Oakland I felt a pang of leaving a place behind.  As we rode away, I wondered what William and Angel were doing on that fine afternoon, a natural thought after spending such a long time in their company.  Nonetheless, I was more than happy to be back on the road, once again heading for places new and exciting.  Our journey to the border lasted two days, dodging afternoon monsoons and taking time at the last of the American rest stops to support the local economy with what US dollars we had left.  Of course, mine all went to postcards to use up my stamps.  I can say with pride that over the course of traveling so far I have written in between 40 and 50 postcards.  So many I lost track.  Having the time in Silver City allowed me the luxury of even printing out my own photos to send as cards.  If you’d like to get a surprise postcard at some point, just email me your address and I will be sure to follow through.

We camped underneath the water tower in Hachita, witnessing a lighting show far more impressive than the fireworks in Silver City.  At some points, the sky was illuminated in four different places, with brilliant white bolts striking down here and there.  After a quick breakfast in the park, we filled our water, had a few words with the locals and started to make our way towards the border.  After about 20 miles we found ourselves once again in some rain and took shelter in an abandoned garage, making tea to warm our insides.  Somehow, this was not the weather I was imagining we’d encounter so far south at this time of year.  The tea turned into tuna sandwiches as well and before long I realized it was after 2pm.  The border closed promptly at 4 and we were still 25 miles or so away.  Not wanting to get caught for another night on the US side, we started our mad dash to Mexico.  To some, 25 miles in an hour and a half is no big thing…but not so much to me.  The slow buffalo I am doesn’t like to cover miles in a pressing fashion, but this time I turned it in to high gear and kept on it.

We made the border with about 4 minutes to spare.  The guard let us know they’d be closing in a bit, but to feel free to take some photos, making sure to point out the places people take “good photos”.  It was then we realized he thought we were turning around.  We informed him we wanted to go into Mexico and were soon after escorted through the gate, which had to be unlocked at this point.  We cruised up to the Mexican immigration office and apologized for being so last-minute, explaining that we were hoping to get our passports stamped before they closed.  On came the barrage of Spanish we both agreed later on that we had not been entirely ready for.  “Where are you coming from?” “Where are you going?” “How long are you staying?” “When will you leave?” etc.  Some we had answers for, some we did not.  It took a bit to explain we would not be leaving Mexico at any point, but actually riding through Mexico out the other side.  After a bit we got all the basics covered and were granted the generous 180 days of travel.  We were also given 7 days to find a bank and pay the $262 peso turista tax.  (Currently pesos are 11.something to the US dollar, so the tax equals roughly $25 US dollars.)

Our bags were then patted down for guns and other such dangerous items and we were sent on our way.  As you can imagine, the “other side” of the fence was pretty much the same at that point.  Same grass, same ominous clouds, same mountains.  But to me everything seemed new and beautiful and exotic and Mexico.  The road did turn back to dirt, which was nice, as it always is if it is not raining.  We took a minute to take in the massive expanse of fences and barbed wire stretching as far as the eye could see, designating this land versus that land.  Pretty soon after beginning to ride again, the skies opened up on us yet again, turning it into one sloppy, slippy-slidey mess.  This mud was actually an interesting consistency at this point, making it hard for us to even stand up in, let alone push our bikes.  As with most things, hilarity ensued and I found it difficult to push my bike at times because I was laughing so hard.  We eventually made it out to the highway and took one look at the shoulder, or lack of, the monster trucks barreling down and the puddles they were each conveniently displacing and decided to seek refuge under an awning for a bit.  It was but a matter of 10 minutes or so when we were able to continue down the highway.

And here comes the big way-to-effing-go!!!  It was with that border reaching that Kurt had officially completed the Continental Divide Mountain Bike Route.  A year in the making, with several detours and some parts ridden more than once, he can now add this to his ever extending list of bike trails mobbed in epic proportions.  Way to go Kurt!  And how did we celebrate such an occasion you may be wondering?  Well, by sleeping in a field full of cow shit of course.  The sun went down and we found cover from the road in some bushes the best we could, the field just happened to be a hot spot for cow dumps as well.  With the highway to our left and mountains to our right, we just settled in for our first night in Mexico before it was too dark to see anything.  Once again, we were welcomed seemingly with open arms based on the beautiful sunset playing off the thunder clouds.

Back on the trail, heading towards the border...

The secret life of ants is something that continuously fascinates us. Kurt and I have spent a considerable amount of time following ant tracks here and there to see where they go...

To our delight, a bag containing some seriously meltable things formed into one gigantic chocolatey, nutty treat...

Bear Hunter resting at Sam's feet, two of the locals we met in Hachita. Sam picks up CDT hikers and helps them accoplish such tasks as getting back to the airport or getting more supplies. After a whole lot of "baloney" (according to Sam), he became a certified CDT trail guide...

Riding towards the ever-ominous midday monsoon...

The border patrol vehicle. Just one of the defenses used against people who want to work really hard for a better life in the US...

Gringo y gringa, having just crossed the border...

Many forms of fencery, designating clearly one side from the other...

The beautiful scene as we enter into Mexico...

A view looking back. Goodbye US of A...

Leftovers from the earlier rainstorm. It was not long before...

...the mud gave us the "push only" option. The consistency of this gray mud had me in fits of giggles, slipping around so much that most of the time it was hard to stand up straight, let alone push a weighted bike...

Our camp spot the evening, complete with lots of obstacles to practice your short distance hopping...

As muddy as it gets, you can't complain too much when you get sunsets behind thunderclouds such as these...

Silver City…

July 9, 2010

If we weren’t all packed up and ready to go…would we stay?  Silver City has been such a wonderful place to spend the last week, making final preparations before crossing the border.  Mexico lies some 126 miles away.  We will continue on the Continental Divide route from here and cross over the border at Antelope Wells, heading for Copper Canyon.  Again, the riding will be as much off road as possible, sticking high in the Sierra Madres.  I’ll let you know how Mexico deals with their immigration…

Silver City has an absolutely wonderful community, bikes being a huge part of that.  We have stayed the last week with William, a bike and overall life enthusiast and his fluffy orange basketball, Angel.  Again, everyone here is making it hard to leave.  We even have a bike escort out of town!  …after hitting up Dairy Queen one last time.  The next time I write will be from the international road!

Bike in Tree in Pinos Altos, a town a little ways outside of Silver City. Here the post office doubles as an ice cream palour, perhaps the most dream combination to me...

What dogs do in Silver City...

Downtown Silver City...

Mural outside Co-Op...

Bob Ross would be excited...

We got to experience the 4th of July parade...

Yankee St., which we learned is actually a flood route coming off of the divide...

Kurt helping William with his pedals at Bike Works, the community bike collective...

Mural in Bike Works. Once complete, it will show where all of the bike collectives are nationwide...

Spokes...

Bike Works and Bodhi...

Bike Work's organizer Dave's son Bodhi...

Kids building a bike for their brother. Here kids work through the earn-a-bike program, devoting time in order to learn how to build and fix bikes they will eventually get to call their own...

4th of July fireworks...

Angel...

Apricot tart cooking in the solar oven...

Our hangout spot for the week...

William, our very gracious host...

View out one of the Museum's Coppola windows...

Wall art...

Parts to an ancient jackhammer recovered from one of the mines...

Silver City was bike friendly even back in the day...

Old town bike race. So awesome...

Gila Hot Springs…

July 9, 2010

After seeing it as a mere 28 mile round trip detour, we decidedly could not miss the Gila Hot Springs.  We arrived late one night after taking our time to meander up and over the mountain that separated us from them.  The next morning was, yup…my bday!  We decided to stay the whole day, soaking up the springs, eating pancakes, playing shipwreck victims and building forts and camping in an absolutely-hey!-hi!-way-to-bring-in-yer-27th-year fantasticness.

Hot springs...

Daisy...

Lanterns...

And there we were...

Kurt soaking it up...

Birthday breakfast...pancakes!

Quite a spot to ring in your 27th year I think...

Carmelizing some onions on the fire...

Riding the Divide…

July 9, 2010

After leaving Pie Town, we dropped onto the Continental Divide Mountain Bike Trail, a route running the length of the continent from Canada to Mexico.  The trail is all off-road, making it the longest mountain bike trail in the world.  Kurt started the divide over a year ago and will finally get to finish it these next few weeks, a huge accomplishment.  He was well on his way last year, but after a visit to California in the summer he decided to winter it in Durango, CO, taking time to check out some of their trails while adding some cabbage to our funds and waiting for me to come join him on this world-wide adventure.  What a pal!  You can read about Kurt’s epic year in review here.

The divide riding has been the best riding of the trip so far, hands down.  All off-road, mainly above 6,000 ft, the views are incredible.  Wildlife is plentiful and everything is just dreamlike.  I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.

An exciting change in numbers as I left the Toaster House. Though, my computer went down in between Yucca Valley and Flagstaff due to faulty wiring, so I actually hit 1,000 quite a while back. Sigma kindly sent me a new wire, I just have yet to count up the missing miles and add them in.

Continental Divide landscape...

Cowboy...

A cheesy photo to make you go 'awwwww'. We had some cheese sandwiches and donuts here, given to us by some church folk when we stopped to get water. We just narrowly escaped their many requests for us to stay for the service and their 5 or so offerings for us to use their shower...

Rancho abandonado...

One of the many stock tanks along the Divide. Great for collecting water from when it is windy enough, otherwise the option is to filter out of the tank...

One of the Divide crossings. Over the course of the trail, which runs from the Canadian border to the mexico border, the route crosses the divide 28 times...

This day of riding was absolutely amazing...

Herd of elk. Be sure to check out Kurt's blog (pocket-thunder.blogspot.com) to view a great video of this herd...

Hanging out with the Beaverhead Forest Fire Crew and Matthew Lee. These guys were so great and hospitable. Real heros too! The Gila USFS are known for revolutionary forest fighting techniques now used by many others. Matthew Lee on the other hand is a 4 time(?) winner of the Tour de Divide, an endurance race that takes the route mentioned above. Already a day ahead of the other riders, he was able to stop and have a beer with us and hang for a bit that night. Now that is what I call taking a race seriously...

New...

...Mucksico. Mud like this makes the trail virtually unrideable. After struggling about 30 yds for over an hour, Kurt and I decided the mud had won the battle and we packed it in for the evening. The next morning the roads had dried out again, enough for us to continue on...

The ever-present and ever-ominous clouds up overhead. We kept keen watch and out feet on the pedals, hoping to make it out of the forest before getting stuck again...

The Aspen fire, the only fire in the area still active at the time...

They don't call it Rocky Canyon for nothing...

Victoriously, we made it out of the forest and to the nice long descent that dropped us down onto the paved route 35...

There were too many baby calves in this area my camera could hardly capture all of them. I really loved how the momma cows stood protectively in front of many of them...

Pie Town

July 9, 2010

How do you explain a place that is so special, that it just may be beyond any words in my vocabulary.  Yes, that is how I feel about Pie Town, NM.  After hearing so much about this place, I was very excited to finally see it.  The story goes…a Mr. Clyde Norman from Texas moved to the area in the 1920’s, seeking gold.  As he needed to pay for his operation, he started purchasing items from the nearby town of Magdelena to sell, including donuts.  The baker he was purchasing the donuts from eventually found out about Norman’s deal and told him to “make his own donuts.”   Since Norman wasn’t very good at donuts, he began making pies instead and the word got out how good they were.  People came from far and wide to taste the pies, prompting Norman to turn it into a proper town.  In 1927 he applied for a post office, but the USPS thought the name Pie Town was “beneath the dignity of the Postal Department.  Norman wouldn’t budge and eventually both the town name and post office were allowed.

Now the town sits humbly on the Continental Divide, offering a unique refuge for travelers of all sorts.  There are two pie shops in town, a park, the post office and a couple houses.  One of these being the Toaster House, one of the most amazing places I have visited in my life, and I think most people would agree.  The doors remain unlocked at all times, the sign by the entrance stating “Welcome travellers, make yourself at home.”  There is a share box with all sorts of gear and food people hiking or biking through Pie Town via the Divide will take from and add too.  The guest book boasts of folks from all over the world and offers a warm shower and even a washing machine.  The openness of the space is incredible and it is easy to feel relaxed and at home.  I felt very lucky that we got to meet Nita the next day, provider of the Toaster House.  She still lives in town, just not at the house, preferring a quieter space off the beaten track a bit.

Kurt and I ended up staying 2 days, prepping our gear more after receiving a box containing all sort of spares and replacements that Kurt had mailed ahead.  We are carrying 4 seasons of gear and enough stuff to get ourselves or anyone else out of a jam on the road, whether it be paved or dirt.  Some people choose to go ultra light, which certainly has its benefits.  We prefer to carry everything we need or may need instead, knowing bike shops will not be as accessible once we cross the border.  I also received a wonderful package from my friend Carina in NY which just made my day.  After adding some slime protector to our tubes, we spent the night at the house with Kent and his grandson Cyrus.  Kent had originally framed out the loft which sits above the house.  This was his first time returning in 17 years.  It was an honor to meet him and share all sorts of stories and opinions with both him and Cyrus.  The next morning we excitedly repacked all of our things and officially headed out on the Continental Divide Mountain Bike Trail, leaving right from the Toaster House’s doorstep.

Welcome to Pie Town, New Mexico...

Living and letting be...

Blueberry pie. Just one of the many amazing things made with love at the Pie-O-Neer Cafe...

Packages on the road are so extra special. Here I received my first one from my good friend Carina, complete with mini journals (after I was just remarking that morning how I wish I had one for my handlebar bag- amazing), wildflower seeds to spread around the world, a felt heart and a heart-felt note. Thanks a million Carina xxxo...

A baby rattler napping on the porch while it rained...

The ever luminous and kind Nita, provider of the Toaster House and great big hugs...

Morning wake up call...

You can't miss it. Just turn left and look for the...

You can't miss it. Just turn left and look for the...

Jersey pride...

Officially back on track, Kurt and I headed for Pie Town, NM, where we would eventually pick up the Continental Divide Mountain Bike Route that will take us down to the border and into the old Mexico.  In the meantime, our route found us on highways that took us over the border into the newer of the two Mexicos.  We did run into two other cyclists along the way, which is always an exciting thing when you are cruising along laden down with gear.  You can read about Ashley and Jonathan’s adventures here.  Other than that, we pretty much just enjoyed all of the endless beautiful southwestern scenery.

Just another picturesque side of the highway...

Contemplating the expanse of it all...

I can certainly say one of my favorite things thus far has been watching the moon in its growing phases each and every night. This night, paired with the clouds, it put on a glorious display.

Fire roasting some dumpstered pizza...

One of the best camp spots to date. It was very safari-like...

The joyous occasion of entering a new state...

Dropping down into New Mexico...

Some people may think I fell for his cunning witt and boyish good looks, but it's actually the site of these things that really get me...

Graveyard outside Quemando...