Our Lady of the Blue Highways

Our Lady of the Blue Highways
Portrait in oils by Jackie Poutasse

Thursday, January 29, 2015


 (Once more, no photos - I have them, but cannot attach them)

The day began sun shining, sky blue and clear and we decided it would be a good day for a road trip.

Silver City is 57 miles from the LoWHi ranch.   We drove through the desert terrain - flat land surrounded by pop up mountains.  By that I mean - there are no mountain ranges, the mountains just individually pop up out of the ground - no foot hills, just like a jack in the box.    The land is brush land - mostly low growing shrubs with some yucca plants thrown in for punctuation.

We stopped at the visitor’s center and picked up some brochures and a map of the old town.  As we left the visitor’s center, there was a sign on the corner of the lot proclaiming the site of Billy the Kidd’s home and a cabin typical of the area at that time.   The cabin was donated to the town by Ron Howard - it had been part of a movie set.

Across the arroyo and into the historic area.   The arroyo or as they call it “the Big Ditch” has quite a back story.   Originally, when the city was platted, it was decided that this mining camp would have permanent structures - all to be built of brick or stone.  During the time of the mining hey day, there was a lot of clear cutting for lumber and cattle grazing up stream from Silver City.   All this contributed to major erosion in the vicinity.

Then the floods began.   Before the floods, Main Street ran right along the bottom of what is now the Big Ditch.   After the floods, the bottom of Big Ditch is 55 below street level and about a block wide.   The floods were devastating - one featured a wave 12 foot high and 300 feet wide.  During one flood - a man attempted to drive his wagon across the flood.  He got to the middle and the current swept the horse from it’s feet.   The man was tossed from the wagon and managed to grab a rock and hold on - the horse and wagon turned over and over while headed downstream.   The horse was found - alive - quite a ways downstream, bruised, but otherwise unharmed,  and the wagon was smashed to bits and scattered along the banks of the Big Ditch.

Another time, a 1000 head herd of cattle was driven down the Big Ditch to a feedlot about 4 miles from town - can you imagine how what that looked like?   It was a particularly easy drive for the steep banks of the Ditch kept them under control.

We found a parking space and started walking - all the old buildings are now shops - a lot of galleries, restaurants and various kitch.   We walked about 4 blocks to Nancy’s Silver Café where we had outstanding Mexican food for lunch.  Great service, basic food and a huge so papilla with honey for dessert.

After visiting the city museum, we started home.  We decided to take a different route - a loop that would bring us back to Hwy 180 about half way to Deming.

We cut off to the loop, stopped to see the Santa Rita open pit mine where they mined copper and gold.  Ho-Hum - being from Montana and having seen Butte’s pit before they stopped operations, anything else is just a little hole in the ground.  

From the overlook, we could see the rock formation “the Kneeling Num”.  It really looks like someone praying at an alter.

We continued along the road - looking to swing around back to the desert - but instead, all of a sudden we were climbing hills - then high into the mountains.   10 and 15 mph curves -and icy spots.  As we climbed, more and more snow was on the hillsides.   These hills, (mountains) were not pine covered, shrubs and bare rock were the norm.   We crept along, and the sun started to set.

 The curves came one after the other, and we kept climbing.  Finally, finally, we came to the summit - 8700 ft.   (remember my coments about pop-up mountains?   Well, there are ranges, too!)  Actually, the Continental Divide runs a bit west of Silver City.

A cyclist was there reading the historical marker.   Diane rolled down the window and said, “we’re lost”.   Turns out the young man was from Switzerland and was biking through the southwest.   He had a very detailed map and told us we couldn’t get to Hwy 180 from there - but that we were only 20 miles from Hillsboro.    !!!?????   Hillsboro is no where - a tiny, tiny town that we have plans to visit later because the café is famous for hot dogs and bumble berry pie.   We had no choice to to continue down the road.   The cyclist was headed down hill, also - to find a camping spot for the night - in the snow!?

A short time later we were overtaken and passed by a small dark car - I commented that “he” must know the road well, cause he zoomed by us.    About 15 miles later, we came across the same car (we could tell it was the same cause it was the only car that had passed us and there was no where else it could have come from)  Hazard lights on, partially pulled off the road.   We stopped to see if they needed help - turns out the driver was a young girl with another girl and young man as passengers.   They did not know how to change a tire and there was no cell service in the area.  We got information from the driver and when we got to Hillsboro, I went into the only open establishment in the town - a bar, made a phone call to get help for the flat tire.   What do you want to bet that the next day three young people learned how to change a tire?

About the bar -  something I never do is walk into a bar alone - this was a different experience.   It was like walking into someone’s living room - it was full with about 8 people there.   They let me make the phone call on their phone (no cell service) and were just generally very friendly - men and women both - and one guy that was the image of Sam Elliott - Be still my heart!!!!    That is one thing we have talked about since arriving in NM - the people are all so friendly and helpful- and they all look so happy.  

Anyway, from there it was another 50 miles to Deming - we cruised in on fumes and found a station open to get a transfusion of diesel.

What an adventure - beautiful country, beautiful people - what more could you ask for???

Until next time,
Bear Hugs

Boots & Tucker,
And Diane, too.

“She believed she could do it, and so she did!

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