20 March 2006 Monday

We woke up this morning to find the truck covered in snow and the thermometer said it was 24 degrees.  We started up the dirt road but the truck had other plans.  The gas gauge began acting odd.  It would bounce to no gas and then back up to almost full (where it should be).  We didn’t like the truck acting up while we’re planning to head 50 miles or more into the wilderness, so we headed back to Silver City.  Silver City, NM is a quaint little town built on a copper strip mine, the Santa Rita mine.  It has a nice internet cafe and coffee shop, a micro-brewery (that made some pretty good beers) and a gaping hole in the earth that provides lots of jobs in a rural town.  It bothers me to see an industry, any industry, take advantage of the health of a small town, meanwhile the small town cannot consider the fate of their grandchildren (by way of pollution or toxic contamination) because they must feed their children with jobs today.  Small town, USA should not be forced to choose between the welfare of this generation vs. the welfare of the next, or the seventh generation.  I got really depressed.

We headed off to our next destination, Chiricahua National Monument, AZ.  We got to Chiricahua about 4:30, but the Visitor Center was already closed.  We took the “Scenic Drive” to the mountain top along the most incredible rock formations I’ve ever seen.  The weather has carved the coolest hoodoos.  The Native American’s called these formations “Standing Rocks” and some are easily more than a hundred feet tall!  We talked with some other hikers and found out about a shuttle bus that leaves about 8:30am and takes hikers to the top of the mountain and you hike the rest of the way down to the Visitor’s Center.  It allows people to see more of the formations without a huge elevation gain.  This is a good thing to know about, we’ll be back first thing in the morning.  We found out about free camping in the National Forest just outside the park and headed there for the night.  A sign we haven’t seen  before greeted us; “Travel Caution: Smuggling and illegal immigration may be encountered in this area”.  We didn’t see a thing.

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