Saturday, June 27, 2015

Day 32: Antelope Wells to Hachita

First of all, apologies to my readers for not posting for almost a year!! I won't get into it all, but life, busy, not inspired, blah blah blah. Not that I have that out of the way, below is the last part of day 32 which I did not have written when I did my last post. 

In other news, I am planning on compiling these posts on my Great Divide Ride and printing a book sometime in the next year (if things go as planned). I am doing this mostly so all the time I spent writing these posts does not go to waste, and so those that would love to experience an adventure like this can live vicariously. It truly was a once-in-a-lifetime journey and I love sharing my experiences. I hope to begin editing and adding some new content this summer and fall and hope to have the text, pictures, etc. finalized by the end of the year.  If anyone has a good idea for a title for my book, you are free to leave suggestions in the comments.

So now, here follows the almost last blog post of my Great Divide ride.

After only a handful of pictures at the border, Joseph and I put our bikes on Sam Hughes truck and folded our tired bodies inside the Toyota’s tiny cab. As a thunderstorm banged away only a few miles in the distance we headed back the long lonely road toward Sam’s home in Hachita. Sam wouldn’t drop us off in El Paso until the next day so it looked like we would have to spend one more night in our tent.

Since Joseph was a little smaller than I was, I sat in the front seat. After a few miles I began to feel a little discomfort so I scooched around until I was sitting in a more comfortable position. That didn’t seem to help at all. I soon realized that my bottom was not used to sitting on a wide, soft seat. For the last thirty-one days I had sat for untold hours on a narrow bike saddle until my muscles had become used to sitting on what many people would say was a decent facsimile of a hatchet head. After about another half hour of pain we rolled into the mostly deserted streets of Hachita.

Hachita New Mexico is about as much in the middle of nowhere as any town on the Divide. It is forty-five minutes from the closest grocery store, and upwards of two hours from Silver City, where were had just ridden from that morning.

As we rode through the streets of the town I had to wonder why anyone would want to live here. Mongrel dogs trotted down bare dirt streets bordered by sagging houses and yards of scrubby weeds. Joseph and I wearily hoisted our bikes and gear out of the back of Sam’s truck while the neighbors stared at us from the front steps of their trailer. Sam told us that the town had a total population of around fifty and that many of the houses were vacant. The town had a run-down and decayed atmosphere, as if it had been forgotten long ago by the outside world and the residents spent what was left of their lives just trying to survive.

After we had set up our tent for the last time and eaten some hastily cooked supper, Joseph and I whiled away the evening talking to Sam. As Sam and Joseph talked I nursed a cold Mt. Dew which had been fished from the back of Sam’s refrigerator. The cold sweet nectar poured down my throat, washing away the last dry dust of the Divide.

Sam had lived a full life. He had been drafted into the Marines and had fought in some of the largest battles of the Pacific Theater in WWII. After the war he had worked in Germany and other countries around the world. Later in life he had spent some time in New Mexico prospecting for gold. Although he had never struck it rich he had found enough gold to pay the bills. 

Sam and his dog
As I listened to Sam tell us about his life, I noticed the dog that never left his side. I had first seen the dog inside Sam’s Toyota as we rode back from the border and he had appeared to be particularly attached to it. As Sam continued to tell us about the events of his life we learned of his wife that had died years before and his children that had moved to other parts of the country, I began to feel a deep sadness for this man. Yes he had lived a life full of travel and adventure, but at the end of his life he had to turn to an animal for companionship. I began to think of the community and family I had so often taken for granted and I felt simultaneously blessed and ashamed.

Last time sleeping in our tent.
By dusk both Joseph and I were beginning to feel the effects of an early start, riding over 100 miles, and the emotions of the day. We changed into our sleeping clothes and laid on top of our sleeping bags inside the tent. We chatted for a while but after over a month of spending almost every waking moment together we had run out of things to say. I went inside the house to use the bathroom, then walked back out through the screen door and looked up to the sky. The clear desert air did nothing to disguise the arrival of the stars. As I stared into the heavens with a warm breeze tousling my hair, it finally began to sink in, the journey that I had spent years planning for and over a month completing, was finally over.

Til next time,

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