“…Unutterable Fullfillment…”

JoEllen, thanks for the great MLK quote, perfectly timed with our indescribable day…

Just as we left Las Cruses and pulled onto the highway toward the Gila National Monuments, we were diverted off with the rest of the traffic through an inspection station.  We coasted slowly through the station as we passed several cameras, an officer with a K-9, and another officer peering into our vehicle.  We assumed that they were looking for drugs and illegal immigrants.  Wondering if they had a sense of humor, we joked that it would be fun to ride in the trailer on the motorcycles so the thermal imaging cameras would pick us up, but decided that they wouldn’t find it as funny.  This turned to talk about ways to get around their inspection and a potential new family venture (again, just joking Mexican Mafia)??

We reached our highway exit and pulled off at a gas station to top off the car and roll out the motorcycles.  Around these parts, you fill up every chance you get; the stretch between gas stations often closely matches the capacity of the fuel tank.  As we rode the bikes, the landscape quickly transformed from desert to hills to rock formations to steep mountains; Dad and I were in complete awe.  Over the headset radios, Dad said at one point that he didn’t know what else to say, he had run out of adjectives: beautiful, incredible, amazing, breath-taking,…then it got quiet and we just soaked it up. The thought kept running through my head that if I didn’t get this disease, I probably would have never had this experience.  This condition has given us the the motivation to take up riding motorcycles and landed us in some of the most incredible terrain in the country; maybe I needed this push to be freed of my stoic routine?

Buried in a rural town in the mountains we reached our lodging for the night, Black Range Lodge.  When we walked in, the place was buzzing with Geology students from the University of Wisconsin that were on a field trip associated with one of their courses.  The floor was covered in hiking boots.  Anxious to make it Gila, we checked in, parked the motorcycles, detached the trailer, and drove off in the car.

George, the lodge keeper, explained that Gila was only about 65 miles from the lodge, but that it was a 2 1/2 hour drive due to the rugged terrain.  After the first mile, we encountered the tight mountain switchbacks and hairpin turns around corners cut out of steep cliffs hundreds of feet high without guard rails that we would be experiencing for a majority of the ride.  This was no time for “Toonces” to take the wheel.  Along the way, we crossed the Continental Divide which we learned was the division between waters that flow east toward the Atlantic and west toward the pacific.  Dad took my water bottle and poured a little on each side…results were inconclusive.

We reached Gila at 4 PM just as they were blocking off the entrance to new visitors…we made it just in time.  The hike back to the monument was a 1/2 mile on a narrow trail up steep steps at high altitude, and by the time we reached the first cave, I was completely winded.  I’m sure that this was not good for my leg, I could feel the swelling under my jeans, but at this point experiences like this are more important.  It was absolutely incredible to see the cliff-side overlook and be in the presence of these 800 year old buildings built in caves with soot on the ceilings from fires of hunter gatherers dating back thousands of years.

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About bhoefen

Going on a road trip.
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7 Responses to “…Unutterable Fullfillment…”

  1. Cousin Michelle, Mario, and Simona says:

    WOW Bret, what amazing and beautiful photos! I can only imagine that the pictures dont do justice to the breathtaking experience of being there.
    You continue to ride in a very good direction and you are taking all of us with you!

  2. Anita Sheehan says:

    Hi Bret and Shannon and Jim and Betsy. We just received your card, Betsy, and picked up the blog today. You probably don’t remember, but we moved to Rochester from Las Cruces way back in 1973. Lots of memories as I look at these pics – I think one of the most breathtaking sights in the world is those purple Organ mountains at dusk. Our love and prayers are flying down the road to catch up with you all and follow you every step of the way. Love, Jack and Anita

  3. Ray Ferran says:

    Amazing beauty!! If you’re heading to northern Az (Falstaff), there are two of the most incredible sights…..the red rock in the mountains, i drove through there in a snowstorm, no guard rails and straight down ?? feet. Also the Hoover Dam has to be the one of the most incredible man made structures in the world. Well worth the ride..pictures are just not the same.
    Glad to see all back together again, stay well.

  4. Uncle Lee and Aunt Sharon says:

    Hi Bret and Shan, Bets and Jim,

    So glad you are all together again and enjoying the breathtaking scenery and the gorgeous views of the West. Sorry it’s been awhile since we’ve commented on your wonderful posts. I got home from Michelle’s over the weekend and have been getting caught up reading all your posts to Uncle Lee from when I was away. You have sure covered lots of miles and added many new adventures to your travels in the past week. The pictures are amazing! So are your adventures! 🙂 Keep enjoying and ride safely in a good direction – especially on those narrow mountain roads and hair pin turns! Be glad you’re not in Rochester – more snow and highs only in the low teens by the weekend! Love to you all!

  5. Cousin Geoffrey says:

    Awesome pictures and video, guys! Please keep them coming! This puts me in a great state of mind to enter a work day! Still wishing I was with you!

    If you see any CDT hikers up on the divide, please give them some ‘Magic’ for me!

    All the best,
    Cousin Geoffrey

  6. Scott says:

    Wow! That’s all I can say.

    I think that Mike (the movie allusion guy) has put me in a frame of minde where I match up all of your experiences to movies. This particular blog has me thinking of Forrest Gump, where he’s running through the dessert and talks about not being able to tell where the sky stops and heaven begins…

  7. edward.pucci says:

    Love all the photo’s and music… our family has done the southwest tour 3X. actually we we went during thanksgiven break. Your tour brings me back there. Our country is so beautiful just can’t get enough of it. thank you for sharing your trip. If you are by Carls Bad cavern stop in, although I think You might have passed it. Linda and I are ready to buy a Harley and some tunes “Born to be Wild” late 60’s tune. Your mom and dad would know it. again thank you for sharing your adventure with us…

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