George, the temporary keeper at the Black Range Inn and somewhat of a nutritionist, prepared us an amazing breakfast. The main dish was fresh scrambled eggs with a mix of salmon, bacon, chilies, and tomatoes. On the side, we had George’s homemade hand ground grain bread with an assortment of homemade jellies that were given to him by his niece: pomegranate-cranberry-habanero and apple-habanero. Wow, an amazing breakfast, I never would have expected such unique food from a place so far from the beaten path. Over breakfast, George shared a little about his background. He was a retired Michigan policeman that moved to Alaska. Years ago he broke his hip and the owners of the Black Range Inn put him up at the Inn while he recovered. Ever since, George has volunteered some of his time each year at the Inn to repay their kindness. I’m going to be busy because I have a lot of kindness to repay.
Our only plan for the day was to get to Albuquerque, NM so that we could take Dad to the airport the next morning. Albuquerque was only about a three-hour ride away which left us most of the day to explore. With a clear blue sky and temperatures of about 65 degrees, we couldn’t resist riding the bikes back up the mountain. We had driven the same road the previous day to get to Gila, but it was a completely new experience on the bikes. As we rode from sun to shade it felt as though the temperature dropped about 20 degrees, and it became clear why the two week old snow still hadn’t melted. As Shannon and I photographed and filmed the scenery, Mom collected samples of all of the different shades of rock: white, gold, copper, purple. It was interesting to see the variation as we drove further and further up the mountain.
At what seemed to be the highest point, we found a road to a scenic overlook that we missed the day before in our rush to get to Gila. We took the bikes up the icy gravel road to find the most incredible scenic overlook. You could see so far that the view took all of the different landscapes we had seen and photographed to that point and combined them into one phenomenal scene; from flat desert up to the snow-covered mountain top.
On our way down from the mountains, we stopped for lunch at a cafe in a small rural town called Hillsboro. From what I observed, the town consisted of a church, cafe, and post office. At the cafe, we placed orders and while we waited for our food we checked out their great southwestern style antiques and collectibles: rattlesnake skin, barbed wire collection, Lincoln assassination newspaper article, and more of the like. After combing through everything in the cafe, we sat while we waited and waited and waited…I’ve never waited so long for food in my life. However, when Dad’s chili was finally served it was apparent why the wait was so long, the chili was made fresh on the spot. The food was all fresh and homemade, and more importantly, well worth the wait.
When we reached Albuquerque, we dropped our bags and the trailer at the hotel and headed to The Chama River Brewery for dinner. In the typical fashion we sat down and ordered our drinks; Dad, Mom and Shannon wine, and myself a diet Coke. Somewhat surprisingly she asked to see Mom and Shannon’s IDs but not Dad’s. Very surprisingly she refused Mom after Shannon showed her license, but Mom explained that she didn’t bring hers. I pleaded with her, “I have ID showing that I’m 32 and she’s my mother,” but the waitress refused. She explained that they have a strict policy…hmm, its also a complicated policy because it apparently didn’t apply to Dad? Toto, we’re not in Louisiana anymore. The menu had some great choices. Set on something light to give my stomach a break from the abuse I ordered their tuna special. From the episode with the waitress and the stale bread I was skeptical, but all of our meals turned out to be great. Most of all I was impressed with the artistry of the presentation.