"Ready," Primate said.
"Let's wait for Janet's return from exercise class so I can say goodbye to her, then we'll go" I said.
"9:05," Dr. Bobo said, "marked that as our start time. The odometer read... 126438 miles."
I wondered what we would encounter. Thunderstorms? Tornadoes? Floods? High temperatures? Almost for sure across the deserts. Snow? Yes, on Colorado's highpoint, Mount Elbert. We didn't how deep or how well packed on the trail. Mosquitoes? Indigenous everywhere, except the deserts.
"Settle in," I told Primate.
Our destination for the day, Arizona's low point where the Colorado River crosses into Mexico, lay some eight hours away with steady driving. We had lots of time to think, talk, plan, sightsee. Time, the currency of long-distance travel, the opportunity for companionship and solitude amongst company with a friend, allows my mind to wander. Except where traffic slowed us, the drone of the car's engine created the ever-present white noise of our travel. The car, our time-travel machine, wedged us through three-dimensional space, propelled us towards the future.
By 4:00 P.M., after winding our way past Yuma, we stared at the fifteen-foot border fence between San Luis, AR. and Mexico that prevented us from reaching Arizona's true low point in the middle of the dry Colorado River bed about one hundred yards beyond the fence.
"This'll have to do," Dr. Bobo said.
A border patrol vehicle headed our way. "Get my picture before the border patrol agent gets here," Dr. Bobo said. Were we in for an interrogation? We posed for quick photos, waited for the patrol vehicle to arrive before we departed. No need to incite a chase. A two-minute conversation satisfied the border agent.
First low point done, we focused on our camp stop for the night.
Gila Bend came and went. How much farther before sunset? Tucson, too far.
Midway across the Sonora Desert National Monument on I-10 we pulled off to investigate an RV park, but Dr. Bobo connected to a friend in Tucson by phone.
I encouraged Dr. Bobo, "It doesn't matter, if we get to Tucson late. We don't have to cook dinner or set up camp."
Onward to Tucson, arrived 8 P.M. Spent the night with Patty. Odometer indicated we traveled 687 miles.
Low points - one; high point - zero.
4/27/13 Patty treated us to a Mexican breakfast. (Thanks for your hospitality, Patty.)
8:50 A.M. Our next stop -- Guadalupe Mountains National Park in Texas. Within an hour the sun warmed us inside the car. We moved across the desert, interlopers in the comfort of reclining seats and air-conditioning, rubber-necked at the scrub brush, the mountains, the man-made structures out of place in the barren, hot landscape. Why would anyone live here? Build here?
East on our minds. East.
We entered Mountain Standard Time Zone.
Crossed the Rio Grande. No longer grand, it didn't look like a river. Looked more like a flood-control drainage ditch, a few shallow patches of water scattered over the flat bed.
El Paso came and went. Across wasteland, Wheeler Peak appeared, a ghost in the distance.
We made a brief stop in Cornuda to buy crushed ice for the cooler, arrived in the Pine Springs campground to get the last open spot at 5 P.M. Central Standard Time. Rested, waited for the air to cool before setting up sleeping bags and cooking our dinner of canned chili and instant rice.
We logged 418 miles today.
4/28/13 "Hey, it's light," I repeated to wake Dr. Bobo. The horizon glowed orange.
We rolled up sleeping pads, carried our gear to the car.
"Poop, soon," Primate said, stood by the car with crossed legs.
"Hold on a little longer, we'll stop on our way to the trailhead," I said.
Daypacks stuffed with several liters of water each, raincoats, some snack tid-pits, half a lunch sandwich each that Dr. Bobo prepared last night and breakfast we headed to the trailhead. Primate used the toilet nearby and exited the facility when the sun cleared the horizon by two disks.
"Ready for breakfast?" I divided the raisin bagel with peanut butter between us, breakfast-on-the-trail.
I checked my thermometer. "63 degrees."
As the sun climbed we grew hot and wet from perspiration. Felt more like eighty degrees. Low scrub vegetation provided no shade.
We stopped for a short rests when the mountain offered shade and worked our way up the trail in a steady fashion to Guadalupe Peak, 8,749 feet, in two hours, forty-five minutes, a 4.2 mile climb of 2,950 feet.
|Connard Atop Guadalupe Peak.|
A few photos to mark our presence and we headed down.
"Hey, look, clouds." Dr. Bobo pointed.
Clouds accumulated above the canyon where we headed, grew thicker, darker.
"Could rain," I said.
A few drops fell, easier at first, then more, big and cold. Things began to get wet. We put on our raincoats, glad we'd carried them.
The wind blew harder. The rain fell heavier. We heard thunder. Soft hail pelted us.
We left the campground in rain, but soon found sunshine again on our way to Carlsbad Caverns, thirty miles away.
Dr. Bobo told the ranger, who checked our entrance ticket for the caverns, "We climbed Guadalupe Peak this morning."
"Didn't get enough?" the ranger said.
|Dr. Bobo Ready For Carlsbad Caverns.|
When we finished the self-guided tour of the caverns, my knees and ankles ached.
But we had miles to go before we slept, so pushed on for New Mexico low point where the Pecos River terminates to become the Red Bluff Reservoir.
With Dr. Bobo's GPS device we walked down a gravel road, discovered the lake's water level low, found a spot along the muddy bank and touched the water for New Mexico's low point.
|Primate Touches NM Low Point.|
Where to camp?
"Pecos looks like the best place. We'll run out of light, if we go any farther," Dr. Bobo said.
I had no success finding a suitable campground on the Internet before we arrived in town, so Dr. Bobo stopped next to a replica building of "The Jersey Lilly," Judge Roy Bean's courthouse. While Dr. Bobo searched for a campground, I looked at Robert Allison's two tombstones. A GENTLEMAN GUNFIGTHER on one and HE NEVER KILLED A MAN THAT DID NOT NEED KILLING on the other.
Unable to find a suitable place in Pecos, we headed on to Fort Stockton.
Low points - two; high points - one.