Pat and Sari's Honeymoon Bike Ride

Saturday, April 26, 2008
Las Cruces, NM to Hatch, NM
39 miles (2908 total miles)

We started out this morning at 7:40, an hour later than usual since we had a short day and the breakfast place next door to our motel didn't open until 7. It was unusually chilly this morning - we saw one sign saying it was 34 degrees, but it didn't seem THAT cold. It warmed up to its usual high-70's, low 80's in a couple of hours, though. We were delighted by the sight of a hot air balloon drifting by above the road in front of us. The road out of Las Cruces was just as lovely as the road coming in - pretty Southwestern-style houses, nice neighborhoods, beautiful plants and flowers around all the houses. We crossed the Rio Grande again on the outskirts of town and the scenery changed rather suddenly. It seemed like we were back in Texas. The lush crops and full irrigation ditches were replaced with dry, rocky soil, tumbleweeds, rounded hills with scrub brush. The one town we went through, Radium Springs, seemed parched and nearly empty. As we went on, our road began to run alongside the Rio Grande, and we saw more crops, including the ever-present pecan trees, near the river. Closer to the town of Hatch, today's destination, a wide valley opened up next to the river, with several large farms in it. There were also a few housing developments, as well as individual houses dotting the landscape. Most of the houses were of regular, not Southwestern. construction. It was very peaceful riding, good road, little traffic, warm and sunny with little wind; the barrenness we saw most of the day, though, was somehow disappointing after the prettiness of yesterday's ride.

There were a few highlights to report today. One was that we had another flat, this time on the rear tire. Pat's working on perfecting his technique of fixing flats - he should be quite the pro by the time this trip is over. Another high point was a Border Patrol checkpoint. This one seemed to stress drugs rather than illegal immigrants; we must have looked pretty clean, because they just waved us through. My personal favorite of the day was the impressive mountain we went by with the massive, sculpted rock faces.

We pulled into the town of Hatch, which turned out to be a bit larger than we expected. There was a trailer park just at the fringes of town, possibly housing people who work the local farms. The downtown area had a number of stores and restaurants and looked quite lively. Chile peppers seem to be the prominent crop here - we must have seen some growing along the way but didn't recognize them. Hatch has a Chile Festival around Labor Day weekend and there were a number of places with clumps of red chile peppers hanging up for sale and/or decoration (including at our motel). We arrived at our motel at 1:15, going only 39 miles today in a little under 4 hours of bike time, about the same average as yesterday. Tomorrow we start up the mountain. We plan to stop at Kingston, about halfway up, and tackle the rest the day after, arriving at Silver City. We have split what was going to be 3 days of full, hard riding into 4 easier ones, and expect to skip our rest day this week as a result.

The hot air balloon drifting over our road this morning

A lush crop on the outskirts of Las Cruces

Wide farm equipment going past us

Another lovely Southwestern home

Plowed fields, farmhouse, and mountains

A chile pepper farm, but nothing growing at present

Another farm, many had at least a few horses

A splash of color in this farm's yard

We cross the Rio Grande again

This RV Park was right on the bank of the river

The entrance to the Leasburg Dam State Park - the fine print says the camping
is primitive. We had originally planned to stay at the main part of the park
about a mile away but thought better of it

Odd houses perched on a hill in Radium Springs

A cute old car and gas pump in front of a house outside of Radium Springs

The landscape keeps getting drier looking

A house with cactus and yucca plants in the yard

A dry irrigation ditch that came off of the Rio Grande (in the distance)

A peek at the river through the brush lining it

Flowering bushes along the road

More horses on a farm under a rounded hill with scrubby bushes

Warning of the mountain coming up

Mountain, as advertised

I can't believe they named a town Truth or Consequences!

A humble trailer with pretty plants in front

As in Texas, no water was running at this time

A bend in the Rio Grande, with a ranch by the banks - this one had a rodeo arena

Cows and steer resting at a ranch - they seem to be thriving on just rocks and dirt

An interesting mountain at the edge of the river

Burned trees along the bank - don't know if by a managed burn or a wildfire

The bike awaits a fixed tire

Pecan tree grove in the distance, by the river

Tumbleweed caught by drainage pipes

The first warning

The Border Patrol checkpoint up ahead

The landscape gots progressively lusher nearer the river

We've seen this sign periodically in farm or grove areas in New Mexico

Field recently flooded, with water still in the furrows

An interesting mountain behind a field

A trailer park coming into Hatch

Some nicer homes nearer town

The welcome sign to Hatch, highlighting their Chile Festival

A historical marker about the town

A vivid display of chiles at a market in town

Our dinner place

Another colorful eating place in town

The office at our motel, The Village Plaza

Our bike waits outside our room (it came inside for the night)