Scoot, Bob and I said adios to Artesia a little after 7 AM. First stop was for gas and to put on the rain gear for more warmth. It was not even close to warming up yet. The bikers came about an hour later and blasted past me. Other than the cows in the cemetery, they were the most activity I would see for the next 91 miles. It was just us and the highway for most of the trip until we started up the mountain.
People from Jet in Lafayette and Sue in Artesia and others said you have to stop and talk, or listen to Mr. Tom Runyan at his fruit stand, petting zoo, fish pond and more. He was a very interesting man. His family had come to this valley in 1880 and they had been ranching and growing apples every since then. He's mostly out of the ranching business now because, he said, of government regulation and foreign competition. That may be true but have you ever heard anyone say "I did not make it because I was a bad farmer, a bad business man, or lazy". It is always the government and foreign competition. I got to thinking about this yesterday when Dale Taylor said he had got out of farming because he could never get that buy low, sell high thing right on the farm. With wine it was easy he said, pay $4 for a bottle and sell it for $10. A couple had pulled up while I was at Runyans and remembered passing me a few days ago. I remember them because it was the only red convertible on the road. In fact on that stretch it was the only car. Mr. Runyan has an artificial leg because he shot if off with his brand new 45 19 years ago.
I needed a break. It had been a slow climb into strong winds. So I headed to the "Gucci" coffee shop. Outside on the deck was a couple with their very friendly dog "snow". Actually his name was something else in some obscure Indian language, but it meant snow. They had come up from Las Cruces for the day to run at 9,000 feet, "because it is cooler".
We headed off the back of the mountain to descend to 4,500 feet at Alamogordo. Much had been said about this drop, but it was nothing. These people need to drive off the mountain in Quito, Ecuador to Canoa on the coast. Now that is a real drop!
We crossed the White Sands and thought about going into the park, but I had been there before and was too cheap to spend $3 to get in. Climbing out of the White Sands up over the mountain was a slow go. 25mph headwinds and the steep grade had us back to as slow as 30 mph. I was worried until a couple of U-Haul trucks tried to pass and it took them several miles to get around as they were not much faster
Pulled into Las Cruces and called a few B&B's but they were full. I wound up at the Hill Top a little ways out of town. It is ok, but my least favorite so far.
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