Better late than never. Two weekends ago I spent on the road of another random adventure: the quest for ghost towns. I'd heard of this highway somewhere in New Mexico that was supposed to be home to a whole bevy of ghost towns. After seeing some uber-touristy ones that charged admission (come one, people, it's supposed to be a ghost town), I was anxious to see a genuine deserted town. So, the dread pirate and I set out to see what could be seen. We left Tucson heading on some scenic highways east into New Mexico. The drive was absolutely gorgeous the entire way, and after spending the majority of the day on the road, we actually made it to 12, the legendary ghost town road. By this time it was rapidly approaching dusk, so we decided to try and find a campsite. We see a sign directing us off the highway to get to a lake. We assume there will be camping here, so we head off the road. We are now on an unpaved road, with the knowledge that the lake should be like 10 miles away. My car isn't exactly four-wheel drive, but she handles pretty well. We are the only people on the road, and suddenly we are climbing up this mountain. The dirt road is rough in spots, and sometimes it feels like we're about to bottom out, but oh my life is it beautiful. Funny thing is we have no freaking idea what road we are on, or where exactly we are, and we also have no cell phone service. BUT it's beautiful. And that is that.
After several miles, we come across a group of elk. They are right on the road, and then they scurry up the mountain face through this sort of canyon. They are absolutely majestic. We continue to see loads of wildlife, and the scenery only gets more beautiful as we get deeper into the middle of nowhere. At one point (well past the point where the lake should have been), we come to a fork in the road, and one direction is too rough to drive on while the other has a bad vibe. Thus, we turn around and decide to try and find a place to camp along the road. We get to drive back through all the amazingness we just saw, and finally pull off to the perfect little spot (except for the swarms of bugs). The stars out there were so clear, so we sat on top of the ridiculously dusty car to watch them shine. It was lovely.
After a relatively uncomfortable sleep on the knotted ground, we awoke to sunshine and hit the road again. Stopping at a general store in the middle of nowhere (one of those 'we don't take kindly to strangers 'round these parts' kind of general stores), we inquire about the ghost towns. Everyone we ask claims they've never heard of such a thing, that they've lived here all their lives and never saw one. On the other hand, they claim, this could be a ghost town. Hm. This road is famed for the ghost towns. Even google says so. So now we think we are in the twilight zone. or that we've just met some ghosts. Anyway, we drive the whole length of the highway, and nothing. Or what we think is nothing. As it turns out we assume that all the random clusters of 2 or 3 rotting buildings are probably in fact ghost towns. Kind of cool. Finally we make it to a larger gas station and buy a local map. They give us some tips. First stop: Magdalena. An old mining town. We eat at a little cafe that serves the worst enchilada I've ever encountered, and then head up to the mine to have a look. Turns out they'll arrest you if you don't have a pass, so we proceed to Jim's Rock Shop where the passes are sold, only to find them closed. Oh well. Who wants to pay 10 bucks to look at an old mine shaft anyway?
Now it's on some real back roads to the creme de la creme of ghost towns: Mogollon. This is one of those towns that was actually a pretty decent town, only it was abandoned, except for a couple of creepy people who still shack up there. As someone said, "It's like Providence, with eyes peering out the windows as you drive by." Only to get there, we took the most scenic route possible. I'm talking dirt roads, trail roads, that were meant for four wheel off road vehicles. Thel held up pretty well. There were many parts where I thought we'd get stuck, but we drove the entire afternoon on roads like this and it all worked out. We were utterly alone in the middle of New Mexico, on dirt roads, and able to see some beautiful and probably rarely seen wildlife and landscapes. It was wonderful.
We even found this off-the-path state park, and some dude who'd been there for 10 days. There was only one way in because the other road was completely washed out. It would be the perfect escape. Finally, we roll through Mogollon and it is everything we'd heard. Creepy as all get-up. It was super cool, though. We ogled it for a while, and then the sun started setting. We drove down into Silver City, got a hotel room, and headed over to teh Drifter's Lounge in hopes for dinner. Too bad, they didn't serve food, but the completely wasted hostess kept begging us to order a pizza so she could eat some. It was insane. Then we met this crazy character who wouldn't leave us alone, giving us life advice: "Write everything down. Write it down first. At least then you can erase it." Turns out his name is Arcturus (the brightest star in the night sky). Oh, irony. That's not even the best part. This old drunk cowboy taught me how to two-step! It was wicked awesome. He kept asking me to dance, telling me I was a beautiful dancer, and then saying "God Bless you!!" It was hilarious. And he was a good dancer. So now I know the two-step!! Rock!
The next morning we hit the road on the way to Shakespeare, yet another ghost town. We got the tour of the place, and it was kind of cool, and really hot. We watched this blacksmith working his magic at the forge, and that's always awesome. From there, it was down into Bisbee where we chilled at a country bar and attracted a lot of attention (being the strangers that we were). From there, a stop in Tombstone to walk through the streets of the wild west just before sunset. Finally we roll into Tucson just in time to catch the second half of Shakespeare under the Stars production of the Merry Wives of Windsor.
All in all, it rocked. And now I have a newfound desire to spend a weekend down in Bisbee and Tombstone. And to find even more ghost towns.
Otherwise, this past weekend was spent in San Diego yet again, which I will write about soon. Excuse the rambling as I'm running on about 12 hours of sleep in the past 4 days.
Love from the desert!
p.s. As far as pictures go, I can't get any to load up to blogger. So I'll keep trying.