We finally did it! After like eight hundred LONG years (okay, really it was only eight years, still really LONG), Tom and I were finally able to get away for a few nights of adventure. Our empty-nestedness still holding, last Monday we loaded up the car with bags, snacks, hiking boots, and, of course, Tynan and headed south towards Silver City.
Driving to Silver City is almost a “you can’t get there form here” experience. It certainly reminds us that we aren’t in New England any more. First you head down Interstate 25 for a few hours. After Truth or Consequences, you bang a right off an exit that puts the Rio Grande River to your backside, and you head east/southeast eventually into the far reaches of the Gila National Forest. You’re on a narrow road with lots of ups and downs and twisty-turnies. And fabulous views. More hours than you think later, you level out, the road straightens, and Silver City is almost within sight. If it weren’t for more mountains, mines, big sky, cows, and sweeping vistas. But you will make it; I promise.
Despite being known as a tourist destination, Silver City is mostly a town filled with friendly working folks, artists, college students, and retirees going about their daily lives. It’s colorful, lots of art – galleries, shops, studios. Very shabby chic and a little on the edge what with a number of empty storefronts along the main drag. One hopes that summer’s activities and tourists
can change that, fill the place up a little more, provide some employment for the locals. There are plenty of restaurants, but be advised that a number are closed on Mondays – at least during shoulder season.
Silver City is the gateway to the Gila National Forest. From town you can access the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument, various state parks, LOTS of trails, the Catwalk Recreation Area, and so on. Being there only two days, we didn’t do many of those things. But we could have….
Nope, our trip was about getting away, relaxing – when we weren’t driving, that is. The one full day we stayed in town was spent on a fairly leisurely hike, finding a great lunch, and poking in and out of little shops. I swam in the hotel pool and read my book. Later we headed into the tiny community of Piños Altos for dinner at the Buckhorn Saloon and Opera House. The historic bar was authentic though I doubt that back in the 1860s they were serving goat cheese and aioli with their burgers. Still, very yummy. Excellent fries and a good beverage list.
Wednesday we climbed back into the car and headed up north along the Arizona border. It’s a desolate and supremely beautiful ride. Lots of ranch land, not a lot of people or infrastructure. Gas up in Silver City, people! This is Big Valley for real! And big mountains too. We detoured to the Catwalk Recreation Area because I’d seen pictures that looked quite intriguing. (New Englanders, this is the Flume on steroids. With a lot less trees and humidity.) We even got to ford a river. Twice. In a Honda Accord, that can be rather…exciting. We made it, so it was okay. Just like I told Tom it would be. Even though I wasn’t driving…
Now that Tom and I remember how to do the get-away thing, we plan on making it the habit it was a couple of decades ago. And since the snow’s on its way out up north, it’s almost time to go that way. And west; there’s still plenty of west between us and the Pacific. We didn’t move all the way cross country to sit on our butts.
Have any travel ideas for High on Hooking? List’em here in the comments ’cause we’re raring to roam everywhere now!