“People who destroy replacable things made by man are called vandals. People who destroy irreplacable things made by God are called developers.”
— Note on a bathroom wall in a cafe in Hillsboro, N.M.
ARREY, N.M. — We hit the high point — literally — of our cross-country bicycle journey on Wednesday with a climb over 8,228-foot Emory Pass. So it must be all downhill from here. Right?
Well, except for that patch of uphill in the Texas Hill Country.
The crossing of Emory Pass, which afforded some spectacular vistas of the Black Range of the Mimbres Mountains, came at about 19 miles into Wednesday’s ride of 58.45 miles from Mimbres, N.M., to Arrey (pronounced like the word “array”).
We are now about 815 miles into our transcontinental trek of more than 3,000 miles from San Diego to St. Augustine, Fla.
Then followed a rapid descent to the pleasant little town of Hillsboro, where some of us stopped for pie and ice cream at a cafe and general store, which appeared to be the main hangout for local folks. We were served by a stern, severe woman who brought to mind the meanest teacher you might have had in grade school. I’m surprised were weren’t all put in detention.
Fellow rider Kami Kitchen noted that the cafe is closed on Thursdays and speculated that that’s the day the proprietress attends her anger management class.
We’re camped Wednesday night at an RV park in the Mesilla Valley not far from the Rio Grande. On Thursday we ride to Las Cruces, N.M., and on Friday to El Paso, our first stop in Texas.
A bit of history about the area: Emory Pass is named for Lt. William Emory, who explored the region and crossed the pass in 1846 during the Mexican-American War. During the war, troops and supplies needed to reach California from Fort Leavenworth, in what was once part of Missouri Territory. So Gen. Stephen Watts Kearny of the Army of the West led an expedition to explore the uncharted, Mexico-controlled lands that are now in the states of Arizona and New Mexico.
As part of that expedition, Emory led a topographical unit. He kept a record of the plants and geographic features he saw during his travels and provided information about the residents of the Hispanic Southwest and the political situation at that time. Emory’s unit also produced the first reliable map of the Gila River Trail.
After the war, Emory’s findings were presented to Congress as “Notes of a military reconnaissance from Fort Leavenworth, in Missouri, to San Diego, in California, including Part of the Arkansas, del Norte and Gila Rivers.”