“I love the smell of onions in the morning….Smells like….victory” - U.S. 360 Day 14 from El Paso TX
My cycling journey around the American perimeter
55 miles – Total so far: 756 miles
Left the motel in El Paso at Dark Thirty. As usual out here, I wanted to get a head start on the prevailing westerly winds that kick up as the day wears on. Travelled first through the West side of El Paso. Very ritzy neighborhoods, but didn’t get to fully appreciate the real estate since it was still before sunrise. Soon, I had crossed the New Mexico state line as the sun arose on another beautiful day. The temperatures over the last few days have been a surprise, 50’s -70’s, with few clouds.
Like yesterday, today’s ride was dominated by agriculture made possible through the complex network of irrigation canals presumably sucking water from the Rio Grande. The entire day was spent pedaling parallel to the Rio Grande, which snakes its way North into the heart of New Mexico. As expansive as the Pecan orchards were yesterday, today they were even more prevalent. There were times that the tree-lined road looked like a living tunnel of green. Other crops were equally prevalent. Onion fields dominated parts of the ride, and the odor from those fields early this morning made me a bit hungry and nauseous, both at the same time. There were also fields of alfalfa and New Mexico’s cash crop, chiles. Interestingly, I passed a number of vineyards today, so I’m assuming the climate here is conducive to grapes as well. Also saw plenty of horse farms, another staple in New Mexico.
Made my way through some very unique towns today: Chamberino, La Mesa, Mesilla, Las Cruces, and Dona Ana. With the exception of Las Cruces, all of these towns were small, historical, and beautiful, each in their own way. Like so much of the Southwest, I love the contrast of the countryside out here. While the jagged, rough mountains always seem to be a backdrop, the dark green Upper Rio Grande Valley is literally adjacent to the brown high-country desert.
I’m camping at Leasburg Dam State Park, a rugged area about 17 miles northwest of Las Cruces. The Apache Indians roamed this area, and if you squint your eyes you can kinda see them up on the mountainsides.
I didn’t see any other traveling cyclists today. Wildlife sightings included two dead rattlesnakes in the road. I’m hopeful they’re not looking for a REI Quarterdome tent to set up house in this evening.
It’s All Good.
Photo of the Day: Beautiful old church in La Mesa, NM.
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