We were determined not to do much today – and probably nearly nothing at all would be best. Six days cycling from Phoenix without a break was sort of tough and we felt we had deserved time off for good behaviour.
So we woke late, read in bed and ambled down to breakfast at the hotel. It was informal but the coffee was good. The delightful owner was there – talking to guests and keeping the show on the road.
We then ambled through the town to an outdoor store where we bought a few pieces of clothing – things wear out on a bike tour and need replacement. We met some folks who walked the mountains and got a degree of comfort that the creek at “Iron Creek Campground” had running water. We have passed innumerable dry creeks in the last few weeks and the campground is advertised as having no “potable water” which is fine for us as long as we can filter some creek water. But if the creeks are all dry, we will be in difficulties. We got the same message from the bike shop – people had been up there in recent days and the creek had water in it. Our aim tomorrow is to cross Emory Pass to reach Kingston (in New Mexico not “on-Thames”), but that is likely to be 5k+ ft of climbing and so we needed to know if there was an option of camping before the pass if we don’t feel we have the energy for the final climb. Then it will be downhill for a bit and 100 miles into El Paso – and the second part of the route will be done.
The town of Silver City was founded in pioneer days and has had its ups and downs since then, including being affected by a crash in the price of silver in 1893 which caused economic havoc throughout this area. The cause of the crash was the President’s decision in Washington to protect Eastern bankers by repealing an Act which forced the government to buy silver so that the country would move to the gold standard. Gold won; silver lost and the price of silver dropped; wages for miners were reduced and mines closed, leaving more out of work miners and so wages fell even more. The depression was worst in Denver but was pretty hard felt in Silver City, only saved by the fact that copper mining overtook silver mining. How strange it was that the interests of bankers took precedence over those of working people. That is something that would never be repeated – of course. I am not sure irony works too well in a blog!
Copper mining brought jobs but it left mountains ravaged as the surfaces are removed and not replaced – leaving permanent scars across a once beautiful land. As locals explained to us, these days copper mining comes and goes but no one has a guaranteed job for life in a copper mine; the politics change and the mines are subject to closure and then re-opening.
The architecture of the town shows periods of affluence with some fine buildings, as those who made it in business invested in houses to demonstrate their success. Some have been recently restored and are stunning – overlooking the town with Italianate balconies and other features.
We visited the District Court House but the only Judge not on spring break had called in sick but were warmly welcomed as fellow toilers in the legal world; the friendly Sheriff’s officers explained that they are moving from remote hearings back to in-person hearings as we are at home.
The afternoon passed in a relaxed level of activity and inactivity – a total sort out of our gear, repacking, reading, shopping at the whole-food co-op (expensive but good food) and more reading. I am reading a great book by Alan Johnson (the former MP who had a room next door to me) about his childhood. It’s a great read and shows that he grew up in grinding poverty, mainly driven on and supported by his sister and mother. I knew Alan well at one stage but did not know his back-story before he became a postman. It is a remarkable story – beautifully written and is evocative of a now lost post-war London.
Then we went back to the Toad Brewery for a meal and I am about to get humiliated (again) at Scrabble. A good day’s relax and preparation for the days ahead.