4:00 AM. Yeah that's right. It was an early morning. A very cold and early morning. If the alarm didn't wake us up, the whistling noise of air leaving our sleeping pads sure did.
With the Milky Way still clear in the sky, we began walking. Our base layers were still on and down jackets were never removed. It was a funny sensation. Every day previous we had prayed for cooler weather and shade. Now we couldn't wait for the sun to peak over the mountain and warm us up. We walked in silence. Our minds fully focused on the small beam of light illuminating the left shoulder of highway 180.
Road walks are tough. This particular road walk was all up hill, and the cars that flew by...flew by without even hesitating.
Horses watched us as we walked past. We even stopped to observe a road runner wandering through a field almost perfectly camouflaged aside from his large, dark tail. Later on up the road, we stopped to observe a mule deer bedded down under a tree.
As soon as we were a couple of miles away from the city we started seeing bicycle riders warming up for the Tour of the Gila downtown. We also started searching for breakfast spots. We arrived in the historic downtown just in time for breakfast at Vicki's Eatery. It was a beautifully quaint restaurant tucked away off the street where all the race festivities were taking place. Leaving our packs outside, we took a seat in the corner by the kitchen. The waitress could tell we were hungry and let us place our order. When our food arrived, the plates completely covered the table. The owner stopped by our table to ask us about where we were coming from, then about the hike, and finally if our food was good. It was. The food was amazing. Everyone was so welcoming even though we were stinky. After we had cleaned our plates, we sat back for a second to take it all in. Mary, our waitress, scurried back to the table setting down our check folded up.
"Here is your check," she said. "It has already been taken care of... but I wasn't supposed to say anything." She scurried off smiling. Astonished we looked around at each other, then at the tables around the room, and then exclaimed, "what by whom?!" We unfolded the bill to find a business card with the gentleman's name. We were shocked, and so incredibly grateful. If you are reading this, thank you from the bottom of our hearts. You're act of kindness made our day and brought so much joy to us and what we are setting out to do. We will definitely pay it forward.
Silver City made us feel welcomed immediately. Even though we stood out among the bicycle racers and fans, all day people cheered us on and asked us about our journey from the border and what was to come. We wandered around popping into the Gila Hike and Bike where we ran into Juan, our driver from Day 1. We also wandered into the co-op to browse their amazing selection of local and organic food. Misha and all the employees at the co-op were so friendly and got us excited about the trail coming up in the next week. Everyone kept telling us about a place called the Bike House. Apparently, they welcome hikers in to their community home as well as bikers. Honestly, the place sounds like an awesome experience, and we immediately regretted booking a motel room.
Just when we thought everyone could not be nicer, two women standing under a sign that read 'Myssage' stopped us and offered us a massage for some shoulder relief. How could we say no, especially since we were lugging around our packs. We sat our packs down, and profusely apologized for our filth as we got down on their yoga mats that were spread out on the sidewalk. Cindy and Juniper began instructing us through a series of positions that relieved tension by putting pressure with two foam balls on different areas under our shoulder blades. We ended up working all the way down our spines and even into our legs. Our bodies needed it, and the lacrosse balls that we had in our packs seemed less intriguing after using the ones that they incorporated in their practice. You can check out Myssage here, and we recommend you do! Thank you so much Cindy and Juniper! We loved getting to spend time with you ladies!
At this point, it was time to head to our motel about a mile away. We stopped in CVS to grab mini bottles of soap, shampoo, and conditioner so that when we got there we could start the showers and gather up all our clothes to wash.
Later that evening we headed back to the historic downtown to grab some dinner. Just when we thought everything was closed or closing we stopped in front of a joint on the corner called Little Toad Creek Brewery. The place was packed and a band was running through sound check. We wandered inside and to a table to sit down to enjoy some of the best pub food we have ever had. The beer was good, the GilaRita was good, the food was good, and the overall atmosphere was great, especially once the band got going. It was so fun watching everyone dance along with the music. We sat there watching one older couple dance to each song. We could tell they had been dancing together for years. It was rather beautiful to watch!
Happy and full, we headed back to the motel to get some sleep.
Garbelly & Critter