From El Paso it was more desert north along highway 85 to Truth and Consequences – a small town that renamed it self after a popular show on NBC during the fifties just to win the honor of hosting a few episodes. To the east was the military area where missiles are tested as well as White Sands National Park that I had to forgo due to time constraints.
Continuing west on 153 the hills began to show. I was now entering Gilla National Wilderness (pronounced Heela) and the world around me was slowly beginning to show signs that desert sands were soon to be a thing of the past.
Gilla is a beautiful place. I would have loved a chance to explore a little, preferably by horse. My plan was to take 180 all the way to Eagar in Arizona and then turn south following the famed 191 into Tucson. That would have been full two days of scenic roads and easy riding which was very welcome. There was another national monument, Gilla Dwelling, which I had to pass up because I simply did not have the three + hours that detour would have cost. But I heard that it and the roads leading to it are incredible. Next time.
I spent that night at a lonesome camp right off the 180 still in New Mexico just north of Glenwood. There was nothing there but a dry river bed, wilderness and one more older fella, John, himself a longtime nomad, living for the past decade inside his awesome RV, hopping from place to place as he pleases with his wife. How nice I thought, a pensioner being able to finally enjoy himself, traveling wherever and whenever, calling the whole country his home, migrating like the birds. We spoke a little as I prepared my camp, and he was kind enough to give me a bottle of water. He also informed me that the road to Eagar was closed due to the fires that have spread wildly since. These same fires have been burning uncontrollably for weeks now, and are even threatening to overtake the military compounds and weapons stores in the area which would force an unthinkable number of people to evacuate whole cities such as Albuquerque and Santa Fe. I reluctantly turned back and took another road into Tucson.
It was on the road to Tucson, somewhere between Three Way and Safford that I stopped to take some photos. I set my camera upon the tripod and in a few seconds, to my horror I heard the sick sound of expensive technology smacking the asphalt. The tripod was knocked over by a sudden gust of wind and my lens was shattered. What a bummer! How was I to document the rest of the trip without a camera? Until this moment, all the other little challenges along the way became obviously insignificant and slowly faded in the memory as I began to calm down and weigh my options. This had undoubtedly become the most serious setback of the trip so far. I decided that I would have to get it fixed either in Tucson or Phoenix and would not leave Arizona without a proper camera. So off to Tucson I had CouchSurfing organized again.