We left Tempe and took 60 E to Globe. Then headed up to Show Low through the Salt River Canyon. There are some really nice views up there. I can't remember exactly, but at one point I think we went through three different Apache reservations within 15 minutes (two for sure)! I haven't read the history of these, but I wonder if it has something to do with the old government policy of breaking up large tribes into small groups so they would be less likely to unite in rebellion.
From there we made it to the Gila Forest and wanted to camp in Glenwood, NM. It was deer season and there were crazy NM people covered in mud hanging around every open spot on the road. Asked some locals about going to the Catwalks and they said it was all burned up and not really worth the hike anymore so we moved on.
Rolled into Silver City and was surprised to see it was an artistic town with a bit of counterculture. Had a nice lunch and went to a replica of Billy the Kid's cabin. From there we went to the Gila Cliff Dwellings. It is a little ways north of Silver City but well worth it.
It is really amazing to think that there were people building a life here and living protected from the elements. Around the time the natives were living here, watching the creek below, and hunting for deer the Europeans were in the middle of a violent fight for the Holy Lands in the Crusades. I asked a guide if the Spanish ever found this place, and he said with certainty they did not- had the Spanish found it they would have destroyed it. He said when it was first discovered it still had a timber roof, but when the first archeologists came 7 years later they were gone. No one knows what happened, but they were probably burnt up by cowboys staying the night.
From there we made our way to White Sands. It was unlike anything I have ever seen, I would make the trip back. Highly recommended. There was a rocket launch the day before and the day after we were there so we got lucky the park was actually open. We went on a 5 mile hike through the park and had the whole place to ourselves. During the day it was hot, but the gypsum in the sand doesn't get warm at all and you could walk around barefoot if you wanted. As soon as the sun went down it got near freezing within an hour.
Then we made our way to Roswell, just had to do it! If you grew up watching the X-files and dream about government conspiracies, cover ups, and aliens then you would really enjoy the UFO museum. Not much else out there to see. Then we headed down to Carlsbad and saw the caverns, that was also really amazing! Then we went and hiked the Guadalupe Mountains in Texas, and afterwards began heading back to Arizona.
On the way we passed through El Paso. I have always heard great things about Texas (Austin, Dallas, Houston) and thought hey, a large city in Texas, it must be a nice place to see. It was Friday night and we wanted to check out the bar scene. We went downtown and parked. It was deserted. It really had an unsettling feeling and made me feel like I was in the opening scenes of 28 Days Later. We went to this bar called The Tap and the serves asked me what I wanted in Spanish. I only know "Cervesa" so I ordered that (and it came with a ton of salt!). We were minding our own business, getting ready to play some pool and the largest, most repulsive woman who looked like El Paso's version of Jabba the Hutt threw herself at my German friend and was being really obnoxious and made him feel really uncomfortable so we got out of there. There weren't really any other bars, and he wanted to go see Juarez but I didn't think that it was a good place to visit at night. He wanted to see the famous Rio Grande and the border so we walked about a mile from where we were and headed south. If I live the rest of my life and never make it back there I can look back and say I lived a fulfilled life. I didn't even see a river, just some railroad tracks. We headed back to the Tacoma and left El Paso in the dust.
We made our way to Tombstone, and stopped at a gas station to ask some locals where we could camp. We were told about two different roads and went up there to check them out. As we got near town we found one of the roads and went up there to check it out. I didn't really like it and it started to rain so we headed back into town to find a hotel. When we turned around a hidden SUV started shining its lights on us and we kept going. Shortly thereafter a vehicle was following us, and my German friend was driving. Then the lights came on and Doc Holiday and Wyatt Erp pulled us over- Border Patrol and the Tombstone "marshal" were interested to see what we were doing! The Tacoma was loaded down with camping gear, and they were asking all these strange questions about drugs, guns, and how we knew each other and why a German was on a backroad near the Mexican border. They were checking his passport (his entry stamp was smeared so you couldn't really see the date), and I thought it was strange they didn't check me at all. They let us go and we found a hotel. Tombstone (pop. 1,800) actually had a better nightlife/bar scene than El Paso (pop. 600,000)! We met some interesting clowns (all weekend biker "gangsters") and the next day we went down in some of the actual mines. If you ever think your job is hard I can't even imagine how hard that work was...and I don't think you lived very long. The guide said that the miners made about $4 a day, and that was damn good money. Cowboys at that time made about $20 a month.
Then we went to the Pima Air Museum. They have some really obscure planes and even a few German ones (both modern and WWII era). The boneyard was closed, but I don't think we missed much. The Titan Missile Museum was really cool, and if you are into Cold War lore and history that is a must see. Afterwards we went to a few towns and missions nearby and then went down to Nogales to buy some souvenirs. Once again Border Patrol was sketched out by a German coming through.
Then we made it back home. Arizona has the most epic sunsets.