We woke a little later than usual because we thought we would just be passing the day slowly, waiting for the car to arrive. Much to our surprise, Earl called around 8:50am and reported that he was in the Walmart parking lot, ready for us whenever we decided to come by. We grabbed a quick Denny’s breakfast, noted two dogs laying in an unusual place and then headed in the direction of Walmart.
Car transport & Fun facts
The transport went well – no dings, dents or scratches. The car was seriously dirty but that’s to be expected after traveling so many miles. Earl had also gone through a salty snowstorm in upstate New York so that added its own flavor to the exterior. We learned a few fun facts about semi-trucks while chatting with Earl –
- Between the two gas tanks on his truck, he can take 300 gallons of fuel. However, due to the location of the uptake nozzle, only 130 gallons per tank can be used.
- He can go 1000 miles per fill-up.
- Regardless of the terrain, wind, speed or weight of the load he is carrying, he claimed that his truck gets about 5 mpg.
He was a really nice guy – he said he spends half of his year in Phoenix and the other half in Florida. He travels regularly across the country. Every couple of minutes, he would crack a silly joke. For example –
“Did you hear they’re taking peanut M&M’s off the market?”
“No, why are they doing that?”
“They said they’re too hard to open.”
To top the morning off, Brian went by a carwash on the way to Jacque’s house and received a free wash! Apparently they had been having some issues with the machinery for the past few days, and to test things out, they were happy to give us the wash for free. How nice!
Thoughts about Payson, Arizona
We decided not to continue our Payson explorations and instead revert to the original plan – check our Silver City first. As we headed out of the city, we reviewed notes on what stood out about Payson –
- Easy going way of life – If you go the speed limit in town, you will likely pass everybody. There is little to no aggressive driving. People wait their turn and are courteous to others.
- There is everything you would need close by (which probably contributes to some people never leaving the mountain). There are a few groceries to choose from, some small entertainment venues, a handful of restaurants, laundromats, pet stores, outdoor stores, lots of gun shops, etc
- The weather is NICE – even with the morning chill, the sun was out and we were both in shorts. The sky is beautiful and all directions are decorated by the line of a mountain range. You can’t help but feel positive, energetic and ready to do things.
- Abundant wildlife – It’s fun to drive 5 minutes from town and see neat animals, big and small, in their natural environment.
Heading to Silver City, New Mexico
At our first fill-up of the day, we got 37 mpg, which included driving down the mountain, around Payson and our outbound journey to Silver City.
We saw a few interesting sights – a tire hillside, vast cotton fields & the corresponding huge equipment and alien roadside plants.
We pulled over at about halfway and let the dogs go to the bathroom. While strolling around, we left the back hatch open for Fred. As we started to get the car back on the road, we noticed it was a little loud and breezy – the hatch had been left open! Why didn’t Fred say anything?! Sure, he’ll say “good morning” to us 15 times in the morning so you’d think he could offer, “Umm, guys, the hatch is open.”
We were a little surprised when we passed a sign reporting our elevation near 9000 feet (we can’t remember the exact figure). The terrain looked nothing like what we had experienced coming down the mountain days ago from Holbrook, AZ into Payson AZ. There was more cactus diversity here and very few trees. It seems that high elevation alone does not a pine tree forest make.
Silver City – Initial Impression
We drove into Silver City around 4:45pm and were surprised to find very little traffic. The historic downtown lived up to its reputation – colorful, diverse, old-time feel, artsy and thriving. There is a lot of attention to detail on buildings and their signs. It has a quasi-Brattleboro VT or Northampton, MA feel to it.
Despite the numerous cars parked alongside both sides of the streets, traffic on the road was sparse. Additionally, very few people were walking around. We came across more people when we drove up to the campus of Western New Mexico University. It is a decent sized campus with lots of land and newer looking buildings.
Sometimes the streets are divided into one-ways, other times not. Sometimes we’d be driving on a road that never had a stop sign and then suddenly, it would change to be the road with the stop signs. In general, the main roads have a very efficient layout – few stop signs and lights. Traffic moves effortlessly.
We did observe someone run a red light right in front of us and someone else cut us off at an intersection by running the stop sign.
Dinner at the Jalisco Cafe
There are many restaurants here that are called “______ cafe”. When you read their menu, however, you find that they serve predominately Mexican food, or Italian food, or some fusion. I suppose that cafe can simply mean ‘restaurant’. However, prior to this visit to Silver City, we were most familiar with the term as applied to a small place that serves coffee and pastries.
We were excited to sample the local cuisine so we both ordered dishes with green chilies. Brian had chili and I had a green chili hamburger. My burger was uninspired but the green chili was spicy and tasty. Brian’s chili came across as more of an Indian stew – light soup texture with large chunks of meat. We were so hungry that we forgot to take a photo so all we have to show are our empty plates.
The restaurant was really busy and for every table of just adults, there was at least another table with a medium to large family. Lots of kiddies! That was definitely not the case in Payson.
Start of the Scavenger Hunt and Stars
We decided to pick one of our categories (i.e. grocery, gym, land, etc) and find the various options around town. Having a list of businesses or amenities you’re interested in is a great way to explore a town. It’s like a scavenger hunt.
Because it was getting late and gyms tend to stay open, we picked gyms – we found three gyms via google and drove around to look at them. During the course of doing so, we developed a solid understanding of how the city is laid out. The historic downtown is only one small portion of Silver. The main road continues past the downtown and into another town. Along the way, businesses line the street and side streets lead to residential districts.
The gyms were underwhelming. We finished with them quickly and decided to check out the stars from the outskirts of the city, just beyond the reach of the light pollution. We took Pinos Altos Rd until we crossed into Pinos Altos and pulled over.
The sky is magnificent. The Milky Way has way more depth and detail out here. It almost necessitates adding an open deck to your house. You feel drawn to just lay down and look up. It’s a big sky and it’s beautiful.