Waking up just before sunrise, I began packing up and reorganizing my gear while still inside the tent. With over 1000 kilometers on my schedule today, I would need to get riding as soon as possible to arrive at my target destination tonight.
Upon stepping out of my tent, the Arizona desert quickly greeted me with frosty morning air. The sun began to rise in the east, slowly revealing the landscape surrounding me. Large rock formations in the distance turned red as the shadows retreated from the sunlight and towering cacti lined the desert floor as far as I could see. Unlike my previous experience in Arizona (see Day 4), this was the positive experience I had envisioned Arizona to offer. I could not have asked for a better morning to take in this vast and breath taking scenery.
Departing Apache Junction, 700 kilometers of desolate interstate would lead me to El Paso, Texas. I passed by several signs warning not to pickup hitchhikers as several state and federal prisons were operating in this isolated area of the country. A more interesting sign along my route indicated that I was entering an area where Army Drone Aircraft were being tested. To my disappointment, I did not witness any in use.
Approaching El Paso, I could see the large wall separating Texas from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. I watched as the boarder agents slowly patrolled the area along the wall, scanning for individuals attempting to illegally enter the country. Fueling up one last time for today I departed El Paso and headed towards Carlsbad, New Mexico.
The sun was going down and I still had 380 km to go before reaching Carlsbad where I would setup camp for the night. Traveling along a rural two-lane highway, the road guided me into what appeared to be a truck weigh station. As I approached the building structure, two armed border patrol agents signaled me to stop. After a brief questioning period from the agents, I asked them what this was all about. They informed me that it was a United States Border Patrol Interior Checkpoint. These checkpoints are positioned throughout the southern states that are within 75 miles of the Mexico – USA border and are used to deter illegal immigration and smuggling activities. Once cleared to pass through the checkpoint, I quickly carried on my way.
With roughly 60 kilometers remaining before reaching camp, day had turned into night and, due to the change in elevation, the temperature had dropped to -3 degrees celsius. To add to this excitement, I had not seen a fuel station, or anything for that matter, in the last 2 hours and my fuel light just came on. The onboard computer displayed my range at 70 kilometers remaining and dropping rapidly.
With 33 kilometers of range displaying on the dash, a road sign indicated there was a fuel station 10 miles ahead! This fire of hope was quickly extinguished as I pulled into the fuel station. Due to the late hour of the night, it was closed. Even paying at the pump was not an option as the pumps were turned off.
Feeling defeated, I sat down beside one of the fuel pumps. Sitting in the dark and cold, stressing about my fuel situation, I noticed a sign for a campground… ¼ mile away! In this moment, I realized luck was on my side tonight. I had a safe place to camp tonight and would be able to fuel up in the morning.