Little cat woke up early again on his first day in the USA. Must be excitement, he's been OK ever since!

I found a technician to repair the lead on my computer charger, he did a pretty good job. I had made unsatisfactory repair attempts myself, and, unusually, a Mexican repair attempt a couple of months ago was not successful either.

I drove to Silver City, wasting about 2 hours on the way trying to get my earthlink dial up internet working again, it had fallen apart since I last used it 9 months ago. Luckily I had access to two phone lines, one technical help at earthlink, and one for the computer and although long the technical assistance was quite good.

I had half in mind to stop at Wal-Mart in Silver City and half to go on to a rather pleasant site I stayed at last year but on the way noticed I was entering the Gila National Forest and there was a handy looking turn off. I parked in seclusion next to a well worn quad cycle route and little cat had a fine time running around.

Next day was about wasted. Late start, due to cat having fun at our campsite, shopping in Wal-Mart, checking on repair or replacement to my windscreen. Repairs would be too expensive, and they could not get a replacement before tomorrow. I rang my motor insurance broker, the renewal cheque had been lost in the post and they had not been phoning Micki back whenever she phoned to ask could they reinstate the insurance. They were most offhand to me, unhelpful, and almost rude at times when I spoke with them. June Beckham Insurance of Longview and Marshall, Texas. Don't go near them. When I finally got them to give a quote it was 3 times the figure I paid last year, the girl insisted it was because rates went up and down - by 200%? - not because she'd put in some wrong information, and anyway I'd have to go into the office to sign the papers for a new insurance. From Silver City to Marshall and back is about a 3,000 mile round trip, uninsured and illegal for half the way but that was all she could do. Didn't even say sorry.

I called at a broker in Silver City, they put me in touch with Peters Agency, the local agent for Foremost, my original Insurance company. Peters Agency could not have been more helpful, they could not write insurance for Texas but they would do their best to help, and after lots of phoning put me in touch with the direct side of Foremost who fixed it all up, and for $9 less than I paid last year with a touch more cover! If you need insurance (and don't live in Silver City and use Peters Insurance) then phone 1-800-237-2060 and ask for Angelo Franchi. Mention my name to explain how you know to ask for him.

I'd been gently in touch with Jeff Drilling from Oregon who has started on a similar but slightly shorter version of my US tour last year. He is using wireless for internet access and following his experiences I bought a wireless card and tried it. Magic! I set it to search, drove down the road a touch, and found an internet connection. Just like that.

I headed north, turned into the forest after a short distance, and found a similar secluded spot for the night. Cat had a super run around in the morning, then the route became a touch craggy.

I went on to the catwalk at Whitewater Canyon.

Before the discovery of gold and silver deposits here the canyon had served as a hideaway for Butch Cassidy who was known locally only as a hardworking ranch hand and not as an outlaw. The Whitewater Canyon was a beautiful walk.

I then headed back to the 78 to cross westwards to the Coronado Trail then to head North again.

Superb views, passing by a huge opencast mine site, producing 125,000 tons of ore PER DAY, out of a total of 850,000 tons of material shifted per day. The dumper trucks are super king-size. This is the bucket for one, must have been 12 ft wide.

An hour and a half hold up at a roadworks with a truck that had gone off the road and I was at another Forest campsite for the night. Little cat will have to have his run around in the morning, due to the hold up it was dark when we arrived. First thing in the morning he disappeared in a tree.

The Coronado trail is a superb 127 mile drive, with great views rivaling any other road I have driven along. What a superb spot to place a picnic table!

I took lots of photos but they cannot really portray the hugeness, the majesty of the views. For the greater part of the route there are scenes like this, the remainder passes through gorgeous pine forests.

The only way to appreciate this sort of view is to be there, to do it.

I spotted a National Forest camp site and pulled in. There had been many places to pull clear of the road and park on the way but I stopped here. Camping is freely allowed on National Forest land, and this camp site was free. Shirley, site host, said there was just one space left, I took it, and joined a few people round the camp fire later. This site is 9,100 ft so it was coolish in the evening. There was water available, Shirley told me it was really good, so I refilled my 5 gallon drinking water supply.

Best regards

David Barker


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