Silver City and Mexican Hat

June 10, 2011

I was so ready to ride.  Work has been very hectic for the last several
months, and today was no different. Enterprise-wide networked medical equipment projects
has demanded way too much of my attention, and this Friday pulled
together 60-plus clinicians and technical staff to decide the future of
patient monitoring standards for the health care system.  But, I knew
that as soon as this all day meeting was over, my KRS was packed and
ready in the parking garage for a long weekend in the desert southwest
far away from the daily commute and rush of the big city.  Debbie would
follow in her car to Abilene, where we would stay together overnight at
her mom’s place, and for her to visit over the weekend there.  The ride
Friday evening was a hot one, but brief.  Other club members from the
Lone Star BMW Riders were staying overnight Friday in Abilene and
Haskell to get a head start on their way to meeting in Roswell for the
official beginning of a nine-day ride through New Mexico, Arizona,
Utah and Colorado.  I could not spend the time for the whole club trip,
but would make the best of an extended weekend to ride with my friends
and then solo for the return.

June 11, 2011

Saturday morning, I met Herman, Sharon, Leonard and his wife at the
local Cracker Barrel.  Everything on the menu is country, and they don’t
understand the meaning of breakfast burrito, but that did not matter.
The country breakfast was fine enough.

 

We rode west through the red
dirt fields of Snyder and under the tall wind turbines that
have taken over this area.  I checked the SPOT position of the rest of
the club riders and calculated as Herman had already figured out that we
would all meet in Post.

We picked up fuel, and the main bulk of riders
started heading west towards Roswell.  Herman and I had a brief set-back
at the fuel station, and we played catch-up for a while until we slowed
for a stop at the Dairy Queen in Plains.

After sandwiches and
Blizzards, we kept riding on the long, straight roads of the western
Panhandle and eastern New Mexico.  Lonely oil pump jacks carrying out their
rhythmic work would be the only scenery for miles in these roads that go
forever.

 

I have considered this part of a ride the meditation that is
necessary prior to the demanding technical twisties that will no doubt
be coming in the next few days.  As we pulled into the hotel parking lot,
Stephen, Miss Vicki, Mark and Randy greeted us.  An afternoon
story-telling session began outside our room in the dry afternoon heat,
and I slipped off for a dip in the cool water of the pool.  Dinner later
that evening was tasty, and the ‘hot’ green chile on my enchiladas was
not all that hot as the waitress had warned.

June 12, 2011

Doc headed back home early with his photo proof of visiting Roswell for
his club’s bonus point contest.

Alien on a motorcycle spotted in the motel parking lot…

Bo and Byron left in the early morning as planned
to ride back home.  The tour group nine o’clock ride start came too late
for my impatient mind.  I tried to be patient, and then turned out
to be the hold-up for a bit while I was finishing up a conversation with
Debbie.

 

We rode through the parched scrub of eastern New Mexico up into
the foothills of Ruidoso, and on through the forest to Cloudcroft.  I
split from the the group in Cloudcroft while they made their way on
south to the solar observation station, Sunspot.

 

There is not much
around White Sands to look at other than distant mountains and strange
matrices of poles in the desert that who knows what the military was
doing with out there.

I had to stop very briefly at a Border Patrol
station on my way north.  The federal officers at these stations always grill
the passengers of packed vehicles, and just wave me on by with no
questions.

Hatch, NM would be a lunch stop for me, and the green chile
cheeseburger was out of this world.  That alone might be enough to ride
from Texas to eat, and then turn around and go home.  I rode through the
Rio Grande Valley north of Hatch, where its life-giving water turned
the parched tan landscape to green.  Highway 152 was a blast, with its
tight turns through the rugged hills east of Silver City.

I had to
record this technical riding with some video so I could look back later
to re-live this exhilarating ride.  A quick stop at the Santa Rita
copper mine was in order.  That’s a really big hole in the ground.  I
checked into the motel in Silver City, and then went downtown to have a
brew and explore the area.  I was not too impressed with the first spot
that a local pointed me to, but as I was getting ready to leave, I
discovered Isaac’s, with multiple taps of craft beer, and none other
than Stone IPA from San Diego.  I settled in for dinner here with green
chile enchiladas and conversation with John, a local and JP, a
construction worker from Terlingua, TX.  I was watching my riding
partners’ position via SPOT, and as they neared, I finished up my dinner
and rode back to the motel to visit a bit and walk with them to the
steak house that was in the original trip plan. As soon as I discovered
there was no TV to watch the Dallas Mavericks playing their possible
last game of the NBA finals, I decided to head back down to Isaac’s.

 

The
red sun was setting through the smoke from the Monument Fire in
southeastern Arizona.  JP had told me that a good portion of the forest
had burned in this fire.  This forest fire smoke would be a theme in
many different places over the next several days of riding.  I never
imagined that I would find so many Mavericks fans in western New Mexico.
The grill was filled with energy as game six neared the end and the
Mavericks took control over the Heat for the championship win.  We
closed down the grill after the game was over, and I rode back to my
comfortable bed through the cool high altitude mountain evening air.

June 13, 2011

Monday would be a solo ride for me up to Utah.  I had originally planned
to ride Hwy 191 with the group, but this curviest road in America was
closed down due to the largest forest fire in Arizona history.  Herman
pointed the LSBMWR group south for their journey to Payson, AZ. I headed
on north on Hwy 180, but I found that it was still closed at the turn
towards Springerville due to the Wallow Fire.

 

I rode east through thickening smoke and tent
cities of fire fighters to Reserve, where I needed to pick up some fuel.
The gas station attendant told me that the whole village was running on
generator power since the fire had burned the power lines. But the
generators had shut down just as I rolled in.  She said the closest fuel
was Quemado, 60 miles to the northeast. That distance would have been
close to my tank’s range in Texas, but in the high altitude of New
Mexico, I was getting upwards in the high forties for fuel mileage.  I
kept riding the lonely high plain roads of the Zuni Reservation to
Gallup.

Here I turned west to Arizona, where the landscape turned
quickly to red sandstone rock and desert scrub.

 

I stopped at Canyon de
Chelly, where archeologists state inhabitants have lived in the canyon
for 5,000 years.

I will have to return here to explore the canyon in
much more detail with a Navajo tour guide.  I stopped for fuel and a
quick snack in northern Arizona.  I never knew a green chile corn dog
could taste so good!  I wish I could find these back in Texas.

 

I rode
on west into the majestic Monument Valley.  This is awesome scenery that
continues to unfold on the horizon forever.

A single photo does not do this area justice, so I shot series of photos to stitch into panoramas.
Just beyond Monument Pass is what the locals have coined as “Forrest Gump
Hill”, where in the movie,  Forrest stopped running and said “I’m
pretty tired…  I’m think I’ll go home now.”.

Mexican Hat was not
much further east.  There’s not a lot in this town, but it looked
welcoming to me as I crossed the San Juan River, an oasis in this dry
land.

 

I checked into the Mexican Hat Lodge, stowed some of my bags in
the cool room, and headed out to ride up the road a bit to climb the
Moki Dugway.  This is a three mile section of gravel road that ascends
1,100 feet up the face of Cedar Mesa.

The view from the top was
phenomenal.

The descent down was not too bad, but demanded obviously-needed attention…

 

It was getting a bit late, and I was getting hungry.  The
Swinging Steak was on my mind as I neared Mexican Hat.  While I was
eating the tasty dinner, I met a couple from France that was touring the
American Southwest by moto.  Right after that, a large group of Germans
came down for dinner, and as I returned to my room, another Frenchman
was planning his return to Las Vegas.  This area is a definite draw for
Europeans.  In my room, I debated my return to Texas to be two days, or a
single-day Iron Butt ride home. If I spent two days riding, I could do some
other roads in Colorado, but not that many more, and I would have to
ride a good portion of the second day in the afternoon Texas heat.  A
single-day 1,000+ mile ride would be a beating, but a challenge and
an evening return through Texas. Plus, I would be back with Debbie a day
earlier, which is also a plus.  So be it.  It’s an IBA run.  I set my
alarm for 5:30 AM.

June 14, 2011

I had never done an Iron Butt ride, but was packing the paperwork in the
case the opportunity presented itself. Roberta at the Shell station
signed my witness form for the start.

 

I filled up Katrina, confirmed the
date and time on the receipt, and headed off into the rising sun.
Shiprock was rising high above the horizon in the distance as I approached Colorado.

After refueling in Cortez, the landscape turned a brilliant green as I
ascended into the San Juan Mountains.  I turned on my heated grips as
the temperature dropped in the higher elevation.

US 160 led me across
Colorado through majestic peaks and the snowy forests of Wolfcreek Pass.
Riding the high-speed sweepers through the mountains was just the right
medicine for me.  But, it eventually had to end as I dropped into Monte
Vista for fuel.  At every fuel stop, I recorded the time and odometer for
my Iron Butt documentation.  This is what the association would look at
as proof of the ride. 

 

As I was leaving Monte Vista, a highway
department information sign said that I-25 was closed going into New
Mexico.
  I would have to make a detour around the Track Fire that was
burning the forest to the east and north of Raton.

I kept  riding on
160 east of Trinidad and turned south towards Capulin Volcano to get
back on my planned route.

 

The temperature was still pleasant through
northeast New Mexico, but as soon as I crossed the Texas border, the
oven-like conditions appeared.  My thermometer continued to rise up to
100 degrees as I rolled into Dalhart for a dinner break in the air
conditioning. It was 6:00 when I started riding again towards Amarillo.
The sun was on my back, but not unbearable as the evening progressed.
The colorful tail fins of the Cadillac Ranch jutted up above the red
dirt field to my right.  I don’t care much for Hwy 287, but today it
would be a relatively safe road for the ride in darkness that would be
coming.

 

I saw the sun rise earlier today, and now watched it set in my mirrors, while listening to “Feats
Don’t Fail Me Now” on satellite radio. “I said roll.  Roll right through
the night…”
.   Clouds appeared way off on the horizon in front of me.
I was thinking it might be a refreshing shower in the warm night.

But,
as I neared Wichita Falls, lightning was defining this as a dangerous
storm.  I pulled off of the road west of the town, and studied the
storm’s movement for  a while.  Once it moved ahead of me a bit, I rode
on into the city on wet roads to get fuel, and watched the storm’s
direction of travel again.  Rather than punching the core of the storm, I
decided to ride northeast of the storm to Sherman, and then turn
straight south to my home.  The lightning was getting intense on the
north side of the storm as I rode through Muenster. The hot, strong
winds blowing out were a concern, but manageable on the dry roads.  Once
I turned south towards the Dallas area, the storm was approaching my
path, but it was collapsing with only light, and refreshing rain.

I
pulled into my garage at 2:23 AM, parked Katrina, kissed my lovely and
very sleepy wife, showered off, and passed out in bed.

Photos:  https://picasaweb.google.com/rlswim/SilverCityAndMexicanHat

The 1,046 IBA run:
20110614MexicanHatHomeIBA at EveryTrail

The complete ride tracklog:

20110614SilverCityMexicanHat at EveryTrail

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