Taos, Gateway and Santa Fe
September 7, 2012
This morning is a radical change from the normal work/home life routine. Deb and I packed the bags on the bike last night for a 7-day ride through New Mexico and Colorado. Today we are on the road heading for Taos, and then heading up to Gateway Canyons in Colorado for a couple of days. We’ll make our way back through Santa Fe on the way home next week.
We escaped the metromess traffic madness between Denton and Decatur. The temperature continued to rise on the ride towards Amarillo. And the wind was hot and brisk from the south, until 60 miles or so southeast of Amarillo. I noticed the dramatic wind change within just a couple of miles. And with that northwest wind came cooler temperatures. The brisk wind started turning into a direct north side wind of 30 to 40 miles per hour. I had to watch my line carefully as I passed the big trucks, as the wind subsided and then returned with a vengeance. We saw dust crossing the highway miles ahead of us. As we approached it, I had to scrub speed off quickly as the visibility dropped to hundreds of feet or less.
We had decided to split the ride to Taos in half with a stop at Amarillo anticipating heat. As we neared Amarillo, instead of escaping the heat, we were looking forward to getting out of the wind. Deb and I relaxed in the room, and went out for a great meal later in the evening. Tomorrow morning, the temperatures are supposed to start in the 50’s, but the wind should not be a major factor.
September 8, 2012
We woke to no wind this morning, and a cool 59 degrees for the ride into New Mexico. It did not warm up at all, and the combination of the previous night’s rain and morning cloud cover made for a chilly ride.
As we approached the mountains and gained altitude, we rode into the clouds and mist crossing over the pass south of Sipapu. The temperature dropped to 45 at the pass, and more and more motos appeared. As we neared Sipapu, the clouds thinned and the temperature rose.
The first order of business was to warm up by the fire in the lodge, and immediately afterwards grab a Sipapu burger with green chiles and bacon. It was awesome!
We ran into Jerry, who had opted out of distance riding with the rest of the boys from Texas. I searched for Al Schibi and finally found him so he could redo my ear plugs after 4 years of hearing protection and effective communication.
Deb and I made our way down the mountain into Taos for our stay at El Pueblo Lodge.
Met some boys from Albuquerque on an off-road adventure for the weekend through the fire roads.
We walked the plaza in the warm sunny afternoon, and listened to a talented dobrough player singing to the crowd. Here’s a link to a video for you to get a taste of this eclectic music. Dobrough on the Taos Plaza
We met the rest of the LSBMWR boys at Eske’s for dinner and a bit of folk music. We tried to make an inventory of what all was going on around us – Outdoor brewpup, great food, green chiles, a band with an accordion, a dog under the table, a dude with dreadlocks, a menacing thunderstorm, adobe all around us, granola waitress, Indian with a backpack, dude with Bono sunglasses, everyone in sandals, redhead mommy with a fresh baby, and a few moto riders from Texas. The menacing thunderstorm did not let us down. It poured, and everyone outside huddled under the porch of Eske’s. We talked briefly with a young couple that had just moved to Sante Fe from New York. He was in the service industry working with Four Seasons. Nice couple. Interesting how being in this country can open up conversations with total strangers.
September 9, 2012
We had a rough night of sleep awakened by calls in the middle of the morning from the home front dealing with my mom. She had to be taken to the hospital to be checked out after a fall, but all turned out OK. So we got on with the ride, with a bit later departure than planned after we slept into the morning.
The morning was beautiful. We rode north of Taos after a crossing over the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge. There was hardly any wind, and plenty of bright morning sunshine as we headed for Colorado. The North Cochetopa Pass via Hwy 114 was a blast, with tight turns, good pavement and hardly any traffic.
We stopped for fuel in Gunnison, and gabbed a sandwich to eat on down the road. Blue Mesa Reservoir was a nice spot for lunch. The water must be 40 feet down right now.
The ride through Hwy 141 to Gateway was a blast as always. The roads were dry and traffic light. I got a few screams from Debbie on the turns, but told her “Wait until we head south of Gateway, that will be a real thrill”.
We checked in to the room and immediately enjoyed the view that we will see the next couple of days.
We spent some time sitting by the ponds near the Entrada restaurant. It is very peaceful here.
After a dinner of pasta and salad, Deb and I had an enjoyable walk around the resort grounds. The temperature was perfect, and the surrounding vistas incredible. The bats were swooping all around us as we explored in the waning light of the evening. Another evening to remember.September 10, 2012
The morning light revealed the beauty of both what John Hendricks has put together in this amazing country. We had a great breakfast, and proceeded to wander through the collection of autos that he has arranged. It’s almost unbelievable all of this exists in this remote section of Colorado.
We put on hiking gear and headed up the canyon on trails that took us into quiet back country. After a couple of miles of hiking up the canyon, we were in places where we looked around and saw no evidence of man’s development. It was quite satisfying.
No road trip that I do cannot be without some excursion off the pavement. Tom G. mentioned last year when we were here that he wanted to do the road between Gateway and Moab, which is all dirt. I ventured up John Brown Canyon for 5 of the 55 miles until a thunderstorm convinced me to turn back down the packed clay road before it turned to slime. On the way back down, it seemed much steeper than on the ascent, and my KRS was wondering what they heck was going on. I’ll have to come back sometime with a dual sport to do the whole route.
I joined Deb at the grill for some afternoon brews and wind therapy rushing through the trees from the approaching storm. Even though I got very wet on the descent down John Brown Canyon Road, the rain never made it into the low lands of the resort. We enjoyed the sun again later in the afternoon by the salt water pool, and met and talked with an interesting couple from Chicago. They have been mountain biking hut to hut in the back country.
Dinner was at Entrada. A very pleasing Salmon with a chocolate cake for desert. The walk back to the room was nice in the very comfortable weather. Tomorrow morning, we head to Santa Fe via Red Mountain Pass.
September 12, 2012
Big storms rolled all around us, but we avoided having to ride through heavy rain.
September 13, 2012