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Old 01-04-2012, 04:55 PM   #1
JayElDee OP
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Travels with Stella! Occupying NM and part of AZ

I have been riding it seems a bunch. I almost did a What I Did On My Summer Vacation theme, but didn't. Had I done that it would have included Colorado in May via Arkansas, Kansas and back through NM and Tx; and South Carolina in the heat of late July and back via Macon in search of the graves of Duane Allman, Dickie Betts (Edit: It was really Berry Oakley's grave I sought. Dickie Betts is still among the living) and Elizabeth Reed; and a 6 day run to NW Arkansas with day runs out of Jasper.
But I didn't.
Nope. ( I do feel a little guilty about that, btw )

I had been planning a tour of New Mexico for a while, originally planning to camp along the way. Originally, I had it planned for late Sept, but something happened and I can't remember what it was now, but delay followed so I then planned on doing it straddling the Oct/Nov time frame.

Some real pluses with that and one big negative: the cold. Something I had to deal with, but that's part of this hobby we share, isn't it? Dealing with adversity? Huh? Yes, it is. And it is that adversity that, if it doesn't kill you, gives you a inner smile when you recount it. Not a smugness, but a shuffle of the feet, a tilt of the head, a little grin when people tell you you "must be crazy to do that," and "you've got to be kidding," and how "(they'd) be bored out of their minds." Inside you know it's not that they just don't get it, but that you do get it, or maybe you think you get it and that is enough to fool you, and to tempt you to do it over and over and over.

Why New Mexico? Well, because, to me I am more than enchanted by the eponymously named land than any other place, I think.

It enchants, but more than that. It is like no other state, though it has some features of Colorado, though Colorado is gaudier. Some of the appeal of Arizona, but Arizona doesn't seem as friendly. It has some of the look of West Texas, without, well, Texas.

It has history out the wazoo, more than any surrounding state, good food, friendly people, and the cultures of Spain and Native American and American and Space and Mexico and the Pope. It has technology of the Very Large Array and Spaceship Earth and White Sands and Los Alamos.

But, it has something else and that is the ancient majesty of the terrain. No other place looks like it, has its feel, its embrace.

No other place I've been has those high plains covered in gold with singular mountains rising as if designed by gods from another planet. And so many places are just deserted, ghost towns and dry winds. Singular rocks and cliffs.

You will feel the Great Spirit riding through Utah, you will see his palette in Wyoming and Montana and Idaho, but the home of the Great Spirit's father is in New Mexico. It's older; a fine first draft.

It is damn special and you feel it on the backroads. You smell it in the cold wind and you can balance it like a slinky looking this way and then that. Magic. Significant insignificance.

This is where I went

http://www.spotadventures.com/trip/view?trip_id=285073

more coming

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Old 01-04-2012, 04:57 PM   #2
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Aside: Think long and hard before you make a decent situation better. I recently "upgraded" to ATT U-Verse internet with the Motorola NVG510 modem. It has been one frustration after another, mostly dropped connections that can last for HOURS.
I will try to get this out. Try is the operative word.

I left the morning of Oct 22 and I had to make tracks. No Pix from that day, well one, or a couple.
The Green Frog just west of Shreveport off I 20


The Green Frog was a good BBQ place next to the gas station run by a couple of older women who favor plaid and flannel. Always ask the locals. It was good. There's something that brings you back to 3rd grade cafeteria smells and lougies and frog punches about cole slaw in that little round plastic ramekin, you know. But the point here is that I really had to make tracks that day so it was mostly slab that day. Ugh. Being a Saturday traffic wasn't too bad.
As I had been somewhat ridiculed - too strong a word - about using a samsonite wheeled carry-n as my luggage, this time I went with the politically correct duffel from REI, though the "burnt sienna" color and it's 30+" width did two things.
1) it probably made my ass look fat
2) it somehow threw off the balance of Stella! so that tight turns were an adventure.



So, it was me against I 10, then I 49, then I 20, then Dallas, then Fort Worth where I got off the interstate and headed north and west stopping at the Econo-Lodge in Azle.

It was the only place to stop around there. I really don't like Econo-Lodges.

There is NOTHING "lodge"-like about them and they are NEVER "econo," assuming after just under 600 miles in the saddle that econo means economy.

This was the dingiest place I think I've ever stayed. Lots of flip flops and shuffling feet. Lots of tank tops and averted gaze. It tells you something about an establishment when the "desk" is behind thick plexiglas, and you can slide your "form of payment" to the hand that waits behind the stainless depression, a depression just tall enough for folded bills, loose change, a card ("Is that credit or debit? Credit.") but too short to get a good bead on the sleepy-eyed woman behind who has all the charm of a splinter.

It was this kind of place:

Gooey Chips A-Hoy! lingering in the DMZ of the Econo-Lodge

It had a dripping ice machine and

lots of that...enough to take a picture

And it was $79 for the night. A princely sum for my travels even with the "non-smoking senior rate."

Then I lost my key to Stella!
I looked ALL OVER...twice, three times. I went to the desk and the woman came up to my room to look for me. I mean, I know I cannot see the bread or the mustard when it is directly in front of me in the fridge, but I never lose my key (had an extra, btw.) All over again and no go.

Then I found it and I have to share.


it was stuck there, wedged in that horseshoe connector of my tank bag, so that when I looked underneath it, twice, when "she" looked underneath it, it stuck and rose with the bag.

I really disliked this place and to lose my key there...and it was slowing, really delaying the opening of the bottle of The Balvenie Doublewood 12 year old scotch I brought along for the ride.

but no longer! Open that sucker
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Old 01-04-2012, 04:59 PM   #3
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And you know what, I really don't know how to pronounce the name of the town, Azle.

Would that be Azle, rhymes with "axel," or would that be Azle, rhymes with something very similar to "azole?" Next time I swing past the Econo-Lodge I'll ask and prepare a report for all my little friends. Whatcha think, hunh?

Based on my experience, I think the latter would be the correct pronunciation.

There was nothing recognizable to the human eye as breakfast at the Econo-Lodge so I chose to leave seeking more refined nourishment on the road, something a little more DNA specific.


So I started out and the route I took was a new one, for me. I did not do that HORRIBLE ride through the panhandle. I did a far less horrible ride through the panhandle, passing through Springtown, Joplin and finding the Green Frog Restaurant in Jacksboro, Tx. A fine little place and just perfect for a Sunday morning breakfast.
In fact on YELP it is described this way by a fellow traveler:
If you just happen to be in the area, There is nothing wrong and stoping (sic) in for a buffet with chicken fried steak and gravy . mmm mm

Well, I just happened to be in the area and I got the western omelette. (mmm mm) And lots of coffee.

Sated ( if one can ever be sated in Texas ), I again hit the road for adventure, for intrigue, for avoiding the law, and for Olney, Margaret, Seymore and Crowell along Texas 114.



This was a cool route to head out of Texas. It was far more scenic than even Lamesa and Levelland! Really. There were hills and turns and green. The thick fog added to the scenery, though I couldn't be sure if it would turn to rain. It didn't, but only led me along with the softness of little cat feet into the no man's land of Tx 114 and US 70. I recommend this way out of Texas for future riders looking for a different way to get from A (Texas) to B (anywhere else). These were by far the best motorcycle roads of this large area.

Along this route I was also afforded the opportunity to visit the home of Bob Wills, Turkey, Texas, the king of western swing I am told. Famous for the Texas Two Step which it would seem is the most Texans can remember at one time...JUST KIDDING, please don't shoot me for that.
This is Bob. He looks happy, though maybe his airway is compromised by his kerchief. I can't tell, could go either way.

Yep, padna, Bob Wills, the pride of Turkey, none other. Actually, his family had a farm outside of Turkey, but Turkey has claimed him and holds the Bob Wills Day every year. We missed it this year, but in a very fortuitous chain of events, since Bob is dead, there will be another festival next year. Make your plans because 2012 may be the last year; that Mayan Calendar thing you know.

Turkey, Texas

I am not sure what to make of Lacy Dry Goods. Is that an adjective or a proper name?

Another advantage of going this way would be that I would be able to visit Palo Duro Canyon.
The painter Georgia O'Keeffe who lived in nearby Amarillo and Canyon early in the 20th century, wrote of the Palo Duro: "It is a burning, seething cauldron, filled with dramatic light and color. (wiki) I add this because I am heading to Georgia O'Keefe country in New Mexico. A "burning, seething cauldron?" " A burning seething cauldron? Sounds like Georgia was drunk, doesn't it? Those words would sound best slurred at a bar, at least that's what i think. Come on Georgia, on me this time, say it again, three times, real fast.

PDC is tucked in south of Amarillo and is worth a loop if you are going through this area. To be sure there are many finer canyons to the west, but for Texas and anywhere east it's pretty nice. It is the second largest canyon in the US, and I am told that the term "Palo Duro" translates roughly to "Not Quite As Grand As That Other One In Northern Arizona, Actually Not Even Close."

I arrived Sunday afternoon late, pulled to the kiosk and saw there was a senior rate. I'm beginning to think this "senior" business is pretty cool if you still have your wits, or think you do, so I ask for the senior rate.
Are you a resident of Texas?
No, does that matter?
Weeelllll ( the exclamation known to the rest of the US as "well," is at least two syllables in Texas, and often pronounced gutturally), Rick Perry and the Texas legislature decided that seniors in Texas are the only one that can get that rate.
So, does that mean, because I am not a resident of Texas, and cannot be a senior here, I have achieved a sort of immortality?
He laughed.
I know my reasoning has a few holes in it, but hell, to paraphrase Steely Dan, I was reeling OUT the years.
He asked for my $5 entry fee. Feeling the years floating off of me I gladly paid 3 dollars more than a Texas senior, with the certain knowledge I would never be one of those.


"a burning, seething cauldron of dramatic light and color"
You can do the loop in about an hour and is a very nice ride and a very suitable preparation for the roads to come.
That evening I get just beyond Amarillo, staying at the Comfort Inn, eating at the Red Robin and from the bar watch my hometown Saints trounce the Colts.

Tomorrow, New Mexico.
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Old 01-04-2012, 05:00 PM   #4
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The next morning dawned cold and layers were in order.


The Rio Grande Gorge outside of Taos



I would make it to Cimarron, NM by afternoon. Cimarron is THE Cimarron of ole west lore; the town of Wyatt Earp and Doc Holladay. Jesse James and Annie Oakley, Bat Masterson and home to one of the most haunted properties on the continent, the St. James Hotel, my accomodation for the night, a couple of nights before All Hallows Eve
http://www.exstjames.com/index.cfm?fa=history

I checked in around 3 and was asked if I wanted a "historic" room.
"As opposed to the annex? (a modern new building on the premises)"
Yes
"Look, I've read about this place and I don't want to awaken in the middle of the night scared out of my wits," I said with a smile. I had read enough about this place to believe that, yes, hauntings were a not uncommon occurrence here and I almost didn't stay here, not because I really REALLY believe in all that stuff, but, well, because I guess I can be a "suppy" when it comes to things that go bump in the night.

She thinks for a while and she says Room 17 will be good.
Ok, Room 17 it is.



I creak up the stairs.



around the corner



down the hallway to the left



past the room of Thomas Wright, the most haunted in the place, no longer let, locked, angry, mean, and dead in the doorway.



to my room. Great! she gave me Mary Lambert's room the SECOND most haunted room in the place. A room that is known for Mary visiting at night, for smelling her roses, for her tapping on the window and touching guests as they sleep. The room known for children laughing in the hallway. There are no children there.



Mary's room, ok, I'm here. I won't touch the scotch. I will be respectful, and I will set my camera to take a picture every 30 mintues during the night, while I sleep, just in case a veil, a spectre, a wash of white, an unexplained smear might appear

But first I will visit the rest of the hotel and the town.






The saloon in the hotel where over the years 17 men were killed and bullet holes pepper the pressed tin ceiling.






Immaculate Conception Church









Long walks in the late afternoon after a long day can be tiring. Long walks in New Mexico with hand drawn maps can be fruitless.
But, long walks in Cimarron can lead you to full circle from whence you came.
Mary Lambert's grave.


35 when she died here in Cimarron, wife of a French chef, in the wild west, a visitor to my room, not mine, I am an interloper in her room. I better be nice.
I talked to her, i took a deep breath, I touched the stone, I reminded her I was being respectful and I almost really wanted this young woman to visit me that night, but would she?













and leaving


past the old jail



past the Cimarron River



past the late afternoon sun



back up to my room, passing the famed "poker room," a site of one of the most famous hauntings



To the bar for only one Glenlivet, a double, and dinner, and bed.

The camera is set getting much of Mary's room



and overnight, the camera kept silent vigil for that visitor, whose bones lay close a few hours ago, whose raw life became ruffled ragged at 35, and who it appears did not visit that night, or maybe she did, taking residence in my memory.

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Old 01-04-2012, 05:51 PM   #5
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New Mexico

I see you are back in NM....I enjoyed your introduction and pics from Cimarron, NM and the St. James Hotel.

Your prior Western moto experiences and RR's show a deepening appreciation for places in the West and New Mexico in particular. I congratulate you on your discerning good taste and hope you continue to let the history and the land in NM wash over you and let it's spirit fill you with it's timelessness....
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Old 01-04-2012, 09:28 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 2eddies View Post
I see you are back in NM....I enjoyed your introduction and pics from Cimarron, NM and the St. James Hotel.

Your prior Western moto experiences and RR's show a deepening appreciation for places in the West and New Mexico in particular. I congratulate you on your discerning good taste and hope you continue to let the history and the land in NM wash over you and let it's spirit fill you with it's timelessness....
Oh, yeah. NM is special of the west.
Thanks

John
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Old 01-05-2012, 11:36 AM   #7
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It gets cold in these here parts in late October. I was advised it would and looking at projected temps successfully dissuaded me from making this a camping trip and I am SO glad.
I think I would still be cold.

On arrival at the St James in Cimarron, just after I tipped Stella! over, breaking the lens on the right turn signal ( see the duct tape holding it on) an older gentleman--and that includes a smaller and smaller subset of the human genome-- and two ladies of a certain age, walked over to me. They had taken their afternoon constitutional and as often happens came by and started a conversation, where I had been, where was I going and would I be gone before the snow storm day after tomorrow?

Say what?
"Oh yes! It's supposed to storm here, get very cold."

No, I had not yet checked the weather and yes I would be gone by then, but I had planned on staying north and visiting Georgia O'Keefe country around Abiquiu.
This is where G O'K rolled. Not bad, huh?







She lived near the Ghost Ranch in that area and much of her painting was done there, when she wasn't waxing poetic about Palo Duro Canyon

It's a beautiful area with beautiful roads and an old New Mexico town of Abiquiu which is supposedly the sound an owl makes. I guess just not the Who Who owls.


St Thomas Church

I told them I was heading to the area north of Los Alamos--that's Ghost Ranch/Abiquiu etc. They said they thought the storm was moving east and south and thinking since I was going west I would be safe from the weather.

Too late for a long story short, I got the weather, not then, but the next day when the storm should have been well east of me.

So, the morning after Mary Lambert's no-show I headed out, this time not tipping Stella! over.

I was heading for Jemez Springs, a cool little artsy type community in the Jemez Mountains past the Valles Caldera on NM 4 out of Los Alamos


This is a small part of it. It is huge and I think was one of those super volcanoes like the one in Yellowstone? The one that's going to blow any day now? Vaporizing Yogi bear-soon to be far crispier than the av-er-age bear- and that dweeb sidekick of his. oh what's his name...Rahm Emmanuel, I think that's it.
This caldera was a, how'd it go, Georgia? A Burning Seething Cauldron of Dramatic Light and Color, I'll bet it was. Miles across.
Nixon was president then I think, or maybe earlier.


"I am not a crook"

Or Dom Deluise. I get those two confused.

To the youngsters, please excuse me, but The Times They Were A-Cloudy, then

So I am riding NM 4, very twisty mountain road and the plan was stay in Jemez Springs two nights and ride Georgia O'Keefe country on the day in between. The advent of the snow storm changed that plan though and I thought I better keep moving, lest I get caught.

I ride through JS and the place looks closed, as in closed for the season. Now, maybe it wasn't but it gave a damn good impression of how a closed artsy town would look if I were to guess, so I rode on.





I had the road to myself, though I soon started getting to small Native American communities, school was letting out, and I remember this as being pretty cool. All the kids, grade school, hurrying off the bus, with me on a red motorcycle, them looking and me remembering how it was to be 9 and seeing a guy packed down on two wheels, and now that guy was me.
You've had that feeling, haven't you? Riding through strange country and people are people, right, but you are the real stranger here, and you know it, but you, you think of your own street, your family, all those familiar things that you know and they don't, and you are the stranger, on your red motorcycle heading to somewhere they know not as they go on to their familiar places and friends and family and things, the stranger on the red motorcycle just a passing image.

Everybody must feel that I think, but I did then, I remember that now, like the little kid who rode up to me and offered me a "fetish" for $5, holding ceramic figurines of animals in his hand. I should of bought one. I would have been taken, but I would have it and another story about it.

It was just past here


I ride on and decide that to beat the weather I will ride to the outskirts of ABQ and then the next day meander into Arizona.

John
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Old 01-06-2012, 11:49 AM   #8
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Your photographs, particularly those from New Mexico, are spectacular. I'm hoping to get down there this spring.

Azle rhymes with hazel, I have relatives there. Yeah.
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Old 01-06-2012, 03:26 PM   #9
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The 'Senior Tour'

JayElD - I am smitten by the introduction of your tale. So romantic! Your story telling is exquisite, and your images are as well. I've ridden motorcycles all through NM many times, and found it nice, but not up to your introduction. So I had to read more and I'm glad I did.

Having ridden through the area on my various coast/coast rides, I am shocked at how much I missed after reading your RR. As an example, I did your Taos-I25 route heading east. The ride over the top of the mountains was really great, and I liked passing through Cimarron. I assumed that was the wrong Cimarron of history, though. I thought historical Cimarron was in Kansas because of the cattle drives! Sheesh... I'd a stayed at that hotel if I'd a known. Well, I guess i need to pass through Cimarron again.

I also enjoyed your appreciation for the special mix of history, culture and races in Taos. I have friends who moved there from New England. They were attracted for that exact reason: The simplicity of life and cultural blend that is old Taos, and of course the natural beauty that surrounds it.

In my travels aboard a motorcycle, I've enjoyed the four corners area best. I ride a dual sport so I like riding the dirt roads that dominate the southwest. Having said that, I have missed out on a lot of unique color. To me, AZ is your NM, but I don't really know NM like you. I am looking forward to your next installments. Thanks very much for your eloquent prose.

-P

PS: $79 aint so bad. They are out there in nowhere. Sometimes I feel those places recue me!



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Old 01-07-2012, 06:19 AM   #10
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Thanks for the many kind words.
and as an aside:
Geaux Saints! Geaux Tigers!
OK, that's out of the way, going to head to the Quarter today for the craziness.
but...


I have told MLW that the next time we evacuate for a storm we are going to Santa Fe. That was an interesting time evacuating for Katrina. There were a million stories from the Crescent City. Most evacuated to Baton Rouge (ugh); some went to Houston and Atlanta; some stayed in both and that was good and bad. We went to Birmingham then Cleveland then St Louis then College Station then Austin. Children pointed at us on the highways because of our Louisiana plates. Of course Jesse Jackson objected to us being called by the perceived politically incorrect term, "evacuee." I can't remember what the politically correct term was, but evacuee was not it. And he is still around. But I digress
When we got back to the city we started to compare notes with who went where and I was envious of those who evacuated to San Francisco and New York. Austin was very nice, and people couldn't have been more helpful to us, but still...next time it's Santa Fe. More on why later.

Not a lot of pix in this one, but I promise they are coming...

I wind up on the outskirts of ABQ at the Super 8, in my view the best of the second tier chains, :) , and I always ask where's the good place to eat. This can be a bit tricky though, especially for someone who is from a place known for its food, and New Orleans is not alone in that for sure. But, I think the people behind the desk at wherever you stay may not give you always their best answer, preferring to stay with a safe answer, a steak house, a CrackerBarrel, some chain, so you sometimes have to press them an bit. New Mexico is known for its New Mexican cuisine and I partook of that most nights, because each place was always somewhat different. I miss their sopapillas. I could use one right now with my late afternoon coffee, That would be good.
The food was also an "entre(')" to start a conversation. In New Orleans we serve "Beignets" and a beignet (Ben-yay) is essentially a small sopapilla. While theirs are stuffed, smothered, or served with honey; ours are always served with powdered sugar. The wait staff always was interested, or maybe after a Tecate or two they "seemed" interested. Some had heard of our beignets, but never quite knew what to make of them, until we addressed the sopapilla vs beignet discussion.

I usually did the green chilis over the red. I like their flavor more. I started asking which is hotter, because Louisiana palates, some, mine, prefer more peppery things, but they were pretty close, and it was sometimes the red, sometimes the green, sometimes it was a wash, and maybe that was a tourist question to ask, so I stopped and went with the green, because they tasted better. New Mexico is known for their Green Chili Cheeseburgers. There was a hamburger joint in Santa Fe across from Sandia BMW called Horseman's Haven, http://www.yelp.com/biz/horsemans-haven-cafe-santa-fe , that has a great one with home fries =P~ most def yum-stuff. But I am digressing again. Damn!

Where was I? Oh yeah, at the super 8 ( 2 better than the Motel 6 and "super" to boot ). This is how I rank them: Comfort Inn > Super 8 > Days Inn > Knights Inn/ Motel 6 > EconoLodge. Now, it should be said that the mom and pop places can be, but not always are, good. It's hit and miss, but when you have a chance to stay at The Smokey Bear Motel, well, you just have to take a chance. Anyone see my Ritalin?

Ok, Super 8, outside ABQ, in Bernalillo. Anyone else notice that INdian people and Pakistanis are taking over the motel business? Not anything wrong with that, it's probably a hard business and good on them for taking it on, but, seems like 90% of the places I stayed were run by East Asians, and the Super 8 in Bernalillo was no exception, but after explaining that I did not want "American" food he routed me to a good Mexican restaurant where, on the way home I got caught in a downpour.
Remember I was not going to Georgia O'Keefe country because of the weather, well, this was not part of that system. It was part of another coming from the south that would abut the system I ran from, and create horrible weather, but not until tomorrow. I thought I could miss it, ride between the drops as some on this board boast they can. :lol:

The next morning was cool and silvery, high 40s low 50s.
I head toward I 40, which though due south from me, with my Zumo and knowing which way south was, still managed to elude me for a long time, but eventually I caught that sum-mitch and took a right; west bound, but not for very long.
I got off at Grants, well just before Grants, and filled up, then headed south on NM 117 toward the El Malpais Natinal Monument. "The name El Malpais is from the Spanish term Malpaís, meaning badlands, due to the extremely barren and dramatic volcanic field that covers much of the park's area. " And it was that, and beautiful. 117 is a very nice motorcycle road, good surface, interesting ride, not hard at all, but enough to keep your attention, and very good New Mexico scenery.



and a sloppy video of the area

http://vimeo.com/33053066




I watched the rain come closer and closer as I rode, so I stopped to put on my new and one or two sizes too small RevIt Titan rainsuit, and just in time, because the skies opened.

I followed 117 to 36 and headed north then left at 53 through the Zuni Pueblo. It was at a gas station in the Zuni Pueblo that the little boy offered the "fetishes," not the Penn State kind, but the Native American kind. From wiki: Traditionally, Zuni fetishes are small carvings made from various materials by the Zuni Indians. These carvings serve a ceremonial purpose for their creators and depict animals and icons integral to their culture. As a form of contemporary Native American art, they are sold with non-religious intentions.
I cam across a book once that revealed to me the "Moscow Rule of Shopping." That rule states that if you see something you might want, buy it right then, because:
1-you will never see it again should you choose to find it at a better price
2-you will likely remember it as something you should have bought

#2 applies here. I had just filled up Stella! and he approached me on his bike holding in his hand two small animal carvings, offered for $5 each. Should've bought both of them and I would've set them on my desk, staring at me as I write this.
Tant pis, I didn't and I am now sorry I didn't. So, remember the Moscow Rule of Shopping for next time. I knew it, and ignored it at my peril.

I rode on on 53, becoming 61 when Stella! and I enter Arizona, then 180 N to I 40 again and west into again threatening skies. I had removed it at the picture above because I was through with the rain for the day...I thought. I recall the words of an orthopod I used to work with. "When you think you weaken the team." In truth maybe he was sacked once too often, but those words still sometimes ring true.

I had learned long ago that it is far better to go through the hassle of removing a rainsuit that was not needed, than drying out because you chose not to wear it and got caught in the rain. It should be mentioned that Dante in his descent into Hell, on the fourth level of Hell with demons screaming at him, flying close and just missing him, taunting, threatening, cursing, damning him, was no worse than I was on the shoulder of I 40, near Sanders, Arizona, putting on my two sizes too small rainsuit, doing the dancing required to get BOTH arms inserted into the PROPER sleeve. ARRRRGGGGHHHHH. But I did and now I could laugh at the weather, Ha ha, and then laugh no more. The rain was horrible, my visor fogged. I lifter it slightly and that's when I felt the ice stinging my face.

I am not telling you anything new. This is what you get when you embark on one of these trips. And people call these "journeys," like it's all some metaphysical experience--some of it is-but some of it is endurance and hard and character building and that which doesn't kill you makes you stronger. Unfortunately, sometimes it does kill you, and riding on icy roads, stung by ice is not fun. But now, hey, I can say I did it, and remember how my hands were so stiff when I exited I 40 and made that right turn into Holbrook, and almost slid down to a stop because I braked a little too hard and didn't appreciate the rise in the road and gave her gas and slipped a bit, but stayed up and made it to the Super 8 in one piece in my too small rainsuit and wondering how long this miserable weather would last.
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Old 01-07-2012, 06:20 AM   #11
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So, gentle readers, the last time I told you about the ice in my face, and coming to a wet cold coulda been frozen stop at the, you guessed it, Super 8 in Holbrook Arizona. I think I creaked when I walked in, I know I shivered. I can press a mental Play and blurt, Non Smoking Senior Rate and add Damn it's cold, hissing through clenched teeth and open lips. Whatever the price was would be fine, could've been payable in tender of the Russian Czars and it would've been fine. That's how nasty it was out there. It was this bad...the only walking distance eatery was a Pizza Hut and that was fine too.

I download Stella! move her to someplace visible and enter room 115. Smells a bit like smoke, or stale a/c, but not bad enough to move. I wiggle out of the rainsuit, out of the "gear" and put on jeans and a hoodie and run to the Pizza Hut, get my pizza and run back and cocoon for the evening.

The next morning dawns cold and gray, but mostly dry. By the time I am leaving, it is dry, but still gray. Holbrook is the farthest west I will go and now I start Eastward Ho.

Let me tell you "youngsters" what the greatest thing about getting old is. Actually the second greatest thing, the first being you find so many more women attractive than you did when you were younger. So, right up next to that is the Senior Pass for the National Parks. $10 for a lifetime of FREE admissions. Woo damn Hoo !

The Painted Desert and The Petrified Forest are essentially the same park. They are on the same road. They have the same entrance, the same visitors' center, and being somewhat off the beaten path, you have them mostly to yourself. No "bussards," those bus-loads of tourists you see in Bryce. Very few RV's unlike Yellowstone and it is really easy to pass whatever might hinder your progression from one spectacular other worldly vista to the next.

First named by the Spanish explorers who were taken by its bright and saturated colors. they described it as painted.








A Regal Portrait Of Stella!





I 40 sort of bisects the Painted Desert from The Petrified forest. You stay on the same road as I mentioned earlier and you're there. Although it was still cold, the clouds were breaking apart and the sun illuminated this alien landscape with clean clear light.

That rain that stung me and gave me pause for my safety had scrubbed the air and birthed pellucid skies, allowing the Earth to glow as if lit from within.



The first "sight" is Newspaper Rock


Pretty remarkable and large.





and a detail shot


If you go, take the spur to Blue Mesa.



















And to those who read The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge by Casteneda back in the day, would you trust this guy to not report you if you did take a souvenir? This is truly their country. They allow you to visit.
("For me there is only the traveling on paths that have heart, on any path that may have heart. There I travel, and the only worthwhile challenge is to traverse its full length. And there I travel, looking, looking, breathlessly." -- Don Juan)
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Old 01-07-2012, 09:00 AM   #12
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Thumb Captivated

At first I skimmed through until the great pictures drew me in deeper. Then I went back to the top to check out the writing and was captivated. This is definitely the most verbose report I've read lately, but now that I'm caught up I can't wait for the rest. Thanks for an excellent report.
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Old 01-07-2012, 09:57 AM   #13
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Gee, I just read your Great West tour from 2009. Seems we've shared a lot of places all through the west! It's interesting that we favor diffent places, though. The areas that were most impressive to me were not that high on your list. Places like the Badlands. On the other hand, I wasn't particularly struck by the Devils Tower or the Little Big Horn battlefield.

There is one place we agree on:



Looking forward to your next installment. Great stuff.

Go Drew!
pin 'em back Brad Wing!
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Old 01-07-2012, 11:48 AM   #14
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Yeah, I know...the verbosity.

When you do these, well, I was warned a while back by a good friend that "guys on that forum don't read...just put up a lot of pictures." As I did more reports, I became a little jaded by that advice, though there was some truth in it. But, then I decided I didn't care and I would write what I wanted, and if some couldn't follow it, well that's ok, they could look at the pictures. But, I wrote, even though in Torrey on a ride, a fellow rider told me he didn't like those reports with "a lot of words." I just assumed he wasn't talking about me!

However, the writing and reminiscing are part of the fun of doing these, and sometimes with hindsight you think of some small detail that, at the time, didn't seem so important, but later is fun to expand upon.

So, THANKS, really mean that.
and I hope Drew will continue his spectacular ways tonight in the dome, and I have said all year that Brad Wing is arguably the the MVP of the team. There was a great write-up on him about a month or so ago in the Wall Street Journal.

And there is more to come.

John
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Old 01-09-2012, 12:25 PM   #15
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Touring The Painted Desert and The Petrified Forest the way I did took probably about 4 hours and I gained an hour going back into New Mexico, and I am sure, no wait. I must have lost an hour, or maybe Az has their own time zone, I think that's it, Anyway, I was leaving The Petrified Forest early afternoon and planned on getting to Silver City, NM that evening, a favorite of mine, cool little town. I took 180/191 then 180 the whole way there. A very nice stretch of roads. The finish on the road is a little better in AZ than NM, but it is fine and varied in its terrain, from desert, to alpine, to rolling foothills, again, a very nice way to get from A to B on two wheels.

The part of 191 I was on was not THE 191 that southwestern riders know very well. That 191, called The Coronado Trail I think, was south of where I was and it is really something. It is VERY much like Deals Gap, but well over a hundred, actually 135 miles from Springerville to, and I am not making this up, Three Way, Arizona ( "Menage a trois, Arizone" to the early French fur trappers). It ends in these HUMONGOUS copper mines that no photo and justifiably capture.







But I didn't go that way this time--did it last fall though.

So, I am on 180 going down the western edge, more or less, of New Mexico and get to Silver City, formerly a mining town, but now it seems to mostly a college town, home of The Western New Mexico University Mustangs


From left Missy (Zeta), Pepper (Pi Phi), Carmen (Delta Gamma), Kirsten (Chi O), Heather (Delta Zeta), CoCo (Omega Mu Gamma), and Harley (Lambda Omicron Lambda)
Let's Go, Mustangs! Woo Hoo !!! YAY!!!! Number One!!! YAY!!! MUSTANGS!

You see students everywhere downtown and they look like typical college students. And you see their profs downtown, or what appears to be college prof material. But, This all adds to the appeal of this neat little town in south central New Mexico.


Dinner at Jalisco's, always a treat



and then a post-prandial walk around town





















And back to the motel before the ride tomorrow am (Comfort Inn this time, livin large)>
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