Dr. Greg & Wotan take a 4-day "Tour of Southern New Mexico"

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Day Trippin'' started by Dr. Greg, Mar 3, 2014.

  1. Dr. Greg

    Dr. Greg Tryin' to get home..

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    Dr. Greg & Wotan Take a 4-Day Trip Through Southern New Mexico...

    All winter, Mrs. Greg had been suggesting that I take a "motel" trip down thru southern New Mexico. So I finally did. BTW, I took a lot of pictures...just skim thru them if you get bored.

    My plan was to leave Albuquerque and take a "clockwise" route around the lower part of New Mexico. Some of these roads I've ridden before, others were new.

    Wotan?! What happened to Milledue?

    Well, Milledue (my 2010 Ducati Multistrada 1200S) is now residing near Kalamazoo, Michigan. After putting 50,000 miles on the MTS1200 (well, two of them, you recall the first one got TOTALLED on hoarfrost), I decided to test-ride the new R1200GSW. In the first 20 miles I knew it was the bike I needed for the rest of my life. Hence I'm now riding Wotan (surely you guys know your Wagner operas, don't you?)

    If anyone would be interested in my thoughts on Multistrada vs. GSW, I'll have a link to a writeup at the end of this ride report. I'd do it now, but I wanna start the ride report first.

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    Figure 1. Dr. Greg and Wotan. What a great bike!

    Figure 1 shows me and the new GSW. The one bike the dealer had was "grey" in color---a perfect match for my beard (and hair) color. "Old man grey" was the color I would have chosen anyway...so it was all perfect. I've got exactly 11,683 miles on Wotan so far, and I absolutely LOVE this bike. Like I said, my "epilogue" will have a link to an essay more fully describing my thoughts. So onward to the ride report...


    Day 1---After 40 Miles the good Dr. Heads Back Home...WHUPPED!

    Leaving Albuquerque on I-40 Eastbound, after about 15 miles I headed South on NM 14 (now named 337, but we locals always call it "south 14"). It's a little twisty---a nice road. About 15 miles down 14, there's a summit that I love---there's a long view down to the seemingly endless plains of SE New Mexico and Texas beyond. Figure 2 shows that view:
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    Figure 2. A view toward the plains of SE New Mexico and Texas. Note the barely-visible cloudbank.

    That seemingly innocuous cloudbank spelled trouble, because---in my experience in this area---those clouds indicate cold, clammy fog down on the plains. And after 40 miles, I had to cry "UNCLE" because of the temperature. See my dashboard thermometer at lower right of Figure 3:
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    Figure 3. Temperature down on the high plains...too cold for Dr. Greg!

    A moment after snapping Figure 3, the temp actually dropped to 22 degrees. That was it---I turned around and headed home. I was reminded of the quote from Sinclair Lewis' The Jungle: "being defeated is one thing, admitting you're defeated is something else." I was both. With my tail 'twixt my legs, I turned around.


    Day 1a---Let's Start this Ride Over Again...WHUPPED!

    As I sat reading in my easy chair that evening, Mrs. Greg appealed to me to try again the next morning (I guess she really wanted me out of the house :wave). So I did. Since I had ridden 80 miles the previous day, and it was 150 miles to the first gas stop at Carrizozo, I had to stop and refuel on the way out the next morning...that's something I never like to do. But here we are doing so in Figure 4.
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    Figure 4. Refueling for a second attempt at this boondoggle ride.

    The weather heading East on I-40 actually looked worse than the day before (Figure 5.)
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    Figure 5. Heading east on I-40 a second time; weather actually looks worse.

    Shortly after turning on "South 14" I snapped Figure 6 just to show you there is at least one corner in this road. It's actually fairly enjoyable.
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    Figure 6. Riding south on NM 14 (337) a second time; this is actually a somewhat fun road. More clouds than yesterday.

    After 10 more miles, the infamous "view" to the south came up again---Figure 7 shows the same view as Figure 2 earlier. YAY!! No "cloudbank" down near the horizon. There's hope!
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    Figure 7. No cloudbank down near the horizon!! (compare w/Figure 2).

    And when I got near the "turnaround" spot from the day before, just look at the temperature in Figure 8:
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    Figure 8. No cloudbank down near the horizon!! (compare w/Figure 2).

    OK, ok, so you can't actually SEE the temperature cuz of the glare, but it starts with a "5"...so that means it's fifty-something degrees. THIRTY degrees warmer than the day before. Excellent. I might actually complete this ride. Little did I know...

    A few miles further along I noticed this cool-looking "lenticular" (lens-shaped) cloud off to the southeast.
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    Figure 9. A "lenticular" (lens-shaped) cloud. Indicates WIND.

    Figure 9 is by no means the best example of a lenticular cloud I've ever seen, but hey, it's something. And being late winter (early spring?) in New Mexico, one thing that's sure is---WIND.

    Finally got to the junction with NM 55. This is the spot where I turned around yesterday. Being a full THIRTY degrees warmer today, things were lookin' good.
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    Figure 10. At the junction of NM 14 and NM 55 somewhat SE of ABQ.

    A much warmer day, expectation of a fun multi-day trip, and a great-running motorcycle underneath me combined to put Dr. Greg in a very positive state of mind---something he doesn't achieve very often.

    After about 70 miles one comes to the small town of Mountainair, New Mexico. Figure 11 shows the historic "Shaffer Hotel." Back when I rode with the HSTA we used to ride here for lunch a lot. I think the food's gone downhill since then (based on my one stop here a coupla years ago).
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    Figure 11. The "historic" Shaffer Hotel in Mountainair, New Mexico.

    If you have sharp eyes you can read the mileage sign in Figure 11: "Gran Quivira 25" and "Claunch 39"---I will be stopping at both (and taking fotos, naturally).


    Salinas Pueblo Missions---Gran Quivira Ruins

    25 miles SE of Mountainair one finds the Gran Quivira Ruins of the Salinas Pueblo Missions. There are actually two other sites: the Abo and Quarai Ruins.
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    Figure 12. Gran Quivira Ruins.

    In the words of the National Park Service,

    "In the stones of the Salinas Valley pueblo ruins are faint echoes of the communities that lived there 300 years ago. Before they left the area in the 1670s, Pueblo Indians forget a stable agricultural society whose members lived in apartment-like complexes and participated, through rule and ritual, in the cycles of nature."

    These people had roots as far back as 7,000 years ago, and were themselves preceded by nomadic Indians who may have arrived as early as 20,000 years ago.

    So have a little respect...:nod
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    Figure 13. Here's a view up the hill at some of the ruins.

    They planted corn eight inches deep?! I'm not a "corn" guy but that seems pretty deep...
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    Figure 14. Seems like that's mighty deep for planting corn.

    Figures 15, 16, and 17 show some more views of the ruins...
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    Figure 15. Almost looks like some kind of kiva.

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    Figure 16. Was this the church?

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    Figure 17. Many rooms.

    In Figure 18, Dr. Greg reads about the Salinas Pueblo Indians.
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    Figure 18. They "had their day, and ceased to be..." Us, too?


    Claunch, New Mexico---Pinto Bean Capital of the...well, the Region. Well, it used to be...

    The Salinas Pueblo ruins always make me reflect, like the caption of Figure 18. Those people could live out there on basically nothing. Pretty impressive. Here in Albuquerque, the electricity went off for about 30 minutes this morning, and we were all paralyzed. Buncha wimps. Actually not really; wait a couple more riding days...

    Anyway, continuing SE for another dozen miles...as is shown in Figure 19...
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    Figure 19. Riding S on NM 55; Sierra Blanca (12,003 ft) in the distance.

    ...one first encounters the "Claunch Cemetery." I've never stopped here, but sometimes these old cemeteries are fascinating. Prolly quite a few pioneers interred here.
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    Figure 20. Claunch Cemetery.

    At Claunch, New Mexico, there is (1) a church, and (2) a Post Office. Oh yeah, and (3) the defunct pinto bean elevator. All displayed below for your viewing pleasure:
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    Figure 21. The Claunch Community Church.

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    Figure 22. The Claunch Pinto Bean Elevator. Out of business.

    And Figure 23 shows the Post Office. It has TWO couches inside, a library, and always good company...
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    Figure 23. The Claunch Post Office (ZIP 87011). Very much IN business...

    Inside the cozy Claunch Post Office I greeted Postmistress Shelly, and one of the elder statesmen of Claunch; both shown in Figure 24.
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    Figure 24. Postmistress Shelly (L) and one of Claunch's elder citizens (R).

    Shelly showed me that the P.O. now has TWO couches! Here's a photo of one, with a bunch of Dr. Greg's gear strewn on it. Now that's what I call a nice Post Office: good company, two couches, a bunch of books, and a warm stove!
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    Figure 25. The Claunch P.O. now has TWO couches!

    After exchanging pleasantries for a while, the elderly gentleman brought out this copy of an old U.S. Gov't. Executive Order---his pride and joy:
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    Figure 26. Beginning of the end for the U.S. Government...

    We all agreed that if the U.S.A. doesn't do something pretty soon, it's curtains! Of course, I'm sure we'd all have somewhat different preferred strategies, but I didn't want to get into that. I grew up in a small village where I could go hunting right out my back door; shooting everything in sight, riding (motor) bikes (no dirt bikes back then; just put a big sprocket on the back for dirt riding), making bombs with the crazy chemicals my dad got for me (like potassium perchlorate and picric acid...I'm sure the ATF guys would be on me now). But things have changed. Sigh. Every time I go thru Claunch I think "I could live here." But I'm not sure; I need too much STUFF...

    I reluctantly took my leave of Claunch, New Mexico, and headed (yet again) Southeast for Carrizozo. Sierra Blanca (12,003 ft) was getting closer...
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    Figure 27. On NM 55 between Claunch & Carrizozo, NM. Sierra Blanca (12,003 ft) getting ever closer.


    Carrizozo, New Mexico---Lunch at the "4 Winds Restaurant."

    Another 30 miles brought me to the "Crossroads of New Mexico" (self-proclaimed)...Carrizozo! The "4 Winds" restaurant to be found there is one of my favorite lunch stops. Also there's (finally) a gas station. Hah, looks the "IRAN" in the sign. Not even close.
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    Figure 28. My favorite restaurant in Carrizozo, New Mexico.

    My absolute favorite waitress of all time (don't know her name) seems to always be on duty here. You know the kind: always cheerful, joking with everybody, ruthlessly efficient, etc. I snapped a blurry image of her...she was movin' fast:
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    Figure 29. My favorite waitress of all time at the "4 Winds" restaurant.

    She always makes me feel good. Anyway, I got to feelin' so good that I forgot to take a picture of my burger till it was almost finished...mmm good!
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    Figure 30. No ADV Ride Report would be complete w/o some "food" pics.

    BTW, I'm currently reading the book American Nations by Colin Woodard. It was recommended by someone during my "Civil War" ride report a couple years ago. Excellent book. The iPad sure makes taking reading material along on trips a lot easier...

    Since Carrizozo is the "crossroads of New Mexico" I have a choice of routes. I planned on heading East from here on US 380 to go through the historic town of Lincoln, New Mexico (scene of the "Lincoln County War" in the 1880s). On the way to Lincoln I passed thru the little town of Capitan. I have to pay homage to "Chuck's Tire Shop" in Capitan, since they fixed a TKC-80 for me on my very first ride with those tires on the GS. Also "Henry" at H&H Towing in Capitan...all good folks. Lotta good folks around here.
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    Figure 31. Chuck's Tire Shop in Capitan, NM---highly recommended!

    Just before getting to Lincoln, this notch in the hills ahead holds the Rio Bonito, the river than runs through Lincoln.
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    Figure 32. That gap ahead cradles the Rio Bonito near Lincoln, New Mexico.

    Oops! One more pic before we get to Lincoln---that's "Capitan Gap" in the mountains to the north---that's the place the REAL Smokey Bear was found as a cub during a forest fire. Looks like the "Smokey" sign has acquired a few bullet holes over the years. Well, this is New Mexico.
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    Figure 33. Capitan Gap in the distance---home of "Smokey the Bear."


    Lincoln, New Mexico. "Billy the Kid" Country and the Lincoln County War.

    That building in the background of Figure 34 is a replica of the old Lincoln County Courthouse. That's where Billy the Kid made his notorious escape in April, 1881.
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    Figure 34. The old Lincoln County courthouse.

    The courthouse is full of historical artifacts and pictures. I didn't have time to spend much time there today, but I've stopped there many times in the past. I'll post a few pictures I've taken on past trips.
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    Figure 35. Lincoln, New Mexico was quite a place.

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    Figure 36. The Lincoln County War.

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    Figure 37. Enter Billy the Kid.

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    Figure 38. The Kid's notorious escape.

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    Figure 39. Bob Olinger was reputedly a real bully---good riddance!

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    Figure 40. J.W. Bell was apparently a good guy who was in the "wrong place."

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    Figure 41. Sheriff Pat Garrett---a Steely-Eyed Lawman if I ever saw one.

    There are MANY books about Billy the Kid, the Lincoln County War, and the general region. I find them VERY interesting. After doing tech stuff for 40 years, it's nice to learn about the rest of the world...


    Done for the day!

    Well, fellas, I'm just about typed out for the day. I wanted to finish up this day of riding, but I've got too much other stuff to do. Tomorrow is my "consulting" day (I work one day a week for a medical robotics company) so I don't know how much I'll write tomorrow. But I promise to finish the whole trip this week.

    I gave up writing "live" ride reports---I just don't have the stamina at my advanced age :lol3

    --Doc
    #1
  2. Gale B.T.

    Gale B.T. Long timer

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    Thanks for the RR Dr Greg, you are looking good on your GS, ride safe, keep the history lessons coming.
    #2
  3. SoPaRider

    SoPaRider Been here awhile

    Joined:
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    Hi Doc:

    You can't go wrong with gray and the Beamer fits you well. We look forward to the rest of your ride report and you can't post too many pics of one of our favorite places on earth. KC is diggin' the beard by the way!:lol3

    "The Ride Is Never Long Enough!"

    JC&KC

    GRAY!:D '07 wee-strom
    #3
  4. Serbchaser

    Serbchaser Chasin' the Serb

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    Very excited about another Dr G ride report.:clap

    Congrats on the new bike - looks sweet! Well kitted too...:deal
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  5. TheRoss

    TheRoss IBA# 522

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    Dr. Greg,

    Sweeeeeeeeet looking bike! Congrats on that!

    Looking forward to reading the rest of your report!
    #5
  6. JaxObsessed

    JaxObsessed Endeavor to persevere.

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    IN!! :thumb

    :lurk
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  7. true grip

    true grip Been here awhile

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    Love this stuff!!! Thanks Dr. Greg
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  8. Dr. Greg

    Dr. Greg Tryin' to get home..

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    Hey Gale, with you along I can't go wrong. Thanks for checkin' in :D

    Howdy there Jeff & Karen...been enjoying your emails. Look forward to seeing you folks again. Thanks for the kudos! :thumb

    Thanks, Serb. I like it awfully well...hope that's still true in six years, cuz that's how much warranty time I bought! :wink:

    Aha, my GS buddy from Lubbock! At least I've joined the ranks now myself. I do like the "old man's grey" if I do say so myself. Good to have you along.

    Hey, I've seen you before! :D Thanks for following...

    Hey man, SO DO I!! Sure glad I retired so's I can ride more...:ricky
    #8
  9. Dr. Greg

    Dr. Greg Tryin' to get home..

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    Day 1 (con't)---Let's get you guys a little further down the road...

    Leaving Lincoln, NM it was a scant 10 miles to the junction of US 70, which makes a sharp turn to the SW as it climbs up into the towns of Ruidoso Downs & Ruidoso. But before the turnoff I snapped one last pic along the Rio Bonito ("beautiful river") in "Billy the Kid" country. Yeah, the dry country of Figure 42 may not be everyone's cup of tea, but I love the desert country. And there's a heck of a lot more to come!
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    Figure 42. A final view from "Billy the Kid" country along the Rio Bonito, just east of Lincoln, New Mexico.


    Ruidoso Downs & Ruidoso, New Mexico

    As I said, I turned SW on US 70 and climbed into the Lincoln National Forest, approaching the "communities" of Ruidoso Downs and Ruidoso. BTW, at this point I was ESE of the aforementioned 12,003-foot Sierra Blanca, which dominates the Sacramento mountains (and is visible a long ways away).

    Most of US 70 along this region is 4-lane, cuz the raison d'etre for Ruidoso Downs is the big horse racing track there, and the raison d'etre (I had French in high school :ymca) for Ruidoso is the big hotel/casino there. Neither of which are of much interest to me. But to each his own, I guess...

    BTW, lotta Texans recreate in these parts, and they pronounce it "RIA-DOSA"... No offense to any Texans out there; I've received copious amounts of hospitality in Texas, and they are fine and honorable people. I just get a kick out of how they talk...


    Looking for NM 244...

    If you stay on US 70, you drop out of the mountains into Tularosa. Such was not my intent. My map showed a little gray highway labeled "NM 244" which cut to the SE and appeared to be a shortcut to Cloudcroft (from near which, it was a straight shot to my day's final destination of Artesia, Nuevo Mexico).

    So I finally cleared all the horsetracks, and casinos, and hotels, and traffic, and...where the heck was NM 244? I started to descend pretty decisively, and I was beginning to make alternate route plans, when finally the turnoff to the left onto NM 244 appeared. Excellent! :thumb

    A pickup truck (they comprise about 95% of the vehicles in these here parts...) turned in front of me, but I gassed the GSW on the short straight and got by him. It's OK...I waved after I passed. Now let's find out what this NM 244 road is like...

    ...well, it was pretty da*n nice! No traffic, lotsa curves, not a bad surface (that doesn't matter much to a GS(W) rider, right?) And on UP it went. And up. And up. And UP. There were so many curves I didn't have much opportunity to snap a pic (honest, Mrs. Greg, I'm bein' careful). Finally, I clicked the foto you see in Figure 43.
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    Figure 43. A view along NM 244. Little bit of snow...there'd be more!:eek1​

    NM 244 FINALLY levelled off. It was a lot higher than I thought...barely had time to snap the GPS in Figure 44. There was a LOT of snow on both sides of the road---luckily the road was pretty much dry. Hey, 8,750 feet is not bad---I recall when in South Carolina on my Civil War trip I was in the single digits on elevation).
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    Figure 44. The high point along NM 244---a very fun road!

    BTW, the GPS in Figure 44 is guiding me to Cloudcroft, New Mexico, hence the "Right on US 82" message. Actually I planned to turn LEFT on US 82 and head directly for Artesia. But ya gotta play games with the stupid GPS's to get them to do what you want...what's the saying, "to REALLY get lost ya need a GPS." And sometimes it's the awful truth :confused.

    Before I leave the unexpectedly fun (and pretty) high country of NM 244 (I'll definitely be back), here's a pic of pretty little high valley up there. There was no traffic (I actually met a rider on a V-Strom :thumb), no people...just the way we like it! Won't this valley be pretty come summer? You betcha :thumb. I'll be there.
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    Figure 45. A pretty little mountain valley along NM 244.


    Onward to Artesia, and my Fleabag Motel.

    Finally had to leave the mountains (BTW, had the Gerbing jacket liner cranked up to a reasonably high % during the NM 244 episode) and slowly drop down into the infamous high plains of Southeast New Mexico.

    Once I started descending, the road dropped pretty quickly until there I was---the junction of US 82 a few miles east of Cloudcroft, New Mexico. I snapped Figure 46 as a last view of the mountain ambiance for the day...
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    Figure 46. Here is Wotan at the junction of NM 244 & US 82 (directly behind us).

    A few of you have commented on the appearance of the GSW---I know I'm biased, but I think the GSW (and all R1xx0 GS's, for that matter) are BEAUTIFUL bikes. I'm a mechanical engineer, and I LOVE to have a vehicle with a MECHANICAL PRESENCE. My '92 Ducati 900SS has it, my 2010 Ducati Multi 1200S's had some of it, but the GSW definitely has it. I really, really, REALLY like the appearance of the GS(W). The only thing I like better is riding it. After almost 12K miles it's just getting better. After 50K miles on the MTS1200, I've had more compliments (and people wanting to discuss the bike) in 12K miles with the GSW. Something about it just attracts interest. Sometimes I enjoy that, other times I just wanna be on my way. Either way, I'm SOOOO glad I took that test ride...OK, ok, enough bike worship :dhorse

    PS. I can hear you scoffing at those TKC-80s, but---trust me---they'll come in handy in a coupla days :eek1


    In Praise of FOOTHILLS.

    Although I love the mountains, I almost love the FOOTHILLS more. Either coming or going, they're like the appetizer before the hors d'oeuvre (did I spell that right?). Something about foothills always gets me. And for some reason I kinda like the foto I took in Figure 47. The composition---I've got (1) the dry plains scenery of eastern New Mexico, (2) the edge of the mountains (the odd pinon tree) in the rearview mirror, and (3) my shadow while taking the photo down on the tarmac. I just liked it! So you should, too...:D
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    Figure 47. Dr. Greg's "artfully-composed" pic exiting the New Mexico mountains onto the Eastern high plains.




    Well, once you're really and truly down onto the Eastern plains of New Mexico...there's really not too much there. Some folks call this part of the USA "flyover" country, but in my opinion there ain't no such thing. Flyover country gives your mind a chance to relax, and reflect...my oh my...I badly needed this trip. Thank you, Mrs. Greg, for kicking me out of the house. Y'know...you guys have heard it..."I used to ride till I got married, the wife said it's me or the bike..." Just breaks my heart. I did it right---I courted Mrs. Greg on my '73 RD350, so she knew what she was gettin' into. What a woman :sweeti Oops, better stop now before this gets R-rated (or worse). Figure 48 shows the "flyover" country. Humph. Would you rather be here or stuck in traffic in the middle of some city...
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    Figure 48. The expansive ("flyover") New Mexico Eastern plains. One's mind expands...


    Artesia, New Mexico, and the END of Day 1a.

    It was just DELIGHTFUL dropping down US 82 thru Mayhill, Elk, and Hope, New Mexico (all tiny little villages). Nice tailwind, lowering sun...a fine-runnin' machine...you know the drill. Once I arrived in Artesia, I turned South on US 285, and picked the first "fleabag" motel I could find. After that fine lunch repast in Carrizozo, I had a scant snack for dinner, and enjoyed reading outside my room as the evening drew to a close. Yeah, the traffic noise on US 285 was a little intrusive, but Mrs. Greg had given me these cool Bose "sound-cancelling" headphones, so I didn't hear a thing, except the music I was listenin' to---Sibelius' Tone Poems, IIRC.
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    Figure 49. The good Dr. chillin' outside his fleabag motel room in Artesia, New Mexico, USA. The planet Earth.


    What a WONDERFUL day. I'm SO glad I waited a day (actually, "tried again") to start this ride. BTW, when I had left the day before, within 500 yds of my home the left case fell off (gotta make sure those Rapid-Trap latches "ping" when you push them on). Sure glad that didn't happen on I-40 :eek1 !

    I needed this trip. Getting away by myself definitely keeps me sane. I respect folks that like traveling in groups, but this old reprobate needs to be by himself. Especially when I can camp. Anyway, I'm off to a good start.

    The plan for tomorrow is to take US 285 for about 30 miles south, then turn off on NM 137 to "Sitting Bull Falls." I've wonderful memories of family vacations in the 80s, stopping (and camping) by Sitting Bull Falls. Gotta see if it's still there...

    So that's it for today, fellas. I've got more time tomorrow to work on the RR, so we oughta be able to cover some more ground. I'm sure enjoying writing this up---seems like trips these days come in two parts: (1) the enjoyment of the trip itself, and (2) the enjoyment of writing it up to share with everyone (mainly myself---I LOVE reading my old Ride Reports :thumb).

    Adios,

    --Doc
    #9
  10. mdsnitc

    mdsnitc Been here awhile

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    :dllama
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  11. Dr. Greg

    Dr. Greg Tryin' to get home..

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    I'll take that as a "good luck omen"...you oughta know this country. Hope you're enjoying the ride :wave .

    --Doc
    #11
  12. GB

    GB . Administrator

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    Thanks for sharing your ride and pics. Looking for a link to your Multi vs. GSW comparison.
    #12
  13. JaxObsessed

    JaxObsessed Endeavor to persevere.

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    My pleasure Sir!!! I sent you a PM.
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  14. Dr. Greg

    Dr. Greg Tryin' to get home..

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    And back atcha. Thanks for following.

    --Doc
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  15. Dr. Greg

    Dr. Greg Tryin' to get home..

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    Well howdy there GB...it's been a while for me.

    Hmmm, well then I guess I have to really write that comparison. I was kinda hoping nobody was interested so that would get me off the hook. But I'll do my best to be objective; it may take me a few days but I'll get 'er done.

    --Doc
    #15
  16. Dr. Greg

    Dr. Greg Tryin' to get home..

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    ABQ, New Mexico
    Day 2---Artesia, New Mexico to Columbus, New Mexico

    The "continental breakfast" at the Artesia fleabag motel was good enough: cold cereal and a honeybun (which I warmed in my room microwave). Properly fortified, Dr. Greg hit the road---specifically US 285 South out of Artesia towards Carlsbad, New Mexico...but first, a sidetrip to Sitting Bull Falls.

    A few miles south of Artesia, a passed the neatly-tended orchard shown in Figure 50. After living here for 37 years, "neatly-tended" is not a word I often use with New Mexico properties...
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    Figure 50. A neatly-tended New Mexico orchard---pecans?

    The reason I speculated "pecans" is because I know there are many pecans grown down around Las Cruces, New Mexico, and that's not too terribly different from here. But I'm not a "flora" person, so I'm prolly wrong.

    It was another very temperate morning. That "22 degrees" of a couple days was fast fading from memory...
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    Figure 51. Now that's what I call a nice morning temperature in late February.

    A few miles further south, I couldn't resist snapping Figure 52 of some GREEN---ain't much green in this part of the world.
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    Figure 52. A rare patch of GREEN in southern New Mexico.


    A Visit to Sitting Bull Falls.

    Sitting Bull Falls has good memories for me. We took a couple family vacations back in the 80s, and camped there. It is really very cool. If you follow that Wikipedia link, you'll get the idea.

    To get to Sitting Bull Falls, one must travel about 35 miles on NM 137, which joins US 285 25 miles south of Artesia. At the junction, there was the information area shown in Figure 53. However, there was really no information there.
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    Figure 53. NM 137 is a Guadalupe National Back Country Byway---whoopee!

    Couldn't resist snapping the reverse side of the sign:
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    Figure 54. That's what we GS(W) riders like, right?

    I have very fond memories of watching the night sky out at Sitting Bull Falls. It's around 5,000 feet, and there are absolutely NO lights of any kind for around 30 miles. I think Mrs. Greg saw her first satellite at Sitting Bull Falls. Cool place!

    Unfortunately, I encountered a couple of signs that were not encouraging:
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    Figure 55. Hey, I'm on a motorcycle---this shouldn't apply to me, right?!

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    Figure 56. Flooding? FLOODING?!? We're in a DROUGHT!

    Anyway, I continued on down NM 137 towards Sitting Bull Falls...had to keep a sharp eye out, cuz this is OPEN RANGE COUNTRY as shown in Figure 57. I've hit deer before, don't wanna hit a freakin' COW!
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    Figure 57. Gotta keep focused; don't wanna hit a freakin' COW!

    The road gets a little narrower, but still nice riding. Ain't nothin' out here...oops, nothin' but the odd petrochemical installation:
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    Figure 58. About the time you think there's nothing here---a good-sized petrochemical operation shows up.

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    Figure 59. Getting closer to Sitting Bull Falls---narrow road & lots of nothing...


    Sitting Bull Falls---They Wanna Make You Feel "Right at Home"...

    Upon arriving at Sitting Bull Falls, they really throw out the "welcome mat"...
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    Figure 60. I don't wanna have to mount tires again!?!

    At this point it's about one more mile to the actual Falls, but if you have thoughts of walking in, uh...
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    Figure 61. Hmmm...so much for THAT idea...

    Looking at the gate, there appears to be a perfect "GSW-sized" way around it:
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    Figure 62. Hey, a PERFECT gap to slip as GSW thru, right?

    However, Dr. Greg is historically a law-abiding citizen, and I figured it'd be just my luck if I dropped the bike going around the gate, and some ranger showed up, and...so I contented myself with taking a few pics around the area.
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    Figure 63. Interesting little "nipple" at the top of this hill.

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    Figure 64. Prolly not enough water to make a good falls, anyway...

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    Figure 65. There's even a foot trail over to Sitting Bull Falls.

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    Figure 66. The foot trail beckons Dr. Greg---c'mon, it'll be OK!

    I finally contented myself with walking just inside the gate, and "thumbing my nose" at the Park Service...
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    Figure 67. Neener-neener!! Dr. Greg entered on foot!

    I'm gonna feel stupid if a request for $500 shows up in my mailbox in a few days... :eek1

    Anyway, as I found out while talking to a ranger at Guadalupe Mountains Nat'l. Park (coming up just down the road), there were floods in late summer 2013 (remember the Colorado thing?) which damaged Sitting Bull Falls. Thinking back, even though we're in a drought, we had a heck of a "monsoon season" last summer. Oh, well...I guess these signs like Figure 68 are not to be taken lightly.
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    Figure 68. These arroyos would have swallowed the GSW whole back in August 2013.

    So I headed back out NM 137 back to the main highway...WHUPPED AGAIN! But I was still legal (sort of). Even though I couldn't get to Sitting Bull Falls, it was an enjoyable ride; I can't get enough of the wide-open desert spaces. Good for the soul.
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    Figure 69. Beautiful southern New Mexico desert country.

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    Figure 70. MORE beautiful southern New Mexico desert country.


    DANG, Forgot my GAS MASK...

    On the way to/from Sitting Bull Falls, I passed two signs indicating the presence of "POISONOUS GASES"---one had a blinking warning light. I BADLY wanted to photograph these signs, but missed them both. And I had forgotten to bring my gas mask! Gotta add that to the "trip list"...


    Not Gonna Stop at Carlsbad CAVERNS.

    Been there, done that. It just didn't fit in the schedule. It was a little early for lunch in the town of Carlsbad, so I didn't stop to eat. I did, however, refuel in Carlsbad, cuz it was gonna be a LONG WAY to the next gas at El Paso, TX...like 150 miles!

    I realized after leaving Carlsbad that it was gonna be a long way to food, also. So I stopped at "Whites City" at the entrance to Carlsbad Caverns...there's a restaurant there. I tend to avoid these "tourist" spots, but this restaurant was very empty, and the food was just fine. Had my usual burger:
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    Figure 71. Not a bad burger at the Whites City restaurant; another good waitress, too!









    --Doc
    #16
  17. Freshorse

    Freshorse Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2013
    Oddometer:
    30
    Location:
    Hamburg, NJ
    Great report, love the bike. This will be my third year on a 2012 multistrada. Still deeply in love, very interested in your switch to the GS
    and current state of bliss! :happay
    #17
  18. ducmons

    ducmons Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2007
    Oddometer:
    366
    Location:
    Phoenix
    Great report and pics! :clap
    #18
  19. Dr. Greg

    Dr. Greg Tryin' to get home..

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2005
    Oddometer:
    1,543
    Location:
    ABQ, New Mexico
    Day 2 (con't.)---Artesia, New Mexico to Columbus, New Mexico

    After finishing the burger at Whites City, I realized that I should prolly expand my food horizons somewhat...maybe next year. BTW, at the restaurant there was WiFi, so I dialed up "Columbus, NM motels" on the iPhone, and saw a listing for the "Hacienda de Villa Motel" in Columbus. Now Columbus, New Mexico is a very small town right smack on the Mexican border, and is distinguished by hosting the "Pancho Villa State Park." Sounds like somewhere Dr. Greg oughta visit. So that became the day's destination.

    As I said, I didn't intend to stop at Carlsbad Caverns; originally I was, but it would make the scheduling/routing of the trip awkward. So the heck with it...like I said, been there done that. So I got back directly onto US 62/180 towards the Texas border.


    Guadalupe Mountains National Park, Texas.

    The next stop would be Guadalupe Mountains National Park just across the border in Texas. I camped here over Spring Break 2008 (back before I retired; my riding was limited to academic vacations). I had a good time, although it was a BIT windy. On the current trip I was just gonna stop for a brief time. Those are the Guadalupe Mountains on the horizon in Figure 72.
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    Figure 72. Guadalupe Mountains on the horizon.


    Hey, I'm in Texas!

    See, the sign in Figure 73 proves it! BTW, I wonder when the Great State of Tejas is gonna discover the ADVERB? "Drive Friendly---the Texas Way" indeed...humph.
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    Figure 73. Mister Language Person needs to have a talk with the Texas DOT folks.

    See the valley between the two "arms" of the mountains in Figure 74? That's the location of Pine Springs Campground. Back when I camped here in Spring Break of 2008, you could hear the gusts of wind come barreling down this valley several seconds before they'd actually arrive. When they did arrive they'd flatten my poor tent, which fortunately always sprang back. Still use that (Kelty) tent. BTW, the peak wind gusts back in '08 were an honest 100 mph!
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    Figure 74. The wind comes funneling thru here---it can be pretty fierce (100 mph gusts in March 2008).

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    Figure 75. Another view of that same area, Guadalupe Mountains, Texas USA.

    Today it was relatively calm at the Guadalupe Mts.; peak wind gusts were only 70 mph. While I was, uh, taking a "natural break" a gust of wind just about bowled me over. That coulda been a little messy. Fortunately I quickly regained my balance :lol3 .

    Managed to snap a pic of some wildlife in Figure 76. OK, ok, so it was a diorama inside the Visitor Center. Almost gotcha! :D
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    Figure 76. Managed to sneak up on some local critters.


    Some of the most IMPRESSIVE open country I've ever seen.

    Leaving the Guadalupe Mountains, TX 54 takes you down to Van Horn, TX, from which you can work your way south thru Marfa, Alpine, and onward to the Big Bend country. When I took that route in 2008 the country south of Van Horn on US 90 just blew me away. I've lived all my life in the U.S. West, but the "scope" of that part of Texas just ASTOUNDED me.

    Today I wasn't taking that route, instead turning West on US 62/180 towards El Paso. But as one leaves the Guadalupe Mts. area, the descent towards TX 54 carries a little bit of that "awesome" feeling. I tried to capture it in Figure 77; I don't think the pic does a very good job. I'll try again next time...
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    Figure 77. The view south towards TX 54 and the Sierra Diablo Mts. towards Van Horn, TX. Pic doesn't do it justice.


    The Bonneville Salt Flats has a competitor!

    US 62/180 heading West towards El Paso is pretty deserted. Like a lotta roads in the arid Southwest. While riding along thinking about nothing in particular, I looked to the north and thought "those look like salt flats!" See in Figure 78?
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    Figure 78. Could these be "salt flats" in Texas?

    There was a "historical marker" coming up, so I pulled over. I was right! There WERE salt flats. See? A million years ago...
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    Figure 79. Some information about the west Texas Salt Flats and the El Paso Salt War.

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    Figure 80. The "monument" at the Texas Salt Flats.

    Man, when you're travelin' around you just never know what you're gonna find...I got so excited I had to stop at the next roadside table and think about it for a while...
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    Figure 81. Dr. Greg in West Texas thinkin' about the meaning of the Universe (and the El Paso Salt War).

    After eating lunch a bit earlier than usual, I found a great-looking little cafe in Cornudas, Texas, about halfway to El Paso. Kinda wished I'd waited to eat, but I had no idea. Next time! Didn't get a pic...sorry.


    The A**hole from El Paso?

    Now, now...I'm not gonna say anything bad about El Paso. Don "The Bear" Haskins, former basketball coach at UTEP (formerly Texas Western) is one of my heroes (any of you guys ever see the movie "Glory Road"?) Check the Wikipedia link I provided. "The Bear" won the '66 NCAA basketball championship, starting five black players when that JUST WASN'T DONE. A great guy.

    But El Paso is a big city, and getting thru any big city is a royal pain. To my relief, there was a quite new "loop road" that circumvented (most of) El Paso to the north. Figures 82 and 83 are taken from that road. Not really scenic, but I snapped 'em, so...
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    Figure 82. A view from the El Paso "bypass" road.

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    Figure 83. Another view from the El Paso "bypass" road.

    BTW, stopped for fuel at a "Rudy's" station, part of "Rudy's BBQ" (we have Rudy's in New Mexico also). Never knew they sold gas. Hopefully the GSW won't start smokin'... :lol3


    NM 9 from El Paso to Columbus, New Mexico---even Lonelier than US 50?

    Finally started the LAST leg of the day's ride: NM 9 from El Paso to Columbus, NM. This was about 65 miles of---you guessed it---nothing. Except there was EVEN MORE of NOTHING than usual!

    I guess one picture will suffice (I took several, naturally). Figure 84 shows a view from, maybe, 25 miles east of Columbus. Those are probably the Florida Mountains. I LOVE this country!
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    Figure 84. Maybe 25 miles east of Columbus, New Mexico on NM 9.

    BTW, in that 65 miles I prolly saw a dozen other vehicles, and the majority of those were the distinctive white & green of the U.S. Border Patrol, which is prominent in that area, not surprisingly. Not a single vehicle passed me in the entire 65 miles. What a great area! Beemer, don't fail me now...it (er, he) didn't. Good Wotan.


    Columbus, New Mexico and the Hacienda de Villa Motel.

    Finally I arrived in Columbus on NM 9, and turned N on NM 11. Columbus is not very big (to put it mildly), and is named after Christopher Columbus, FWIW. The motel was easy to find:
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    Figure 85. Yep, this is the place. Good thing I have one of those cards.

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    Figure 86. The Hacienda de Villa motel in Columbus, NM. Looks like Dr. Greg's kinda motel.

    Columbus, New Mexico actually has quite an interesting history, if you follow that Wikipedia link. Pancho Villa 1916 raid, 2011 gun-smuggling scandal...wow! As a New Mexico resident for 37 years, I don't recall that "gun-smuggling" story...hmmm, like I said, ya travel around and never know what you'll turn up. I've heard it said that you should (1) travel when you're young, (2) work like most shmucks during middle age, and (3) travel again when yer a geezer. I'm tryin' my best!

    The motel had a perfect room available for a VERY low price, and I was in! My room was around back, and I could park Wotan right in front of my door (seen in Figure 87). This was gonna be a great evening!
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    Figure 87. Even had the perfect parking spot right outside my door.

    After I got ensconced in my room, I set up fixins for a pleasant evening (it was about 80 deg F) of reading and watching the sun go down. Again, these moments are what preserve my sanity. Doesn't get much better...
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    Figure 88. Dr. Greg relaxin' in the balmy (80 deg F) evening of Columbus, New Mexico.

    Didn't need the "noise-cancelling" aspect of the Bose headphones that night, although they're the only ones I brought with me, so I used 'em. There was the odd bark from a dog, but that was it. Ahhhh, nothin' like small towns.

    As it got dark I continued to enjoy myself; still reading American Nations on the iPad.
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    Figure 89. The evening view out the back of the Hacienda de Villa motel, Columbus, New Mexico.

    Finally, when I had inquired about a room around front, I'd noticed a black cat lying outside. I was informed that he was "Tomás," and hung around doing his thing. Reminded me of my folks' "Mom and Pop" grocery store/gas station in Valle Vista, CA back in the 50s/60s. We had a black cat we also named "Tom" who was a fixture out front. About the time I was gonna turn in, Tomás paid me a visit, and found the best spot around:
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    Figure 90. "Tomás the cat" clearly has good taste.

    So Tomás had his spot; I went into my room and found mine. I slept well all night through. Dunno about Tomás; he was gone in the morning...

    Well, fellas, that's it for Day 2 of this trip. Thanks for any attention you've given me. Tomorrow will be a tough day of riding, so stay tuned. All I'll say now is that I was sure glad I haven't yet shaved my beard off (I shave it off every year on March 8).

    Adios,

    --Doc
    #19
  20. Dr. Greg

    Dr. Greg Tryin' to get home..

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2005
    Oddometer:
    1,543
    Location:
    ABQ, New Mexico
    Oh great, another rider interested in my "comparison"...so I guess I REALLY gotta write it up. J/K...the MTS1200S is a great bike; like I said I put 50,000 miles on the Multi. But at my age, and the kind of riding I do, the GSW is a better bike. Hands down.

    I'll try to be objective. I've ridden for over 55 years, and ridden just about everything, so...if I couldn't ride the GSW, the MTS1200S would be next.

    Thanks for following, and thanks for your comment. Y'know, just being able to ride ANY of these great motorcycles thru our wonderful country is just almost beyond belief. I feel so grateful...

    --Doc
    #20