Travels with L'il Red: The Cabot Trail via NM

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by JayElDee, Jan 6, 2018.

  1. JayElDee

    JayElDee not saying what I mean

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    You know what is the best sign of a successful ride?
    When you get back home and the ride is sinking in, you’re already thinking about where you want to go next.

    Or maybe I have that backwards, ya think? Maybe the sign of a "promising" ride is when you are planning the "pre-ride" ride to get ready for the Big One. Not the first time I found myself thus.

    This was to be an epic ride, for me, this Cabot Trail thing, but I needed a chip shot ride first, so back in March I did the chip shot ride to New Mexico. March is (mostly) still winter. I went anyway as it was just one of those times when I needed the ride. You've been there, I suppose. The allure of the solitude, the song of the road from your tires, the satisfaction of just doing it. It's that feeling that makes you tell people "there's nothing else like it.' Yeah, that's what these aging bones and bloom-off-the-rose psyche was jonesing for. New Mexico. Winter. How bad could it be?

    The "chip shot" ride itinerary:

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    On the way out of South Louisiana, familiarity breeds blase' in natives, and curiosity in everyone else.

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    to get anywhere west of The Bayou State, The People's Republic of Texas must be traversed. It is not only a big state, it is also a big state of mind. Crossing Texas is like going to Confession. Whatever sins your ride may have been ignoring, well, they rear their heads for the telling and in the end you get Absolution and are on your way, or you are d@mned to He!! for thinking that you could cross without paying San Pedro his dues.

    A lot of the Lone Star Republic looks like this

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    and this

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    The rider is given two choices:
    Deal with it, or even better...
    Deal with it. (recommended by TripAdvisor: "Texas *** 'Deal with it'.")

    It's not always hot; it's not always windy; it's not always dusty; it's not always boring.

    But if all you can sense is hot, dusty, windy, boring, then, that, dear reader, is what you'll get. And you'll miss the rider from Austria who flew his bike - a GS btw - (and his squeeze-yes, a babe) to LA (the other one) and is riding back home...eventually.
    You'll miss the sound of the dust stirred by the 200,000 mile F150, driven by the guy with the boots. You'll miss the extra pounds of the dark haired white shop-dressed girl behind the counter of some glassed display that present five or six different kinds of fried grease, rolling and basking in the red-orange glow of what sunrise on Mercury must look like.
    You'll miss that. And it's not one of those things that "if you blink, you'll miss it." No, you can blink, day dream, sneeze, go to the bathroom, swat flies at the pump, and it will still be there.

    Texas has atmosphere and a peculiar sort of charm, of sorts. Texas scorns hypocrisy. Texas, to thine own self, be Texas.

    I got to Tucumcari in a couple of days, stopping at now well-know photo ops, like the old post office in Bellview.
    Bellview, you know...THAT Bellview, down the road from Muleshoe and Lariat. Farmers stop and ask if you are lost, expecting you to be. I tell them I am not lost, but thinking inwardly, not "lost," but found...in Bellview, NM. I meant to stop here. As the years have gone by I've seen the old Post Office, never functioning, deteriorate, or, maybe I am the one deteriorating and it stays the same. The farmers look old.

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    Every dog has his day.

    There is a piece of road between Bellview and Tucumcari where The West suddenly smacks you in the face. You come over a rise on the high plains plateau you've been on, and suddenly you are looking for miles and miles into the West, with mesas, and scrub, and yellows and reds. It is a view that stops you in your tracks and makes you utter the absolute filthiest of expletives because it is that beautifully breathtaking after Lubbock and Levelland and Brownsfield. No picture, sorry, I just enjoyed it this time, didn't stop. This is the road that now goes straight as an arrow and on which my 2009 roadster, fully loaded, did 126 on the gps, and where I didn't see the rattlesnake on the road. Let me put this another way: I am now on The Ride.

    The next morning has a threat of rain to the west so I think I'll head up toward Trinidad, re-eval and then continue, I am on the beautiful backroads of NM now so what could go wrong?

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    I visit for a bit, the weather down toward Santa Fe looks ok so I head back down. I look at the map and the road over Angel Fire looks like a great road...Angel fire is over to the right, where it's bright, so I convince myself I will be riding "between the drops" as a friend once said.

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    An LEO races past while I am taking this picture, I later see where he was headed. I start up toward and through Angel Fire. Oh, it's a ski resort.

    I climb and climb, the skies grow darker, I see where the LEO was headed: Looks like something two-wheeled and orange went off the road, multiple cars flashing lights, an ambulance. I see no one standing dressed as a power ranger and I hope not the worst...briefly.

    I have the road to myself,and it's cold outside, but my get-up is keeping me warm, and now dry, because first I have some mist, then some light rain and then, way passed any reasonable point of no-return, snow.

    It's really coming down, big face cloth sized clumps of it. My visor starts icing over. I am using my full palm to wipe it clean.

    I am mostly in first, keeping the bike as upright as possible, doing a blazing 15 ish on the curling, dipping, dropping white mountain road. In my rear view mirror I see it. A big-a$$ 18 wheeler gaining on me, coming in close behind me, then dropping off, then coming up again. My dash temp shows low 30s, there could definitely be ice on the road.
    I look to the shoulder, maybe to pull off and wait a bit. What I see is really deep and wet mud with tracks in it, tracks that look to be 5, 6 inches deep, tracks that scream "you gonna fall, you gonna fall, you gonna fall" by even considering pulling over. The snow is really coming down, the road is white. I think I see where the road goes, The truck has now backed off seeing my dilemma and situation (Thank you 18 wheeler, you ran interference for me). I do not feel my Pirelli Scorpion Trails 2 give back any feedback except TRACTION, no slipping at all. This was bad, but eventually I am now on my way down, the snow turns back into rain, I can now use 2nd and third and then I am in Taos and Angel Fire is behind me. March is Winter.

    I stay in a casino hotel in Espanola for a couple of nights: one to recover from Angel Fire and the second to vist Santa Fe BMW where I bought L'il Red in December 15, and also ride around a bit. The roads around Santa Fe are very very nice.
    That first night I just eat at the hotel, and after a couple of Scotches, I survey the restaurant scene awaiting "Tommy's Own Hearty New Mexican Chili-Straight From Tijuana To Your Plate!"

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    and having the existential fugue state of consideration that follows at one moment riding in the snow at 10,000 feet not knowing if the next turn of the Pirelli would be my last, and in the next chowing down with this crowd in the polycarbon laminated splendor of stackable chairs, boredom until the next pull of the slot, and sucking one's teeth.
    The juxtaposition was what makes adventure rides 1) adventures 2) exercises in self-knowledge 3)satisfaction in knowing that "you did it," however stupid or foolhardy it may have been to attempt. The result is always satisfaction. However, that same juxtaposition begs the question: What's it all mean, Mr Natural.

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    The next day, I had expected to be miserable, but it was not, so I got in more than the ride I planned. I visited Chris at Santa Fe, then rode around a bit.

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    Next day I split and headed over and down to MountainAir

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    I did a run over to the Very Large Array

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    and headed west toward the mountains, but as I did the skies became greyer and greyer, the temp fell and when it was 39 and flurries were starting to appear, it was Screw This Time and I turned around and headed back away from the "weather."

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    It was now Plan B time and instead of heading toward a snippit of Arizona, Coronado Trail, Silver City, I did a loop of the Bosque del Apache (no birds) and turned my front wheel south toward two sites I have never visited: White Sands and Carlsbad.
    There was a "wind advisory" for 50-60 mph winds from the south and I was doing I 25 which runs N/S. So, heading south I was riding straight into the teeth of those winds, made quite a racket and I was watching my mpg readout struggle in the low 30s high 20s. The limit is 80, but that was brutal with an effective headwind of 130-140. I went considerably slower. Aside: I find myself riding slower these days, still a bit over the limit, but slow enough that a radar detector is not as useful, it seems.

    I stayed in Las Cruces and that was a cool little town. I liked it. Nice people, good food, old world charm in a NM setting...I liked it. Loved White Sands. Yes, it all looks the same...sort of, but it is one of those things that you never tired of viewing. There are things on God's Good Earth like that, ya know? Like your first born, or when you see someone's soul, or Sophia Loren. It's hard to avert your gaze. Like a train wreck, but without the train, and without the wreck, but still the magnetism. White Sands is sorta like that.

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    (more to come)
    #1
  2. Antennas

    Antennas Been here awhile

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    Wow, you can really write! Good stuff.
    #2
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  3. JayElDee

    JayElDee not saying what I mean

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    Thanks, Antennas! This is leading to the cabot...and is that the lighthouse at Neil's Harbour in your avatar?
    #3
  4. JayElDee

    JayElDee not saying what I mean

    Joined:
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    I hate to edit, so I'll just post a disclaimer of sorts...I was singing the praises of the Pirelli Scorpion Trail 2_s above, and then it hit me---Was I still running an Anakkee 3 in the front (a PST2 was in the rear)? I washed the bike today and I looked at the tread of my current PST2 and am trying to compare it to what I see in the pic. I can't remember...anyway, whatever I was riding on the front HELD well. I was pleased with the A3_s that came OEM, but they were loud and wore fairly quickly, and I had prev exc experience with the PST 1_s, so currently it is PST2_s--my second set on the GS.
    If that is a PST2 on front...great; if it's an A3...poetic license.
    MUCH more coming
    John
    #4
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  5. Antennas

    Antennas Been here awhile

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    No that is at Gilbert's Cove just outside of Digby, towards Yarmouth. Maybe 10 minutes drive. There are lots of fun places to ride around there if you get that way. There are a few inmates around there as well.
    #5
  6. JayElDee

    JayElDee not saying what I mean

    Joined:
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    Wait...I want a drink. I just watched the Saints Panthers and internally I am still buzzing, and questioning can I write? The Macallan 12 (double cask) will likely help and it sure won't hurt! BRB.
    ahhhh, there...

    White Sands...I swear I have passed that way at least 3 times before and that road that goes by it, US 70, well, it ain't much, 4 lane median, lined by scrub, usually at the tail end of a day, and from the road White Sands looks a lot like, all together now..."White Sand." Like you see at the beach. In fact, that has been the comment when passing by.
    "There's White Sands, should we go?"
    "Oh, man, I don't know, looks like a lot of sand, you know?"
    "Yeah, but there's a LOT of it."
    "I know, but if I want to see sand I'll go to the beach."
    "yeah"
    This is where two things have happened.
    1) you're already passed it, so to visit, you'd have to turn around
    2) you've concluded, "not on this trip, maybe some 'other time'."

    This was the "Other Time" for me, and, because I stayed in Las Cruces the night before, I was hitting the area around midday, and I did not have to turn around-the most loathsome maneuver in all of motorcycling.
    I pull in, show them my "senior" all park access--the only thing about getting old that's good--and I am in. There's a lot of sand. It's white.

    Once you get in, vistas open up, it is HUGE and very white, whiter even than the combined student sections of the Williams College/ Amherst football game! Now, that's white!

    There's a Visitor's Center to explain both sand and white...I'm good. Did I go in? I really don't remember. I may have, or not. Wait, I did, because I have a sticker. I did go in.
    What concerns me is the riding condition of the loop road that goes through the Park, what's it like? Sand and big bikes have issues, sometimes; but, it is paved, until it isn't.

    And even after it is sand, it is well-packed and very rideable, until...
    there is SO MUCH WHITE, that the road is white-out conditions, hard to see any texture in the road and there are pockets here and there of potholes filled with very soft sand, so you have to be careful. Let me put this another way. For the most part, the sand was so densely packed that I had no issue with the skinny sidestand pad on the GS. You had to be wary, though.

    You can park, get out walk around and you're in what looks like a coffee table photo book of "Cool Places on Earth." Yeah. That's right.
    It was mostly overcast, so the sky was mostly some shade of grey, the sand was white and everything on the sand was some shade of grey. This is what it is like to live in Black and White world. The longer I was there, though, the more it appeared "normal." Yet, I knew I was looking at "color," but where was it? It was hard to find, though occasional a patch of blue sky, or a plastic slider, assaulted the monochrome.

    IN the end I had to tell myself, ok, you've seen enough, around the corner is more of the same, but it required a conscious thought to intervene in the visceral visual apartness of a world of white and black.
    There were a fair number of people there; some walking aimlessly--there is nothing to "aim" for, no "let's go see that!" just wrinkles, and little waves, and sharp edges of other-worldly dunes.
    I saw a couple just sitting there, staring out. We exchanged pleasantries. They were Spanish or Mexican, it was a place of unusual solitude among others experiencing something. Everyone was alone even when they were with someone. The monochrome did that, it created a personal space, a bubble, a cocoon transparent and non restrictive, assertive and tolerant.
    It was VERY cool and at that point in the ride, maybe the coolest spot I visited...maybe the whole ride, yeah, it was that impressive.

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    And it was time to leave. I have since discovered that there are other roads back into White Sands, away from the loop road, and I will explore them the next time I am near. I stayed in Alamagordo that night, and the next morning on the way out I had one of the few mechanical issues I've had on my rides...I had a screw in the rear tire. And only 23 of the 42 pounds the rear tire liked. I bought a Stop & Go Pocket Tire Plugger before this ride, and I got to use it. Worked fine and the plug lasted until I changed the tire at the end of is life--Recommended.

    Again on my way and now heading home, there was one more stop. It seemed like every 12 year old had been to Carlsbad Caverns, but somehow that iconic destination eluded me...until now.
    Yes, just as White Sands is a lot of white sand, so to is Carlsbad a big hole in the ground. A very big hole in the ground. The chambers were immense, yet I was disappointed. I was halfway expecting LSD colored pools, trippy scenes, hobbits and ogres, some underground river, all those things that are the grist of Hollywood "caves," but there was none to very little of that. What you get is a lot of beige and shades of brown, no fancy schmancy light, nothing approaching LSD, not that I would know anything about hallucinogens except what I read in the papers, no echoing drip drip drip drips into some pool that lay 100 meters below in primordial darkness, no mystic runes. A big hole.

    Ok, you got your stalagmites, and you have your stalagtites, but in the immortal words of Kurt Cobain, "here we are now; entertain us!" Not so much. I got a lot of shots and honestly? I made it look better than it was. I did not care about bat guano, wait, I DID care about bat guano, but only in the sense that it was something to avoid rather than harvest. There is a long walk that goes through the main chamber and you could do it at your leisure so it wasn't like you were in a group of 20 tourists with sketchy personal hygiene. I could do it by myself and with my own hygiene. Takes about 2-3 hours to walk the chamber and now I can say I did it. You should do it, too. See what you think.

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    I am told that bats, at dusk, come flying out of here like bats departing Gehenna, but though it was late in the afternoon, I saw none of the little cousins to Rocky the Flying Squirrel, but following this path, I went down...down...down...
    #6
  7. staticPort

    staticPort Meditrider

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    Well written, Sir! In for the duration . . .
    #7
  8. TownPump

    TownPump Been here awhile

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    Entertaining writing and spectacular photos, well done, keep 'em coming...
    #8
  9. JayElDee

    JayElDee not saying what I mean

    Joined:
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    So I left you at the gaping maw of the biggest hole in the Southwest USA, Carlsbad Caverns
    right about here:

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    It's the kind of slope that promotes duck-walking even in the elderly. Ok, maybe I am getting too personal, but I was really tempted. And who would I be kidding if I maintained that it wasn't tempting to exhibit some sort of extravagantly stupid gait? It seems to me that even though we live in the land of plenty, we are sorely deficient in styles of perambulation.

    Check out these hotties from NoKo
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    Disclaimer: Their gams may be lacking in length, and they do approach "kankles," but who can deny that they do have "style." And I quickly add, a certain "roundness" that is at least intriguing if not blatantly appealing in some maybe-jaded way. I'm not talkin' Miss Sixty round, but kinda sorta almost inflatable. If a golf ball is Nicole Kidman, then I'm talking handball, not tennis ball, a handball.
    I kind of like second row, 4th from left, let's call her Gypsy, the one with the vulnerable look-at least more vulnerable than the NoKoChik with the 3 medals (wonder what that third one is for?); they all have that stride "just right" for the hairpins of Carslbad, at least, that's what I'm thinking
    So, though Gypsy and her Noko BFFs may look a bit grim (not that there's anything wrong with that) she can be a WHOLE lot more fun in Pyongyang than say a date with Ascaris...see?

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    Gypsy cuttin' loose, NoKoStyle, after a bit of a stint at Jenny Claig.

    So, the path continues down and from the jaws I look back

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    so, dear reader, I submit that the hairpins down into Carlsbad induce thoughts of girls in uniform, and I go deeper yet

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    and deeper yet...though I processed this in a sepia tone, this is not far from the true colors

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    The interior is only rarely illuminated by natural light, but mostly by incandescent lighting, giving the beige brown look a bit of a yellow orange tinge, all serving to make a bland landscape (cavescape?) even blander. In this shot you can see the difference in lighting between outside light and inside light...

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    some more of the interior. For the camera peeps who'd want to know I shot all of these with the 16-35mm zoom, so they are all "wide" shots, some wider than others. The D700 is full frame so it is a true 16-35, ie, no "crop" factor.

    I am the Walrus (goo-goo-ga-goob)
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    There's some blue/green in the lower right, you can see what I mean about the lack of color in Carlsbad. Because of the lighting, the blandness was made worse, and I don't know what 6000K LEDs would show that the present lighting does not. Maybe not much, maybe a lot, or maybe the lighting was of that color and low intensity for the ecology of the caverns? There really wasn't anyone to ask. There were occasional rangers stationed about, always in the areas where people would tend to clot, but it seemed their function was to guide visitors. To be fair, I really didn't realize the above question until after I was home and viewing the pix. It, the blandness. was definitely noticeable while there, but my questions did not arise. Maybe someone reading this knows the answers?
    The caverns were immense, very tall and expansive. This, the part open to visitors, is but a part of the system. It is downhill, mostly, the whole way so that when you reach bottom, you will be glad there is an elevator to bring you back up. On my way down I saw no one walking back up.

    New Mexico is a great place for motorcycles. It's a big state with good roads to its natural being of obcurity, a distant corner of Man, Land of Enchantment, and though the geography is similar throughout the state, it is varied enough that it never gets boring. There are always mountains nearby, there are always endless vistas, pine forests, sand and scrub. There is always culture, mostly old, Native American, Spanish, Mexican, Catholic, Spiritual, American. It breathes and heaves a pre-Columbian feel, especially when you stop on some isolated roadside, touching the dry air rushing past, hearing crickets at first silenced by the sound of your engine, but after a few moments regaining their voice. You can smell the clean. You can see the Earth as ancients saw it. I've been here in the warmth of the summer and when it was cold, grey, threatening, snowing, and New Mexico does not change, though when there it changes be back. It always induces the same feeling in me as if I am part of something. I travel solo, because that communion is lost when not solo, and that communion is good for the soul. Solo riders know that.
    #9
  10. JayElDee

    JayElDee not saying what I mean

    Joined:
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    I cannot say Carlsbad was disappointing, it wasn't. The size of the place is pretty astounding, but there was too little to really reach out and grab you. Other caves I've visited are just more colorful, or have water features, but they are smaller, so, I don't know, on balance I'd say go, most certainly don't skip, But if you do, I hope your mileage does vary. Still, it did have a few scenes like this. Ain't that cool?

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    On the way out of the park were the ruins of an old motel complex, straight out of the 1940s it seemed. These were built at a time when places were built like this just because it was the way to build accommodations in these here parts, podnah, not because some focus group in Napierville or Reston or Santa Barbara thought it should look like this. It looks like this because it's the real thing


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    Now just a couple of days from home on this Nova Scotia shakedown ride, I am looking for places along the way...hmmmm...Sitting Bull Falls. Cannot ascertain why it is named such, and Wiki is no help. Tripadvisor warns that it has somewhat sporadic hours, and with that info, I go. I'm totally into sporadic.

    There was a beautiful little winding road to the Falls and indeed they were open. Very few people around on the day I visited, and though the Falls were kinda "thready" the swimming hole pool at the base looked very inviting.

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    The Claret Cup Cacti were in bloom

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    and the agave were thick

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    And now it was time to book it from the SE corner of New Mexico back to The Big Easy.

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    The forecast was sunny and warm the whole way back home and it was "Mission Accomplished." The snows of Angel Fire seemed a long time ago and the images of White Sands still stuck in my head, but there was one opportunity for which I detoured. It is worthwhile to note that on this crossing of Big Spring I didn't almost get killed--that's a first, and the route through LaMesa did not involve almost getting killed by Deluvian rains (see the Robert Johnson ride). It was spring in Texas Hill Country and in addition to doing 2 of the 3 Sisters on my return, 335 and 337, I also had the chance to see the bluebonnets in bloom. I found a little road, Tx 2291, south of Menard, where they were playing on the roadsides.

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    And a day later or so, I was home.

    What started out as a shakedown ride, turned into a ride with it's own personality, but New Mexico does that. Still, I got out of it what I wanted regarding kicking out the jams for a big ride, and for lagnaippe, some exciting riding and beautiful countrysides.

    When I get home it takes a few days for the experience of the trip to start sinking in. And over the next week or so it did. The idea that this was prologue to a bigger ride gave me a bit of pause, because New Mexico is a chip shot, as mentioned earlier, because I am familiar with what the state offers for the rider, and I am comfortable with that.
    The Maritimes are a different story and now was the time to change the mindset from coming down from a good ride to gearing up for an epic one.

    Ingonish, Halifax, Peggy's Cove, Yarmouth, Meat Cove, all just names in ride reports, dots on a map, but soon to be much more. And I was going up the entire eastern USA, and back down again...to me, that's a big a$$ deal.

    Bring it on.
    #10
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  11. B10Dave

    B10Dave Long timer

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    Waiting impatiently for the "BIG ONE". Really liked the shakedown cruise.
    #11
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  12. JayElDee

    JayElDee not saying what I mean

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    That's what she said, and it's coming (that's what I said)...I'll start it in the next day or so
    #12
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  13. Animal Instinct

    Animal Instinct Long timer

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    Really enjoyed this one. :clap

    ...and, by the way, it appears that master Brees has hit his stride at a most appropriate time once again!

    NM is such a wonderland -- if one is willing to tread the less beaten path.

    Warm regards,

    Scott
    #13
  14. metalwrath

    metalwrath Adventurer

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    You're a great storyteller, definitely looking forward to your thoughts on the east coast. It's a beautiful place full of wonderful people, I wish you well on your journey, I'd go back again in a heartbeat.
    #14
  15. chudzikb

    chudzikb Been here awhile

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    Were you serious about the elevator at the bottom of the cavern? That would be great, but, my wife would make me walk back out up hill, while chastising me for being slow!
    #15
  16. JayElDee

    JayElDee not saying what I mean

    Joined:
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    yes, an elevator...it's a long walk back! Uphill.

    I will start on the NS report today or tomorrow...that ride is done. Thanks, all for the nice words! Appreciated a lot.

    OT: Brees is amazing (and a Texas boy, but you probably know that) Everyone realizes how special it is to watch a Hall of Fame QB play every week! The Brady people and the Rodgers people know the feeling, I'd guess. However, I fear they've met more than their match with the Vikings. Carolina was tough, esp on the third time, but they were able to shut down the run. Of course that opens up Brees and the receivers...pick your poison, seems though that the Vikings have the antidote for whatever poison the Saints administer. I think if they get by the Vikings, they get to the Big Dance. INteresting that NOLa is pulling for the Falcons this weekend against the Eagles. If ATL prevails, and the Saints win, Saints Falcons, for the third time this year, will be played in the Superdome for the NFC championship. The city will be rocking---and that's quite an experience.
    Geaux Saints and Who Dat!
    #16
    RevyRider likes this.
  17. chudzikb

    chudzikb Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2016
    Oddometer:
    733
    Uhhh...yeah, we eagles fans did have an excellent quarterback, not so much anymore. I do not have a lot of hope.
    #17
  18. JayElDee

    JayElDee not saying what I mean

    Joined:
    May 2, 2007
    Oddometer:
    921
    Location:
    The City that Care Forgot
    Of course, ATL is the BIG rival for the Saints, and personally, I've liked the Eagles and Philly. #2 daughter graduated from PENN, so we had many enjoyable visits, and some memorable meals. Still the appeal of a Saints Falcons Championship game in the Dome is too good to fathom!
    #18
  19. PsammonOfDoubt

    PsammonOfDoubt Adventurer

    Joined:
    May 11, 2010
    Oddometer:
    80
    Location:
    Illinois
    great narrative & pics
    #19
    JayElDee likes this.
  20. JayElDee

    JayElDee not saying what I mean

    Joined:
    May 2, 2007
    Oddometer:
    921
    Location:
    The City that Care Forgot
    Rides are exhausting, no one ever tells you that, right? But, they are challenges physically. I can see how some would say they can be challenges mentally also, but, not so much for me. Not because of any particular trait I may have, but, maybe I’ve just been lucky. Or, more likely there is a mindset that riders get into, especially solo riders, that you prepare yourself as best you can, and for the rest there is VISA, and for the rest, it’s you and your gods.

    I had a patient once, and as I was leaving her pre-op room I just said good luck, as sort of a throwaway comment, but of course meaning it.
    She was an elderly African American lady. I talk freely to my patients, I am myself, I don’t talk like I am playing some role, I am just me. Likewise, she was ‘just her.” As I dished, she gave it back. It was a banter back and forth of an interview, patient rapport out the wazoo, you learn to read that after a few decades. Anyway, I said “Good Luck,” and she shot back, “Luck! Luck? I don’t want no luck, I want you to be ready for me! I don’t want no luck!” I knew what she meant, and I laughed, turned around and enumerated the steps I had taken to prepare for her case and what I still had to do after talking with her, added that I didn’t want any BAD luck. She agreed, was satisfied and told me that old adage, “Luck favors the prepared,” or her version of it. I often tell that story and I always think of that lady whenever I hear the word “luck.”

    Luck favors the prepared
    There is so much planning involved for a long ride that by the time you’re into it, things often fall into place or they don’t, but the prep period has given you the flexibility for a plan B, a plan C without compromising the ride itself. I’ve ridden into Plan D at times, like in my Robert Johnson ride, and with the potential for snow on the New Mexico ride.

    You may not wind up where you thought you’d be, but you have an adventure.That’s what sinks in, deeply. That’s what drives you forward and gets you thinking about what’s next. Yet, there are those riders who deny planning; they throw some things in the panniers and go. Not sure if I believe them, but that’s what they claim. I just can’t do that. I don’t want surprises; it’s dangerous enough, you know? We take chances when we ride; we cannot remain upright without depending on physics. Where to draw the line between OCD and adequate? You find your place, your comfort zone, and after a while, you can base it on that sometimes lying mistress, “Experience.”

    So, for the previous 4 months or so, I have been looking at and “planning” a ride to a bucket list item, the Cabot Trail in Nova Scotia. That’s quite a haul from New Orleans. I figured it would be north of 6000 miles; turns out 6060 according to the odometer, but who’s counting, right? It is what it is.
    During hurricane season spiced the ride a bit.

    Riding from the Gulf of Mexico to Deadmans Pond of the Cabot Strait is a pretty big chunk of a ride.



    here to here

    [​IMG]

    This was as the crow flies, but no crow would fly this. As far as I know crows have no sense of adventure, or as Darwin might say, "adventure gets you extinct." So, to mitigate the concerns of the more worrisome and, it turns out, extant crows, a more circuitous route was planned, carefully plotted out on BaseCamp, imported to my Garmin 665,

    (ASIDE: The 665, as it turns out, did not believe I really wanted to go THAT way, so recalculated the route to include as many interstates as it could imagine. I hate Garmin and their arrogant attitude to users, and their suggestions, and their arcane user interface-set in stone-- and their counter-intuitive Basecamp. In the motorcycling world, if there is an award for User Hostility, Garmin would win every year. They have NO competition in the category of Motorcycle Accessories. Every motorcycle accessory company is better. They don't just re-invent the wheel, they turn a wheel into a polygon that "rolls" very poorly and with lots of effort.
    With no rhyme or reason that I could determine, some routes were left intact, but so many were recalculated, that its usage was severely, if not fatally, curtailed. I am not a piker with the device, thought I did everything right, and it still didn't believe me and tried to subvert. Fortunately I learned this early on, and had paper maps with me, a necessity with or without a "garmin." God, they're awful. I know there are supporters out there and those who will tell me this and that about their software engineers, and arcane reasons why they do what they do, but I pray to St Jude (the patron saint of hopeless causes) that SOMEDAY Google or Apple or Samsung or Motorola or LG will market their own GPS, or have a real GPS mode on their phones, that does not depend on offline loading of maps or cellular contact, IOW something to give riders a choice to ditch garmin.

    Riders would FLOCK to it. Sorry for the rant, but that's how the actual ride started...Day One I discovered that---I will add that when I loaded the routes onto the 665, they looked fine. It was when on the road that the recalculation happened. WTF!)




    Back to the preps, though
    …This was a big deal for me, maybe my second longest by mileage and longest by time away and going solo as I heard the other day, 68% of riders prefer. I didn’t know if I could do it, the logistics were a bit complicated compared to riding west. The weather was dicey: Four words: Harvey, Irma, Jose, Maria, no five words, Nate. All those were messing with me and my ride. I needed Luck to make this and not be turned around by Mudda Naytcha, who cares for neither Luck nor Preparations.

    So, what’d I do?
    I prepared as if I was going, doing the whole BIG thing, but the whole time I was thinking it could be a foolish endeavor…still, I had the time, the will, the preparation. Even within the last week before departure, I wasn’t sure. It could be a once in a lifetime ride. Half full half empty. Half is better than none, though.

    Ultimately I just rolled the dice, said screw it, I going and if I do it, great; and if I don’t, whatever! I’ll be out on the road on my bike, dealing with either bona fortuna or trying to make chicken salad out of a sow’s ear. If I have to turn around and head back, I’ll take that risk.

    The Storms...They had the resolve of a Tomahawk missle to thwart the passage of a Racing Red GS. They were all at least paralleling my route and were at the same time. I usually ridicule the Cone of Uncertainty, calling it the Cone of Hyperbole, but this time I had to take note.

    This was Jose
    [​IMG]
    But Irma and Maria had roughly the same trajectory, and with minimal changes to the west, I'd be dealing with Green or more worser, yellow. And they had Nova Scotia in the crosshairs. That gave me pause.

    The one that was a bit different was Nate, which seemed to know my route perfectly, and which I dealt with on the way back

    [​IMG]

    I did Nate, and some of Maria as it turned out. I got wet. I rode through a lot of rain, but fortunately the good was far more common. Nothing turned me around though Nate delayed me a day in Roanoke, and I could use a day off the bike. So, I managed to do ALL of the ride I prepped for. It was a great ride, and that is what's on the way.
    This is the actual route I did (from SPOT).

    [​IMG]

    The report is in the mail! Ginmme a day or so, k? There are a few games I'd like to see.
    (who dat!)
    #20