"I've Been Everywhere, Man" Living the song on two wheels.

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by swedstal, Jun 5, 2017.

  1. swedstal

    swedstal Open heart, open mind, open can of beans

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    Friday, July 19th

    There is some excellent riding in the hill country of Texas and I tried to plan my route to drink in as much of it as I could.

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    The surfaces were a bit rough and unpredictable, which slowed me down a little bit, but is was wonderful riding.

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    Speaking of riding, in one of the towns I passed through, I had an unfortunate interaction with a truck. He rolled right through a stop sign.

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    I’ve had hundreds of these types of experiences on my journey, but now that I have the dash cam, I can capture them.

    This illustrates a central point to riding a motorcycle: It is not enough to not make mistakes. An average rider never makes mistakes. A good rider puts him/herself in a good position to react to other driver’s mistakes. A great rider anticipates other driver’s mistakes and adjusts before the mistake has even been made.

    I knew I was blocked from the driver’s view by the frame of the truck. If he had come to a stop, he would have seen me, but instead he rolled on through. I was on the brakes almost as soon as the truck came into view, so it was a non-issue. Still, it was a good reminder of how quickly things can turn dangerous on two wheels.

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    The town of Lamesa, TX had free camping in their city park, which was much appreciated. I had a productive evening of writing and a sufficient amount of sleep.
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  2. swedstal

    swedstal Open heart, open mind, open can of beans

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    Saturday, July 20th

    Amarillo day!

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    Amarillo (which means “yellow” in Spanish), would be place 80 of 92. It is pronounced in a very Texas way, rhyming with armadillo. This presents challenges when singing the song as it is supposed to rhyme with Spanish-pronounced places at the end of verse 1. (Tocopilla, Chile; Barranquilla, Colombia; Padilla, Colombia)

    Despite the questionable pronunciation, I was really looking forward to visiting this city. I knew I was going to have a good time.

    On the way, I stopped by Lubbock which is home to the Texas Tech Red Raiders. This is where current Kansas City Chiefs quarterback, Patrick Mahomes, went to school. It was worth stopping for a picture.

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    I think the only times I’ve put on my sweatshirt during the last six weeks have been for photo ops.

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    I stopped at a gas station to do a little writing. Once again, I made the mistake of leaving Annie unattended in the state of Texas. The people down here just can’t seem to leave her alone. This was tucked beneath my tank bag:

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    Finding something like this was really moving for me, mostly because the defacing of our beloved currency just breaks my heart. :-)

    Before reaching the city of Amarillo, there was a natural wonder in the vicinity to visit: Palo Duro Canyon. The canyon is the second largest in the US (behind the Grand Canyon), measured by volume. As if that wasn’t enough to get me excited, I would also have a tour guide/photographer/IT professional: My friend from Lawton, OK, Manoj (aka @interceptor1972 ), rode over with his BMW, Gerda Sue, for the day. Once again, our schedules just matched up perfectly.

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    Amarillo lies between Manoj and the mountains, so he had been through here numerous times. We rode down into the canyon and started seeing the sights.

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    For those of you who ever have the good fortune to do some riding with Manoj, I have a helpful tip for you. If he asks if you want a cold bottle of water, just say yes. He’s going to buy you one regardless of your response. :-) He also bought me a little Amarillo pin for my tank bag. He’s a really generous guy.

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    He took me around to some of the highlights of the canyon, including this neat cave.

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    It was 104 degrees F (40 C) down in the canyon, so it was not a good day for hiking. I was wanting to take the trail to the Lighthouse Rock, but I decided to postpone that.
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  3. swedstal

    swedstal Open heart, open mind, open can of beans

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    We left the park and headed over to the west side of Amarillo to visit the Cadillac Ranch.

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    This sculpture is ten buried Cadillacs that tourists cover with spray paint.

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    It was my first time working with the medium and there was about a 20 mph cross-wind, but I still tried painting a portrait of Annie.

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    I don’t know if I quite understood what makes this place special. It seems a little “low effort” in comparison to Nebraska’s Carhenge, which meticulously recreates the layout of Stonehenge with 38 cars. Perhaps anything unique along Route 66 instantly becomes a tourist attraction.

    When Manoj and I returned to our bikes, we found a Harley parked next to us. As we were loading up its rider, AJ, walked up. He is from The Netherlands and had rented the bike for a tour around the US. We connected right away. Manoj had lived in The Netherlands for a few years and some of my ancestors emigrated from there. AJ had even done some work in Stedum, a tiny little town where my great-great-great Grandparents were from.

    We invited him to come along to our next stop, The Big Texan restaurant. Along the way, Manoj took my picture next to an Amarillo sign.

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    I believe that it was here that the sole of Manoj’s boot came detached. It was not cold this day.

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    The Big Texan is a must-do Amarillo experience. All along I-40 there are billboards advertising a “free 72 oz. steak.” (72 oz. is 4 1/2 pounds, or a little over 2kg) There’s a catch of course. You have to eat the whole thing within an hour, along with a whole host of sides. If you fail to consume everything, the meal costs $72. Additionally, it is required that you sit down in front of everyone on the stage.

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    I never really considered doing the challenge. I am a slow eater and I know I wouldn’t have the capacity to fit it all in. However, AJ decided that he was going to give it a shot. He had done a 1 kg (2.2 pounds) steak challenge in Australia without too much trouble. He signed the waiver, took a seat on the stage and started his challenge.

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    It was fun to have someone to cheer for. Manoj and I both ate our meals in leisure as AJ worked away.

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    He was cutting and chewing consistently throughout the whole hour, but ended up 15 oz short of finishing his steak. It was a valiant effort though and we enjoyed cheering him on. Manoj paid for my meal which was an unexpected bonus. I’m sure my buffalo burger would have tasted even better if I knew it was free while I was eating it.

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    AJ loaded up his leftovers on the back of his Harley and became the first person to sign Annie in Frisian.

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    Manoj took some photos of Annie and I in front of the restaurant. I believe this will probably be the official “Amarillo” image. Though their vegetarian menu is a bit lacking, The Big Texan is a really neat place.

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    It was great to meet up with Manoj again. I definitely made him late for his ride home, but thankfully he made it home without incident. I hope to ride with you again soon, my friend! Also, thanks for sharing the great pictures. It is always fun to see a different perspective.
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  4. swedstal

    swedstal Open heart, open mind, open can of beans

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    I only had about an hour left of daylight to find a place to camp. It is always a challenge to find a good spot when on The Plains. Most regions have some “wasted space” around mountains, forests or even swamps. But when there is flat, fertile farmland, it all seems to get utilized. There was free overnight parking at the visitor’s center, but as is usually the case, tents don’t quality. I’m often a bit envious of rigs like this.

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    I had asked about a backcountry camping permit in the Palo Duro canyon, but they’ve stopped issuing these due to issues with feral pigs. This might sound a bit comical, but pigs are one of the animals that I’d rather not tussle with.

    I made the decision to take a 40 min ride out of town to a picnic site overlooking the canyon. I made it just as daylight was fading and took time to snap a quick panorama.

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    A couple on a Harley pulled up to watch the sunset and warned me about camping there due to the pig issue.

    “I hope you at least have a gun or something.”

    “Nope! But I’ve got Jesus!”

    In my haste to set up, I had gotten turned in directions and ended up setting the wide side of my tent into the wind. There were strong gusts threatening to rip it apart, so I eventually had to get out and rotate 90 degrees. After recalibrating the feng shui within my tent, it was already midnight.



    Sunday, July 21st

    At 12:30, a family with some dogs came to make some racket for about an hour. The wind kept whipping and I just couldn’t get to sleep. By the time the sun came up, I probably had about an hour and a half or two hours of shut-eye. I could still appreciate the beauty of the spot though and was thankful that my evening had been sans swine.

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    I rode back towards Amarillo, passing through some more scenic canyon formations.

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    I rode up and down the main streets of Amarillo, rather aimlessly. It was a sleepy Sunday morning and not much was happening. There was some activity along the restored stretch of Route 66 towards the west side of town.

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    I tried to drink some coffee and get some writing done, but it soon became clear that I wasn’t going to get much done this day. I was just a bit too short on rest. I did make it to the visitor’s center and had a great conversation with the ladies there. They were very helpful and gave me a good idea of what else I needed to see in Amarillo.

    In the early afternoon, I finally bit the bullet. During my journey, I’ve spent about a year traveling in North America. Throughout all of these nights, I had only spent $139 on lodging and had never paid for a hotel. This day, that impressive streak would come to an end.

    Part of me would have loved to end my journey with this streak intact, but it was the right move to pay for lodging this time. Sleep is so vital to my safety, productivity and health. Another short night could have set me back further. My hotel was only $40, so our budget will survive. I’m just not sure about my ego.

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  5. swedstal

    swedstal Open heart, open mind, open can of beans

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    Monday, July 22nd

    I pushed the boundaries of both the check-in and check-out times, spending about 20 consecutive hours in bed. I had a nice mix of sleep, writing and relaxing and felt ready but put a bow on my Amarillo experience.

    The temperatures were milder this day, so it was the perfect time to take the hiking trail to the Lighthouse Rock in Palo Duro Canyon.

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    The hike is about six miles round trip and can be very difficult when the heat is intense. At the trail head, they recommend a gallon of water per person, but I figured the 2L in my tank bag/backpack would be sufficient. Using this hydration pack on Annie’s frunk lid has worked out very conveniently, but she sure looks funny when it is removed. Why are there no signatures there?

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    The hike was wonderful!

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    It is such an interesting and unique formation.

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    On the way back to Amarillo, I stopped by the “Amarillo Legs.”

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    They were built as an homage to the Ozymandias sonnets.

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  6. swedstal

    swedstal Open heart, open mind, open can of beans

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    I had one more thing…or things, rather…that I wanted to see in Amarillo: The Dynamite Museum. All around Amarillo, there are scores of fake road signs. They are normally just placed in someone’s yard and display random messages in random places.

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    There are more than a thousand of them in the city, but there doesn’t seem to be any reliable map for where to find them. The ladies at the visitor’s center had circled some areas for exploration, so I spent about an hour just hunting.

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    Honestly, I just loved this. I could have spent all day just hunting for these signs. Finding each one was so rewarding. It would be a fun journey to travel all the streets of Amarillo trying to catalog and map each one.

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    In a way, these signs were a fitting way to punctuate my experience in Amarillo. It is truly a unique place. It doesn’t really feel like a Texas city, it doesn’t really feel like a city of The Plains, it doesn’t really feel like a big city, it doesn’t really feel like a small city. It just feels like Amarillo.

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    Texas sure treated me well. Despite the time I spent in the state, I’m still not sure I truly “get” it. Any place so large and so full of attitude surely takes more than a couple of weeks to comprehend. Perhaps completing the Texas version of “I’ve Been Everywhere” would help me get a better feel for the state. That feat has already been done on a motorcycle:



    (Side note: Does anyone know if this guy is an ADV'r? I would love to give him credit for this trip!)

    Perhaps this version could be in my future, but I feel no obligation to complete versions which deviate from Geoff Mack’s original rhyming scheme.

    Keep it…

    A A A B

    C C C B

    …, everybody

    12 to go!

    BA
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  7. swedstal

    swedstal Open heart, open mind, open can of beans

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    Realtime update: Phew…lots of info in that one. I’m only about a post and a half behind now. The Anderson Colorado reunion was a smashing success and I am currently staying with my brother in law’s family in Denver. I kind of thought Colorado might be done by now, but I still haven’t even planned it all out. I will probably be in the state for at least a few more days before moving on to Utah. As always, thanks for coming along! I'm hoping it will work out to connect with some of you while I am in CO!
  8. interceptor1972

    interceptor1972 Been here awhile

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    Brett, it was truly a pleasure to meet up with you again in Amarillo! Glad you were able to do the Lighthouse Rock trail in relatively better temps than we experienced that Saturday!! I'm yet to glue the sole of my boots back on!!!
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    Gerda Sue definitely enjoyed hanging out with Annie!!
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    Can't wait to see the rest of your trip going forward! I'm hoping to make a short weekend trip to Colorado before it gets too cold there. So if you happen to still be in the state, there's a possibility we might run into each other again!! Ride safe and enjoy the freedom!

    PS. AJ made it safely back to California!!
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  9. DCrider

    DCrider Live from THE Hill

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    Stop swining :wink: about your ego, getting a hotel was the smart choice :thumb
  10. WYO George

    WYO George witness protection file #7236

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    Wow... a hotel dweller....definitely not an adventurous kinda guy. I’m afraid I must resign from the “everywhere man” board of directors and try hard to move on with my life.

    It’s no wonder you tried to skip the real Glenrock early in your trip.
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  11. rider1150gsadv

    rider1150gsadv Long timer

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    What a wuss going in a hotel,.... once a year.....:photog:lol3
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  12. Mofrid

    Mofrid Been here awhile

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    Are you getting ... chubby?

    Dare I say?
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  13. MizzouRider

    MizzouRider Long timer Supporter

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    Really a hotel? Really? :fpalm I’m so disappointed.


    Ha! It’s every third night for me while on the road. I know when I stink bad enough I can make my own eyes water, it’s time to check in.
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  14. mpenner

    mpenner Heavy Cruiser

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    There is a picture of an ADV sticker at 3:21 as part of the closing credits
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  15. derblauereiter

    derblauereiter Mostly made of cheese Supporter

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    Is there a thread on inmates or somewhere where you can post photos and see if anyone can identify the inmate? That’d be a good thread (or a light invasion of privacy).
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  16. swedstal

    swedstal Open heart, open mind, open can of beans

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    That's fine, but I'm sure you are aware that the bylaws stipulate that doing so means that you owe the everywhere man foundation $100,000. Yes, we accept visa and high fives.

    What do you expect! Have you see how people have been feeding me! I'm 185 right now. Definitely the highest of the trip. Until I see a dip in my gas mileage, I'm not too worried.

    Yeah, that's what made me think he must be around here. :hmmmmm

    I wouldn't like that because everyone would be able to identify Annie, but I'm sure no one would know who I am. :lol3
  17. swedstal

    swedstal Open heart, open mind, open can of beans

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    Stair-ing Down New Mexico

    Monday, July 22nd, 2019

    Amarillo, Texas, USA



    After completing my visit to Amarillo, I decided that I was going to depart from the theme of going to each place in the song. Instead I decided to head towards whatever town I saw next on the top of a building.

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    Hmmm…that was convenient.

    It was time to head west into New Mexico, where I would set my sights on song place 81 of 92, Santa Fe.

    Route for the day:

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    I was a little low on daylight, so I was mostly on the interstate. Soon, I reached the border and entered the 44th (I think) state of my trip.

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    The little town of San Jon offered free camping in its city park. They even had a bathroom with running water. Joy of joys! It is apparent that this community had been hurt by Route 66 being replaced by I-40. Though the roads are less than a mile apart, many towns like this do not see the amount of traffic that they used to.

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    Despite this, it is obviously a very generous community to offer a safe, clean place to stay for travelers like myself. Thank you, San Jon!

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    Tuesday, July 23rd

    I woke up feeling awesome. I just felt like something wonderful was going to happen this day. I would be heading towards Santa Fe, one of the song places I was most looking forward to.

    Just like Bilbo, I was ready to gain some elevation.



    Don’t get me wrong, I love The Plains. There is nowhere more peaceful and predictable in the world. But after so many sweaty nights in the tent, I was eagerly anticipating some cool nights up in the Rockies.

    Route for the day:

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    I was determined to spend as much time on old Route 66 as I could. This is sort of difficult in New Mexico, as a lot of the original road was swallowed up by I-40. Trying to stay on the original road leads to a lot of dead ends and interesting tunnels.

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    Tucamcari, NM is at an interesting point in its history. Half of the motels are abandoned and grown over.

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    The other half have been well maintained and cared for.

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    At one of the classic service stations:

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    I found some nice riding on the road through Villanueva, almost feeling like I was in actual Mexico in the little mountain towns.

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  18. swedstal

    swedstal Open heart, open mind, open can of beans

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    At a tourist trap called the Flying C Ranch, I met some really nice people, including this guy named Norm.

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    He had staked out Annie, waiting for my return, as I vacillated back and forth in my decision about buying the buffalo head on the wall. I think I had room in the trunk.

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    Norm told me about a couple of spontaneous meetings he has had with a legendary rider named Panhead Billy. His travels make my journey seem like a trip to the grocery store.



    Does anyone here have a Panhead Billy story?

    Upon reaching Santa Fe, my discipline was tested. I really wanted to begin seeing the sights, but instead headed to a library to work for a few hours. I did make it downtown in the evening, in time to catch some live music in the city square.

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    The guy above was playing jazz harp, something I had never heard before. I inspected a little closer and could see that his harp was not chromatic. He had removed some of the strings for easier chording with his left hand. It was really neat.

    I stayed for as long as I could before heading out to a free camping area in Santa Fe National Forest. The sunset over the mountains was beautiful and I had to stop to get this unique picture:

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    This is actually looking due north, which is puzzling. I’m not sure how the light reflected like that.

    The “forest” was just some scrubby little trees growing out of the sand.

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    Other than the choruses of coyotes in the distance, I had a very peaceful night.
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  19. swedstal

    swedstal Open heart, open mind, open can of beans

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    Wednesday, July 24th

    I debated leaving my tent staked where it was, but decided to load everything up just to be safe. I rode into town and began my Santa Fe adventure. I stopped in the visitors center and they gave me some ideas for iconic pictures. From there I went on to the state capitol.

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    Every wall is plastered with art, making it feel much less institutional than other state buildings. My favorite piece was this buffalo head sculpture:

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    It is comprised mostly of junk, including old paint brushes and a plastic spoon on the eye.

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    One of the most notable things about Santa Fe is its age. Depending on the source, it is the second or third oldest city in the United States. I find this fact especially fascinating, given how far it is from any ocean.

    Near the capitol, I visited the oldest house in the US and the San Miguel Church which dates to the early 1600s. It is in surprisingly good condition, save for the leaning rafters.

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    I returned to the city square and spent some time admiring the Palace of the Governors. This adobe building long served as the seat of government for New Mexico and is the oldest continuously occupied public building in the US.

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    As they have for centuries, local artisans still display their wares underneath this building’s canopy.

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    This region is known for its beautiful turquoise stones. My parents, on their Route 66 trip, bought me a nice keychain here which has been with me for my entire trip.

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  20. swedstal

    swedstal Open heart, open mind, open can of beans

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    Next on my agenda was the Loretto Chapel.

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    Inside this chapel is an incredibly mysterious, alluring structure: The Loretto Chapel spiral staircase. It is a double-helix structure which has no center support, like traditional spiral staircases.

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    According to the story, the nuns of this chapel had been using a ladder to reach their choir loft. They’d prayed that God would send someone to build them a staircase. Around 1880, a stranger appeared and offered to build them one, requesting only tubs of water and complete privacy while he worked. He disappeared upon completion, receiving no compensation for his work.

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    The Sisters of Loretto believed that they had experienced a miracle and the staircase has maintained its mystique for well over a century. Of course, there have also been many skeptics eager to dispel divine explanations for its construction. This little staircase has been the source of many debates.



    A (hopefully) brief rant:

    Committed consumers of this quality publication will already know that I am both a man of science and a man of faith. Maybe it’s just because I’m not smart enough to realize it, but I’ve never felt any conflict between these elements of my personality.

    The raging debate on this staircase highlights some of my frustration with modern popular science. It seems many experiments are conducted with the goal being to support a belief one already holds, rather than letting the data inform one’s beliefs. If someone really wants to prove that chocolate is a health food, they can probably massage their data to do so.

    In terms of the staircase, it seems that People of Faith want its construction to remain mysterious. Without a scientific answer, divine inspiration is the solution. This attitude leads to an under appreciation for the master craftsmanship on display. Additionally, it must be noted that the chapel is now privately owned and charges admission. Were the staircase “solved,” they could expect the number of visitors to decline.

    On the other hand, People of Science seem solely interested in disproving any supernatural influence in this staircase’s construction. Their attitude seems to be that small-minded believers have been fooled and they are going to use science to prove their own mental superiority. Coming from this sort of motivation, quality science is almost impossible.

    All that said, I’d like to offer my humble observations. I hope I will be able to combine the most offensive qualities of both camps. :-)

    (end rant)



    Firstly, it must be noted that the initial structure did not have any guard rails, nor connections to the wall or adjacent pillar. These were added in 1887, which changed the staircase both structurally and aesthetically. Sadly, this makes it impossible to analyze the structure as it was initially built. Also, it looked way cooler without the guard rails:

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    The stringers (the pieces of wood to which the stairs are attached) are constructed amazingly. The inner stringer consists of seven pieces of wood and the outer is made up of nine. The pieces were joined with only pegs and glue. The seams are nearly invisible.

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    To my amateur eye, I believe something important happens at the base of the stairs. The inner stringer is widened, allowing it to support a greater range of the structure’s weight. This feature is the only departure from a true double helix design.

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    There are a few other spiral staircases in the world which are supported solely by their stringers, but none are nearly as dramatic as this one. Part of me wonders that if someone was capable of building something like this, wouldn’t it be expected to find other similar structures around? If this was his first attempt at a staircase like this, it makes the feat even more impressive.

    It would be very interesting to see if a group of carpenters would undertake a project to build a full scale replica of the staircase, limiting themselves to period-correct tools. That might be the best experiment possible to provide concrete answers to its construction.

    Ultimately, I don’t really care about whether the origin of this spectacle is “proven” or not. When one gets caught up in over-analysis, its easy to lose perspective on the one thing that everyone can agree on: This thing is pretty neat. The best thing to do on a visit here is to just enjoy it. If you are a person of faith, admire the divine inspiration. If you are a person of science, marvel at the expert craftsmanship. If you are both, write a really confusing, indulgent post about it. :lol3



    Nothing too interesting happened the remainder of the day. I scouted out some potential picture locations for the next morning and listened to some more live music in the town square. I had lots of nice conversations with other tourists who were in town, but there weren’t really any native Santa Fe’ans who seemed too interested in my story. They might just be used to weird people showing up in their town.

    I set up my tent in the National Forest again and had another good night. The cool mountain air was doing me well.
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