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Santa Fe, NM to Truth or Consequences, NM – Warm Weather!

November 5, 2007

We ended up staying a couple more nights in Santa Fe at a Hostel realizing we had more things to take care of before leaving the U.S. and Santa Fe was a good spot to do them.  We shipped 9 pounds of stuff home we had been carrying on the trip and never used!  We got and  ordered more gear, got immunizations including Typhoid Fever and Yellow Fevor and all the Maleria medication we will need for Central and South America and met interesting people staying at the Hostel! (Ask us sometime and we’ll tell you more!)

We finally left Santa Fe Sunday, October 28th around noon!  Just as we were leaving town, we saw a long stream of Harley Davidson motorcycles being escorted down the main Highway in a “Toys For Tots” Christmas run.  Pat saw one motorcycle with a side cart and reminded Ralph that is how she originally had wanted to travel from Alaska to the tip of S. America (Pat driving, Ralph in side car)! 

We headed mostly downhill for 10-15 miles, then through rolling hills with Utah-like rock formations, then climbed up into the cedar and sage covered hills to a campground near the small community of Cedar Crest.  It now gets dark at 6:30,  the birds chirp in the tress and the coyotes howl at night. (We sure love being back in the warm climate!)  Ralph made Chicken-Peanut Curry for dinner – yum!)

The next day we rolled along on a deserted highway south to Manzano and camped on Forest service land, under huge Ponderosas , then moved on to the town of Mountainair.  There we found a great campground east of town with laundry, showers, internet, camping and a continental breakfast all for only $10 a night!   Before leaving town Ralph had to fix 2 more holes in his tire, (he had 4 flats while riding around Santa Fe), so decided it was time to change out the Continental tire to a Schwalbe with more tread! (No flats since!) 

At the campground, we met Gene, a man with artificial legs running across America, (He had been injured in Vietnam in the 60’s)!  His wife, Alicia is driving the support vehicle.  Just when we thought we were doing something amazing – we meet someone with even more determination to do an amazing feat!  It sure gives us encouragement to keep going, keep on running Gene!

We headed west and toured some ruins of a Pueblo and Spanish Mission, then took  gravel and dirt backroads southwest from there.  As it was starting to get dark (we were biking faster and faster to find a place on BLM land to camp amoung the cactus, juniper and yucca plants), we came to a sign on a side road that read, “White Sands Missile Range, No Trespassing, Government property”.   We had visions of being watched on survelance cameras by the U.S. Military while we wandered around in the desert!  Sorta scary! – but we biked on another couple miles and found a great spot for the tent tucked behind 3 large juniper trees to block us from the wind we had at us all day!  (This was ironically Halloween night, with the wind blowing hard and the missile site as our neighbor, we prayed there would be no trick or treaters!!!!)

The next day we continued on dirt and gravel backroads through ranchland, at one point we came upon a corral and the cows were spooked by us, came running out of the corral in all directions, with one coming full-speed toward Pat.  She screamed and turned  just in time to miss a head on collision with the cow!  That night we got to Socorro and stayed at a motel, then headed south on Highway 1, putting on 80 miles to Truth or Consequences.  (Remember the radio show- it was broadcast from here on April Fools day, 1950; so this town voted to change its name from Hotsprings to “T or C”.  (Truthfully, there are consequently hotsprings bubbling up all over this town, so we are soaking it up!) 

We found a nice RV park on a hill overlooking town and camped here 3 nights so far.  We’ve met neighbors all from different parts of the U.S. that come here each winter and live in their motorhomes.  They have all shared their interesting life stories, as one guy said, “Enjoy your adventure, life is short, so live it fast!  I wish I could do what you’re doing, but I’m too old!”   We keep meeting people that go through their life and then touch our lives and add enrichment to our journey, life is full of great characters!

Next, we will head west and rejoin the Great Divide Route once again as it heads to Silver City, NM!

Bikin’ On — Ralph & Pat

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4 comments

  1. Hope this reaches you- biking must be getting easier as you are able to write more and we love hearing the stories. We read about you in the Salida newspaper. We went there for our birthdays (thanks for the birthday post card) and soaked in hot springs.

    Don’t think we’ll make it to Cabo in Dec. as the ski company will be keeping me busy. Judy and Dennis are at Lake Powell right now.. Thane is starting the Messiah practices.

    Bike on-Betsy- P.S. I bought some K2 Burnin Luvs for super cheap and am now hoping for snow.


  2. Hi guys: love your blog. Thanks for all the advice given in Steamboat, I rode some awesome routes in Colorado, around Frisco, Aspen, Ouray etc. Also ordered a Montbel jacket! Currently in San Diego prior to going back to London later this month. Will be back in US in January, going to Mexico about 7th. Hope we can intersect somewhere south of here
    Cheers
    David


  3. Haven’t heard from them in several days. Phones not communicating. When I finally get Ralph’s messages while gassing the motorcycle I hurriedly grab for some taillight packaging in the gas pump trash and take notes. Several gasses later, still heading north, a hunter asks: “Do you need some help? You look lost.” No, well, yes, I’m looking for Cedar lake, I’m meeting some bicyclers there. Never heard of it, (its not on my map) sure you don’t mean Seely Lake? Oh, he mentioned that too. His directios take me through frigid night air and fog on a backroad shortcut….somehow I ‘KNOW’ they’re there. Finding a campground near the lake I say to myself, “they are in here”. The gate is locked after 10 pm, motels are closed, big fire in the area, go to empty campground north of town, cook, eat, and take a soup pot shower in my motorcycle caboose. Its 3am! Rise, call Ralph from an earlier connection on my phone, gets his voice mail, finally, leave msg., omelet and coffee ready, toast on the burner, phone sings, its Ralph, “We are in that campground”. What are the chances of that?!

    Ten minutes later Ralph speeds in on his bike under 85 lbs. of bags. How did you know we were here? I just KNEW! While strapping on my panniers he disassembles my deodorant, places the stink plug in the cap, cans the rest and puts business end in a ziplock, cool, trail tricks. We stage from the laundromat, take motorcycle to shop adjacent for tires and misc. while I’m gone, takes care of storage problem. We buy a gazetteer, tear out maps we need, can the rest and ride south, simple!

    Get my legs, (they already have theirs and the some),


  4. Mark’s comments (cont.), learn about bear bells, butt blisters, solve problemswith “Bag-Balm” and later Pepto-Bismol (seven B’s and a P). We bathe in the river with teacups and towel off on postage stamps. Pedalling most daylight hours we visit ghost towns, funky diners, buy lots of groceries which Ralph carries, eat huge meal with large desserts and lose weight. Our one set of street clothes become too large. Some hard days, detours, single track, steepest descent of our lives…thnk God for rear panniers! and Pat and I pull in to Wise River, MT at deep dusk! Ralph rode ahead and ordered at the only place in town five minutes before closing…we luck out in dozens of ways every day. The owner brings our dinners…I go OOOH!, he asks are they alright? I say I’ve never seen a steak that large…there’s no room on the large plate for the baked potato the size of a small nerf ball. We inhale a dinner plate of salad along with it as well as bread and a bowl full of butter and lose more weight. After a night in their rustic cabins with a hot water shower we have a Montana breakfast with some good ol’ folks, pour over maps, ask questions, resupply, do home business from a pay phone and Podunk Post Office and set out for Elk Horn Hot Springs. With plenty of daylight we arr. at hot spgs. passing Montana’s highest peaks to our east. We check into a mouse infested lodge and sit down to the largest pork chop I’ve laid eyes on, ‘tub it’ for two days and brag at breakfast over who killed the most mice in their rooms the night before. One family got four! Next day a ghost town museum puts back woods biking into perspective. Like those pioneers our every hour is about transport, food, clothing and shelter..a kind of Retro-recap therapy. Cow flaps serve as tables, firewood and obstacle courses at creekside baths. Sagebrush clotheslines find forestfire soot on clean laundry in morning.

    I have some belly problems, too many candy bars day before, the grocery was closed. I take about four Pepto-bismol the Ralph suggests flagging down this next truck, a rancher with a pick-up and trailer full of salt blocks. He has a high powered rifle on the seat, jumps out, throws my loaded bike in the back like a feather pillow and we’re off on chores. A bear had eaten two of his lambs the night before near our campsite! WE stop to gas at the barn, drop the trailer, toss more salt in with my bicycle then out comes Bryce, his six-year old son from the house to join us with his Daisy Red Rider pop-gun slung over his shoulder. His dad slips a clip of ammo into the rifle and we’re off to look for the bear on the way up the pass 20 miles to the top. They drop me with a granola bar as I bid farewell to Bryce who grins like an oldtimer in his ten-gallon hat. They drop the salt for the cattle licks on their way back. The granola bar is all I can eat, a bit at a time, staying ahead of the Dynamic Duo despite my weakness for the next 40 miles into Lima,MT., the home of the largest piece of pie ever. I can’t have any, eat judiciously while Ralph and Pat eat heartily from two nerf ball sized pieces. Next day I’m strong again and almost keep up with them drinking filtered cow and duck water for 60 miles to a sublimely beautiful, waterfowl infested lake, a cold bath and hot food compliments of some other campers.

    We ride with a retired doctor and his wife who lags behind as the older gent tears off the front with Ralph, pot belly and all! They give us good tips, we feed 20 lb. trout and salmon in a river hot spring, then follow the old Union Pacific grade through Pine forest, deep road cuts, fallen and removed trestles causing cold river fords in Crocs. The Dynamic Duo took baths…BRRRRR! The crunchy cinder on the 3% grade were actually fun, sashaying at speed with our loaded bikes on the gradual uphill to West Yellowstone. Staying at yet another biggest most deluxe campground, with free uncrowded showers, free coffee bar, we resupplied, made repairs for the dash through the parks to Jackson hole, WY…mixed weather, “W’ for wind Wyoming. I’m enjoying my new ‘trunk’ purchased in W.Y…there are now 16 multi-sized pockets on my bike (and Ralph is still carrying some of my heavier gear..what a guy!). A bizzillion pictures later I arive in Jackson before them…how did that happen..detours…and look for lodging or campsites. We settle for one just north of town with grass (what a concept!), ducks and geese, right on Gros Vente Creek. Jackson has more good restaurants, bike and mountaineering shops, tourist attractions, lodging options, etc. than the Aspen-Glenwood corridor or Vail-Copper. Our area is more ‘canned’, less ‘mom and pop’, less energetically original and much more ‘processed! After some championship eating,
    pecan sticky buns from ‘the Bunnery’ and a Mexican dessert for three only a bit smaller than a wedding cake for $5 it was time fo me to head north for my motorcycle and the trip home to CO.

    The best and cheapest way back to Seely lake turned out to be by rental car. The guys left me with lbs. of gear they didn’t need, Pat’s fishing pole, etc.! and I pedalled the ten miles, sans load to Jackson airport for a rental car. The trip back through the parks was rain and sun, a cabin stay on Yellowstone Lake before returning the car to Missoula airport and a 65 mile ride back to Seely with fully loaded bike..big ringing it most of the way! I finally got my legs. The motorcycle ride home beat the single day record of 816 miles by at least 100 on the second day after a cold but comfortable campout in the beloved ‘caboose’. I rode through the night for a 3 am arrial in Carbondale, burning my gloves on the mufflers to keep my hands warm! Thanks, Ralph and Pat, for Phillipsburg, Anaconda and an epic ride!



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