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.
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:
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:
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
). 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.
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.)
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.
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!
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:
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.
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.
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).
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.
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...
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...
Figure 14. Seems like that's mighty deep for planting corn.
Figures 15, 16, and 17 show some more views of the ruins...
Figure 15. Almost looks like some kind of kiva.
Figure 16. Was this the church?
Figure 17. Many rooms.
In Figure 18, Dr. Greg reads about the Salinas Pueblo Indians.
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...
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.
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:
Figure 21. The Claunch Community Church.
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...
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.
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!
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:
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...
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.
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:
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!
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
Figure 35. Lincoln, New Mexico was quite a place.
Figure 36. The Lincoln County War.
Figure 37. Enter Billy the Kid.
Figure 38. The Kid's notorious escape.
Figure 39. Bob Olinger was reputedly a real bully---good riddance!
Figure 40. J.W. Bell was apparently a good guy who was in the "wrong place."
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