Day 1 (con't)---Let's get you guys a little further down the road...
Leaving Lincoln, NM it was a scant 10 miles to the junction of US 70, which makes a sharp turn to the SW as it climbs up into the towns of Ruidoso Downs & Ruidoso. But before the turnoff I snapped one last pic along the Rio Bonito ("beautiful river") in "Billy the Kid" country. Yeah, the dry country of Figure 42 may not be everyone's cup of tea, but I love the desert country. And there's a heck of a lot more to come!
Figure 42. A final view from "Billy the Kid" country along the Rio Bonito, just east of Lincoln, New Mexico.
Ruidoso Downs & Ruidoso, New Mexico
As I said, I turned SW on US 70 and climbed into the Lincoln National Forest, approaching the "communities" of Ruidoso Downs and Ruidoso. BTW, at this point I was ESE of the aforementioned 12,003-foot Sierra Blanca, which dominates the Sacramento mountains (and is visible a long ways away).
Most of US 70 along this region is 4-lane, cuz the raison d'etre
for Ruidoso Downs is the big horse racing track there, and the raison d'etre
(I had French in high school :ymca) for Ruidoso is the big hotel/casino there. Neither of which are of much interest to me. But to each his own, I guess...
BTW, lotta Texans recreate in these parts, and they pronounce it "RIA-DOSA"... No offense to any Texans out there; I've received copious amounts of hospitality in Texas, and they are fine and honorable people. I just get a kick out of how they talk...
Looking for NM 244...
If you stay on US 70, you drop out of the mountains into Tularosa. Such was not my intent. My map showed a little gray highway labeled "NM 244" which cut to the SE and appeared to be a shortcut to Cloudcroft (from near which, it was a straight shot to my day's final destination of Artesia, Nuevo Mexico).
So I finally cleared all the horsetracks, and casinos, and hotels, and traffic, and...where the heck was NM 244? I started to descend pretty decisively, and I was beginning to make alternate route plans, when finally the turnoff to the left onto NM 244 appeared. Excellent!
A pickup truck (they comprise about 95% of the vehicles in these here parts...) turned in front of me, but I gassed the GSW on the short straight and got by him. It's OK...I waved after I passed. Now let's find out what this NM 244 road is like...
...well, it was pretty da*n nice! No traffic, lotsa curves, not a bad surface (that doesn't matter much to a GS(W) rider, right?) And on UP
it went. And up. And up
. And UP
. There were so many curves I didn't have much opportunity to snap a pic (honest, Mrs. Greg, I'm bein' careful). Finally, I clicked the foto you see in Figure 43.
Figure 43. A view along NM 244. Little bit of snow...there'd be more!
NM 244 FINALLY
levelled off. It was a lot higher than I thought...barely had time to snap the GPS in Figure 44. There was a LOT
of snow on both sides of the road---luckily the road was pretty much dry. Hey, 8,750 feet is not bad---I recall when in South Carolina on my Civil War trip I was in the single digits on elevation).
Figure 44. The high point along NM 244---a very fun road!
BTW, the GPS in Figure 44 is guiding me to Cloudcroft, New Mexico, hence the "Right on US 82" message. Actually I planned to turn LEFT on US 82 and head directly for Artesia. But ya gotta play games with the stupid GPS's to get them to do what you want...what's the saying, "to REALLY
get lost ya need a GPS." And sometimes it's the awful truth
Before I leave the unexpectedly fun (and pretty) high country of NM 244 (I'll definitely be back), here's a pic of pretty little high valley up there. There was no traffic (I actually met a rider on a V-Strom
), no people...just the way we like it! Won't this valley be pretty come summer? You betcha
. I'll be there.
Figure 45. A pretty little mountain valley along NM 244.
Onward to Artesia, and my Fleabag Motel.
Finally had to leave the mountains (BTW, had the Gerbing jacket liner cranked up to a reasonably high % during the NM 244 episode) and slowly drop down into the infamous high plains of Southeast New Mexico.
Once I started descending, the road dropped pretty quickly until there I was---the junction of US 82 a few miles east of Cloudcroft, New Mexico. I snapped Figure 46 as a last view of the mountain ambiance for the day...
Figure 46. Here is Wotan at the junction of NM 244 & US 82 (directly behind us).
A few of you have commented on the appearance of the GSW---I know I'm biased, but I think the GSW (and all R1xx0 GS's, for that matter) are BEAUTIFUL
bikes. I'm a mechanical engineer, and I LOVE
to have a vehicle with a MECHANICAL PRESENCE
. My '92 Ducati 900SS has it, my 2010 Ducati Multi 1200S's had some
of it, but the GSW definitely
has it. I really, really
like the appearance of the GS(W). The only thing I like better is riding it. After almost 12K miles it's just getting better. After 50K miles on the MTS1200, I've had more compliments (and people wanting to discuss the bike) in 12K miles with the GSW. Something about it just attracts interest. Sometimes I enjoy that, other times I just wanna be on my way. Either way, I'm SOOOO
glad I took that test ride...OK, ok, enough bike worship
PS. I can hear you scoffing at those TKC-80s, but---trust me---they'll come in handy in a coupla days
In Praise of FOOTHILLS.
Although I love the mountains, I almost love the FOOTHILLS
more. Either coming or going, they're like the appetizer before the hors d'oeuvre (did I spell that right?). Something about foothills always gets me. And for some reason I kinda like the foto I took in Figure 47. The composition---I've got (1) the dry plains scenery of eastern New Mexico, (2) the edge of the mountains (the odd pinon tree) in the rearview mirror, and (3) my shadow while taking the photo down on the tarmac. I just liked it! So you should, too...
Figure 47. Dr. Greg's "artfully-composed" pic exiting the New Mexico mountains onto the Eastern high plains.
Well, once you're really and truly down onto the Eastern plains of New Mexico...there's really not too much there. Some folks call this part of the USA "flyover" country, but in my opinion there ain't no such thing. Flyover country gives your mind a chance to relax, and reflect...my oh my...I badly
needed this trip. Thank you, Mrs. Greg, for kicking me out of the house. Y'know...you guys have heard it..."I used to ride till I got married, the wife said it's me or the bike..." Just breaks my heart. I did it right---I courted Mrs. Greg on my '73 RD350, so she knew what she was gettin' into. What a woman
Oops, better stop now before this gets R-rated (or worse). Figure 48 shows the "flyover" country. Humph. Would you rather be here or stuck in traffic in the middle of some city...
Figure 48. The expansive ("flyover") New Mexico Eastern plains. One's mind expands...
Artesia, New Mexico, and the END of Day 1a.
It was just DELIGHTFUL
dropping down US 82 thru Mayhill, Elk, and Hope, New Mexico (all tiny little villages). Nice tailwind, lowering sun...a fine-runnin' machine...you know the drill. Once I arrived in Artesia, I turned South on US 285, and picked the first "fleabag" motel I could find. After that fine lunch repast in Carrizozo, I had a scant snack for dinner, and enjoyed reading outside my room as the evening drew to a close. Yeah, the traffic noise on US 285 was a little intrusive, but Mrs. Greg had given me these cool Bose "sound-cancelling" headphones, so I didn't hear a thing, except the music I was listenin' to---Sibelius' Tone Poems, IIRC.
Figure 49. The good Dr. chillin' outside his fleabag motel room in Artesia, New Mexico, USA. The planet Earth.
What a WONDERFUL
day. I'm SO glad I waited a day (actually, "tried again") to start this ride. BTW, when I had left the day before, within 500 yds of my home the left case fell off (gotta make sure those Rapid-Trap latches "ping" when you push them on). Sure glad that didn't happen on I-40
I needed this trip. Getting away by myself definitely keeps me sane. I respect folks that like traveling in groups, but this old reprobate needs to be by himself. Especially when I can camp. Anyway, I'm off to a good start.
The plan for tomorrow is to take US 285 for about 30 miles south, then turn off on NM 137 to "Sitting Bull Falls." I've wonderful memories of family vacations in the 80s, stopping (and camping) by Sitting Bull Falls. Gotta see if it's still there...
So that's it for today, fellas. I've got more time tomorrow to work on the RR, so we oughta be able to cover some more ground. I'm sure enjoying writing this up---seems like trips these days come in two parts: (1) the enjoyment of the trip itself, and (2) the enjoyment of writing it up to share with everyone (mainly myself---I LOVE
reading my old Ride Reports