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Old 04-21-2011, 03:54 PM   #1
fastcat OP
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Viva Las Vegas New Mexico!

Greetings from the BearCat Lodge;

As some of you know, I was going to post a ride report last month about my recent trip to New Mexico with Ron Hilliard and Russ Dale. But things have been so hectic around the lodge (getting ready for spring, taking reservations, restocking kitchen and bar, and finishing up a new album project) I've been going in a million different directions.

Like everywhere in Oregon, it's been a wet year here in Seneca and winter is hanging on for dear life. However, we have now switched from snow to thick rain. We've had a few really nice days up on top, though, and the roads are clearing nicely. All of the major thoroughfares are now snow-free and the road crews are beginning spring maintenance. They've even begun sweeping the gravel off. It will be another month before the OBDR dries out enough to ride, but for all you dual sport guys many of the nice forest service roads are already dry and cleared. With that said, we look forward to seeing our old friends and meeting many new ones this season. We encourage all of you to come to the east side to experience our world-class riding!

So, ride fast and take chances!

Now, on to the New Mexico ride report. I left the BearCat Lodge on March 12, headed for Grants Pass, Oregon, loaded to the hilt with musical performance equipment and all my riding gear. I'd left my trusty 990 Adventure at my friend John Peterson's place in Grants Pass last December and was looking forward to getting reacquainted with her. I was meeting my friend Ron Hilliard (ADV handle Captain Ron) in Grants Pass that evening, where we would load our bikes and head down to Ashland the next morning to pick up Russ. I arrived that evening at JP's to find that Ron had already gotten there on his motorcycle, which he rode from Seattle. After a lovely dinner with John and Janet, and a couple of cocktails to lull us into slumber, we called it a night.

We rose the next day at 0ark thirty to make our breakfast meeting with Russ Dale in Ashland. After some frantic packing at Russ's place and getting his GS loaded, we were off like a herd of turtles--heading south on I-5 toward the Weed cut-off to Susanville. We turned southeast toward Mt. Lasen and began to climb, immediately encountering our first of many blizzards. Here's a shot of us pulled over on the side of the road to lock in the hubs on the 4x4.



We worked our way through the park and down into Susanville, where the snow turned to rain, which remained with us all the way to Reno. I knew of a great all-you-can-eat sushi bar in Reno, so we stopped there for lunch, and as we were pulling out of the parking lot we noticed the truck's alternator light was on. Fortunately, there was a parts store across the street and they had the correct alternator in stock. About an hour later, some skinned knuckles, and my wallet $200 lighter, we were back on the road and headed toward Vegas.





We stopped in Yerrington to see a friend and look at some cool hot rods and motorcycles, then drove through the night through more snow and sleet, finally hitting the wall in Beatty. We checked into a motel for some much deserved rest and a couple shots of bobcat piss. When we woke in the morning, we were pleased to find the skies had cleared and the sun was beating down on the truck and trailer. Ron and I offloaded 2 of the bikes, geared up and rode for awhile. Russ tagged along behind us at a considerable distance as Ron and I in our exuberance spooled it up and decided to see how many tires we could wear out. Here we are leaving Beatty.



We'd all decided to rendevous at the Route 66 Diner in old town Kingman. The watches were synchronized and we all agreed to meet at 1:00 for lunch and to trade out riders. Ron and I arrived in a timely manner, had a couple of chocolate malts and waited for Russ. 2:00 came and went--still no Russ! 3:00 arrived--Russ was nowhere to be found! Finally, at 3:40 we were able to get through to him on his cell phone, only to discover he'd taken a wrong turn and ended up in Laughlin. (How does anybody do that?) When Russ arrived, he still wasn't ready to ride, so Ron and I continued on the bikes toward Williams, Arizona, our next rendevous. Ron and I got there after a short detour off of the super slab to ride a couple of sections of Route 66. We stopped at the world-famous Sultan watering hole, where we each had a shot and a beer, a good stretch and a walk-about. Here we are on the main street in Williams.



At this point we were 3 hours behind schedule and knew we would be riding long into the night, so we got back onto the interstate and spooled up the bikes to cover some miles. About 10:00 p.m., after stopping for fuel, we came up behind a vehicle with its flashers on as it traveled down the road. It was Russ, in the truck. We pulled off in Gallup, New Mexico, to see what the problem was. Apparently, the lights had failed on the trailer and Russ had been pulled over by a stater, who informed him he had to put on the flashers if he wanted to continue down the road. We checked the bulbs, and found both were burned out, so we replaced them and got Russ back up on the slab while Ron and I discussed our options for the rest of the ride. We were still 200 miles from our destination in Las Vegas, New Mexico, and the desert was cooling fast. So, discretion being the better part of valor, we opted for a room, a meal and cocktails. I must warn you--finding a place to get a drink in Gallup NM at 11:00 on a monday evening is no easy task! You will note that there are no pictures of that shithole.

When morning arrived, Ron and I headed into old Gallup for some breakfast before heading back to the freeway. This is where our journey took a turn for the better, as we found a wonderful native American restaurant--we had sausage and eggs with green chiles that was to die for. Bikes and bodies fully fueled, we blasted the next 100 miles into Albuquerque. After a quick stop at Sandia BMW for some off-road maps of the area, we continued the last 100 miles into Las Vegas, our destination.

Las Vegas, NM, is a very interesting town. For those of you who have never been there, I highly recommend it. It has one of the largest historic districts in all of North America, with a rich history and culture that blends anglo and Spanish heritages. We were staying at the historic Plaza Hotel in old town Las Vegas, where I was booked to perform later that week. The Plaza was built in 1885 and was restored in the last few years by my friend Louie and his partners. If you're ever down that way, make sure you stop!



I was unaware that the hotel, the radio and television stations, and the other musicians in town were going to monopolize so much of my time over the week. So, with the exception of one afternoon ride up to Montezuma Hot Springs, Montezuma Castle and a side trip into the Gallinas Mountains, my bike remained parked for the better part of the trip. Here are some pictures of some of the more architecturally significant buildings in Las Vegas:







One of my dear friends in this world is a very entertaining old curmudgeon motorcyclist by the name of Steve Guthrie aka Gus. Gus lives in Pampa, Texas, about 250 miles from Las Vegas, and we had made arrangements to meet up for the concert at the Plaza. Unfortunately, Gus's wife Kate was recovering from heart surgery and didn't feel up to the trip. I was tethered to my responsibilities preparing for the performance, so I couldn't get away to ride to Pampa. But my dear friend Ron, who also is a big fan of Gus, took a couple of days and our entire stash of cigars, rode off to Texas, and enjoyed an evening of debauchery with my biker buddy and a bunch of his hot rod friends. I'll let Ron share the details of his excursion in another post, but here's a picture of Ron next to one of Gus's hot rods. Don't let the old truck fool you--it's from the ranch that Gus grew up on and hiding under the hood is a built 454 Chevy and all of the accessories that go with it.



On the one day that we were able to get out and ride together, we took a ride up to Montezuma Hot Springs and the Castle. Montezuma Castle, built in the 1800s as a railroad destination resort, is now the home of Armand Hammer's World University. Here are shots of us in front of the entrance to the castle, at the castle and in the canyon on the way:









When Ron went to see Gus, he took mostly rural country roads and back roads into the Texas panhandle. I never did understand why there was a Texas panhandle, or for that matter, an Oklahoma panhandle--it always seemed to me that one or the other should have ceded their interest to the other as no one really wanted to live in that god forsaken place anyway. See pictures below!







Any questions?

With the exception of all the great food, wonderful architecture, fantastic people and sold-out shows, the rest of the trip for me was rather uneventful. Although, I've fallen in love with the area and I'm looking forward to a return trip sometime in the future. That corner of New Mexico is home to Santa Fe, Taos, Las Vegas, and some of the most beautiful scenery and light that I've ever seen. I'm only sorry that I didn't get to explore more on my trusty steed, but I'm sure--as are my traveling companions--that we'll be going back many times. Viva Las Vegas! Check it out at www.lasvegasnewmexico.com.

The trip home from Las Vegas was pretty much a deadhead--tired and worn out, coming down with the crud, and with no support from Russ (who's afraid to drive on anything but bare dry roads), I ended up pushing through by myself, then ended up in bed sick for a week. Ron had commitments back in Seattle, so he flew out of Albuquerque the morning we left. All in all, however, even with the hassles I'd do it again in a heart beat!

Thanks for reading the ride report, and I look forward to seeing you all at the lodge this summer.

J.W., Ron, Russ
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Old 04-22-2011, 11:20 PM   #2
Mikey113
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Nice RR. LV NM reminds me of when I was 18 yrs old driving x country for the first time. Well from Ft Hood, TX to Redding, CA. I see a sign for Las Vegas (NM) and start thinking I'm getting close. Who knew there was one in NM??
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Old 04-24-2011, 02:22 PM   #3
Cap'n Ron
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Hey JW - Thanks for posting up the ride report. All in all it was a great trip and a nice interlude from this cold gray winter/spring we are having in the PNW.

My ride started a couple of days before meeting up with JW in Grants Pass. My wife and I always meet up with her Sister for the wine event at the air museum in McMinnville so, since I needed to get my bike down to Grants Pass I decided to combine the trips.

As usual, getting down I-5 was a very moist slog. Only a week prior to this trip I did an epic rain run down the coast to Fortuna and back. That trip was unbelievably wet but the goal of a beer at the Eel River brewery was achieved.... but that's another RR. The wine event was nice and I had a great time.

My wife and I had breakfast with her sister so I got a pretty late start out of McMinnville. Said goodbye to the wife and hit the slab for a fast ride to Grant's Pass. I did make a required stop at the Roseburg Station Pub and Brewery for a beer and lunch. Made it to JP's place at around 5'ish. JP is an absolutely amazing fella'! Retired moto cop and apparently one hell of motorcycle builder. The hospitality extended from he and his wife was just amazing and a nicer couple you will never meet. JW certainly has good taste in friends and I have been honored to meet some of these amazing people.

Once connecting with JW and having a wonderful evening getting to know our hosts we loaded up the bikes, got a good night's sleep, and headed south, which is where JW picked up. I won't rehash the bits that JW already covered but I will throw in some fill in accounting. I will also add that unloading that bike in Beatty was a huge highlight for me. I get claustrophobic stuck in a cage.



I really needed to get that BMW off that trailer too. That damn Orange KTM was trying to get intimate with my BMW and we all know what a bastard bike that would make if the 2 were to mate! That run from Beatty to Gallup was over 600 miles, and with the big delays of waiting for Russ (and a slow KTM ), made for a really long day.

I was a little disappointed that JW was stuck with the performance commitments but very appreciative of the arrangements he had made and his generosity to share. If you have never seen JW in concert, you should. Live is where he really shines and he does know how to put on a performance!

Las Vegas NM really is a delightful town and the Plaza Hotel is beautiful. If you have ever seen the movie 'No Country for Old Men', the hotel scene where the gun battle took place was filmed there. Cool historic building, visit if you get the chance.

Once settled into the Hotel I took a solo day and headed north, originally to make a stop in Taos at Eske's Brewpub (I'm a craft beer fanatic ). I ended up wasting a lot of time on roads that went nowhere, it is amazing that perfectly good roads just end in NM, barely a turn around available. I ended up deciding that I didn't want to do an out and back so opted to ride the High Road to Taos and visit Penaso instead. It is a beautiful road and traffic was light so I got plenty of opportunity to wick it up in the twisties.



I looped on down and made a visit to Marble Brewery in Santa Fe for a beer and a bite of "late" lunch. They do brew a good ale and their Turkey Green Chile sandwich is delicious! After the beer and sandwich I jumped on the freeway and beat it back up to Las Vegas to help JW set up for the show. That stretch of I-25 was already getting old and I had only done it twice!

That night it was decided that since our friend Gus wasn't going to be able to come visit us that I would make the ~300 mile trek to see him. I definitely didn't want to slab it all the way to Pampa TX so I took out the maps and routed my way on more rural roads.



And for those of you wondering; Yes, that is an Amp on the back of my bike. Seems JW had a gift for old Gus and I was relegated to it's delivery.

I worked my way down to Tucumcari and then headed north up through Logan. Once in TX, I picked up a ranch road through ran east through Channing. This may very well be the loneliest piece of road I've been on in a long time. I covered a 60 mile stretch and the only other sign of human life that I saw was actually in the town of Channing.... and not much of it there. I worked my way up around the north end of Lake Meredith, through Borger and on into Pampa.

Now let me tell you a little about our friend Gus. First, you never, ever, wonder if Gus likes you, he makes it very clear... either way. I count myself very lucky to know Gus and call him my friend. He's a curmudgeonry ol' cuss that is 100% redneck. He is a classic Texan that can tell a story better than any of the world's best novelists. I can spend hours just listening to this ol' boy tell his stories and each one begins with "and this is the God's honest truth".

He has 2 big garages full of beautiful classic hotrods and a couple of big old Harley's but chooses his old '54 Ford F1 truck for his daily driver.



Now this is no ordinary F1. This old gal has been featured in 2 magazine articles and is known as the 'Sleeper's Sleeper'. It is patina'ed to perfection and everything looks just exactly as it should for an old ranch truck. But everything is just as Gus has made it and he is particular about the old truck. I accidentally shut the door a little hard and was immediately corrected and schooled on the proper way to shut the old girl's doors. This truck is built to the hilt and has more power than any classic truck ever should. It scares the crap out of me! We drove through a parking lot of full of Japanese hot rods that were having a meet. As we drove through that lot with that big 454 rumbling, we set off car alarm after car alarm. Them kids was all scrambling to get them alarms shut down and just stared at us as we passed on by. Perfect!

Gus hauled me down to meet up with a bunch of his hotrod friends and join them for a real Texas style B-B-Q. I was born and spent a large part of my early childhood in Texas and this allowed me to get reacquainted with my more redneck roots. I actually met 4 'Ronnie's' at this gathering.... odd, since I was probably the only Ronnie there that has that name as a given name (I don't think my parents knew that it was just short for Ronald ).

I spent many of my adult years being a vegetarian and a beer snob. That wouldn't have went over so well at this gathering. There was more dead animal parts than you could imagine, not a vegetable in sight, and the beer choice was Coors or Bud Light. At least there was a choice.

Spent until long into the wee hours of the morn visiting with Gus and my new friends until finally having to give up and crawl into bed for a few hours of shut eye.

The next morning after having breakfast I headed back west for Las Vegas. I retraced my steps Back to just east of the NM border and then found some even more remote roads for the return trip. The goal was Mosquero and then drop off of the mesa down to Trementina. There was a road that went pretty direct but my GPS would not route me across that damn thing. Kept telling me that it was a restricted road. Well, the road looked good to me and until someone told me what it was restricted from, I was going to take it. It started out as a big, wide, well marked road and slowly just kept getting smaller and finally turned to dirt.



My GPS kept trying to tell me to turn around, I came across a sign that said "Restricted Access", but nothing said it was 'restricted to Ron on a motorbike', so I just kept going. Turned out to be a non issue with the dirt road being amazingly well kept and smooth. The dirt lasted for maybe 20 miles and then turned back into a nice 2 lane blacktop. Fun ride but mostly just because of the uncertainty of whether I would have to turn back or not.



I was hoping for fuel in Mosquero but that was a no go but I was pretty certain that I had enough fuel to make it on into Las Vegas so I just kept on. The drop off of the mesa from Mosquero was really nice, lot's of good twisties but other than that it was mostly just straight, lonely highways. I made it back into Vegas in time to give JW a little hand to set up for his last show.

I had business that needed taking care of so I left the GSA with JW and caught a ride into Albuquerque to catch a flight home. I really appreciated JW taking care of getting my bike back north safe and sound. It really was a great trip and I will return to that area for some more dirt oriented touring in the very near future.

Cheers!
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Cap'n Ron screwed with this post 04-24-2011 at 02:37 PM Reason: Fixed photo links.
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Old 04-24-2011, 03:07 PM   #4
fastcat OP
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KTM vs BMW

Sorry, Ron but the BS is getting a little thick. Bastard child indeed. My little girl would have nothing to do with a big german brut like that GSA. As a matter of fact that's why she kept runnin' off and leavin' ya! On the trip down to Beatty she was surrounded by blue and white propellers and always remained a lady.
She did complain a bit about having to go so slow around those new antiques but always remained good natured and refined. Good breeding always comes through. But enough about the down side of the trip. Let's focus on all the beer and tequila that got consumed and the great blues that got played....Sorry you missed the jam session but the BBQ with Gus sounded grand! By the way
vegetarian is an old indian word for lousy hunter............jw
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Old 04-24-2011, 03:34 PM   #5
Cap'n Ron
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Good beer and even better tequila.... too bad Guss stole the rest of the cigars. The only bad about any of the bikes was that hideous stratolounger of a seat on Russ's GS. I was really sorry to have missed that Jam session but really glad I got the opportunity to hang with Gus. And you do know I swing both ways with the meat issue these days. The venison was fantastic but that grilled catfish was to die for. Those Texans do know how to cook their catfish! The ribs were pure perfection and the sausage was unbelievable. I had my share of meat and yellow beer to last a full year that night.
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Old 04-24-2011, 06:06 PM   #6
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Catfish!!!!!!

YA, just had to rub it in with the CATFISH........Have you no shame?.....jw
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Old 04-25-2011, 08:35 AM   #7
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Nice write up and great pics! Being in the PNW, I was pretty sure the sun had gone out of business, so it was nice to see some bright photos!
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Old 04-25-2011, 09:12 PM   #8
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Plaza Hotel

Thank you and nice job on the report. I had to jump in to mention my Grandparents first apartment was on the 2nd floor, corner room of the Plaza Hotel. 80 years later it's pretty cool to stay in the same room where they began their life together. Las Vegas is a humble town, but very real. Speaking of real... Did you get a chance to try a bowl of posole' at El Rialto, just down from the Plaza?
In the winter my Grandpa use to take me ice skating on the lake below Montezuma. In the summer we would flyfish in the mountain streams. Truly the Land of Enchantment.. I can't wait to go back this summer, just like it was when I was a kid..

And Cap'n Ron,the Green Chile Beer at Eske's kicks ass!
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Old 04-26-2011, 04:07 PM   #9
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green chilies and posole'

We ate at the rialto, dicks, and several other hole in the wall joints. The food at the plaza was also first rate with the blue corn huevos rancheros at the top of the list. Very cool about your grand parents. Do you visit there often?
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Old 04-26-2011, 07:10 PM   #10
Cap'n Ron
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Ooohh.... Green Chile Beer sounds like a must try! I knew I was making a mistake not making it to Eske's. Next time for sure!
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Exploration is the key to a youthful outlook!
"It hurts up to a point and then it doesn't get any worse." -Ann Trason on running marathons.
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Old 04-26-2011, 08:41 PM   #11
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I try and get back to Northern NM at least twice a year. Once in the summer to flyfish and once in the winter to snowboard. My mother now lives in Taos, so I have good excuse to visit.. Now I usually just stop in Vegas for a drink and some food while on the way to Taos. I love being there.


Ron, The other cool thing about Eskes is they bottle beer in big bottles, I think they're 1 liter! You can take them with you. Nothing like a burger and two of those big beers to set the mood for a NM afternoon!
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