I didn’t get a great night’s sleep camping on the cliff’s ledge. It wasn’t fear of falling over the edge. It wasn’t the thought of being alone amongst the wild animals. It was concern about humans. Although I was alone miles down this dirt road on a Tuesday night, there was plenty of evidence that this was a local hangout. There was garbage around. And there was graffiti depicting the initials of what I assumed might be a local gang. In NYC I am used to the Crips, Bloods, Latin Kings, Nietas, Zulus and of course Hells Angels. But out here I was unfamiliar with who might consider this their territory. It was one way in and out on a dirt road with a harsh washboard surface, so if there was trouble there would be no running from it. I would have to confront it. I figured I was safe on this weekday night and would remain alone. Then I heard vehicles. Three sets of headlights were headed my way in the darkness of night. I was truly out of my element here. As the 3 trucks stopped at the edge of the cliff I listened intently. Much to my relief I could hear the sounds of men and women laughing and having a good time. In my fantasy this was a danger zone. In reality it was a romantic spot to hang out with your loved ones. I fell asleep. Later I awoke to the sounds of the trucks pulling away. All was well. I am a silly man.
The next morning I woke up, stepped out of my tent and saw a large hawk sitting atop a small tree. All the trees here are small. Then I looked over the edge and saw a coyote coming toward me. As soon as he saw me at the edge he quickly did an about face and disappeared. Unless your camera is set and ready, chances are you will miss shots of much of the wildlife out here. I packed up my bags and hit the dirt road. I did not notice the odometer in the photo until later. 55,555 miles on the money. I was just taking a photo to show the dirt road. Nice! I had consciously thought about taking this picture, then did it unbeknownst to myself.
I road through a small town called Chimayo. It seems like a population mostly comprised of Native American/Spanish folk with a focus on the local churches. I had been to this area around Taos once before. I like it here. My plan was to visit some cliff dwellings I missed previously called the Puye Cliff Dwellings. After speaking to a local dude in a parking lot, I changed my mind. He said that Puye is on a reservation and they charge at least $30 for a visit. He also told me there were many other cliff dwellings in the area that one could visit for free. Perhaps on another trip I can plan that out.
I am always amused at how folks use Jesus to promote things like agendas, politics or here Chile´.
This funky bug was at a gas station. When I tried to lift him he hissed at me like a cat. Freaked me out!
Having decided not to see the cliff dwellings I was headed north toward Colorado. Here in New Mexico the mountains still had a great deal of color in them.
Once you cross into Colorado the mountains become lush with trees and the rock is generally grey.
The roads here are a rider’s dream. If you look at the photo below you can see the road approaching the mountains from the valley, then it twists it’s way up switchbacking as you ascend.
There are many folks back home who consider me an angry man. And maybe they’re right, but up here in the mountains I am calm and at peace. I love it here.
At times a switchback won’t do. They had to tunnel through to provide a road up here.
As is always the case, there will be some roadwork along the way. Often times it is a welcome relief to stop and have a little jerky or other snacks while you wait for the one way traffic. The smells however clash heavily with the serene environment. PU.
Many of the roads travel along rivers that have spent the last million years cutting their way through the mountains. Those same rivers have also provided me with a place to bathe over the years. This was Route 149.
I connected with Route 50 and was headed for the very twisty Route 92.
At the foot of Route 92 is a dam that creates the body of water you see above. On the other side is the beautiful Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. I was psyched to ride this road. I started zipping along, when suddenly I had to slam the brakes. A huge 10 point buck had jumped into the road before me. He then did an about face and ran back up the slope to my right. By the time I grabbed my camera all I could get was his horns over the horizon line. What a thrill. Earlier in the day I had already barely missed hitting a chipmunk, a rabbit and a coyote. Crazy, wonderful day!
Here is a close up from the same shot. Big Buck!
The canyon was gorgeous and the road a lot of fun to ride on. At this overlook I met another rider named Roger. Roger was from the coast of South Carolina, but was hanging in Colorado for the month. We rode together for a bit after this.
Roger was a more experienced and I have to admit better rider than me. We took turns taking the lead. I watched him handle those crazy turns like a champ. I ain’t bad, but I could tell he was better.
See that smiling man in the photo. That would be his last. Circumstances back home have forced me to abort this wondrous adventure. I crashed in an old hotel called the Hitching Post in a small town called Crawford.
The next morning I awoke to rain pouring down. It’s just as well, I was headed toward the Interstate. There was nothing more too see. Nothing more to photograph. My only view from here on in would be the pavement lined with cops pulling people over and the parades of joyous bikers headed in the opposite direction toward Sturgis. Each acknowledged wave from my fellow bikers felt like a slap in the face as I plowed through my 500 plus miles each day headed east. With every stop I make people ask, “You going to Sturgis?” I’d just smile through the pain and say “I can’t make it this year”.
Sorry for the anti-climactic ending, but sometimes that’s how it goes. I rode over 2000 miles in 4 days. My hands and body were buzzing for days. Now I am home. That’s all folks!