4 Days in Northern New Mexico

October 2015 

Susan O'Brien planned this ride. On the ride is Susan, Ross Carroll, Mel Selway and Gail Ben-Jamin. Photos are from Ross and Mel.

Day 1

A chilly start got colder as we left Tucson this a.m. Rising to 5000 ft as we rode down into Globe and then 7000 ft outside of Springerville, AZ before crossing into N.M. Nothing but blue skies, puffy white clouds, high plains and wildflowers. Ross, Mel, Gail and I all ride very well together.

We rode through El Malpaise National Monument just south of Grants and stopped at La Ventana to admire a beautiful natural arch.  We got into Grants about 5:30 N.M. time and met friends of Mel's for dinner an hour later. LA CASITA served me stacked chicken enchiladas smothered in green chili with hot sopapillas on the side. YUM! An early start tomorrow as we head for Cuba, Espanola, Questa, Red River,Eagles Nest and Taos.

Adios para este momento.

Day 2

Cold and cloudy was the start of a 10 hour day. It started with my homage to Craig as I missed the on ramp to the freeway across from our hotel and had to backtrack. A long and boring ride across tba Chaco Mesa to avoid going near Albuturkey brought us to Cuba, N.M. followed by a series of small towns and curving roads through the Santa Dr National Forest. Ross somehow got separated from us and the three of us stopped for lunch in Espanola--the lowrider capitol of the world! Seriously!

Mel and I studied the Butler map and thought we had found a road to skirt the west side of Taos, but unfortunately we ended up traversing the two lanes through traffic laden old town and saw Ross at a gas station just north of town. When we stopped to chat his first words were "What do I have to do to lose you guys?" Soon we were circling north and east of Taos through 9000 ft passes of Questa, Red River (where Gail bought us ice cream) and Eagle Nest for a stop at the New Mexico Vietnam War Memorial which is always worth a stop. We made it back to Taos about 6pm--just in time for an outstanding meal at the Guadalajara Grill.

On to Las Vegas tomorrow and the Salinas Pueblo National Monument in Mountainair.

Day 3

Left Taos at 43 degrees Fahrenheit this morning and climbs to 9000 ft where it was colder and foggy. We headed East toward Angel Fire going rather slow when the sun broke through exposing 13,000 ft peaks covered in pine and golden aspen. We took a sweet, curvey little road marked N.M. 434 on my Butler map and enjoyed an hour of dense forest and barely two lanes with no centerline. Spectacular scenery. We came out in Mora and headed to Las Vegas for a quick ride through this quaint lumber and mining town before hopping onto I 25 and then taking N.M. 3 very small towns dotting the Pecos River as it headed south. We came across a high grassy mesa before picking up US 60 and arriving in Mountainair for lunch.

After a quick tour of the Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument Visitor Center we took off for the ruins at Abo. Breathtaking. We got to Socorro just as their annual fiesta was kicking off. Cute little town event took us about 10 minutes to cover.

We topped off another great day of riding at an excellent restaurant Gail and I discovered last year called Bodega Burger  Co. But don't let the name fool you. Gail had mussels in a.wine sauce, Ross had grilled scallops, Mel had a grilled chicken sandwich and I had a steak salad. Needless to say, we're all fat and happy and ready to retire. We voted to go home via 180 and Mule Creek Pass to round out what has been a very fun ride.

Day 4

The last day of any ride always generates mixed emotions for me.  I'm usually having such a good time I don't really want to stop.  But, I'm also tired of schlepping gear in and out of hotel rooms, cleaning and waxing my chain in parking lots and tired of the lousy breakfasts they have in the cheap motels we stay in (truly a case of getting what you pay for).  So I awoke at my usual Tucson time which was 4:30am New Mexico time.  I took a leisurely long shower, packed, rode my bike down to the gas station and filled it, rode back to the motel and watched a documentary of HBO, wandered down to the "free breakfast" for a banana (the only edible in the offering) and waited.  I decided I wanted a real breakfast and met Ross coming out of his room just as I headed down to the Family Restaurant in Soccorro.  Eggs, bacon and my addiction to Diet Coke for breakfast satisfied, we headed back to the motel and met up with Mel and Gail. 

Ross led us out of town toward Datil and a chilly ride past the VLA (I promise I'm going to stop at the visitor center one of these trips).  We picked up NM 180 just outside of Reserve and finally got some nice curves.  Not too much traffic, so fast and fun.  We stopped at the Aldo Leopold Wilderness rest area just before picking up the road to Mule Creek Pass.  Really pretty spot by the side of the road and worth the stop.  Ross and I got stuck behind some slow moving vehicles while traversing Mule Creek Pass but finally caught up with Gail and Mel around Morenci. 

We stopped in Safford for lunch and gas and a review of the four day trip.  We had wonderful weather, great food, fabulous roads and agreed we would be returning to New Mexico again and again.  Butler Maps has many roads highlighted that are still out there calling to us.
 
It's back to work tomorrow.  Ugh!

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