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Early summer trip

Apr 1, 2007
Terlingua Tx

My first long trip on a bike started with the West Texas Pie Run, but it goes on for miles and miles after that. Mods, although this first installment may look like it belongs in the Pie Run thread, it will go well beyond that, so please don't merge. Thanks!

Seven of us on seven different brands of motorcycles set out from the Koffee Kup in Hico, headed for Fort Davis.



The Pie Man II capturing one of his court house shots:


I did not take a ton of shots on the long, hot trip west. Saw 106 temps for a couple of hours with spikes to 108. Like riding in a blast furnace.

Saturday Morning dawned with a promise of a great day:


The riding that morning was laid back, and relaxing, except when the critters played chicken with the bikes. I would swear I saw a rabbit run between Scott's front and rear tires.

The now infamous cow flipping incident happened late in the ride


I have the impact site marked as a waypoint in case we want to go back and look at that cow. Following second in line I had the front row seat as the cow knocked off both mirrors, rolled up the fairing and off the left side upside down. The critter landed on its back and rolled on impact. I got stopped short of the cow and it hopped up and ran off. Mama cow was by the side of the road and was not a happy animal.

The Pie gathering itself is well covered so I will skip ahead to the after pie ride.

We all went different ways after lunch,


I had to stop at this pullout and shoot the bike between the rocks

Went to the top of the scenic drive inside the park


I am not sure if this is part of the old fort lookout, or a new structure placed where the lookout used to be.


Spectacular view from the shade it gives.


This made me want to try the old road, but it is not a public thoroughfare anymore. It is on the grounds of the fort itself.


That is pretty much all I have for the Friday/Saturday start of the trip, will get to sorting the Sunday stuff as I headed into New Mexico.

Apr 1, 2007
Terlingua Tx
Sunday morning dawned cool enough for West Texas.... Riders prepared to go separate ways.
James was first to set out from our original group..


Chuck prepping his bike...


My machine was ready before Chuck and Scott. so I headed out.


As I headed out I fell in line behind a few other riders, so I let them run out ahead to clear my road views.


This is the road into Wild Rose Canyon.... just love that name.


My first stop of the day was only a few miles up the road at Balmorhea State Park, location of San Solomon Spring.


As I was admiring the cool water Chuck and Scott motored by. I waved like a mad man, but there was no way they would know to even look over that way.

I did not realize that the pool is full of fish too..



Some of the catfish are well over a foot in length. Bear in mind that this big boy (or girl) is in 22 feet of water, hugging the bottom! Such crystal clear water!


The pool holds roughly 3.5 million gallons of water, and the spring flows nearly a million gallons an hour. So if the pool were to be drained somehow the spring would have it filled in under 4 hours. The overflow of the pool is channeled into a creek and a network of canals for irrigation of nearby farm lands.


This wonderful stone cabana was hot in the morning sun, but I can see how it would be great for shade once mid day has passed.



This park is on my list for spending a full day on a future trip. The camping is pretty sparse, with the pool being the only feature that calls me back. I will plan to stay closer to the mountains and make this a day trip.

Since I was in the area... obligatory Pecos tourist shot.


Out of Texas I go! First stop is to buy a map and some cold water.


Eastern New Mexico was as hot as West Texas. At a gas stop in Artesia I decided to re-route my journey. I had been headed for Roswell just for kicks since I had never been there before, but the heat was getting to me. Looking at the map I decided the closest mountains were west on 82, so I turned for Cloudcroft.


Ahhhh the mountain air was a relatively cool mid eighties. This was the first gravel of the trip, FJRs handle pretty well on the stuff by the way.

The ski resort of course was closed, but I tell you what.... Those grassy hills were just begging for a dual sport machine to climb them.


This was not the first, or last time on the trip that I wished I could tuck the XR into one of the bags.



Lunch at Big Daddy's was good. Bikes were rolling by in numbers almost equal to the cars outside as I relaxed and recharged.

I pored over the map after lunch figuring out where to go. Santa Fe looked like a good spot. After all, this was a trip with no particular destinations set. A ride for the fun of riding new places. I decided to take a lesser traveled road. The masses were heading for Alamagordo, I went north on the smaller state highway 244 through the Mescalero Apache reservation. The road was a better dessert than the cobbler I gobbled up at Big Daddy's. I was rolling with the rhythm of the road and just enjoyed it without stopping for pictures. If you find yourself within 50 miles of this road on a ride, take the detour and treat yourself to it.

244 dumped me out on 70, so at Ruidoso I peeled off on another smaller state highway 48. After a few hundred miles for the day I was beginning to tire, and found this cool shelter on 48 for a quick nap.


The view of the highway going north was calling...


I rolled into Santa Fe tired and happy. Secured lodging for the night and went for gas and some exploring. You can get pretty lost in an unfamiliar town, even with a GPS.

I asked a local for a good late dinner recommendation and was steered to Maria's Kitchen which was off the beaten path. Will have to find the address, should have marked it as a waypoint. The food was excellent, and the couple at the next table was from Texas, Texans are everywhere on this trip.

Next morning I explored Santa Fe a bit before getting underway. that will be the nest post.
Apr 1, 2007
Terlingua Tx

Monday morning.... good day for riding! The wide open spaces in New Mexico are impressive. My writing cannot do justice to the experience of being there... I am not a writer, so today will be more about the pictures.

Before loading the bike and checking out I asked around about a good spot for breakfast, away from the tourist focus of the old downtown area of Santa Fe.


Harry's was just the ticket. Irish oats with brown sugar, cinnamon, apples, walnuts, and raisins, with a scrambled egg on the side and several cups of delicious coffee started the day off well.

Off to the old square I go! What I found was very commercialized and almost like a theme park, much to my disappointment. There was no mistaking that I was in Santa Fe though.






Even new buildings are built to look like old structures.


This guy had quite a name......



and story!



Art was everywhere. A feast for the eyes and the mind.




The rising temperature and the urge to push on combined to move me along the highway and say good-bye to Santa Fe. I headed north on 285, mindful of finding smaller, twisty roads to enjoy.

These round rock formations showed up every few miles. the views were....aaahhhhh relaxing.




State highway 503 heads northeast, joining 285 with 76.


This is one of those roads that is worth taking if you are going to be anywhere near it, even if it is not exactly going your way. The curves and hills went on for miles. I find myself in tune with the road, passing by photogenic spots and just soaking in the ride. There was a small village on this road that is not on my map. I should have stopped and photographed it, but the silence was just too spooky. Mid morning, not hot, cold, or raining, and nothing and no one was moving in the village except the lone rider passing through. I would have expected to see children playing, dogs barking, folks working in their well cared for yards.... something.... anything. maybe on the next trip through.

Breaking out onto 76 I was rewarded with more inspiring vistas.





As I neared Taos I decided to stop well outside of the city for lunch. this place was very inviting, after all.... ice cream is right there on the sign!



I pretty much had the place to myself and was enjoying...


when a group of fellow riders rolled in and asked if lunch here was good. The enthusiastic 'yes' had them parking and joining me.

My FJR was surrounded!


Note to self... next time turn the bike around while the lot is still empty. backing the bike uphill is a pain with my short legs. It turns out these were three couples from Texas, Arizona, and Nevada that get together on their bikes once a year to enjoy the Rocky Mountains. The Texas couple was from North Richland Hills, practically neighbors. I told them about TWT and Friday Ice Cream, don't think they were that interested though.


On towards Taos! (By the least direct route within reach)

518 and 434 were marvelous roads.









Taos was busy, bustling, and not to my liking. The square was brimming with trinkets, most of which looked cheap and far from authentic Indian wares. My plan to stay the night here quickly changed, and I did not see anything there that made me want to even get the camera out. Too may people.... crowds are not what I was after.

I bet most of you know this bridge!






While walking back to the bike something caught my eye in the rocks below... The zoom on the camera sure seems to be showing me a Pelican case way down there. Someone had a bad day!


I wanted to climb down and see, but decided that I did not want to go to jail for the night.

64 climbs nicely after it crosses back over 285.


I had to put my liners into my jacket and change my mesh pants for the HT overpants. Off went the summer gloves and on with the warm ones.

The sky in these high passes is a different shade of blue than we get to see here at home.




Into Chama I rode, just about out of daylight. The Hotel let me park in the courtyard on the grass. The light was too low for a steady shot as the shutter needed to go 1/15th even with the lens wide open.


Once again getting the local's input on where to eat rewarded me with a great meal. A steak at the High Country Restaurant and bar. I got the last room available in town, the train had just started its season.


Jan 14, 2005
Arlington, Texas
As I was admiring the cool water Chuck and Scott motored by. I waved like a mad man, but there was no way they would know to even look over that way.
I had no clue that you were in the area. I had thought you were headed in a different direction. :doh:

Great pictures!



May 20, 2004
Austin, TX
I second your choice of places to eat in Cloudcroft. After trying several places, we settle on that one as our favorite.

How many hotels/motels were there in Chama? I'm thinking of heading for Ouray, CO on a new to me route and was thinking of going through Santa Fe up to Chama then over to Bloomfield. I'm pulling a trailer with my bikes (family vacation so I have to haul my toys) and was thinking I'd have to stop in Santa Fe because places to stay might be scarce until I got to the Bloomfield/Aztec/Farmington area.

Oh yeah, I'm enjoying this report.
Apr 1, 2007
Terlingua Tx
There are eight or nine hotels, plus some cabins south of the town itself. I stayed at the Chama Station Inn. Parking there is sparse and a trailer would make things difficult. Foster's has the same parking limitations, be advised. Had they not been booked I would have tried a cabin. Sorry, I did not catch the name of the place.
Apr 1, 2007
Terlingua Tx

I awoke to find that my centerstand had sunken into the soft ground to its cross brace. Both tires were touching the ground. Good thing it was not on the side stand or it could have been trouble. I left it there and walked to breakfast, then on to the train yard to have a look around.


The old coaling tower.






This old locomotive has seen a few years worth of use!


This is the fireman dumping the cinders from the fire box and using a steam hose to clear them from the mechanism. Some of the cinders were still red hot.



Getting up a head of steam!



If this old rail could speak....



This contraption has a full boiler, but does not move under its own power. When the snow is up to twenty feet deep and needs to be cleared from the tracks a crew mans this rig while another in a locomotive pushes it. This coal fired snow blower clears a swath. the heat from the boiler melts the layer of snow just a bit on each side of the cleared path, then it freezes, making a sort of ice wall to keep the snow from falling back onto the tracks.

Any volunteers to go and do that???? Not from around here I think.


This rig follows the train at a distance and contains any fires started by the tourist train. Now that is a duty I would volunteer for!


Saying good-bye to Chama as engine 484 hooks up to its train for the day. I still had a sunken centerstand to deal with.


Not far out of Chama I enter Colorado. The air is cooler as I climb towards the pass.




The snowshed was empty at Cumbres Pass, and the caretaker's house looked empty too.


The Aspen trees had fresh spring growth..

I came across this memorial on the side of the road without any names. I wonder who is memorialized here.


Farther up 17 at Las Mesitas I found this...


Hard to tell if it is crumbling down, or being built back up.


The building may be in bad shape, but folks are keeping the graveyard decorated.


Between different brick work, stone work, and some concrete this place has had many different projects and seen the work of many different skilled hands.


I was not making good time this day. My riding was off a bit too. I stopped for lunch in South Fork at the restaurant with the wooden lumberjack out front. There were a couple of GSs parking as I rolled in. I had lunch with Rob and Allen from England. These guy flew into Denver, hired the motorcycles as they called it, and were spending their vacation running around the Colorado mountains.

Being off my game I completely forgot to get pictures, or exchange email addresses with them. I did extend some Texas hospitality by picking up their lunch for them I figure these guys fly halfway around the world to my country on holiday it was the least I could do for them. Allen commented on one of the paintings hanging in the restaurant.... a mountain landscape scene. he had always thought that paintings like that were done from imagination. having seen the mountains from the seat of the Beemer he was amazed at the reality, and the vastness of the land.

The Rio Grande was raging with snow melt.


I was tiring, so I stopped for a rest and a view. Others had the same idea..



They were nice enough to snap my pic for me.


I only made it as far as Lake City that day. I was riding tired and making mistakes, so I called it off early in the afternoon. A couple of hours off the bike walking around the little town did my back and legs a world of good.

The critters there seemed to be a bit to used to people.


I had to stop for this young deer, it was just walking so slow that I was able to pull over, get the camera out and capture the shot while it walked away ever so slow.


Its buds walked out next, not caring about the idling motorcycle, or the approaching SUV.

I was done riding for the day.
May 29, 2005
Out Riding
Nice Report Ed.

I traveled the same area in 2003 with my riding buddies Bill and John on the way home a week long trip and stopped at many of the same places your report has covered so far. When we pulled into Chama for the night coming from Torrey Utah it was 45 and pouring rain in the middle of August. The first thing we did was fire up the gas heater in the room full blast to start drying our gear.

Thanks for bringing back the memories of a past adventure.

Can't wait to read the rest of the report.
Aug 1, 2007
Fort Worth
Great report, Ed. Keep it coming. I love northern New Mexico. If I could get my wife to move where it snows, I'd think hard about moving out there. Alas, she doesn't do cold.
Feb 16, 2007
Central Texas
Ed, Thanks for the report. Just the right amount of narrative and the pics are outstanding. Feel like I am right in the middle of this ride.

Keep'em coming!


ps.. the pic of Balmorhea is quite different from when I passed thru the day before at around 1:30 (102 degrees). There were so many people in the water you couldn't stir them with a stick.:) I was thinking, now that can't be sanitary, but the water sure was beautiful.


Keeper of the Asylum
Feb 28, 2003
This picture is actually in the banner rotation up at the top of every page on the site.


However, there are three small bikes in my picture and was from a trip out there in 2001. The lead bike is behind that big bush ;-) Amazing how many of the same bushes are there seven years later.

Got this one too ;-)


And this one is from the overlook at the Rio Grande's headwaters North of Creede.

I love that ride between Creede and US 50!! :rider:
Nov 27, 2007
Looks like another train buff looking for an excuse to go see trains to me, hehe. I noticed plenty of rail lines in these pics!
Apr 1, 2007
Terlingua Tx

Wednesday morning, cold and clear.... clear for now anyway. I got an early start this day because the weather forecast was calling for snow and high winds by mid morning. I will ride in a lot of conditions. Driving rain sure... driving snow..... not if I can help it.



I played with the sunrise several times, seeing it on the hills and passes, and descending back into the darker pre-dawn in the valleys.


The passes were high and cold.



And yes, my clock was still on Texas time, so it was an hour earlier than indicated.

I miss these skies, and I have not seen that many like them.




The road rolls on and so do I. This morning I saw deer, ducks, geese, elk, but very few people.






All of the above pictures were taken in the miles before breakfast. The weather was closing in, and I was working to stay ahead of it. I was going south and west, trying to beat the storm system as much as possible. I managed to clear the precipitation, but not the high winds.

I had quite an adventure in the desert of the Navajo Indian reservation. My travels had to re-route several times due to road construction, bridge work, and general preference to avoid the bulk of traffic. I was heading for Navajo highway 36 but the re-route function of my GPS was working overtime and it confused itself. When it finally told me I was on N-36 I was pleased at the lack of traffic. I passed a power plant and thought it cool that it was on the reservation, After that I noticed a lack of signs, and there were no more center or edge stripes on the highway... hmmmm.

I saw a massive industrial facility on the horizon and got to it after four or five miles. The GPS said N36 bears left at an intersection here.... but the road I am on flies over the other on an overpass with no connecting ramps, then turns north to a security gate. Passing back and forth a couple of times on the overpass and looking for any connection to the other road I spotted tire tracks from trucks connecting the two on the west side. I was game for that, and there was nobody around to ask... 'Is this smart??'

Off I went to find that what looked like firm ground was DEEP SAND.

Deep sand on a loaded FJR in the middle of the desert is a real treat. not. Power on and tank slapping I made it to the other asphalt road. Satisfied I had overcome a trip obstacle I rolled merrily along, only to approach a huge mining pit. It was obvious that the road went down into the pit, and nowhere else.

It was also obvious by now that I was trespassing on private Navajo land. My GPS had changed its mind about a mile back and decided that I was not really on N-36, but something called PIA-4, and it was telling me to turn right or left on roads that did not exist. I spun around and high tailed it back to the deep sand, more roosting and tank slapping then outa there. Trucks were scrambling from both the pit and the industrial facility, but I thought my best bet was to roll with haste and get back to public roads by back tracking my GPS track.

Once I knew I was clear I stopped and power cycled the unit. It came back on and matched the paper map. N-36 was one missed turn away.

Farther on the winds of the storm caught me with a fury. The last 100 or so miles to Gallup NM were spent fighting a 40-50 mph quartering head wind. Sometimes it was straight on, but it would flip from left to right relative to the bike.

Forgive me for not getting shots along the way. the wind whipped me pretty good that day, and 10 hours on the road being chased by a storm took its toll. I flopped and went out early that night.


Keeper of the Asylum
Feb 28, 2003
Farther on the winds of the storm caught me with a fury. The last 100 or so miles to Gallup NM were spent fighting a 40-50 mph quartering head wind. Sometimes it was straight on, but it would flip from left to right relative to the bike.

Forgive me for not getting shots along the way. the wind whipped me pretty good that day, and 10 hours on the road being chased by a storm took its toll. I flopped and went out early that night.
:tab When I bought my R1150GS, I flew to Colorado to get it, then rode it back. The second day, I left Raton, New Mexico and headed for Austin, about 800 miles. Normally, the GS tops out around 125 mph. Even wide open, I could barely hold 80mph because of the head winds. It was eleven hours of brutal struggle to keep the bike between the lines. When I tried to lay down that night to go to sleep, I felt like I was still moving all around. I had to sit up to keep from getting sick!
Apr 1, 2007
Terlingua Tx
Re: Early summer trip final installment


This is the last installment of my trip report. Sorry is is so late in posting, but life has been eating my time, energy, and will for the last couple of weeks.


Made it to Arizona for the last day of touring. Headed for old route 666, the Devil's Highway. Of course it is not numbered 666 anymore, now it is 191.

Some of its glory days landmarks are still there.


It is straight and desolate at first.


Soon it starts to rise into foothills and pine trees.



The curves get better and better with the passing miles.


Hannagan's Meadow is a good spot for lunch on the way.


Did not snap a picture of the actual store or lodge, I understand from one of the other customers there that room rates are kind of high. There are miles of gravel forest roads going every which way from the main road, and tons of camping spots in the woods. This will be a dual sport destination for me in the future.


The road keeps climbing, getting steeper as we go.




The pullouts are worth stopping at every 10 or 15 miles, The spots were chosen well.


the last dozen or so miles are the best! The 10 mph speed limit is no joke on some of the curves. I dragged a boot pushing one at 15 mph. That is a lot of lean at a slow speed. There are no guard rails, and the drop off in some places is several hundred feet, and nearly steep enough to call it a cliff.


The copper mine was the last 'scenic' spot I had the camera out for.


After that I headed back into New Mexico, and the next day (Friday) I slabbed it home. I missed my friends, especially my best friend, so I made a straight shot run to the Friday Ice Cream gathering at Burger Box.
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Jan 15, 2008
San Antonio Area
Ed - thanks for the GREAT report & inspiration.

In 2 weeks, I'm riding my Tiger to Santa Fe 1st night (visit an old buddy) & then @ 6 more days of meandering thru Colorado (maybe Yellowstone area).

I was thinking about not going b/c riding buddy back out, but you're ride report reminded me that I'd be crazy not to go...THANKS!
Dec 22, 2006
Wow great report and pictures,, Thanks a million, I got the map out and marked some of the roads in N.M going up there July 11th to look around for a week...
Jun 19, 2006
Denton, TX
Great job Ed!

One of these days I'll ride 191 north out of Clifton, AZ.
My Aunt lives there and would be great to head north to Alpine, then east and south on 180 catching 78 west to 191 and back into Clifton.

The Phelps-Dodge copper mine is massive. A very large scale undertaking.
Quite ugly actually.

Glad you made it back safely!