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[Trip Report] Wingin the southern Rockies.

Joined
Jul 6, 2004
Messages
3,798
Location
Santa Fe, TX
First Name
Tom
Last Name
Lowry
Well, our late spring riding vacation arrived. To save some time riding across the HOT West Texas desert, we decided to put the touring trailer in the pickup, hook the WHORE wagon on the back, strap the Bird on her and haul-*** to Carlsbad. This in all would give us 2 extra days to ride the Rockies. After backing the trailer with the bike on it into the garage, I go to pull the truck back into the drive and… clunk, clunk,,, gggrrrruuunnnt,,, clunk,,,I smell smoke. Seems the starter decided to go titts-up. Frantically trying to figure what we were going to do, my daughter suggests we call our nephew and trade my wife’s FX35 for his F150 for the week. He was reluctant to “trade-down” but I guess he felt sorry for the old folks. Thanks Ronnie.

After a day blazing across the vast state, we make it to Carlsbad and unload the bike and tag-along and get ready to ride out first thing Sunday morning.

Sunday:

The first town out of Carlsbad is Artesia where we hung a West and headed for the mountains. We stopped to take a couple shots of these bronze sculptures. The artist was Vic Payne; this one called “Partners” and either one these fellows I could have known when I worked in the oil patch back in the 80s.

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This one was called “Derrick Floor”

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A few miles down the road, we come upon a couple on a full-dress Ultra standing along the road. We stop and ask if they were all right and he replies, “Flat”. I stop and offer to help and we proceed to try to plug the Rear tire. I find a 3-corner hole in the center of the tread of his almost worn out tire and stuff a plug in. I start pumping and ask how much pressure to which he says 40lbs. After letting the little compressor run for 5 minutes or so, we check the pressure and see 30lbs. We start the compressor back up and in a few seconds, BOOM!!!, the whole sidewall let go. His first thought was “****, sure glad I wasn’t riding it”. As luck would have it, his riding buddy had gone back to Artesia and called the HD Road Service and they had a wrecker coming out of Roswell. We wished them luck and headed for Cloudcroft where we stopped to have lunch at The Western Bar and Grill. Twentyfive years ago, we shot pool here the night I asked my girlfriend to marry me, now she is one of the best riding buddies I have.

Downtown Cloudcroft, where I finally detect the smudge of sunscreen on the lense:
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We travel on to Ruidoso stop on the top of a mountain on NM 84, take a break and knock back a cool one and enjoy the view.
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Coming up on evening, we find a Best Western in Santa Rosa, grab a sixpack and watch the sun go down. Well there wasn’t really a sunset, more like a monsoon.
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Monday:

We have breakfast at the Route 66 Restaurant before heading west on I 40 to catch US 84 to I 25 and then into Santa Fe. Stopping to get gas, I realize I am in the wrong business. Man, if you can give this kind of discount on a car wash, they must be pricey out here.
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This little fellow seemed quite content with his job in the gas station parking lot.
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I start to feel vibration between 50 and 60 mph and can see the left trailer wheel hopping so I have to keep the speed at 65 and up. We stop in Chama NM for gas and to get the tires balanced.
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Eddy, squatting, was a great fellow and has a small Yamaha, which he had fit the fattest floatation knobby on the back I had ever seen. He said he and his daughter ride a lot up in the mountains. The rest of the way to Pagosa Springs and on into Durango was smooth as silk if, you don’t count the scattered showers and hail we had to ride through. Ja (short for Jamargret) was all snuggled up behind me with her face shield and all. Mine was packed in the tag-along so I grabbed a leather mask out of the trunk to stop the pain of the pea sized hail that was penetrating the slipstream of the Windbender and smacking me in the cheeks.

We make it to Durango around 6:00 and stop for a room and a nice meal before calling it a night. Had some old farts looking at my bike (after all, it is an old-farts bike, right?) in the parking lot so I stopped to chat. Well, all they could do was focus on how dangerous riding motorcycles were. I sure wanted to tell the one lady, “Not any more dangerous than shoving too many hamburgers down your gullet like you are obviously PRO at”. Instead I said, “Yes mam, they sure are” and went to my room.

Tuesday:

We head west on US 160 to Cortez and stop to fill up before heading down to Four Corners. I circle the monument before parking, just so I can say I rode through 4 states in under 10 seconds. Corny, huh?
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One of the locals that sell souvenirs at the monument lives down there. No road, just a path up to the monument.
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This country is rugged but at the same time, beautiful.
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Stopping at Many Farms AZ for gas, a local approaches me while I fill the bike and asks where we’re headed. I get a whiff of a been drunk for many moons reservation dweller. I tell him we are headed down 191 and plan to stay in Saint John. He starts giving me directions, I listen as I gas up and nod my head. After finishing, he asks me for a dollar for something to eat. Now I know that wasn’t what he would do with it but gave him one and thanked him for his help anyway as we head out across the desert.

Rolling into Saint John around 3:00, we decide it’s too early to give up so we top off the tank and shoot for Alpine. After leaving Springerville, we start climbing the mountain and it instantly starts getting cooler, trees get bigger and the air is sweeter. We stop at this small reservoir and watch the Arizona Bird and Turtle dude dump trout. This sure was a feeding frenzy for the bigger fish, “Oh the humanity”.
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We get into Alpine around 5:30 and check into the Sportsman Lodge. Frank , the owner, rides a R75 and seem like a swell fellow. His wife brought me a bucket with some towels and cleaner for the bike, says they do this for all bikers that stay with them. I would recommend this quaint little place for anybody traveling US 191 through Arizona that wants to stay away from the hustle and bustle. After dinner, I enjoy some longnecks and make needed use of the cleaning supplies provided by Frank’s wife.

Wednesday:

I get up, make a pot of coffee and step out to watch the dawn in the 40-degree morning air. I can just make out the pasture across the road and as the sky gets lighter, I start to make out a large animal grazing with the horses. Soon I see, it’s a bull elk! Now for a Texas Gulf Coast resident, this is as exciting a pole-dancer to an oilfield roughneck on Friday night. Something you don’t see all the time. Sure hope these big bastages stay deep in the woods through the day though.

I accipurposely make enough noise in the room that my co-rider starts to stir. Soon we have our kit together and are mounting up. I check the lights on the tag-along by hitting the hazard flashers, **** it, the switch stuck in. I whip out my Buck and bust the tip off trying to dislodge the switch. Nothing left to do now but disassemble it, which I did. After mumbling and cussing,,,, and mumbling, and cussing some more, I get it back together and we were on our way to breakfast.

We stop and take in the scenery:
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US 191 heading down the mountain:
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Coming down into the copper mine in Clifton I stop and take a shot of the road going down the mountain, THANKS Gordy for mentioning this road to me. We rode Deals Gap 3 times and I like this road far better. It has just as many curves per mile, more elevation changes, WAY less crowded (saw only 2 cars and one truck in 95 miles) and you actually get to see down the side of the mountain.
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Across from the overlook I see a marker and go to check it out. Looks like someone met their demise on this mountain.
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Sure is a shame someone made themselves feel big by leaving their thoughtless mark.
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Near the bottom of the mountain, you come on this huge hole in the earth. These pictures don’t transfer the grandeur of this scene. I mean, those dots at the bottom are big Uke and CAT dumpers that are as big as a 2-story house.
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Downtown Clifton AZ
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Leaving Three Way AZ:
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Ja waiting for me to return from photo op:
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Well, now it’s starting to get hot. We head up over the mountain through the Gila Wilderness on NM 152 before settling back down in the desert with a temp of 97 degrees. We started off this morning at 40 and now it’s 97. Ja has drunk all of her water and is starting to get twitchy in her saddle so I open the TBs on the 1800 and eat up some flat desert highway. I see the fuel light come on but can see the town of Caballo NM across the desert about 15 miles ahead. By the time we make it to the station, my pillon is just about done riding for the day so we fill the Wing up and head north on I 25. Setting the cruise on 90, we make short work of the last 9 miles of the day and bring her to a halt in Truth or Consequences NM. Sure glad I had Eddy balance the trailer tires. All in all, this was the shortest day at 290 miles but was the longest day in the saddle. It’s hard to make miles when most of the day was riding 10 and 15 mph switchbacks pulling a trailer, but ****, that’s the good part.


Part II

Thursday

I do the coffee thing and step out to see what kind of a day we have and see this.
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We get out on the road early to beat the heat and head south to Ls Cruces. We fill up and head up over the mountain on US 70 East towards White Sands. At the top of the mountain, we get stopped and pulled over into a waiting area. Luck would have it that we were going to get to watch them test a Navy missile in the desert below. Too bad that the sky is overcast. We get put at the front of the queue because we are on a bike. Soon we are joined by 3 other bikes ridden by some hardy looking adventure riders headed south to Big Bend for some camping. They had them loaded down and looked to have been on the road for some time. Sure looked like fun. Sure wish my R1200GS was trustworthy to treat like that and not worry about the wheels falling off or the CANbus system taking a dump and leaving out in the middle of nowhere.

My trailer and a sticker I got from some web forum:
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Soon, we here “there she goes” and I struggle to get the digital Canon fired up to take a couple shots.
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Soon we are on our way and leave most of the traffic behind, including to 2 fellows on the Beemers and the lady on the Vulcan. We stop at White Sands NP and have a snack.
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Wonder why they call it White Sands?
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We hop over to Cloudcroft and then take the south loop, NM 130 and 24 back to US 82.

Making it to Carlsbad and the Stagecoach Inn for the end of another fine day of Wing Ridn’. Instead of going out we decide to slum it so Ja goes to the store for supplies so I will have something to do while I drink some beer..
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Friday:

We make our way back into Texas and head down to Ft Davis to check out those sites. We ride up to Ft Davis State Park and picnic on what was left of the hot-wings for lunch
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Later we stop at the Mc Donald Observatory for a look around.
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Looks like a Ladybug orgy is in town.
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We stop and take a brake and drink the last of the water. You’d think I would be smart enough to bring enough water. We hop on TX 70 down to Valentine to a little store, buy some water and a beer, which I consumed while looking at an old John Deere across the street while my wife goggled the new born in the little country store. She was after all, a neo-natal nurse for 20 some years. The storekeeps, a young couple from Roswell, tells us that they are trying to get gas, sure glad I had enough. This is the only other store in the region.
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We make it back to Ft Davis and after a run to the local store and some time at the grill and drinkn’ even more beer,
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we come up with this. Love the low carb lifestyle
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Saturday:

We get the truck packed and get ready to head home. I tell Ja that I want to ride if she didn’t mind driving the truck, which she always agrees to. We head down to Alpine for a nice breakfast at the Penny Diner before heading east on US 90 then north on US 67 to I 10.

Early morning kicked-back desert ridin’ as seen from my cager’s view:
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I 10 cruisin’. ****, I need to trim my beard:
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We came upon four Cushman riders on TX 46 south of New Braunsfels, Look like the lead ‘bike` was bored. Sorry for the half frame, damned Canon doesn’t react very fast. I know, “It is a poor craftsman that blames his tools”
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All in all, 2400 miles on the wing, 1700 on the truck, GREAT week!
 

scratch

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Mar 6, 2003
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I think the little guy was just working on his tan - ;-)

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Looks like ya'll had a great trip! 8-)
 

Squeaky

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Sounds like it was a great trip/vacation out there. It's too cute that you went back to the same place you asked her to marry you!
 
Joined
Apr 7, 2003
Messages
1,892
Location
Bryan, TX
They had them loaded down and looked to have been on the road for some time. Sure looked like fun. Sure wish my R1200GS was trustworthy to treat like that and not worry about the wheels falling off or the CANbus system taking a dump and leaving out in the middle of nowhere.


Nice report. Just one question.

I've been seriously considering the new GS. What specifically are you referring to? Problems you've had????
 
Joined
Jul 6, 2004
Messages
3,798
Location
Santa Fe, TX
First Name
Tom
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Lowry
10-95 said:
They had them loaded down and looked to have been on the road for some time. Sure looked like fun. Sure wish my R1200GS was trustworthy to treat like that and not worry about the wheels falling off or the CANbus system taking a dump and leaving out in the middle of nowhere.


Nice report. Just one question.

I've been seriously considering the new GS. What specifically are you referring to? Problems you've had????
At about 2000 miles, the CANbus system had a pinched that caused the fuel pump controller to quit working. Now at 6000 miles, it's been in the shop for over a month waiting on a transmission seal to get here from Germany.
 

Tourmeister

Keeper of the Asylum
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:tab Geez, that sux DS! I can see why you are not enamored with the GS ;-) Despite my final drive issues, I still love my "old" 1150GS :mrgreen:

:tab 10-95, I would not let this stop you if you want the 1200GS. There are tons of people riding them that have had no problems at all. Or, as tall as you are, you might be happier on the older 1150's like mine. The 1200 is a little tighter and lower feeling to me. You can get some unbelievable deals on the 1150's right now, fully loaded with all the extras.

:tab Poke around and you will soon find that none of the bikes are problem free. The KTM's have had numerous recalls, the Tigers have their issues. Heck, even the venerable KLR 650 has it's issues :lol: Just figure out which one you want and get it.

Adios,
 
Joined
Apr 7, 2003
Messages
1,892
Location
Bryan, TX
I hit the new dealership in the Woodlands and GSrider hooked me up with a demo ride. :chug: I loved the power, just want to be educated before I drop that load $$$$$$$$$$.

I think I may head up to Lancaster and look at a 950 Adv too.
 

Tourmeister

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:tab The 950 is awesome without a doubt. It is much more dirt oriented though. Which means it is not as comfy on the pavement. So it really boils down to how you think you will be riding most often, or just which bike appeals to you the most regardless of how it will be used :lol: Did you test ride a GS Adventure? Very tall and roomy even compared to my GS. I think you will like the fit of the 950. Be sure to check out KTMTalk.com!

Adios,
 

Texas T

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Desert Skies said:
We get into Alpine around 5:30 and check into the Sportsman Lodge.
A little further down the road (up the mtn) there is a nice lodge at Hannagan Meadow.

I can just make out the pasture across the road and as the sky gets lighter, I start to make out a large animal grazing with the horses. Soon I see, it’s a bull elk! Now for a Texas Gulf Coast resident, this is as exciting a pole-dancer to an oilfield roughneck on Friday night. Something you don’t see all the time. Sure hope these big bastages stay deep in the woods through the day though.
Ever hear one bugle? It will wake you up in the morning. Did you know that this part of AZ has delivered more trophy elk than any other part of the country?

Where should you apply to have the best chance of taking a record book bull elk? Over the past 20 years, Arizona has been the place to go for record book elk. From 1980 to 1999, Arizona produced 93 record book elk. The next closest state is Wyoming with 19! (page 263)
Shameless plug for Elk Hunting book by my stepdad's cousin

We camped just up the road from the lodge at Hannagan's and there is a wolf pack that roams this area. They were howling like banshees at 4 am and woke this city boy up out of a deep sleep. Everyone else slept right through it, but not me! :shock: :mrgreen:



We stop and take in the scenery:
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Want to see what that tree in the foreground looked like before it died? ;-)



The above photo was taken in October of 2001.
 
Joined
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I like the before and after photo of the dead tree. You hit Valentine on an open day. I was down there in March and had Valentine pegged as my gas up spot. Well, it was a closed day when I was there, and I had to drive on fumes all the way to Van Horne.
Thanks for sharing your trip.
 
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