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Turtling thru New Mexico w/no plan

SpiritAtBay

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#1
Late in the week, my boss asked me if I’d like the following week off. Immediately I began thinking of a road trip on the bike. Scott (M38A1) is game, so without much planning, we settled on New Mexico and started packing.


Day 1: 13oct mon
We get a late start out of Kerrville as I wanted to start the trip with a fresh rear tire and Monday morning was the earliest it could be done. That and more last minute packing, arranging and rearranging and finally, at 2:00 in the afternoon we were off like the proverbial herd of turtles.



15 minutes out of Ozona, and it suddenly looked like we had been dropped into a western movie. Mesas and plateaus filled the horizon.

An hour more and we pass wind farms. Those gigantic spinning arms fascinate me. (Maybe it is as simple as a baby who is spell bound by a ceiling fan.) I spy a ranch gate with a sign on it, three prickly pear leaves in the shape of a windmill. Very apropos.

The mesas and plateaus become molded, soft, round shapes that look as comfortable as an old pair of Levi’s, except for the sparse covering of uncomfortable spiny, prickly vegetation.

Scott and I have no reservations and no set itinerary; we are free to roam as the wind blows us. The forecast is promising. From Alamogordo to Cloudcroft for the next 4 days calls for abundant sunshine, highs in the mid to upper 70’s, lows in the high 40’s.

Hard data for the geeks: Day 1, KV to Pecos, TX 319mi. Accommodations: Motel 6.

Day 2: 14oct tue


Frustration! It’s 39 degrees out! I should have brought warmer gear. Never mind that it will warm to 80 in just a few hours, I am cold now and I hate being cold. First stop: Wally World, long johns for me. Scott waits with the bikes while I scavenge breakfast from the store as well. The best I can do is fried cherry pies, which we eat in front of the Wal-mart. Humm, can’t say much for the ambiance…

It is noon and again, we are off like a herd of turtles. Pressing for Carlsbad, then Artesia…except I take the wrong highway and head us back toward Texas. Grrrr…. Scott corrects our course and we turtle on.

We camp this night for free in a tiny state park near Pinon NM. It is a beautiful, clear, cold night. Scott soon has a fire going and is busy with night time photography.









I determine that we will get a decent start in the am. And I don’t care how cold it is. With my new fleece long johns, I can handle it.

Not that we’ve followed any plan yet devised, but here is what I plan for tomorrow:
Breakfast in Cloudcroft, (which is only 15 miles away)
Ride Hwy 244 thru the Mescalero Apache Indian Reservation to Ruidoso , possibly visit Nogal, then 380 to Carrizozo, north on 54, then 349 thru the Jicarilla Mtns.

Right. We turn in early. And the cold settles in. The temp begins a steady drop. Even in a 25 degree bag plus fleece liner, wearing the new long johns, sweats, winter cap, thick socks and gloves, I am too cold to sleep. It is a very long night…

Hard data: Day 2, Pecos, TX to Pinon, NM (near Cloudcroft): 283 mi. accomos: Kit Carson SP


To Be Continued...


:rider:
 
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bwdmax

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#5
Right. We turn in early. And the cold settles in. The temp begins a steady drop. Even in a 25 degree bag plus fleece liner, wearing the new long johns, sweats, winter cap, thick socks and gloves, I am too cold to sleep. It is a very long night…
:rider:
I determined a long time ago that the temp rating on a sleeping bag is temp at which you can survive not be comfortable.:lol2:

:coffee:
 

SpiritAtBay

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#7
Day 3: 15oct wed
We wake to a frosty morning. I am not pleased.




We wake to a Beemmer that doesn’t want to start. (Well, that is not news with this bike. But he seems especially determined to not be disturbed today.)


The plan for the day is trashed as we realize that Scott’s bike will require professional intervention. After a couple of hours’ basking in the morning sun, the Beemer begrudgingly starts and we head to Alamogordo, hoping to find a mc shop that can replace the battery on Scott’s scoot.

I warm up in the bright sunshine with a sky of cloudless blue


First we eat. We need food in our belly's


Then we make our way to Alamogordo over the mountain at Cloudcroft and descend the other side.


The views are beautiful


After phoning a BMW dealership in ABQ, we dead head there, arriving around 4:30 and the Beemer finally gets the attention it felt it deserved. Sandia BMW ROCKS! We leave their place at 6:00pm when they normally closed at 5:30.


We find a nice room at a Studio 6 nearby, have Jason’s Deli deliver dinner and watch tv in bed. (I used much more than my fair share of hot water taking a long, hot bath, followed by a long hot shower. Yes, really.) We plan the next day with cake and DosXX


New plan: we will go thru the village of San Ysidro, ride thru national forests, hope to spy elk, stop at the Puye Cliff Dwellings, scoot thru Cundiyo, Cordova, Truchas, Las Trampas, ending the day in Taos.

Hard data: Day 3, Pinon/Cloudcroft, Alamogordo, Albuquerque: 269 mi. accomos: Studio6, ABQ

Day 4: 16oct thu
We follow the plan (!) and enjoy it very much. The weather is fine (as in couldn’t be better.) There are shimmering gold birch trees and towering cottonwoods. There is ever-changing and fascinating geology to gape at. There is the local architecture to appreciate. There are ropes of peppers hanging by front doors, drying in the sun… What’s to complain about?



The spectacular changing colors


What fantastic mountains


The Cliff Dwellings


Well, I will say that it seems anytime the road gets just a little bit interesting, the state of New Mexico slaps a 45 mph speed limit on it, puts up signs declaring it a “Safety Corridor” and doubles any speeding fines you might be so unlucky as to get.

Since my partner is a law-abiding citizen, this was a tad (seriously, just a tad, no more) frustrating for me. It would have, could have been more frustrating if the weather were not so perfect and the scenery so astounding. I was happy to trundle along and enjoy the sights. Seriously, I was.

We found a convenient RV park in Taos that allowed tent camping. We stayed there two nights and I heartily recommend that strategy; “base camping” for a couple of nights so that you can really explore an area. Plus saves setting up and breaking down camp each day, plus means you can scoot along relatively unencumbered. (No doubt most of you reading this already know this better than I.)

Home for the next two days


Avoiding the loose, treacherous gravel (ask me how I know) of the RV park, we walked to dinner, eating at Casa de Valdez, aka Tequila’s, aka Pete’s place. Had a terrific meal. I had chile rellenos (best I’ve had in a long time.) Scott’s chicken enchiladas were excellent as well. The sopapillas were so good I didn’t even put honey on mine.

Though the park was very much in town, the coyotes ruled the night, keeping us awake with their yipping and yowling. The song dogs and a sudden increase in traffic noise around 2am kept us from a sound sleep. However, we were warm and comfortable in the tent.

Hard data: Day 4, ABQ to Taos, 198 mi. accomos: Taos Valley RV Park & CG


To Be Continued...

:rider:
 
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h2000fb

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Crawford, TX
#8
The temp begins a steady drop. Even in a 25 degree bag plus fleece liner, wearing the new long johns, sweats, winter cap, thick socks and gloves, I am too cold to sleep. It is a very long night…
I truly believe if a sleeping bag is labeled +25, -15, or -30 degrees, all that means is you will not die at that temperature. Not that you will be comfortable. Many of the sleeping bags I have purchased are now gone, but I still have 6..., or 7. :scratch:

Have a very expensive mummy bag that is something like -35 degrees? Froze on the last hunting trip in Colorado. Even tried adding a small liner, long johns, flannel shirt, and wool socks to no benefit.
 

SpiritAtBay

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#9
BWDMAX and h2000fb, Ya'll are right of course.

when i bought this sleeping bag, i thought it would be more than adequate because i had never in my life camped out when it wasn't, at the least, in the 60's at night... Adventures with TWT folks have changed that!

RoadThing, I like your strategy; less worry about degrees and just get some 'proof'!

Frozen boots in AUGUST! Arghh!

PS: Scott (M38A1) is inserting the pix and some comments. the pix really make the story. Do check out the short video he made of the week. (See New Mexico-No Plans)

PPS: Thanks everyone for your interest!

:rider:
 
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#10
Ah, I see you found the James Canyon Campground. And my campsite. I do love New Mexico. Well, except for the "safety corridors" which seem to be more about revenue generating than safety.
 

SpiritAtBay

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#12
Ah, I see you found the James Canyon Campground. And my campsite. I do love New Mexico. Well, except for the "safety corridors" which seem to be more about revenue generating than safety.
Yes, we did! Thanks for all your suggestions.

Agreed on the safety corridor issue. I'm pretty sure I saw at least one 50mph rated (and signed) curve in a 45 mph zone. Kinda silly.
 
Joined
Apr 10, 2009
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Welcome, TX
#14
Great pics, Gina!

Now that I think about it, I recall putting on every article of clothing I had before riding out of Cloudcroft that frosty August morning. Then taking most of it off a very short while later when we descended to White Sands. The fact that summer temperatures could vary so dramatically was news to a couple of boys from the deep south of Louisiana!
 

sKatZ

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#16
Gina, what a magnificent adventure! I am so happy you took the chance to get outta town!

:clap:

And envious but we'll ignore that part...
 
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Terlingua Tx
#19
What is it with Beemers, Rocky Mountains, and batteries? My GS didn't want to leave Clear Creek Campground so I had to install a new battery in Gunnison Colorado. Could it be the bike's way of asking to stay on the curvy mountain roads?

Enjoying the trip report!
 

SpiritAtBay

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#20
Gina, what a magnificent adventure! I am so happy you took the chance to get outta town!

:clap:

And envious but we'll ignore that part...
Kat, you are right, just getting out of town felt joyful. The late start did not matter, as soon as we were out on the highway, it felt great!

:rider:
 

SpiritAtBay

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#21
Day 5: 17oct fri
Rode “Enchanted Circle”. Really enjoyed the beautiful valley and community on the edge of Taos and another picturesque town, Shady Brook. Stopped in Red River for hot chocolate then over to Eagles Nest and pointed back to Taos. The day had clouded up.

Red River for Hot Chocolate



We also made a brief stop at the Rio Grande gorge bridge. I did not linger on the bridge very long. Extreme heights like that bring out in me a crazy urge to jump. I’m not suicidal. I just feel (strongly) that I might be compelled to jump. So I chatted with the vendors that had their wares set up on the side of the road while Scott snapped pix from the bridge.







On the way back to camp, we bought dinner “fixins” and Scott cooked up a wonderful steak dinner. Everything tastes so much better fireside and in the open, doesn’t it?




Hard data: Day 5, Taos area, 110 mi. accomos: Taos Valley RV Park

Day 6: 18oct sat
Awakened by thunder and a light rain. Break camp in record speed and are on the road by 8 am. (Astoundingly early for us!)


Riding in cold rain and fog, I discover that my waterproof boots are not. We stop in the tiny town of Mora at Teresa’s House of Tamales. I go straight to the bathroom to add yet another layer of clothing. And that’s where I discover my boots HOLD water just fine.

I love this pic of Teresa's. really captures the place.



Scott had asked Teresa what her favorite dish is and low and behold, it is not tamales but instead a breakfast burrito the size of an adult guinea pig. It was very good. (The burrito was good. Not a guinea pig. No pigs were harmed in the making of this burrito. This burrito had lots of green chiles in it. I really enjoyed it. And ate a lot of it. (I will regret that later. And for a surprisingly long time.)


Teresa’s is a local joint with a homey feel to it. Everyone who walked in knew everyone there. And we enjoyed listening to the conversation being carried on in the local language. (Not Spanish, Teiwa, maybe?)


We rode til we reached the truck stop town of Vaughn. Ate at Penny’s Diner (not recommended, btw. Overpriced and a multitude of flies.)


Pressed on to Capitan. Really, we pressed into a head wind that was gusting probably to 30. (When fueling in Carrizozo, I feared Suzi was going to be blown off her kickstand. Kept a foot on the kickstand plate or a hand on her just in case.)


In Capitan, stayed at the Smokey Bear Motel (recommended) and ate twice at the Smokey Bear Diner (also recommended) and visited the Smokey Bear Historical Park. (If you grew up with Smokey (the) Bear telling you that only YOU can prevent forest fires, then this park is also recommended.)


Hard data: Day 6, Taos to Capitan: 279 mi. accomos: Smokey Bear Motel

To be continued.....

:rider:

.
 
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#23
I'm taking notes here, Gina. I've probably passed through Mora 20 or more times, and never bothered to notice that they have a restaurant. Maybe next summer.....

PS - Is it just my sensitive bottom, or does the pass dropping down toward Red River have really lousy, rough pavement?
 
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#24
I'm taking notes here, Gina. I've probably passed through Mora 20 or more times, and never bothered to notice that they have a restaurant. Maybe next summer.....
Tim, can't miss it. Look for mile marker 33 and this view... :rofl: The key is mile marker 33 as referenced in the pic of us above.
 

SpiritAtBay

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#26
Tim,
I was looking hard for a place to stop. was desperate to warm up and dry out a little somewhere. anywhere would have done. Just luck that it was a great little place.

Ummm, i don't have a memory of rough pavement descending into Red River...
 
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Apr 6, 2007
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austin texas
#28
I use a Frog Toggs rain suit that goes OVER my mesh jacket, and always have ny goose-down jacket liner and ski pants w/bib (Cheap from Lands End). In driving rain at 40*, I was fine. (Of course, I DO have that Windjammer.) Boots are Justin and waterproof.
 

SpiritAtBay

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#31
We continue with the next-to-the-last day.

Day 7: 19oct sun
We were at the park shortly after it opened at 9. Hey, we are starting to get this “get up and get moving thing” down pat!






A long day ahead as we “plan” to camp at Guadalupe Mountains Natl Park in Texas tonight. But first, we enjoy a scenic ride down to Ruidoso and then discover the delight that Hwy 244 is as it winds thru the Mescalero Apache Indian Reservation. (Huh, does that sound familiar? Hey, we did plan on riding this highway, see day 2 notes--and now, days later, we are! How about that?)

Hwy 244 just begs to be ridden properly (i.e. not at 45 blessed mph.) So I scooted ahead and partook of its pleasures.

PS: Earlier in the trip, Scott had seen an elk that had been shot and it took up the whole bed of a small pickup. Now I glimpsed one who had met the same fate in Ruidoso. The size of the animal was astounding. The antlers reached across the width of the truck. How do you get such a large, heavy animal into the truck? Even if the thing was standing next to your truck when you shot it…?? I can see if you field dressed it and packed out the meat, but i'm pretty sure this was the "whole hog" (so to speak.)

The plan to camp at Guad Mtns NP is scrapped when the logistics of it smack us in the face. It is kind of remote, with no water, or convenience stores nearby. The plug was yanked for sure when I read that fires were not allowed. (Cook stoves are ok.)

New destination: Balmorhea State Park. This park proved ideal. Although we had to push it to get there in time to set up camp before dark. It worked out wonderfully. I definitely want to return there and spend a few days exploring the area and the Davis Mtns.

Scott here..... Gina resting in Artesia, NM. Gina here...resting, and stuffing my face!


A concrete water flume built in the early 1900's in Carlsbad (photo credit: Gina!)


Crossing back into Texas


And securing a bit of grub for the night at Balmorea (note firewood strapped onto the Beamer)


The sky that night was captivating so I pulled my bed out of the tent, snuggled into the bag and just enjoyed the stars, listening to the coyotes and the burbling aqueduct that was nearby. Meanwhile, Scott shot some night pics.


Alas, the real world was tapping it’s foot and pointing at it’s watch. Come morning, we would have to slab it back to reality.

Hard data: Day 7, Capitan to Balmorhea SP: 337 mi. accomos: Balmorhea SP

To be continued....
:rider:
 
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SpiritAtBay

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#34
Day 8: 20oct mon
Come morning, we had to pack up and slab it back to reality.

According to radar, we were about to get rained on. But the rain held off.

Scott heated water for tea and we ate the last of our energy bars for breakfast.

Sunrise over the mountains…





Just about ready…


On the way out, we stopped at the springs. We had the place to ourselves.

The springs…






Scott dipped his GoPro in the water and got some video of a soft shell turtle and fish.

We filled our tanks and our bellies in Ozona.



We arrived Kerrville late Monday afternoon. I got busy unpacking and cleaning the bike. RTB5 is next weekend!



The trip was an unmitigated success. We lucked out with the weather and fall colors. We did just what we intended, which was to take advantage of the sudden offer of a week off from work, have a relaxing, enjoyable time, ride some excellent roads and see a part of the country which is unique and beautiful.

Thanks Scott, for being the perfect travel companion! Thoroughly enjoyed our time together.
 
Joined
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#35
You cleaned your VStrom? You can do that?????

Sounds like a great trip. I've heard about Balmorea for years, and used to occasionally pass through there in my Army days, hopping between El Paso and San Antonio. But alas, I never stopped to check out the springs. Maybe you've given me the incentive.
 
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#36
Thanks Scott, for being the perfect travel companion! Thoroughly enjoyed our time together.
You're welcome!

Indeed, this was a fun week and I'm glad to have been a part of it. You did most of the work in all the planning and logistics, and you should be proud of your accomplishments. You spent a week on the scooter with little more than imagination, a tent and credit card. You're ready for anything your imagination allows you. :rider:

I hear Labrador NF is a nice ride.... :ponder:


.
 
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Mar 7, 2011
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round rock
#37
Labrador/Newfoundland is an AMAZING ride...but if you go all the way there and don't spend time in Nova Scotia (Cape Breton especially)...and the Gaspe Peninsula...you are cheating yourself :)
 
Joined
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Lampasas
#39
Glad you were able to ride the Enchanted Circle,one of my favorite roads in the world. Plenty of nice spots to pull over and take pictures along it. Nice to see these great ride reports for those stuck at work.
 
Joined
Oct 16, 2008
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Bryan, TX
#40
Part of my vast family (6 brothers and 3 sisters) live on the enchanted circle. We all lived in Carlsbad as children and we rode our bikes across the 2' wide outer wall of the flume. It seemed a lot taller then. Thanks for the trip down memory lane.
 
M

mr-roboto

#44
I just read your ride report. Congratulations to both of you on making the big decision - that is riding to New Mexico. I wish you many years of happiness.



RB

 

SpiritAtBay

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#49
Drew,
No, didn't buy anything. Talked fossils with one guy who had a beautiful "opalized" ammonite.

I would have never realized that pic was taken from there. How cool!
 
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#50
Drew,
No, didn't buy anything. Talked fossils with one guy who had a beautiful "opalized" ammonite.

I would have never realized that pic was taken from there. How cool!
There are some good views from up there. It is on the opposite side of where most of the vendors are. Nice place to take a few pictures and veg for a few minutes.
 
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