Christina Irvin – you need to watch to the very end… 😉
If you’ve read Day 1’s post already, you’ll be happy to know that I’ve settled on “Dumb and Butthead” as the working title of this series. But that may change later. I have a problem with commitment …
OK so after waking up at 7:55am to hop on a conference call, we were ready to roll out with Carrie at 9am to do a group ride to Pecos, TX. And as a side note, those of you who have been dissing Carrie’s motel – the Comanche – let me just say for the record here that it was one of the most hospitable stay-overs I’ve had ANYWHERE … aesthetics notwithstanding … 😉
Carrie and her friend Clint had sold us on diverting from our intended route (a SUPER challenging task as anyone following us live has to know by now :-P) and going on a scenic tour of New Mexico instead of barreling straight down I-10 to ElPaso. I think the quote from Clint was “Man … you don’t want to do that.”
I didn’t need to hear anything else.
The new plan was Fort Stockton > Pecos > Carlsbad Caverns > Cloudcroft > Alamagordo > White Sands > Los Cruces > Tuscon
In Pecos we discovered a Walmart and the World’s First Rodeo. Hello Fancytown! (c. Ashlee Voda). After a 15 minute inspection, we continued on.
Carlsbad Caverns was incredible. The largest cave system in the Western Hemisphere apparently. Just one of the rooms that we toured was big enough to hold 16 football fields. On our way out of Carlsbad we stopped at the Post Time Saloon where the owner showed us the library from the Kellogg Mansion in Chicago. Apparently someone who had bought it at auction lost it to him in a poker game and he had it rebuilt in the middle of his bar – in its own little room. Al Capone himself had played poker at that same table.
The ride into Lincoln National Forest to climb up to Cloudcroft has to rank as one of the best motorcycle routes I’ve ever been on. Great turns and a steadily dropping temperature provided some much needed respite from the desert heat we’d been dealing with. By the time we made it up to Cloudcroft, the temperature was pretty chilly and we were almost at 9000 feet elevation. The bikes were having a hard time breathing and I was having a hard time staying warm since I had planned for desert temperatures and not to freeze my butt off in the mountains. #lessonlearned
The drop down into Alamagordo from Cloudcroft was one of the most serene and breathtaking series of switchbacks you can imagine. I pulled in my clutch handle and literally coasted the entire way down the mountain using my engine as a brake – a drop of over 6000 feet through canyons and tunnels in about 25 minutes. The eerie silence lent itself to contemplation – but I was too awed by the sunset to even think. It was the most spectacular feeling of emptiness I can describe. Except I can’t describe it. So I’ve got that going for me.
After a quick ride through Alamagordo we rode through the White Sands National Monument and the White Sands Missile Base – except that it was pitch black by this point and we couldn’t see a damn thing. Except for the stars. Which – if you’ve ever seen stars in the middle of complete blackness (since there literally was NOTHING around us) – was awe-inspiring. I was reminded of a scene in ROME when the two Roman soldiers are staring up at the sky talking about the stars.
“You know those are holes in the sky that lead you to heaven” says the Centurion.
“Has anyone ever climbed up and gone through one?” asks the Legionnaire
“I don’t think so” replies the Centurion. “How would you manage to get up there?”
“Probably by capturing a really large bird!” the Legionnaire proclaims.
Well – a really large bird couldn’t get me off my bike fast enough after that day’s ride. So after a quick pit-stop at Applebee’s in Los Cruces, we decided to call it a night and crash at the Motel 6.
Day 3 coming up soon – stay tuned.