Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Day 7

I love the desert. No rain, no cops, no bugs. Well, not exactly, but I'm getting ahead of myself.

I had a late start today because the morning was spent changing oil (guerrilla style, right in front of Wal-Mart), buying a new GPS (the old one finally made his last flicker on the Santa Fe Trail later in the day) and looking for boots and some other gear (unsuccessfully, but I met a very interesting man in the process).

It was 30, so the I40 jaunt to Tucumcari was pleasant and quick. Enter New Mexico, a state that left a big impression when I was passing through in July 2011. It didn't disappoint this time either. Did I say I love the desert? Some may think it's dull and monotonous, but at the pace the scenery was changing I was constantly fighting the onslaught of impressions. Just by the time you say "wow, this is magnificent" there is a "holy mother of twisty canyon roads" right the next minute.

Speaking of holy crap, I've seen more deer today than my entire life (no exaggeration, there were hundreds). First there was a group of seven right by the road. I quickly turned the engine off but they saw me and ever so graciously and effortlessly jumped over the fence to move away. Then, just before Cimarron, a very nice ranch house with a neatly trimmed lawn and SEVERAL DOZEN deer on it, just grazing like they belong there. I thought it was a deer farm, that's how many there were. Then I remembered how easily they jumped over that fence earlier...

Cimmaron Canyon is even better than I remember it, a sheer joy to ride as well as enjoy the scenery. I met a couple from southern Texas at a gas stop in Tucumcari and we discussed how you can't enjoy the scenery and have a spirited ride at the same time, so I kept that in mind, but it was damn hard. And yes, deer here as well, always in groups of at least four. No pictures were taken - it was already dusk and I needed both hands on the handlebar if I wanted to ride it well and be prepared if Bambi decides to jump. None did, actually they always moved away from the road as I was approaching. Maybe those deer whistles work...

As soon as the canyon carving was over, right after Eagle Nest lake came the 64 through Carson National Forest. That was the second moment on this trip that I felt so in tune with the bike that every corner was a pure perfection of combined speed and smoothness. It's like everything fell into place and produced a feeling my English is too poor to describe. This was one of those rare moments that bring tears in my eyes - tears of joy.

Wether was cooperating today, although I was sure I'll get soaked. First there were some weird clouds that looked more like a haze with undefined shape. Once I came closer, I realized what it is. Virga, an atmospheric phenomenon when the rain that falls evaporates before it reaches the ground on a hot and dry day (it was 35, and it is the desert). Later, as I was approaching the mountains (Rockies - Cimarron is over 6000 feet, Taos even higher) I saw clouds over them that were so obviously raining that I prepared for the worst all the while hoping it will pass by the time a get there. Guess what, it did - I didn't get a drop of rain and the pavement was bone dry throughout. The temperature fell though, big time. From 35 to 15 in less than 50Km.

Arrived in Taos to find the Don Fernando hotel another pleasant surprise. Easy on the eyes as well as the wallet with all the amenities just like I want them. Went for a relaxing swim in the pool right away and anticipate a very good breakfast.

All in all, I like it here so much that I will stay another day. I don't want to repeat the mistake of just passing through like last time. The only challenge is picking which of the great roads in the area to ride.

I can't believe I'm on the road only a week. The tightly packed, strong and condensed impressions produce the time machine effect. Indeed, (to paraphrase late-great John Munro) I've experienced more in this week than some people do in a year. I only wish Duda was here to live it with me.