For the past 8 months we prepared for a 2 week ride to New Mexico, Utah, and Colorado. We booked and paid for rooms in advance as we prepared our route. Any extra income was saved and taken in cash that we used for meals. By the time we left the entire trip was paid for with the exception of fuel. That makes for a worry free get a way to not have to worry about paying off credit cards or being in dept after the vacation is over with.
The first day was a hard ride from Fort Worth, TX to Artesia, NM where we would spend 2 full days visiting specific places we had wanted to see. Along the way a bee hit me in the face and left its stinger in my forehead. I finally had to pull over because it burned so bad and when I pulled my helmet off the bee fell out. It had hit me, stung me, then somehow crawled up inside of my helmet. All we had that could relieve the burning was some cortizone which we applied and moved on.
This part of the ride wasn’t very scenic in the concept of beauty. Once we crossed into New Mexico and headed into the desert areas the landscape was saturated with oil rigs and natural gas drilling. Rigs dotted the horizon as far as the eye could see which in itself was quite incredible. The smell of gas and petroleum was overwhelming at times and I tried not to inhale too deep to keep it out of my lungs as much as possible. Seeing and smelling this remarkable industry made me more aware of the enormity of the petroleum and gas industry as well as our reliance on it.
We arrived in Artesia, NM and used that town as our base for the next 2 days of sightseeing. Roswell, NM was our first stop where we spent the day riding and visiting the alien museum and other alien related attractions that we discovered. The following day was spent in Carlsbad Caverns. This made for a wonderful cool day inside the cave and kept us out of the heat. We took our time through the cavern and Margaret had the great idea to hike back out instead of using the elevator. The mile plus hike out was steep and exhausting. It took us 45 minutes to make the climb and when we got back to the visitor center we were so hot we decided to take the elevator back down into the cavern where it was cool to rest. We stayed down there for a couple hours and gazed in wonder at the formations while we cooled down. As dusk neared we took the elevator back up so and headed for the entrance of the cave for the bat swarm viewing. Those things come swarming out of that cave by the thousands and its quite a site to see. A thunderstorm was moving towards us with brilliant flashes of lightning and the roar of thunder and the thought of riding back at night in the rain was not looking positive. We put our rain gear on in preparation for the storm and incredibly made it back shortly before the storm hit.
The next couple days we spent riding scenic routes and back roads to get to our next destination at Cortez, CO where we would stay for another few days to see the sights in the area. As we exited to the final road where the lodge was located the road turned into gravel. We had to ride 10 miles on that gravel to get to our lodge due to construction that had begun the previous month. It was awful and since we were staying there for 3 nights it meant a 20 mile ride on gravel every time we left the lodge. We decided to 2 up since Margaret wasn’t comfortable riding in that type of surface. It also saved us a lot in fuel to leave her bike at the lodge. During this part of the trip I think dust got into my trip switch because it stopped working. I pulled apart the control housing one evening and cleaned it out but still couldn’t get it to work. I also reset the ECM and electronics by removing the battery leads but that didn’t work either. Since the only effect the trip meter had was not being able to flip between odometer readings I wasn’t worried enough to try and get it repaired.
While in Cortez, CO we spent 2 days seeing the various Indian cliff dwelling ruins at Mesa Verde National Park and went to Hovenweep Castle to see the ruins there as well. Neither of us had ever seen any of this history and it was something we both had always wanted to visit. It was absolutely remarkable to think of how the native Americans constructed these dwellings and the environment they lived in with so little water and extreme weather conditions. There was a lot of hiking involved during these 2 days and it made for a nice change from riding.
During our trip we were fortunate to see the desert in bloom. The locals told us they had finally come out of a 10 year drought which was causing the desert areas to bloom with an incredible variety of foliage and flowers. We took pictures of some of the flowers and plants since rainfall doesn’t happen with much frequency to cause the blooming. This made for an unexpected yet pleasant surprise and addition to the ride.
After Cortez we headed into Utah to ride UT-95. It is a Scenic Byway with incredible views for over a hundred miles. This also took us past Natural Bridge National Monument so we made the stop to see the first sandstone arches of our trip. This was also our hottest day we had experienced during the ride so far. Because it had been raining and somewhat overcast, up to this point the riding was somewhat comfortable. And we had only gotten caught in the rain once and even then only for a few miles along the road. Now however we were in full sun, desert region, no rain, hardly any clouds, and no towns for miles. It was beautifully remote and scalding hot at 110 degrees. We rode 10 hours in this from Cortez to UT-95 into Hanksville, then onto UT-24 and finally pulled into our hotel in Moab, UT. It was quite an experience though and were both glad to have done it. The weaving canyon roads carved out by small streams and breaking out into endless miles of barren desert were fabulous. To ride for hours and never reach the horizon you see in front of you is an experience I will never forget.
This marked a couple days past the halfway point of the trip. I’ll break this trip into a couple parts and continue the journey on the next post. If your interested in the route we took here are the trip directions in a PDF format: New Mexico, Utah, Colorado. Hope you enjoy!