Austin.

I am tired. I don’t know what it is, the weather, the road, the food or… I arrived at the motorcycle repair shop to ask for an oil change and plugs and the guy was pretty gruff. Gotta bring the bike in the morning. He say “it’s hard to get parts, wrah, wrah, wrah.. bike too old, wrah, wrah, wrah… Yeah, got filter and plugs, wrah, wrah, wrah… He goes on, oily faced and gray with grease, I said, “I understand”. He goes back inside.

It is really stuffy, I feel I am about to pass out. I kneeled down trying to breathe. My head is spinning making me a bit loopy. Crap, I can’t ride like this, I feel a bit panicked. Dark thoughts of being stuck…

OK, Stop that. Survival mode : what do I need? …Almost out of gas, get gas. I see it. A Chevron station across the way, there I go. …Very hungry, get food. Ride half a block : A Vietnamese restaurant. That will be a relief from Mexican (rice, beans, cheese, corn since New Mexico… Can’t do it anymore ) As I sit to eat the skies open, downpour. I am indoors warm & dry. Thank God.

Hunker down or leave. One local banker says : hunker down then go to Louisiana. He says running North will only put me into more bad weather pushed by Alex the now named Hurricane and there are lots of things to see in Austin. Get the Chronicle, it’s all in there.

I’m supposed to meet with friends here, I can’t reach them. My phone went dead and along with that death also died the messages I had stored, one of these messages contained the needed phone number.

So this is the third stop in a wi-fi friendly place today to see if my friend answered or not. No such luck so far. I might end up in a hostel tonight.

Texas. Oil, large pick up trucks, large hats. People look actually healthier around here. More fit, very keen, even aggressive. Very present. Texas, and an ever changing landscape. Texas and cowboy stuff everywhere, but I have yet to have seen range, or range riders anywhere.

Austin. There are guitars everywhere, I miss playing. I miss something. I am amiss. Tired. I want to clean everything up, the bike is just grossly filthy, chain lube spittings on everything, everywhere. Things are wet. Damp inside & out of the bags. All the gear is worn and beaten by the wind, I must be getting close to 5000 miles by now and some of the stuff I brought wasn’t meant for this sort of abuse by the elements. Wind, sun, rain, cold, heat. I feel I want a new shirt and pants, mine feel stretched and tired of life. Some silence for a day or so, just to give me the time to stop the road from rolling on when I close my eyes.

I never really thought about it, but this trip could likely total 10 thousand miles of road if I make it back to Vancouver…

Is it crazy? Maybe. But it would have been crazier to stay back there and not move. Say yes, yes, yes to all the same people. Repeat the same moves over and over, hoping for change or redemption. I know this. I know there is something to be found on this road. I get bits of clues and answers every day.

I thank the Bob’s, David’s, Rick’s, Phil’s, Dora’s, Stormy’s, Debi’s, Duane, Saiah, Jim’s, and all the others of this world for their humanity. For the lessons, the love and the light they have shone on my path.

I must stay lean, attentive and connected. Forgive myself, forgive the world, Forgive. And love. And hold no grievances. Let go. Let him and all the shared past go, go, go, go…..

I feel the rope I walk on, I look up, find the balance, feel…

To feel. Oh God, to be alive. I’ve been dead for so long. To feel the skin receive the light and the wind. To hear water run, to burn, sweat, hurt, get dizzy, get high, be amazed, be mad. To feel the eyes of another, to sense their world, mesh, unmesh. Laugh, cry. To hear music and have it course through your body like blood in your veins, nourishing, mesmerizing. To sense the life, the hours, all the paths that now connect and will disconnect in another short moment.

To walkabout the world, one step after another, one mile after another, one thought after another. To get closer, approach the Great Spirit and his love.

Leaving Roswell,

Roswell…

I had company in my room last night. I came out of the bath and saw this roach madly running for it’s life as I was screaming….

Yes you can be going 120 MPH down an unknown road with the aplomb of a Special Ops Marine but the sight of a roach sends you yelping like a helpless damsel.

Today (Monday) was housekeeping : Laundry, some food, oil for the bike, going to the bank where I was very happy to see that my debit card still worked.

I took some time to gather images for you Alien fans…

Aliens, aliens


Be there...



can you spot the alien taking the picture?


From Roswell gradually changes from the typical New Mexican scenery to a flatter and duller series of fields. Oil derricks start to appear in those fields and with them a sulfurous stench. In between there is also the amazing smell of fields, a blend of sage-like and grass infused air envelops me. Ying and Yang.

I ride on. Not much to see. My bike is getting loud. Damn pipes… I bought these pipes last year and they were not great to start with and it sounds like the baffle is going again.

I go on like this, in and out of these desolate small towns. I suddenly saw the DQ sign and the picture of a vanilla dipped cone materialized in my mind. I pulled over. There was one other bike there. I walked in and the seats had carved steer heads in them and the booths had the lone star flag embedded in them. I am in Texas.

“Hey are you traveling alone?” That was the other biker. We started to chat. His name was Stormy, native indian from Michigan on a solo trip like me. We laugh the energy is great. “Which way ‘you going?”
“East” I say.
“Want to ride along”
“Sure” I say

Stormy and his ride

We get going. The target was Abilene. We ride, it’s always a bit strange for me to ride along another. I have a method to my rides, which is something like start slow, find the groove, Let the leather marry to the bike, accelerate, get comfy then zone. With someone else you got to find their tempo, rhythm, 3\4 or 4\4? You have to learn their driving quirks like how they ride curves : attack or blend in? So in other words, the zoning is less deep as you have to pay attention and work in harmony, a music of sorts.

the roads are again longs stretches of deserted land. At one point I am feeling so good, I laugh a laugh no one can hear and I accelerate, passing Stormy and enticing him into a faster pace. I zoom by. Soon after that a cop car appears on the horizon towards us. I must be close to 90 at that point, Stormy is a ways behind me… OH SHIT. I look in the mirror and I see the brake lights on the cop car and it disappears behind the next roll of the road… Shit, shit, shit…

I can just see him turning around in a hurry and speeding to catch us up. We both slow down. I am thinking that if the cop shows up I’ll take the blame… I instigated that speed…

We see headlights approaching and there is no way to know if it is just a car or the cop… shit, shit, shit. We keep it cool both with a stiffer than necessary spine. The car was staying at a distance shadowing us, too far for me to see if it is civilian or not. I am certain at this point that he’s just waiting for us to do something, anything. Finally the headlights get really close and … pass us… it’s a minivan doing 90…!

In the next town we pull in the equivalent of a 7\11 with pumps and discuss : I thought it was the cop! Me too! Ha! Ha! Ha! We’re both covered in splattered bugs, my faceshield is a gross war zone of dead bloody bugs. The bikes are filthy. : what do we do? Hotel? Abilene? Bar &hotel? I said :”well, I can’t see much out of my shield as it is tinted so I am a bit leery to keep goin on in the dark.” That is where I acquired (only for a few hours) this new look:

My new look, goggles and scull cap, Ahem...

Stormy ask a local about a bar and the guy said : “we’re a dry town. There is not bars in this town. You’re in the Bible belt”.

Wow.

We laugh more. Yeah, a lynching could be on the program! Stormy is an Indian on a Harley and me, the French harlot on the crotch rocket coming to disturb the order in town. Could be trouble.

Teenagers are being rebellious plowing full speed, windows down into a large puddle of red water splashing it violently all over, near the pumps over and over again hollering and being crazy. They yell out : “We’re professionals” They did not say what kind of pros..

We’re talking when this fellow in a BIG pick up truck (trucks are big with the crowds here and they are as BIG as trucks can be) With a drawl : “You folks are lookin’ for a bar? There is one down the road, the Veterans Hall, you go down to the next town, Hamlin, when you see the wooden cabins you turn left and you go down the dirt road, its’ at the end there, Looks lika house but you just go on in.“

“dirt road?” says Stormy. I can just imagine… the two road bikes..

We decide to go check it out. The idea of a small town drinking hole in a dry town has some appeal.
We laugh and go.

We turn down the dirt road in the dark, I am just laughing, it’s pitch dark. We roll by a house and a dog just goes nuts barking at us, running along the fence. Red dust lifts in our trail, I am halfway thinking the cops will show up to see who is making this ruckus. When we finally find the place it’s closed.

“At least we can say we tried!” I say laughing.

We go back to the lone motel in town and get a room. The Motel keeper, an East Indian, has two cold beers, we gladly take them and go wind down for the day. The Hamlin motel. The walls are green, a happy sort of incongruent green, the bath tub looks like a pinto horse with a white and a green patching of a finish. There is AC, water, a bed. What more can one need?

downtown Hamlin

Stormy became a marine at 18 did 5 years of service, was shipped out to see the end of Desert Storm. He is an artist, lives in Michigan, teaches art on the reserve and his now on what he calls a “Walkabout” like me.

I like the word Walkabout.

We pull into Abilene Stormy heads East. I will head South towards Austin. Before he leaves he helps me with fixing the baffle on my exhaust. “Gotta help a fellow biker” he says. Hugs and he’s gone.

For a moment there I feel incredibly lonely. I am the worst at goodbyes. In this strange place. It’s hot, humid, I ‘m not sure where to start. I set the GPS on Starbucks and here I am. In the A\C fied air of the cafe, writing.

I thank the great spirit for the meeting, the laughs, the fun and the beauty of another soul.

Speed, Terror, Calm

June 28, 2010

Leaving Santa Fe.

I had one of the very best night of sleep at the Motel 6 in Santa Fe, woke up fresh, no aches, this is good.

I zoomed up to Las Vega NM to see… Got caught by thundershowers but this time I am prepared, rain coat, booties so I don’t really care.

Nothing to see, most of the town is closed on Sundays… Not good tourism policies if you ask me. I turned around.

Run back down full tilt. More rain.

… On the approach to Santa Fe : huge urge to stop…. I change lanes, then, I grind my teeth and continue… I think that if I stop again, I might not leave.

I blast down I 25, the wind picks up and the heat.

This wind is like nothing I’ve known before. I swear the bike is pushed sideways at angles approaching 50 degrees. Gusts and wind blasts grow stronger and stronger. I pray for traction. Rubber on the road please.

The wind now is so strong it pushes us completely to the other side of the lane. I feel I am leaning into a mountain side but I am on flat ground. The wind toys with me. It would push and push sideways then drop us so the lack of resistance would make me fall rapidly in the direction I was holding against.

They don’t teach you that at motorcycle school. I get tired just hanging on. As we got closer to Albuquerque it got more outrageous… The wind there is brutal and comes from all directions. It is vengeful and unpredictable. Like someone grappling your lapel and shaking you like a rag.

I started to feel a bit of panic. How am I supposed to ride this? Then I thought of martial arts : do not resist the force go with it and then the most important part came to me : Stand to the wind, do not fight, and know that you will prevail. A fierce sort of calm filled me. It was amazing. OK, we are going to stay upright, calm, forward and focused and somehow the wind did not seem so dangerous.

One thing I have noticed since I live alone is how when you are on your own you figure shit out. When someone is there you depend, you ask, you question, you wait. You lose the sense of responsibility and the necessity of handling things now. On your own no one else will do it for you. You cry, you kick and scream, you laugh and you learn you smile and it’s never anyone’s fault anymore. It’s all yours. You made the decisions, took the steps and handled it with poise or like a twerp.

Next turn the 60 East

I did not know anything about the 60. I just saw it on the map and it went in the general direction I was aiming for : Austin via Roswell.

The 60 started promisingly, just gorgeous, void of cars and humans, with good pavement. Storms were gathering West, North and South. My path seemed to ply right in the middle. Lucky me. If you look on the map this road looks straight : It is. At first I was enjoying the scenery, the colors, a rainbow above a mesa in the South, cows, trains, I love to see the trains here. Then the straightaways started to beguile… well there is nothing in sight…

Speed.

Something happens when you go really fast. There is a point where it does not seem fast anymore.  this bike seems to like it fast, maybe they all do?  I could not tell how fast I was going because my speedo broke in Flagstaff, at one point I glanced and the tach was a little above 9000 RPMs I don’t think I’ve ever been so close to redlining in 5th gear.  I don’t know what that is in terms of speed but in operation it felt like a magic carpet ride, really smooth.  I lay completely down on the tank, tuck my knees and elbows in and zoomed through the décor.

What made me physically aware of the amount of speed I was travelling at was when I had to decelerate for a speed zone , I had to literally push back on the handlebars to keep myself upright.  Like G-forces and the sound of the motor… It swirls back out of the hyper speed as if coming from unfathomable distance, as if the motor was in an interstellar black hole of endless power and it takes a while for the sound and noises and motions to get back in synch and into the focus and position required by reality gradually coming back from a really really deep dream in the motor realm.

Gas. Again

Need to stop again, in a small town… I go through these places and there isn’t even a grocery store. How do they live? What do they do? Who are they? I continue.

More of the same.

I thought the land was like a giant fabric laid on flat with folds here and there that some artist will try in vain to duplicate with coal on paper. The road is a seam, like on the endless leg of a pair of jeans, the yellow lines like the stitches, going on forever up in the horizon. I am an ant, a minuscule speck of life, covering the distance on the unfolding fabric following the two lane ribbon of the road up and up and up.

BNSF train, I love them orange trains

More gas

I fill up as often as I can as there are places where everything closes at 6 PM and it’s just too bad if you miss. I feel we are going down in altitude. The bike runs better and better. It purrs.

At this point the sun is coming down, it’s getting cold. Got to stop to put back on the layers, the raincoat to cut the wind and even the balaclava ( the bandit looking thing I put over my head and it covers my neck) Amazing how the right gear will keep you comfortable and able. Lose one piece of it and you are in hell.

The storm cloud


Right then, the colors around me were incredible, the skies are otherworldly, an IMAX theatre for giants. Everything is larger than life, the sky, the clouds, the land. I stop to take some photos, they don’t really turn out that well. They don’t tell the story. I get back on.

That is when things got terrorizing.

Blame it on a long day in the saddle, my over active imagination, or simply that there are some Gods and spirits living on this land.

The storm cloud you saw in the last photo turned into a monster’s face. The background is an ominous black to very dark grays clouds. Enmeshed on that is this humongous storm cloud with white, orange, purples, pinks, dark blues…

morphing skies

The storm cloud morphed in front of my eyes, the closest I can think of is one of those Chinese mean looking creature with the large nose the angry mouth and eyes. Each feature is alive, it moves, the white clouds make each expression pop out of the back ground, the eyes, the brows, the mouth opens and screams at me a silent deafening thunderous scream. It is looking at me. It is scowling at me, I feel an anger, a power, I am just too small for this.

The last rays of the sun light the whole show up. As I climb up this overpass, thence getting closer to the face, it gets bigger, the winds blow. I started to whimper.

All around the scenery is this INCREDIBLY beautiful vista : , the fields, endless, wild, the colors moved my soul… North, West, South, East… The beauty took my breath away in wonder. So I look at the vista, look at the face, I go back and forth between pure terror and pure wonder, I don’t know anything anymore.

That face… it morphs, it seems it is going to swallow me, burn me, punish me, the eyes… I am crying. It’s irrational and so real.

I start to scream out loud, but no one hears, the tears are streaming down my face and landing in the balaclava, the motor roars, the wind whistles angrily… And the face… it gets, distorted, howling its rage, it’s on fire. I am just crying like a helpless fool. My heart is pounding. I am F@#$ scared of a cloud! But it’s so real. It’s right there.

The skies are so ominous. I expect rain to fall to burst from those black clouds and drown me right there and swallow me. No one would ever know what happened to me… then I look around and it’s so gorgeous. Oh my God….

Gradually the face starts to melt, now to my left another cloud looks like an arm waving me this way, this way… and the road angles that way. I am so grateful for the bike running, for my body alive, my heart calms down.

I am a minuscule speck of a being in this gigantic universe. I am alone here in this moment in time and space, I am so… I am so…

What to say, what word would express…. I just am. My face wet with tears, my mind shaken, My heart brimming with a kind of pride and gratefulness towards my machine. My clothes are doing the work of keeping me able to ride, my hands hold the bars lightly. In this craziness all is well somehow.

How do you explain all this.

Night fell. The motor runs. The road is this perfect, brand new thread of asphalt. Blacker than the skies. In the rearview mirror the sun has gone, only remnants of light gradually disappear to full blackness.

I don’t go fast anymore. It’s calm. I am comfortable. there is no one around. Roswell 58 miles. Should be there in about an hour.

Technical facts

June 28, 2010

MILEAGE so far : 4176 miles (can you believe this!)

BIKE MAINTENANCE :
1 oil change,
1 brake bleed front and back and fresh brake oil,
1 bike wash once,
4 chain lube
Gas, gas, gas…

MECHANICALS :
Broken speedometer since Falgstaff
Instrument lights failed last night
Brakes squishy with heat.
Pour a sip of engine oil every 1000 km or so

RIDER MAINTENANCE:
daily morning yoga and arm-hand stretches,
1 good meal a day,
espresso : mandatory.
Hotel or motel once in a while.

No rider mecanicals so far

Sigh…. Ahhhh….

June 27, 2010

Saturday June 27 Santa Fe

Full moon,

I am in a Motel 6

I just had a very brief altercation with a bum at the motel lobby as I went to get a bottle of water.

The vending machine was sold out of water.

Well, well, well.

This morning I woke up very early (for me that is…) around 6:30 AM. That followed a night on a bed that consisted of a cheap, cheap, cheap, did I say cheap? rectangle of foam over plywood. It took forever to get to sleep then I woke up numb in the middle of the night, had to do stretches to my arms, shoulders and back to convince my body to lie down again.

The advantage to getting up early in a hostel is that you get the early bird as to your choice of a chore. Yep, it’s $18 for the night and you can eat the food that’s there but then in the morning you gotta do chores… I was one of the first on the job so I got the proverbial worm : “Wipe the two oven tops with a soapy washcloth and remove any crumbs”. I did feel somewhat guilty as some of the other chores were much more involved : Clean the men’s showers. Pick up garbage from all garbage cans (the place is huge…) . And so on.

I was glad I got to say good bye to the Ozzy hiker. This man from Australia WALKED hundreds of miles of the continental divide… I got to ask him the details again. He made me realize that there is a whole sub-culture of hikers. I mean not the type who go up Grouse mountain on Saturday morning before brunch at Sophie’s. The type who hike on foot from Mexico to Alaska for months on end with nary a thing with them. Made me feel like what I am just doing is pretty cushy.

the hiker from Australia, beautiful soul from the road

He took a picture of me in the morning

Yours truly up at 7 something AM... Ungodly..

We had a great conversation the night before. He went to bed and ten I played some guitar. There was a guitar in the hall that I had seen and I longed to play. I miss it. People quietly got closer and listened but no one asked for covers or tried to pry the thing out of my hands or such things that usually happen when there is a guitar around. I just kind of played for myself, sang a little and didn’t really want to stop but it was time to close the lobby. The makeshift audience complimented me and said they enjoyed it. I kind of like this incognito playing. No pressure. Nothing to prove. Just play the thing and enjoy the sounds.

So this morning was my earliest morning so far, I felt OK until about 40 minutes into it when my bad sleep and caffeine depletion caught up with me. I had the intention of finding a car wash and clean the chain from yesterday’s rain (rain will always clear out all the lubricant and cover the chain with sand and dirt… interesting law of nature) I could not find a car wash before I got out of town so I stopped on the side of the road to lube the chain. I imagine it must look a bit funny as I walk the bike a few steps, spray the chain, walk it a few more steps, repeat step 2… (don’t have a center stand)

I then stopped again barely 10 minutes later to figure out the the road number, I had left without checking… then stopped yet again another 10 minutes later at a grocery store parking lot looking again for the specific road…

Then… the big question came : Where am I? This is something that has been coming up quite a bit lately. Where am I? That is the kind of question people never ask because usually you are where you live. But now I live where I wasn’t, or is it… I am being where I am but I am not where I live? Hmm.

I asked this passerby, and since he lives there he knew and he generously told me but he had a spanish accent and I did not understand or recognize from the names on the map… we chatted for a while then it was time to go and since he was going in the same direction he guided me to the proper road as I was already heading the wrong way. (sometimes not having coffee can be dangerous to your health) He then did almost the whole ride with me up to Taos. It was fun.

But out of this absentmindedness I realize a great advance : I am at a point where I can barely think, remember, cogite. But. I can riiiiiide! As befuddled as my thinking brain was, I rode these real nice curves bends, turns, shifts in complete confidence. This is good. I mean, it’s always better to get the thinking out of your activities. Less mistakes more inspiration and instinct. Thinking is a dangerous activity. Life goes by while you do it.

Entering Taos and there lays another expanse of malls, ugly shops, lights and tourist traps… Sigh.

I get to an intersection and of course, take the opposite direction to the one I was planning. Sigh…

I decided to try and trust that maybe this was the universe’s plan for a perfect day. So I soldiered on this plain, flat, regular sort of road… Until we hit the Rio Grande Canyon. That was actually cool, a nice surprise.

The Rio Grande Canyon


Rio Grande take 2


Rio Grande take 3

Another long flat stretch where I could see the thunderstorms and rain clouds gathering and starting to run after me followed the Rio Grande.

I SWEAR! They are running after me! The clouds are! I raced them on.

I continued on with the 64 and up and up and up we went. 10 thousand feet. The bike is drinking gas like water and it idles really really low. It’s bike voice has become a low baritone growl, the first gear is reeeaaaalllyyyy sloooow to geeeeet gooooiiiinnnng…

As we went up the temperature went down and to my extreme surprise : I am freezing! Freezing in New Mexico in late June!!!!!! Sigh…

Finally, I get down the mountain which did not look like New Mexico, with meadows, pines, grass, farmland, lakes…

Finally the most amazing visual candy break of the day came with my favorites : the red hills.

my favorites, the red hills


The sun is cooking, I stop, take some photos, eat a bit, and just hang out by the side of the highway. A massive pick up truck slows down… A dark handsome man and his sidekick in a huge black 4×4 Ford pickup truck with a Supercab U-turns on the highway and pulls next to me.

Are you OK?

Yeah, no problems. Just enjoying and eating.

Where are you going?

Oh, not sure yet.

He looks at my plate. “Are you from BC? Did you ride all the way here?”

-”Yep. Loved it too”

“You’re a wild one hm?! Hey, there is a motorcycle rally in Santa Fe tomorrow, you gonna be there?”

“well I don’t know, with my kind of bike the Harley guys look at me funny sometimes”

“Hey, you ridin’ that’s all that matters. Got a phone number?”

“Well, yeah, but it’s from Canada. they charge me a buck fifty a minute when I use it so I don’t”

“Oh, well, maybe we’ll see you there”

“Yeah maybe”

“Ride safe” “Yeah ride safe” said the sidekick.

“Always!”

The man backed up the truck in a very manly fashion , both of them waved one last time and they took off. I hung out a bit longer, put on the helmet, jacket, gloves climbed back on my rocket and took off too.

While it pours…

June 26, 2010

Pouring, drenching, torrential rain.

I sit now at the Starbucks in Santa Fe waiting for the skies to clear. People around here say : “you don’t like the weather? Wait five minutes, you’re in New Mexico”

Well, I’ve been sitting here for about 40 minutes and it’s still coming down. The barristas are amazed! “This is not normal!” they say.

well it gives me time to put up some photos from today…

I started the day really, really, really slowly. Tired, sore, my hands felt like paws so swollen they were.

I saw a sign for massage right across from where I had breakfast and I went for it. That was the right thing to do. I got new gloves, got glue and needle and thread and fixed my helmet strap that was mangled by the wind, then got some fruit, some water and was on my way.

the other side of the showers

Not 10 minutes out the first thunderstorm hit. Drenched. My jeans completely wet inside out.

the showers that ran after me to finally catch me fully, totally.

But the wind is warm and I dry up fairly evenly. I get to Ghost Town… unreal:

One of Ghost Town's businesses


an old train that found it's last home here


a view of the main street


whimsy of Ghost Town

I entered one of the boutiques and was taken emotionally by the art, the colors, the spirit of what was there. Oh my.. that is what I was looking for.

I chatted with Catasha there, she told me there was a movie that was going to be shot here “cowboys and aliens” with Harrison Ford and they needed riders, horse riders… ah hum… I thought. She said go see so and so who knows so and so… I did and that went kind of nowhere. But I thought it could happen… Oh my.

it rained flowers in Ghost Town

One of the people to talk to was down the road, she said where the fence has paintings on it and there is the white horse trailer and a bright blue pick up truck. so I went.

the horses by the trailer by the paintings

I got off the bike there and walked around I saw these paintings..

the Gallery, on the left side...


I did not find the guy, I wasn’t sure what to do. I need gas… so I motored on. Got gas and then it really started to come down… and it is shortly after that that I stopped at Starbucks.

My heart is light. It’s all good, it’s not a little rain that will deter a West Coast girl.

love

d

some of the vegetation around here




the tenderest of greens next to the rocks and sand


and cactuses... yeah, yeah i know cacti


then end... for today

Continental divide. It make me feel divided, east-west, where do I belong?

Got the bike washed. Phew! it was FILTHY! I went into one of those gigantic american car washes with multiple stall, 15 choices of sprays and washes. I had to unpack the whole thing, saddle bags and all.

I normally do this in my driveway sitting on a little stool, with a bucket a hose and a bunch of rags, a brush for the mags and all the different bottles of de-greaser, wax, polish, & lube for all the little places that need it… A labor of love.

This was a violent cleansing with nasty smelling chemicals but it was effective in a way that the bike looked revived… and white again.

I have been poring over the map wondering where the heck to go. I have avoided major Interstate Highways like the plague as they end up being a boring race to the finish which is not what this trip is about. But on the map there were no roads that seem to go anywhere.

I had such expectations about New Mexico… and now it seems I can’t find my way.

I’ve tried three different times to get off the I-40 and the first time it was a dead end, the second time the road practically disappeared and the neighborhood was not inviting, the third time I ended up on this road and there is more and more potholes… more and more dirt and gravel and the ride is getting pretty rough. I am now cruising in 1st or second gear, trying to avoid holes… then all pavement disappeared. Red dirt and the whole surface is like a cheese grater… My bike is NOT a dirt bike. Holy crap…. It goes on and on… gravel, rocks, holes, it’s so bumpy it goes frrrrrrr, I am down to a crawl, my feet down trying to ease the way for the bike.

Finally, a sign : HWY 6.

on one of my dead ended detours, this sky

I get on there and redemption is at hand : perfect pavement. As if I had to pay some dues to get to this.

leaving the I-40

We always forget about the value of good, flat, even, blacktop until we run out of it.

The views were breathtaking, the going was speedy, and there was little to no traffic.

little friends along the highway

It went on for almost an hour. An hour of road bliss.

I got to the bottom of it reaching the 25 North. Albuquerque, here I come. I got there at around rush hour. I followed the signs to the only to end up into skid row… It reminded me of the downtown Eastside in Vancouver. Flashy buildings of big businesses surrounded by homeless, druggies and really, really poor neighborhood.

And the traffic lights… every 200ft, stop, stop, stop. By now I am starved, steaming hot, tired and I don’t find this funny.

While trying to get out of town all together I found the Old Town.

old town Albuquerque


always the Church present

I had food (finally) water ( ahhhhhh) some rest (phew) and took time to walk around. There was some entertainment in the gazebo some ladies past their sixties having a blast with songs like Fever playing with boas, wearing high slitted skits and heels.

Fever and boas

a horse in a boutique

But something is not right. I wanted so badly to see New Mexico, I thought it would bring some sort of revelation. But so far apart from HWY 6 it has been mostly the man-made, dried up depressed scenery blanketed with billboards about indian art, cheap gas and budget hotels.

Is my intuition off?

Was I wrong?

At the Hostel I met John, a fellow from Northern Carolina who lived in Oregon and is now working here for a while. He is a rider.

He got me to take my map out and showed me where to go. This loop, this way, that pass… I am on the right road. My intuition actually did take me exactly where I had to be.

Then he told me more about where to go and what roads to take and what roads not to take as I head towards Austin, New Orleans… “take the Natchez trace from Mississippi it will take you directly to Nashville”…

I feel re-purposed and reassured.

Body wise I am a bit of a wreck. Somehow my hands became super swollen over the last two days and it gets worst during the night. I woke up to two big painful paws instead of hands this morning. I feel a bit rundown.

Stuff wise a few things have broken down, like the clip for my helmet strap : completely disintegrated by the wind, I lost a glove, which does not help my left hand at all. My yellow raincoat is now a strange shade of greenish-gray dirt around the sleeves and edges and the lining inside is starting to peel off. It’s a dirty world that is for sure.

So next I am heading up North on the 14 towards Santa Fe, John at the hostel said that biking nirvana awaits me up there.

I roll on.

ready to roll