I departed at 7am and hit the Turquoise Trail then the High Rd to Taos. The scenery vastly improved and I took a detour up the mountains outside Albuquerque to Sandia peak where, at 10,600 feet above sea level, it looks out over the valley below. Pretty amazing. The trails themselves wound through New Mexico’s high country and small native American villages. While there were some fascinating examples of Pueblo architecture the thing that struck me the most was the incredible poverty that these people live in. Stuck on reservations “given” to them by the Europeans, thrown a bone with the ability to have a casino and then pretty much left to fend for themselves. No wonder alcoholism is rampant. It’s a disgrace what was done to the native American Indians… what is still being done to them today. Ok, rant over.
After having lunch in Taos, I decided to take a “small road” route 64 and make the trek all the way to Kayenta, Arizona because it is the gateway town to Monument Valley. It was only 1pm and the GPS said it would take about 6 hours to get there. No problem. The route I took was AWESOME… route 64 West through northern New Mexico’s Rocky Mountains and has some beautiful riding with outstanding scenery, nice elevation changes and twisty roads. There was hardly anyone on the road either so that was nice. I passed a cool little ranch called Red Rabbit Ranch and I think a return trip with my kids may be in order next year. I also dropped my gloves on a bridge overlooking a gorge outside Taos and had to turn around ten minutes later when I realized my hands were bare. People were not pleased when I stopped in the middle of the bridge to retrieve them. I also saw some cool earth homes outside Taos. They were made of all natural or recycled materials like soda cans, bottles, tires, etc. and were heated and cooled entirely by natural means like solar, wind and geothermal. Pretty cool.
I made good time on the road and arrived in Kayenta around 8:30pm. As I stood behind a gentleman at the Hampton Inn, I heard him say that this was the last available room in town. HUH???? Hmmmm… let me see, last room… ok, better go to another hotel and check it out. Holiday Inn… no vacancies, Western Inn… no vacancies. Bed & Breakfast Inn… no vacancies. 9pm at night… no daylight!!!! Now I’m starting to panic. I pop into a local restaurant and have a quick bite because I’m hungry but, more importantly, to ask where any other lodging may be. I’m told go 10 miles down the highway to the so and so inn. Ok… off I go on my bike, at night, in the AZ desert. Now, it is pitch black and my high beams are illuminating all these small road signs warning of the things you can crash into… like cows and horses!!!! Apparently, the land around there is what is known as “open range” meaning things just meander where they want to. Really? Yup… as I was leaving town there were 3 horses grazing on the grass right next to a stop sign across the street from McDonald’s!!!
So, I’m doing 60mph in the dark and looking at every side road or mud hole trying to figure out if I can camp there. The desert does not look inviting. I make it to the inn that is 10 miles outside town… no vacancies! DUH! Ok, I ask is there anywhere to camp around here. Oh yes… 5 more miles down the road you turn right onto the Navajo Monument road and then another 9 miles from there you have a campground. Oh joy… more riding in the dark, gripping the handlebars so tight that my fingers are hurting.
I make it to the campground at 9:45pm after riding all day. I have no idea where I am going or what the situation is but I pull into the first empty campsite I see and begin the task of setting up the tent. It actually went very well given that I was exhausted and was surveying the ground and surroundings in the dark 🙂 I at least was smart enough to get the rain cover on because… YUP… I was camping so rain was coming. I had seen the clouds as I drove into the campsite but with the light behind them I thought they were mountains. Only the flash of lightening made me change my mind 🙂 So, after I was asleep the rain, thunder and lightening came. It woke me up several times to remind me of how much sleeping on dirt and rocks hurts! However, being the rocket scientist that I am, I took both of the hip pads out of my motorcycle pants and used them to cushion my hip while I slept. It worked pretty well and I did manage to get some sleep until the rain stopped at 7am and gave me the motivation to get moving for the day. Monument Valley awaits!!!!
Deer on Sandia Mtn
Sandi Mtn overlooking Albuquerque
What passes for a ranch in New Mexico – check out the name
Cool old church on the Turquoise Trail
Gorge outside Taos
Earth home outside Taos
New Mexico Route 64 west scenery