Wednesday June 9, Salida CO to Clayton NM
Ok, I guess I haven’t completely made the turn away from continuing the road trip. From here in Salida I could make a right turn and go West over Monarch Pass ( 11,312 ft ) or I can head down the road South.
I head South.
If you’ll check your maps you’ll see lots of very straight roads in South Central Colorado. Very long and very straight. Yep, those are my roads out of Colorado. The objective for today is to endure these and hit US 64 in Eagle Nest, New Mexico.
I will say that the views of the Sangre de Cristo Mountain range from these roads are wonderful and help the time pass while the miles rack up. In particular, South out of Salida on US 285 and the first miles on CO 17 are excellent, as straight-road riding goes. The view of the mountains across the valley floor are impressive. Especially when the floor is green due to ranching / farming.
All too soon, tho, the objective becomes to simply make it through this little rough spot so you can get to the good stuff. Thoughts of exploration on this trip and previous trips help make it through.
By way of US 160, CO 159, NM 522, and NM 38 through Red River, I make it to US 64 and Eagle Nest.
I stop in Eagle Nest because I know that I have arrived at the last canyon. By the time I get to Cimarron, only 21 miles away, I will be on The Great Flats Barrier. I suspect it will not be a pleasant crossing of The Barrier; many miles of very bad road.
I chat with a guy working on some flower beds near the bench that I’m resting on. Turns out he retired two years ago and that many of his retirement plans have fallen through like so many plans for so many others. It’s a common theme these days. He owned / operated the little gift shop ( aka tourist’s trap ) across the parking lot. For 34 !! years. Before that he was in retailing for 20 years. The guy has worked for 54 years !! And been retired for two. He says they made a good living with the little shop, in this very small town, with a very short High Season. He says you have to be careful with what you buy and how much you pay for it, but making a good living can easily be done. I don’t completely understand how it’s possible, but apparently it’s done all the time. The two shops across the street are up for sale, he says, but the debt service on 900,000 bucks might be a little heavy.
He re-enforces the fact that I have reached the last canyon. And notes that it is indeed a beautiful canyon.
So off I go. On US 64. And it is beautiful.
At Cimarron I pick up NM 58 into Springer and then US 56 / 412 to Clayton. As I suspected, it is not a pleasant ride; straight road, hot air, sun beating down, very big cross-wind.
Sometimes the journey is less pleasant. Almost all the time, tho, the journey is most excellent.
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