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Dan Hughes

Wednesday May 26, Chama NM to Cortez CO

Another perfect day in Biker Trash Paradise. Wouldn’t change a second.

A most wonderful experience way, way deep in the wild west boonies. I encountered several groups of wild horses. Four groups of four or five horses in each. Incredible !!!

Left Chama on US 64 West with the objective to not go to Pogosa Springs by way of US 84. That’s a great ride, but I’ve ridden it for I don’t know how many times. I think it is still too cool to head for the high Rockys.

So, where US 64 heads West outside Chama I took that fork in the road. It’s been many years since I took this route to Colorado. It’s a great ride and the road has never been patrolled whenever I’ve on it. The surface has started to deteriorate in several places, but not really bad yet.

Checking the Real Time Moto Road Trip Planner, I see a thin-line road out of Dulce that leads to several lakes and crosses the continental divide. Looks like fun. It’s a long-cut from US 64 back to US 64. The road doesn’t have a number on my map, but the map indicates that I should hit a T intersection at NM 537 and get back to 64.

I take the road in Dulce and it is way proved up with wide lanes, wide shoulders, and a smooth brand new surface. Nonetheless, I stay with the objective and continue. Soon, the brand new road ends and the expected thin-line road is what I’m riding.

Beautiful long views into Colorado and the Rockys, as well as the local mountains and valleys. At some places the road surface gets really bad, but it’s a great ride anyway.

Soon I begin to suspect that the map is not correct. While I can miss intersections when I’m eyeballing the scenery, I know I can’t miss a T-intersection. There have been no signs about anything along the road. Dulce itself is in the boonies and I left that behind many miles back.

I continue to explore and soon I encounter a few groups of horses beside the road. The presence and sounds on the bike really spooks these horses. There aren’t any fences in sight, and I haven’t seen any for many many miles. The horses sure don’t respond to me and the machine in the same way that domesticated horses do. I’m really really deep into the boonies. HVent seen any signs of civilization for many mNy miles. I conclude that they are wild horses. What an experience.

Eventually, the pavement ends. So I stop to review the situation. The only sounds out here are the sounds of the wind. And when the wind isn’t blowing, the only sounds are the sounds of nothing. It’s a beautiful valley that I’ve landed in.

I turn around to try to find the road that goes back to US 64, resigned to returning all the way back to Dulce if that’s what it takes. Which would double the pleasure of this long-cut ride.

I do make it to US 64, with the help of some locals who happen to be coming along the road.

US 64 from here to the next objective road is a joy. Nobody here but me, the machine, and the road. It’s a fun little run.

I stop at the Navajo City Roadhouse to sip a chilled Starbuck’s product and chat with a couple of guys there. Mostly, they chat and I try to listen. One of the guys must be a savant because he constantly throws out tidbits about everything from fusion energy to the density of various insects at different locations around the Navajo Dam Lake and the population and locations of several pre-history Pueblos and the relative size of the population of San Juan county then and now. And I don’t remember what else. He would not stop talking and would head of in a perpendicular direction all the time. He constantly used his hands and his eyes couldn’t look at you when he was talking.

The other guy would try to grab the conservation, but he always failed. I eventually simply said that I was going to ride NM 539 and left.

I take NM 539 across Navajo Lake dam and NM 173 to Aztec. The objective roads are a couple that lead to and across Red Mesa and leads me to US 160 West of Durango; NM 574, NM 170, and CO 140. Another great chunk of road and touring even when the wind gets big on the top of the mesa.

I ride into Cortez CO, settle in and do my laundary.

Another wonderful day riding, exploring, and touring the tiny-line roads.

May 26, 2010 Posted by | moto touring | | 3 Comments

Tuesday May 25, Santa Fe NM to Chama NM

A perfect day in Biker Trash paradise. Just perfect.

US 285 from Espanola to US 64 at Tres Piedras to Tierra Amarilla, then US 64 / 84 to Chama, then a ride up to the Cumbres summit pass on NM 17 and back to Chama.

That chunk of US 64 has got to be in the top 10 of my all-time favorite roads. Up over a high pass and then through a beautiful wide valley into Chama. Lots and lots of unsurpassed long views all along the route. As you approach Chama, the mountains in Colorado are right there in front. Beautiful. Five stars for sure.

The route that I took is about two times as many miles as taking US 84 directly from Espanola to Chama. But it’s ten times better, Biker Trash wise. And if you don’t stop for too long, it doesn’t take nearly twice the time, if you get my drift. The road speaks to you and it becomes impossible to not twist the throttle more and more.

This wasn’t my original plan, but while I was up at the summit, the scenic train pulled into a station up there. I became a train spotter and started taking pictures. And followed along as the train made its way back to Chama.

I met Adam, who had a movie camera and high-tech microphone setup by the track waiting for the train. Adam is working on a film about the history of the scenic railroad, Cumbres & Toltec, because his grandfather help build the line. The film is his dissertation. He had selected an especially scenic spot, so I waited for the train with him and took some photos.

I took a lot of photos today, some might be worth keeping.

May 25, 2010 Posted by | moto touring | | 1 Comment

Monday May 24, White Rock NM to Santa Fe NM

Started out to get back up high in the mountains, on NM 4, but by the time I get to the top of the mesa, not even getting to the high altitude, the temperature is in the low 40s F (single digit in those other units). Decide to go into Los Alamos and wait for the temperature to increase. It’s very windy, too.

Chatted with a guy who said he was in high management at the La-bor-a-tory, the Nukey Bombs part. Now he’s into odd jobs for a property-management company. hhhmmmm. I wonder. But on the other hand I’ve always found Higher Management, especially Project Managers, could slip into odd-job maintenance and never be missed.

Higher temperatures are not coming on very fast. So I decide to get down off the mesas and check out stuff in the canyons. And that’s how I spent the day; just cursing around from place to place. Went up two dead end roads just to see what was there.

Northern New Mexico is beautiful, so riding around and exploring local places is a real pleasure. There’s not a cloud in the deep blue sky. Hasn’t been for three or four days now.

The bike needs a short service, basically an oil change, so I ride on down to Santa Fe hoping the dealer will work me into the schedule first thing in the morning.

Don’t yet know where I’ll head from here. Need warmer temperature to get into the really high mountains.

Another day in paradise.

May 24, 2010 Posted by | moto touring | | Leave a comment

Sunday May 23, Taos NM to White Rock NM

I continued to putt-putt around without any real plan. Mainly to see a few familiar sights. Left Taos on NM 68 to ride down into the canyon of the Rio Grande River. Turned out to be an excellent way to start a touring day. Took a long cut up into the canyon on NM 570. A very nice slow ride right on the river bank. Lots of folks camping in here and more showing up to float the river.

Rode back out of the canyon and picked up NM 75 with an objective to ride The High Road to Taos, NM 76, down into Espanola. NM 75 is an excellent road for running and touring, so I do some of both. NM 76 is being proved up near the intersection with NM 75. Lots and lots of cutting and filling and straightening going on. Later I discover that the work is a continuation of already completed sections of the road all the way down to the intersection with NM 520.

Took NM 68 out of Espanola heading for NM 520 to Los Alamos. Rode through the town to get the road up to the local ski hill to get some long views of the mountains and mesas. Then took NM 4 out to Valle Grande to take some pictures and then back-tracked to Bandelier National Momument. Just sat in the shade and drank a bottle of water.

It’s getting late in the afternoon and the temperature is hot. I don’t have many choices for a motel, so I’m going to park here in White Rock.

A most excellent day in paradise.

May 23, 2010 Posted by | moto touring | | Leave a comment

Saturday May 22, Las Vegas NM to Taos NM

Putt-putted around on some local roads, NM 518, 105, 94, and 434, working my way to US 64 at Angel Fire. Then into Eagle Nest, Red River, and finally into Taos on NM 522, which picks up US 64 just outside Taos. NM 434 is being improved, but the part past the State Park still wanders it’s way past the trees and rocks and stream. It’s a very narrow one-laner as jt goes up the canyon to the top of the pass. Stopped and sipped on a chilled Starbuck’s product along the way. Very good roads and beautiful mountains. Exactly what I’ve been looking for. It’s very cool up there in the mountains. Not any action in Red River yet, but the bikers will be showing up Real Soon Now.

Lost the road when I was viewing the countryside and arrived at two dead end roads. Agin’ hippie is in charge at the county recycle place. She’s originally from Pennsylvania and moved out West a long time ago. The port a-potty is painted pink just for her. Her husband also works for the county. I’ll bet there are almost no other jobs way out deep in the boonies.

Gated community here at these dead end roads. The idle rich do that to keep out the common riff raff. Dead end roads plus gated community.

Stopped on the way to Angel Fire. Stopped in Angel Fire. Stopped at Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Stopped in Eagle Nest. Stopped in Red River.

Beautiful, beautiful day.

Three-star roads, all of them.

May 22, 2010 Posted by | moto touring | | Leave a comment

Thursday May 20 and Friday May 21, Escape from Oklahoma

Met Ron here in Miami who has a contract to clean up some olde lead mines around these parts. Because it’s raining and doing other bad weather stuff his operation is in shut-down mode. Ron and a few other guys are planning a loop trip around TX, NM, CO, and back him to TX. All on dirt. I asked him to keep me posted on their plans and the trip.

I went North out of Miami into Kansas to put a little distance between me and the storms. The original objective road had some touring value, but I’m thinking it might be better to go for the big straight roads and get as far away from stormy Oklahoma as fast as possible. Took US 69 North to pick up US 166 just North of the sate line. The roads in Kansas run due West in very straight lines. I make it about half way across Oklahoma up in Kansas and then go South back into Oklahoma so as to get aligned with my objectives in New Mexico. I ran into only one small wet spell and the sky got less cloudy as I moved rapidly West.

Covered lots of ground zipping through many very small places. Several seem to be place names with nothing there. Others have a little stuff, but no gas and no motels. Finding motels is a major problem when you’re exploring the boonies on the tiny-line roads. And it’s compounded out here where the land is big and there aren’t many people. You never know that if you bypass a motel opportunity it might be 200 miles to the next one.

We’ve seen many dead towns almost every where we’ve ridden. Dalhart TX was a classic case. The original downtown is a ghost town. M someone must have had the idea that if the downtown streets were paved with bricks, people would flock back and revive the place. Didn’t work. And now the brick streets are decaying along with all the boarded-up buildings. Not a pretty sight.

I have brunch at a local place that has the owner’s name on it. She tells me that Haliburton had an office here at one time. When that moved out the town collapsed. Now the place seems to be based on feed lots for cattle. Lots o’ feed lots. Lots and lots and lots of cattle.

I’m not in the grits belt anymore. Spuds for breakfast.

Rode US 166 to South Haven to get US 81 South back into Kansas where I picked up OK 11 and continued West. OK 11 runs right into US 64 and I kept on racking up the miles, usually in one to one-and-a-half hour chunks. Now we’re getting into seriously straight roads. Stopped in Buffalo to inquire about motels on down the road. Guymon City was said to be the only bet. So I fired up for another couple of chunks. Along the way, US 64 picks up a few other US roads, including 270, 83, and 54, I think.

It was a very long haul today, well over 400 miles of plain hard riding on The Big Roads.

All zero star roads today.

Friday May 21 Guymon City OK to Las Vegas NM

US 64 heads too far North and will go directly to Taos NM. I’m thinking I would like to see some country South of there and try out a few thin-lines roads to get me back into Northern NM. So I take US 54 out of Guymon City.

I continue down US 54 southwesterly toward New Mexico. The objective road is NM 39 out of Logan NM. I have considered heading deep South into NM, but it’s already getting to be very warm, and most of the roads won’t be very good. Generally, there are chunks of NM that offer excellent roads and scenery, but these are scattered around the state. And, while the roads will be great after you get into a chunk, the chunks are connected only by The Big Flat and Straight Roads. And it’s very hot down there.

NM 39 turns out to be an excellent choice. Very good surface but, as expected, very straight. Out of Gallegos the road climbs up to the top of a high, and very, very flat Mesa. Probably the flattest Mesa I’ve been on. I stop in Mosquero to take a break and let the joy sink in. A beautiful ride and it’s much cooler up here. Mosquero is exactly like any small isolated village / town out here in the West. It’s very quite, there’s not much in the place, but there are always places to get food and drinks. It the case of Mosquero, you get these in the same place. There’s a juke box and pool table along with the bar and tables. All-in-service. And the juke box will have mostly olde cowboy and country classics available. There’ll be beer drinking and pool games accompanied with juke-box tunes tonight, I’ll net.

I continue riding the top of the mesa to Roy where I pick up NM 120, another wonderful road. Not far out of Roy the road starts to drop down off the mesa. I know what’s coming. There’ll be a river at the bottom, we’ll cross the stream and then head back up to the top of another mesa. And so it is.

NM 120 takes me to Wagon Mound NM. It’s another wonderful ride through beautiful country-side. And as a bonus, the elevation continues to increase and it’s nice and cool up here. At Wagon Mound I inquire about motels in the intended direction of travel. There aren’t any. Las Vegas NM is my only choice as it’s been two long hard riding days. And I have to make the last leg on the I-State. I hate it when that happens.

Well, it hasn’t been easy getting here, but I’ve made it. And the last two roads are just a taste of what’s to come. Biker Trash Paradise is just a twist of the throttle away now.

May 21, 2010 Posted by | moto touring | | 1 Comment

Wednesday May 19, Miami OK to Nowhere

More severe weather West of here, the intended direction of travel, and blowing this way fast. Large hail, big big winds, electrical storms, with bonus tornados in the pm.

It’s now about 6 pm and I’m watching tornados live on The Weather Channel. The storms are West of here, but I think they are South of my intended travel. And a report of an 18-wheeler blown over by high winds.

Maybe I can ride tomorrow, but the forecast is not good.

Apparently our Fair Weather Crystal is now worthless. I hope saying that doesn’t make the Crystal seek weather revenge on me.

May 19, 2010 Posted by | moto touring | | 1 Comment

Tuesday May 18, Bentonville AR to Miami OK

Got new shoes for the machine and got the mirror replaced and putt-putted into OK. The motor in the new machine is very hard on tires. Or, maybe more correctly, application, by the user, of some of the capabilities of the motor in the new machine is very hard on tires. Otherwise I would be projecting. That is, if a projectionee can be an inanimate object when the projectionory is a person. There are three ladies in my life who have professional experience in these things. Not the pop-psycho-babble stuff, but the real thing. So far as I am aware, none have identified any such deficiencies in me. I do not project.

Not much at all in the way of roads. AR 90 OK 43 are nice rides, but short. They just got me into the Eastern boundary of The Great Flats Barrier. Nothing to do but set the machine on cruise control and rack up miles and miles of the flattest and straightest roads and work my away across the Barrier.

The roads in Southern MO and Northern AR will have to sustain me until I get to the better parts of NM.

May 18, 2010 Posted by | moto touring | | Leave a comment

Monday May 17, Ava MO to Bentonville AR

Sun is out, got to go. Will take long-cuts to get to Bentonville.

Just as I wrote those words, a report of severe weather in OK. Large hail big big winds. Sounds familiar.

I left Ava on MO 14 heading for 125 so as to ride through another chunk of the Mark Twain National Forest. Both are great roads, easily 5-star Biker Trash grade. Still mostly sweepers, the ‘mountains’ here are kind of small, but the countryside is beautiful.

MO 125 becomes AR 125 at the state line. The ride was so good, that I continued South with the objective to ride even farther South on AR 7. I would then ride West a bit to AR 21 back into MO. And continue this pattern to get to Bentonville.

However, the first time I tried to ride on AR 7, it started raining. I continued West and tried to go South a couple of more times, getting wet each time. Rain and riding is doable, not much fun, but doable. But when it rains here the water comes down by the buckets full. Deep standing water on the road is not fun, and the threat of riding into huge-size hail is not sensibly doable.

So I continued West on US 62, a good enough road, but wide and very busy. Near Eureka Springs, the road becomes very twisty and almost makes up for missing the small-line roads.

I ride into Bentonville on the backroads and get to our usual motel.

A very good riding day, nearly Biker Trash Paradise grade. We definitely will get back to these parts.

May 17, 2010 Posted by | moto touring | | Leave a comment

Sunday May 16, Heber Springs AR to Ava MO

Another short day with heavy fog this morning, standing water on some roads, deep dark clouds, showers, and heavy rain. It has not been Biker Trash Paradise for way too many days now. But on a positive note, I did discover some most excellent roads.

My original concept for these parts was to ride North, turn left for a while, and then ride South and working gently ( yes, gently, not generally ) Westward in this manner. The original plan is no longer operational. There are lots of roads and countryside here that we’ve not checked out. It’s looking like another Moto Road Trip will be necessary in order to accomplish the original objective. The country side here is beautiful and the road surfaces are generally very good to excellent. But because the mountains here are not all that mountainous, there are many more wide sweepers than tight twisties. Many of the roads ride the top of the ridges so there are many opportunities for long views.

Sitting here looking at The Real Time Moto Road Trip Planner and writing those words is making me kind of sad. So many roads, so little time. I guess I could use a day or two after checking in at the dealer and cover some more territory. Next time we’ll hit AR about half way up instead of hitting the State so far South, and implement the original concept. Or, maybe on the way home.

My initial plan was to ride in the Ozark Mountains and then head North into MO. I use Mountains because that’s the official designation. Lots of hills might be a better description. Basically AR 5 would be the main way North, with long-cuts taken as roads of opportunity.

Met a group of five bikers in Mountain View, AR, not many miles after leaving Heber Springs. I had just ridden AR 5 over some mountains in the heavy fog. They had just ridden down from the North in heavy fog, some on AR 5 and some on AR 341. AR 341 is by far the better road, but those that came that way suggested that it wasn’t fun. I noted that my ride wasn’t fun, either. This is a group of guys making a two-day loop ride from Memphis. They’re on a schedule and are taking the fast roads back.

I decide to use AR 5 and save AR 341 for better weather times. It turns out that the fog is lifting and the ride from Mountain View to Mountain Home is wonderful. The road is in very good shape for the most part, but that varies by county. Mostly wide proved-up two-laner with mostly wide sweepers. Lots of beautiful views across the valleys and from the ridge tops.

I’m way deep in the boonies again and there are some interesting villages and fishing camps and fishing resorts along the way. It’s Sunday, and nothing is open.

Met Billy at a gas stop in Mountain Home AR. Billy is riding a ’92 Gold wing that has 86,0000 miles that he’s put on it. He is waiting for a few legal things to clear and then he’s heading for the West Coast. Billy has June 7 set as the departure date. We chatted about the wonderful opportunity we have. Billy says that we in the 50 plus age group have worked our butts off and deserve to be able to do whatever the hell we want to. He used ” 50 plus ” and I did not elaborate on the magnitude of the plus in my case. Billy didn’t offer that info for his case, either. I think he’s going to be on the fast track to get to the coast, so it’s not likely that we’ll meet.

I continue North on AR 5 aiming for MO. But not 10 miles out of Mountain Home, the rains hit. I pull into a service station to get out of the rain. A lady pulls in driving a big ole diesel and pulling a horse trailer loaded with horses. She has two flat tires on the trailer and she’s not happy and she shows her ‘tude by cussing like a sailor, as they say. I offer to help her and it takes about ten minutes for each tire because the little air compressor at the station is not quite up to the huge tires and high pressures. All the while she’s cussing while I’m working with the tires. About the time the tires are back up to pressure the rain stops. No major severe weather this time.

I continue up AR 5 and the road gets better, but still no twisties. I hit US 60 just across the MO line and turn West to pick up MO 95 to ride into the Mark Twain National Forest. Now we’ve found a most excellent moto road. I don’t have a MO map yet, so I’m not sure where I’m heading, but I ride on. I see all these local roads off MO 95 and as usual wonder where they go. I decide to take one and it’s a beauty. I arrive back at a main road and soon I try another unknown road. But this one starts to become a faint trail so I turn around and head back to that main road. Soon I find that I’ve arrived back on MO 5 and soon get to Ava MO. The skies are threatening again so I ask about motels down the road. The nearest reliable motel place is Springfield and it’s too far under the weather conditions. So I stop here. Not long after stopping, the rains starts and not long after that the heavy rains start.

Met George and Kim, log home builders. But that’s another long, long story.

All in all a pretty good day. This is very a good touring area and I hope we can make it back some time.

May 16, 2010 Posted by | moto touring | | Leave a comment